Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday July 9, 2012
The Key Moment – Kasey Kahne gave Tony Stewart just enough of a push to slip him by the dynamic duo of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Seconds later, Kahne was knocked sideways all pandemonium broke out behind him, handing Stewart his third Cup victory of 2012.
In a Nutshell – It took awhile to get going but the end of the race featured more violence and mayhem than anything outside a Bruce Willis movie. You gotta love the plate tracks. (No, quite frankly I don’t.)
Dramatic Moment – Those last eight laps were like lighting a fuse and just waiting for the powder keg to blow.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
What is up with AJ Allmendinger? The shocking news he’d been suspended for failing a routine drug test broke just hours before the race, forcing Penske Racing to fly Sam Hornish back to Daytona with just minutes to spare. You always hate to see this sort of story break about a likeable young competitor but with the Olympics looming again, it’s likely we’re not done hearing about failed drug tests this summer. I’ll withhold judgment until we get some facts about the alleged infraction.
So who’s going to fill in for Allmendinger while he’s sidelined from one of the sport’s highest profile rides? Will Hornish continue to sub or will Roger Penske look for another free agent. (We all know it won’t be last year’s driver of the No. 22 car, Kurt Busch.) With Penske moving to Ford next year, will Ricky Stenhouse or Trevor Bayne get a shot at the wheel? It might be a good indicator of just how closely Penske and Roush will collaborate in the Ford camp next year.
NASCAR has manipulated the rules wildly in an attempt to break up the tandem racing so many fans professed to dislike. Let the record show in the end, the race was decided by three two-car tandems; the Nos. 17 and 16, the Nos. 14 and 5, and the Nos. 31 and 29. One driver from each tandem claimed a top-3 finish while their wingmen took one on the chin.
Think there’s going to be some bad blood between Biffle and Kenseth this week? Biffle dutifully pushed Kenseth to the front for much of the race, then latched onto him again after pit road issues dropped them to the back of the pack. Together, the good friends appeared unstoppable up front, the only tandem that could use the outside lane to get to the lead. But down the stretch it appeared Kenseth chop-blocked Biffle and got him sideways, causing the Big One on the biggest lap. Biffle was credited with just a 21st-place finish once the smoke cleared.
I think some of the sponsors involved in the sport need to have a serious look at all the different paint schemes they run on some cars. It makes it difficult for the fans, particularly new or casual one, to pick out who is at the wheel of which car. In the days of yore you had the black No. 3 car, the black, orange and yellow No. 28 car, and the bright orange No. 17. You knew at a glance who was running where.
Anyone who recalls the fatal pit road accident involving Bill Elliott’s team at Atlanta in 1990 knows just how frightening the pit road accident involving Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski was.
Brian France gave his annual midseason State of the Sport address this weekend. Some notes:
What was up with the lip synching in the post-race interviews on TNT? It looked like one of those Japanese Kung Fu movies they overdubbed in English. You know, the ones we used to watch on UHF in those cannabis and Genesee pony Saturday afternoons of my youth. (I’m told some viewers didn’t get the choppy synchronization, but I was far from the only one who noticed it.)
No jet driers were injured during the filming of Saturday night’s event. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Towards Track Drying Equipment monitored the filming of the race.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Obviously the weekend’s big loser was Allmendinger. If you were on vacation, he was suspended from driving in the Firecracker after failing a random drug test. As I write this column, no one has said it was an illegal drug. Other substances, including alcohol and performance-enhancing drugs can also trigger a positive drug test. So what happens next? Allmendinger has 72 hours to request his “B” sample be tested. (Roger Penske indicated Sunday he asked for that.) If ‘Dinger does, in fact fail and admits there’s an issue he can apply for reinstatement. That involves a program set up by NASCAR’s drug czar that might include rehab, education, and further testing. If a driver completes the program, he can return to competition. Unfortunately, he’s also wearing a scarlet letter in the sponsors’ minds from that day forward and my guess is Allmendinger’s career is over. It’s a damn shame.
Jimmie Johnson failed to finish a plate track race for the third time this season. He did manage to complete more than the single lap he ran in the Daytona 500.
I don’t know how badly Denny Hamlin’s sore back was hurting him before the 400, but it had to be a great deal more painful after his big wreck.
Austin Dillon has hit a rough patch. After winning last week’s Kentucky Nationwide race, he was penalized for his car being too low following post-race inspection, tarnishing the win. After claiming the pole at Daytona Friday, his car was once again declared illegal and he started from the rear. While a fourth-place finish Friday night (sliding backwards across the finish line) wasn’t too bad, Dillon will doubtlessly lose some of those points he earned later this week when NASCAR issues penalties for the latest infraction.
How often is it that a single driver is tapped for not one but two potential relief driver roles? Kenny Wallace was tabbed to be the substitute for Kevin Harvick in case he had to fly home to be there for the birth of his son. He was then subsequently tagged to fill in with the No. 22 team if Hornish couldn’t arrive in time. But Harvick didn’t have to leave and Hornish made it to the track by the skin of his teeth, ruining what would have been a huge career opportunity. Hopefully, Wallace got at least a few cases of Bud and Pennzoil as parting gifts.
Bill Elliott qualified sixth and ran as high as third in the race before his hastily assembled Turner Motorsports pit crew cost him a ton of positions on the first stop. Elliott’s evening ended with the disastrous wreck at the entrance to pit road.
Kyle Busch managed to keep his nose clean most of the evening running up front until getting caught up in a wreck with five laps to go. He also wrecked out of the NW race on Friday and clearly wasn’t happy about it. Move along here, folks, nothing to see here.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Stewart qualified for the outside pole of the Firecracker but the time was disallowed after the 14 car failed post-qualifying inspection. He had to start out back with Hornish but still managed to drive on to the win. When the weather gets hot Stewart typically does too, and as anyone in the Midwest or Northeast can testify it’s damn hot out there right now.
I haven’t been able to learn the name of the NASCAR official assigned to the No. 2 team’s pit during the pit road mayhem but he made one heck of a dash to safety, hurdling the wall moments before he would have been hit by the out of control No. 39 car. Like I said, that incident was a tragedy narrowly averted.
A twelfth place finish isn’t going to get Gordon into the Chase but his evening could easily have ended with that savage crash at the entrance of pit road.
What didn’t happen to Keselowski? As noted above his car got slammed while it was sitting parked in its pit stall. He then went ahead and spun himself out later in the event. I figure he’ll be satisfied taking his eighth place check to the bank Monday morning but I don’t want to park anywhere near him when he does.
The car that struck the No. 2 car, Newman’s No. 39 suffered minimal damage (in the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is king) and the SHR driver was able to post a fifth place finish.
What’s the Points?
Kenseth retains his points lead and is beginning to gap the field. He’s now 25 points ahead of Earnhardt who remains second in the standings.
Biffle retook third place from Johnson who had an even worse night than his.
Stewart leapfrogged ahead four spots to fifth in the standings albeit a considerable 84 points out of the lead.
Cue up the Tom Petty because Clint Bowyer is free-fallin’ thee spots to tenth with only the safety net of a single win to keep him in contention. Hamlin is slightly more comfortable though down two spots to seventh but with two wins this year.
As it stands right now the two “Wild Card” slots would be filled by Kyle Busch (12th in points, one win) and Joey Logano (14th in points, one win.) Logano is just one point ahead of Ryan Newman who has also won a race this year.
Still outside looking in are Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards. Like a castle in the corner of a medieval game, I foresee terrible trouble, but I stay here just the same.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) We’ll give the Firecracker three cans of well dented up and shaken not stirred Bud. Of course any plate race that doesn’t maim a driver or wind up with a flaming race car in the grandstands gets an extra can for defying the odds. Next year’s Daytona 500 will mark the 25th anniversary of NASCAR reintroducing the plates as a “temporary measure” until a more permanent solution could be developed at Daytona and Talladega.
Next Up – It’s off to the Monotonous Mile in New Hampshire.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
What kind of jack-leg organization informs a competitor an hour and a half before an event that he failed a drug test he took a week ago? Oh…that’s right, I forgot who I was talking about.
I remember all too well the tragedy in Atlanta when Ricky Rudd’s car hit Bill Elliott’s car on pit road and a crew member was killed. That was the first thing I thought about Saturday night when I saw the #39 car sliding towards Keselowski’s busy pit box. If not for heads-up situational awareness by the crew members of the #2 team, we might be mourning another tragedy this morning.
I really hope Allmendinger’s drug test was a lab error or something, but having been in a occupation most of my life that involves frequent random drug testing, I have my doubts. Like you said, it’s a shame. I really think Allmendiger is a talented driver who was finally positioned for success. I await the rest of the story.
You’re flirting with Twitter now? Are you contemplating a cell phone too??
I laughed out loud when Brian France of all people said he was opposed to “gimmicks”.
David Pearson has 105 wins in 574 races. That’s about a win every five races. And he didn’t have a Hendrick car. He also has 113 poles, which is one pole every five races. He had eleven straight poles at Charlotte.
The first 150 or so laps were extremely boring. With the outside lane unable to advance, most drivers simply held their position. I’d rather have the two car drafts where at least there’s some movement.
I do hope with all my heart that Nascar is transparent enough this time and that there is no procedural questions with regards to Dinger’s test.
If Dinger had (almost) any other sponsor than Shell/Pennzoil I probably would not have this uneasily feeling…
I haven’t read anything about a possible points penalty for Stewart re his qualifying infraction?? It’s possible, with such tight points in the 5-10 positions, with a points deduction Stewart could fall out of top ten. ?????
Well, in the Nationwide series they only docked Dillon 6 points for his infraction.
All hail the great and powerful Brian France. He stands for goodness and competitive fairness.
Right, and pigs will fly!
Sorry, NASCAR and the word gimmick has become synonymous.
I, too, was glad to see that no one was hurt on pit road. That was ugly and very scary.
Brain (sic) France, the Poster Boy for the Lucky Sperm Club.
Spot1…you’re right Dillons Kentucky penalty was 6..not sure if 6 will fit this time. But, for some reason in my mind I’m thinking this season they lowered the points severity and $$$ amount in Cup Lite penalties due to it being second tier and such…so
LOL “Kung Fu movies” Had the same issue on my local cable feed. Switched over to Tru TV (which was also carrying the race) and same thing.
FYI – According to the Daly Planet if you were watching in Hi-Def the pic and audio were in-sync. If you were watching in Standard-Def then you got the “Bruce Lee effect”.
Matt said: “With Penske moving to Ford next year, will Ricky Stenhouse or Trevor Bayne get a shot at the wheel?”
We already know where Ricky Stenhouse is going, to the #17 after Matt Kenseth leaves.
Lydia, they lowered the points penalties last year to reflect the lower points gained per race in all series now.
I think you may have become my favorite NASCAR blogger.
Agree 100% that the special paint jobs have gone too far. I’m in favor of going back to the Sixties. No more than three colors, and the same scheme all year.
Actually Matt, I think embracing Twitter is more radical than having a cell phone.
Well, a 6-point penalty in this revised points system is pretty much equivalent to a 25-point penalty in the old points system…
Twitter is like a cactus. If you choose to you can ignore it. A cell phone is more like a kitten, it needs a lot of attention and cost money to own monthly. A cactus is never going to interupt you when you have something to do quickly.
Could you just imagine what would have happened if there was no speed limit on pit road? That could have been disaster and hopefully those that think there shouldn’t be one are rethinking their logic.
I can’t beleive another blogger gave this race a 5 star rating. If you wanted 2 ten car pileups in the last 10 laps than I guess it was a spectacular race. That wasn’t a race, that was survival.
Agree about all the varied paint jobs. I think they do it to sell more die cast collector cars. If they ran the same paint all year they could only sell one model car. This way they can sell 20 or more !!
Is anyone still laying out 50 bucks for a toy car in this economy?
Sean- Correct me if I’m wrong but I beleive Clint Bowyer got socked with a 25 point penalty after he won at NHIS in the kickoff race of the chase (also in an RCR car ironically) And that was 25 points in the new points system, about the difference of finishing 21st rather than winning. It does seem NASCAR is handing out lighter penalties in the AAA series. I can understand lower dollar fines, they race for a smaller purse, but don’t get the logic of the points. Wait did I just use “logic” and “NASCAR” in the same sentence?
Spread the message: Since Nascar doesn’t listen and is run by looneys…
Bruton Smith listens: write him or email him and tell him what you would like to see.
It’s funny you mention the paint schemes. I said the same thing to my girl as we were watching the race. Didn’t know who was who. I remember when the only “special” paint schemes came out for the All Star race and even that didn’t start until about the mid 90’s. I agree that some of it is due to die-cast sales, but I think this year more than anything it’s teams putting together patchwork sponsorship. The paint schemes are different every week because they have a different sponsor every week.
As for the #22, I’d like to see The Captain give Robby Gordon a call. He’s a Dodge driver. Give him a few races in the sun in top notch equipment one more time.
I agree about the paint schemes. They seem to get uglier as each year passes. I love the classics. The Petty Blue cars of the 60s, the red, white and polished gold numbers of the 60s Wood Brothers, Bobby Allison’s red and gold Coke Machine. Smokey Yunick and Curtis Turner’s black and gold 66/67 Chevelle.
Today’s color schemes and combinations remind me of a bad acid trip I had back in the early 70s!
Coors light, huh? Cool.
I weigh in on the patchwork of sponsorship side of why there are so many more paint schemes.
Oh yeah, BTW, I hate cell phones because you are never “out” anymore (of course you can turn them off but few do) but I wouldn’t want to not have one. It’s just too damn convenient and comes in very handy during emergencies.
“No jet driers were injured during the filming of Saturday night’s event. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Towards Track Drying Equipment monitored the filming of the race.”
Thanks for the hearty laugh, Matt — I really, REALLY needed that today.
Jeff and Carl can’t buy a thrill
They docked Clint 150 points in 2010