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.
MPM2Nite · Matt McLaughlin · Thursday August 9, 2012
In some certain circles, I am considered a conspiracy theorist, a nattering nabob of negativity who always suspects the worst possible motives behind NASCAR and the people inside the sport. I admit I am cynical both by nature and through experience but compared to some folks out there, I am Shirley Frickin’ Temple.
After Sunday’s race, as I sat down to write my recap I was on edge because I was already hearing rumors some fans had been struck by lightning and some of those individuals were badly hurt. (Tragically, we know now that Brian Zimmerman, a 41-year-old married father of three lost his life.) I immediately focused on that story and began calling friends I knew had been in the grandstands to ensure they were safe. But elsewhere on the Internet and in Twitterville (which I am rapidly learning is a lot less friendly place than Who-ville or Margaritaville), a cauldron was boiling over as more fuel was added to the fire by people hiding behind funny screen names. (I’ve been asked, so my Twitter handle mcmatt76 was chosen because “Matt McLaughlin” and “Mcmatt” were already in use. The “McMatt” part should be obvious. The 76 was added because a picture of my 1976 Trans-Am hangs over my desk.)
The contention held that on the final restart, Jimmie Johnson rode up the track and possibly even triggered the wreck with Matt Kenseth to help his teammate and team owner of record Jeff Gordon make the Chase. How could it not be so? After all, Gordon’s win at Pocono Sunday now has him laying claim to the second “wild card” spot for the playoffs. That dirty, rotten so and so and the convicted felon that pays him! How dare they ruin the integrity of our sport!
Well, truth be told NASCAR lost its cherry decades ago with the advent of the front wheel drive clone funny cars. But that’s besides the point… let’s see if this theory has merit.
So let me see if I can climb inside Jimmie Johnson’s mind as he’s cruising around under yellow preparing for that final restart. Chad Knaus had doubtlessly made him aware that heavy weather had reached the outskirts of the track property. If, in fact the race resumed it would only run a handful more laps. Johnson also knew he clearly had the fastest car and was in the lead. All he had to do was hold off one concerted rush by the No. 17 car into turn one and his fourth victory of the season was in hand. That would mean that once the Chase began, he’d be seeded in the top spot ahead of Stewart and Keselowski, who have each won three times. For a driver who admits he wants to win eight titles to lay claim to the “Greatest Driver Ever!” honors that’s a pretty powerful incentive to get up on the wheel and get the job done.
But the black helicopter clan supposed that Johnson was furiously working on his iPad, cell phone, and calculator under that caution doing more math than a high school class full of trig students. “Let’s see. If I pull over and let the No. 24 by, where would that leave him in the points? Let me check where all the other drivers from tenth to sixteenth are currently running in the points. Oh, grand, if I let him win that would move Gordon to fifteenth. That’s pretty good. Wow, trouble ahead! He’d be tied with Newman for fifteenth. How many second-place finishes do Ryan and Jeff have? How many thirds? D’Oh, they’re tied! How many fourth-place finishes do they have? Oh, no! Grand, Jeff had more fifth place finishes than Ryan so he’d have that wild card spot.”
Under this scenario, it was time to start operation “Fear and Loathing” on the restart. “Sorry, Kenseth, I’ll do my best to make sure you don’t go head on into the wall, but let’s face it: points don’t matter to either of us any more. We’re both ranked so high up there our playoff berths are all but cemented. And frankly, that color of the paint on your car is hideous anyway. Zestfully, clean my butt. I’m an Irish Spring man. Manly, yes, but I like it too, especially since I’ve grown this macho approximation of a beard to make me look less like of a girly-man.”
Here’s how I saw the restart, and I was watching it pretty carefully since I wasn’t thinking the first few raindrops pattering on the window pane were the sound of the New World Order army storm troopers’ boots hitting the earth as they rappelled out of their trademark black helicopters. Johnson was once again playing games on the restart. Kenseth snookered him but good. Caught off guard by the No. 17’s hard charge to the outside, Johnson charged into Turn One with the reckless abandon of the Light Brigade. Unaware Kenseth was already to his outside, Johnson slid his Chevy up the track to block and the two collided.
I am not Pollyanna. I don’t buy Johnson’s explanation of a flat right-rear tire having gone flat. Maybe after he body-slammed Kenseth’s Ford, but not before.
Now if this was a pre-planned action on Johnson’s part, he must have had a crystal ball installed in his race car. As Johnson struggled (masterfully, as it turned out) to correct his sideways car, the No. 17 got sideways and Biffle shot into the outside wall. At that point, there was no knowing if it was going to be a two-car wreck, a four-car wreck, or a field-decimating pig pile – and Gordon could easily have been caught up in the carnage. Also narrowly missing the wreck was another of Johnson’s teammates, Kasey Kahne, who is fighting for every position to try to keep inside the cutoff for the Chase. In a worst-case scenario, the No. 17 could have hooked hard left and sent Johnson headlong into the wall, windshield deep, and broken his leg eliminating him from competition for the rest of the season.
See? There’s a funny thing about wrecking a tightly bunched pack of race cars running at 180 mph: sometimes the results are not very funny at all.
Just how widespread was the controversy? Once I’d nailed down the facts surrounding the tragedy that occurred in the parking lot, I did that #Jimmie Johnson thing on Twitter and spent the next hour reading some pretty outrageous stuff people were writing in less than 140 characters; and I wasn’t alone in reading this innuendo. The normally affable and unceasingly polite Jimmie Johnson wrote on his Twitter account, “Good night everyone, even all of you with your head stuck in your ass.”
Hey, he said it; not me, it was on his official account and he hasn’t disavowed the statement either.
So do I have faith in the integrity of the No. 48 team? No, I do not. I think they got caught cheating red-handed at Daytona and got away with it because of the team owner’s personal relationship with the final referee. When Knaus told Johnson last year at Talladega that if he won the race, he’d have to back the car into the wall, I don’t think it was because he felt that the post-race wreck would be on Speed Center all week giving their sponsors valuable exposure. To his credit, however, Johnson seemed genuinely shocked by the request. Funny how that’s the same car that got nabbed at Daytona this year. And I’m uneasy about the skewed attitude of the car that dominated at Pocono and Indy, how low it rides in the back under race conditions. I think we’re either going to see some new rules added soon to corral that beast of a No. 48 car or it will once again run afoul of the inspection process. Perhaps NASCAR is waiting for the first race of the Chase to extract a little payback for their decision being overruled at the start of the season.
I also believe that team orders have been issued in NASCAR racing previously. I know that to be a fact. I’ve heard one driver told to pull over and slow down so that his teammate could lead a lap and get a bonus point. Keep in mind if he’d earned one such bogus bonus point during the final 10 races last year, Carl Edwards would be the reigning champion. Could team orders help set the field for this year’s Chase? If at Richmond, the Roush statisticians discovered that if Kenseth, running eighth, yielded his spot to Edwards, running ninth on the last lap and the No. 99 would make the Chase after all it might happen. But if Kenseth was leading the race and Edwards was second, I don’t think Kenseth would yield a win.
Yes, Gordon is currently in the Chase on a wild card, but there are still five races left to run and anything could happen. This weekend, Gordon could crash out on the pace lap and Newman could win, or Kyle Busch could grab his second win of the season. I don’t think team orders or ill-intent on anyone’s part gave Gordon a win last weekend at Pocono. Sometimes odd or surprising things happen at the end of stock car races. If that weren’t the case, I doubt the sport would have survived its initial few seasons.
So if you’re still cowering down the basement, armed with a tin foil lined soup colander on your head waiting for the New World Order takeover, lay aside your headgear, come upstairs and go outside. It’s a pretty nice world we live in and you might as well enjoy the sunshine before the New World Order kicks off the nuclear winter that leaves the cockroaches.
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Not even Mr Spock could have calculated the odds that Gordon would win or be caught up in the wreck if JJ purposely wrecked the front of the field.
I was ticked that Jimmy took out Matt as Kenseth was going to have the Chase lead spot back due to Jr’s early troubles. Damn, you Jimmy Johnson! With that said, even I couldn’t make the leap that JJ did it to get Gordon in the Chase.
Now maybe if he did it to get Gordon in the Chase and keep Jr the lead……j/k! Jimmy simply ran out of talent going into Turn 1.
Wow! LOL! Whew! Nascar fans and writers are some of the most sickest people out there. I find myself pulling for Jimmie more and more when he gets dumped on week after week…just like Gordon of the nineties. Hate the haters of success. Good for Jimmie to blast his twitter twits, I loved it. I just wish he’d say something like that on TV to reach more idiots. I’m pulling for him to win another trophy. And when its all said and done, I’m hoping for 106 wins and 8 championships. Now, that would stick in the craw of all types of Nascar fans for generations. And then I will start rooting for Chase Elliot.
Your last paragraph was brilliant, but predictable. I was thinking that basement/foil scenario at the first sentence of the first paragrah.
Jimmy doesn’t have the talent to have done that on purpose.
There is no way I am a fan of anything HMS, but say watch out for Jeff if he makes the chase.
HankZ: we pile on Jimmie Johnson because he drives a car built and maintained by a cheater, and because he chooses to always play it safe, and to always play the system to get to a championship, rarely just going for the win.
But fixing the Pocono race? The odds are astronomical, there’s no way he did—and he’s proven in the past that he won’t pull over for anyone, even his teammates.
“I think they got caught cheating red-handed at Daytona and got away with it because of the team owner’s personal relationship with the final referee.”
Damn Straight. And it’s that kind of thing that has the conspiracy theorists ready to pounce on any action by HMS that seems even vaguely suspect no matter how far-fetched it actually is.
RickP is right. This was one of the rare instances where Jimmie Johnson just ran out of talent. I think it was twiddling with all the switches for the brake fans that distracted him just enough.
Michael is corret! An an in car camera view of 48 during restart he most definitely was messing with his fan switches..looking up and down at the dashboard…when low and behold..you see an inside shot of his car sliding up the track! Maybe JJ needs to carry his iPhone in the car so he can just say “Siri..turn off brake fans” !
JJ, the cry baby, just flat got in over his head and doesn’t have the gonads to admit it!! Flat tire my a**!. Rest assured in the right place Kennesth will get even, and way down inside JJ knows it!! Personally I hate anyone or anything having to do with “the felons” company. But I have to admit he knows who to pay off to get his way….
If there was a conspiracy involved, it was NASCAR holding the green flag after the clean-up w/ rain coming to insure Gordon a yellow flag victory and possibly putting him into chase contention.
He would not have won the race had the green been given, thus leaving him still out of the chase. NASCAR wants it golden boy in and did what it needed to do to give him a win.
so… are you saying that twitter doesn’t do anything to help dispel the stereotype that nascar fans are of lesser intellect? hmmm.. imagine that.
the way i saw it, jimmie just “flat” overdrove the corner. it had nothing to do with a tire going down.
i think the old farmer may have something there.
Thank you, Matt, for helping to clear this up. I don’t think for one nanosecond that Johnson/Knaus had anything in mind but making sure they won that race. Helping Jeff Gordon wasn’t even on the radar. As you said, Gordon could just as easily have been caught up in the mayhem as taken the lead.
I don’t follow Johnson – I’m not a fan of his but somewhere I saw a bunch of the twitter comments compiled – including the one that you referenced from dear lovable JJ.
I really like the idea that Nascar may be “waiting” patiently to exact payback from the 48 team until it will hurt them the most.
john: “rarely just going for the win”
Ha ha! And yep; not going for the win is why Jimmie has more wins since 2002 than any other driver. Imagine how many he might have if he’d been trying to win. Oh and to some that said he has no talent? Read what I just said. LOL Thanks for the laugh.
The #48 team does not cheat and Jimmie Johnson is immensly talented. Therefore JJ is right, it HAD to be a blown tire. No way does a 5-time champion who is so great he makes a mediocre crew chief like Chad Knaus look good EVER make a mistake. My guess is that Goodyear, at the direction of Mike Helton, sabotaged the tires to help Junior keep the points lead. And did you know that Mitt Romney is the reason Dodge is leaving Nascar?
What do you base that conclusion on? Had they restarted the race a lap or two earlier there still would have only been a couple of laps before the rain came. Kahne would have had to come in for the tires. Everyone else that ran up front all day was 8th or back. Gordon came from 27th to 6th during the first 88 laps. So once again, how do YOU know he wouldn’t have held onto the lead for two laps of green. And since you seem to have the gift of seeing the future could you help a brother out with this weeks Powerball numbers?
I’ll do the manly thing and step up for PJ since he doesn’t want to read Matt’s columns any more.
Matt is my favorite NASCAR commentator and Frontstretch has become my favorite blog.
I’m hoping that Jeff gets five before JJ gets six. I want to see these two duke it out for top gun. It would rival the Petty/Pearson rivalry. They’re both very good and likely to race each other without resorting to Earnhardt bumper pool tactics.
Best thing about nascar is reading Matt and the comments after the races. Never watch the fwd clone races. I would like to see Ford & Toyota pull out. Dodge is smart enough to know that they get no sales boost from being in nascar. Cant buy any of the engines and the used stuff cannot be used in the other race series etc.
“Fear and loathing” indeed. All that’s missing is a trunkful of pharmaceuticals and a large Samoan attorney…
I agree with old farmer; if there’s a conspiracy it’s NASCAR waving off the restart three times.