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 March 4, 2013
The Key Moment – Carl Edwards seemed to be cruising to an easy win when Ken Schrader wrecked with three laps to go, drawing the caution flag. On the green-white-checkered restart, Brad Keselowski in third gave Edwards a nice shove into the lead and he cruised on to win after all while Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin waged a spirited battle for second in his mirror.
In a Nutshell – The new logo for the Gen-6 car apparently ought to be “No Passing Zone.”
Dramatic Moment – During that final lap Hamlin, Johnson and Keselowski battled for second, side by side. It seemed the first time all day any driver actually seemed to care about advancing his position.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Truthfully, most folks will be talking about some upcoming NCAA basketball tournament, which teams should be part of the contest and even devising imaginary ladders. What almost nobody will be talking about is stock car racing. After the glamour and drama of Daytona, there’s been a dearth of stories about the Cup Series, this week that involve the actual racing itself. I mean, come on… when the big story is Junior is on a diet, it’s back to reality. (Prune juice. Really?)
Of course, the residual big story that continues to garner headlines was the continuing recovery of the victims injured in the grandstands on the last lap of the N.W. race. Earlier this week, Frontstretch ran a column by my esteemed colleague Jeff Meyer blasting some of those injured fans for deciding to sue NASCAR and the track. I respectfully disagree. Saturday wasn’t an unforeseeable accident. Many writers, myself included, have been predicting it for over a decade. No, the carnage wasn’t as bad as it could have been but it was still life-altering for those injured in the tragedy. They’re going to have medical bills. They will miss time for work. Their friends and family had to pay for extended lodging to be with the injured. There are out-of-pocket expenses coming at a time of reduced income. I feel NASCAR should bear those costs, if not for legal reasons then for compassionate ones. One single mother had her leg broken and Achilles tendon torn. She then had to endure a 13-hour ride home in agony seated in the backseat of a pickup truck. (Because of the swelling, they hadn’t even been able to put a cast on the shattered leg.) C’mon. How many aircraft does NASCAR or the ISC have at their disposal? They couldn’t have flown her to an airstrip near her home?
At Daytona, the drivers said they couldn’t pass because the spoilers were too short. This weekend at Phoenix, the same drivers said they couldn’t pass because the spoilers were too tall. It behooves NASCAR to quickly figure out at what spoiler height is their “Goldilocks moment” as in “just right.”
The Toyotas are clearly very fast this season, but their power trains are proving to be fragile as well (see: Martin Truex, Jr.‘s broken rear gear, plus engine changes pre-race for Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch). Expect the midnight oil to be turning at TRD this week.
On a brighter note, it’s nice to know it’s 80 degrees and sunny somewhere in the world. Those of you who live in the northeast are probably as tired of rain, gray skies, cold temperatures and biting chilly winds as I am.
Another Nationwide race and another win for a Cup driver. (In this case, Kyle Busch putting on an absolute driving clinic. Busch got caught speeding on pit road and dropped to 23rd on the restart. 45 laps later, he was back in the lead.) The last time a full-time N.W. driver won a race in his own series was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at Kansas last year. Guess what he’s doing with his Sunday afternoons now…
Jimmie Johnson laughed off claims that that he’d purposely destroyed the front end of his car doing doughnuts to celebrate his Daytona 500 victory. Oddly enough, the No. 48 car struggled mightily to make it through pre-qualifying tech inspection this weekend, requiring three trips through the barn before it was labeled kosher. When that happens, so soon after that it just adds to the image of the this team as being cheaters. Then again, if you’re not trying to push the envelope, especially with a brand new car you’re probably not doing your job…
But wait… there’s more… rumors are circulating that NASCAR’s new high-tech laser based inspection system for the cars’ bodies might be at fault with some of the teams struggling to pass pre-race tech. It is said that the normal jostling around of moving the equipment from track to track is effecting the system’s accuracy. If that’s the case, it behooves NASCAR to have three cars, one from each manufacturer competing built to comply completely with the rules being enforced. Use those three prototypes to ensure the accuracy of the measuring devices weekly.
The team calls Landon Cassill’s ghastly paint scheme “camouflage wildfire.” Well, that was my second guess. My first one was it looked like someone had gorged themselves on pasta and Mad Dog 20/20 while dropping acid, causing him to puke.
Sharp-eyed (no pun intended) readers who commented on last week’s column pointed out something I saw but deleted from that column which had already swollen to epic length. After Tony Stewart’s Holden was wrecked, at Daytona he joined his team in trying to make repairs to get it back out on the track. But while using a die-grinder, Stewart overlooked basic air tool safety by not donning eye protection. My guess is good vision is essential to race car drivers and that a bit of red hot metal piercing your eye isn’t going to help vision any. Besides, it smarts something awful…
It’s a brave new world amongst the decimated ranks of the NASCAR media. This year, NASCAR is determined that there will be a more positive tone to coverage of the sport. As such, they are trying to spew out positive storylines, one after another which some elements of the press are regurgitating undiluted. Take, for instance the breathless headlines that last week’s TV ratings for the Daytona 500 were up roughly 30 percent over last year. Hmmm. What do I recall about the 2012 Daytona 500? Well, for the first time in the event’s history Sunday’s running of the race was rained out. Attempts to run the event Monday afternoon were also hampered by weather issues, so the race finally ran on Monday evening against primetime programming. During the course of the event, fans still awake had to endure the delay caused by the jet dryer explosion, one that led the race to conclude in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. And ratings were up over that? No crap. The highest-rated Daytona 500 ever remains the 1979 running of the race, the first broadcast flag-to-flag on network TV. With much of the nation socked in by a blizzard and only three channels to choose from, that 500 earned a rating of 10.5 — higher than Sunday’s 9.9.
As long as we have Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds in the booth, fans will continue to be reminded that there’s no such thing as a bad Goodyear tire — just bad teams that do bad things to their tires.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
The afterglow of Daytona faded as quickly as fog on the lawn in the spring at sunrise for Danica Patrick. She was never up to speed in any of the practice sessions at Phoenix and qualified 40th. During the race, she struggled to run in the 20s before popping a tire, clobbering the outside wall, then getting hit so hard by David Ragan it sheered off most of the left side sheet metal on the No. 10 car. As I’ve said, the Daytona 500 is the chrome and neon trim of the sport. Starting Sunday, we’re seeing the nuts and bolts and it appears the No. 10 team is in need of some Loctite.
Ryan Newman lost a right front tire and slammed the wall Sunday – twice. After the second incident Newman, who wound up 40th ran from the car as if afraid someone would tell him they could fix it so he could return to the race.
Kyle Busch’s Sunday didn’t start well with an engine change, sending him to the rear of the field. He then spun out trying to work his way forward and struggled just to get back on the lead lap (he wound up 23rd).
Finishing fifth isn’t awful. In fact, there are have been months-long periods during his career Dale Earnhardt, Jr. probably would have soul-kissed a mule for a top-5 result. But Sunday, it appeared the driver of the No. 88 car had a shot at a win until he spun the rear tires starting on the outside on a restart and he faded backwards.
Mark Martin won the pole, then led two practices this weekend at age 54. He dominated the early stages of the race, looking like a threat to become NASCAR’s oldest winner but fell victim to a wheel left loose during a pit stop.
Clint Bowyer’s day also went wrong in the pits. Bowyer thought his team was going to change two tires when, in fact they planned to replace all four. To add a little icing to the cake, Bowyer then found himself blocked in his pit stall by the car ahead of him (Travis Kvapil).
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
The only thing that went wrong for Carl Edwards all of Sunday was a stuck landing on his backflip. The Russian judge gave him a 4.
Jimmie Johnson’s season is off to a positive start with a first and second-place finish to date.
Denny Hamlin had to start from the rear of the field after his team had to replace yet another blown engine in his Toyota. He managed to charge forward well enough in the final two laps he was able to wrest third from Brad Keselowski.
How close did Keselowski’s team come in judging their fuel mileage? He ran out of gas while crossing the finish line in fourth.
AJ Allmendinger’s return to grace continues apace with a solid eleventh-place finish.
What’s the Points?
Johnson leads the standings, eight markers ahead of Earnhardt and Keselowski who are tied for second. Bowyer and Hamlin are tied for fourth, 18 points behind Johnson. If the Chase were to start right now, NASCAR would save us months of watching frustratingly boring races.
If you’ve already gotten your panties in a wad over the points, I have to ask if you have even the barest semblance of a life. When the last time you talked to mom, walked the dog (or had the dog take mom for a walk), pointed out the constellations to children, hugged an endangered species, or went out on a date with a partner that wasn’t inflatable? Life… it’s not just a breakfast cereal anymore.
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 it two cans of lukewarm generic stuff. At least this week, all the fans left on their feet.
Next Up – The Cup series is leaving for Las Vegas. Yawn.
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“As long as we have Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds in the booth, fans will continue to be reminded that there’s no such thing as a bad Goodyear tire — just bad teams that do bad things to their tires.”
I think they were “Twixed” after Danica blew the right front. What to do, what to do. Danica can do no wrong and they can’t blame her driving or car set up for melting the bead, but the Goodyears are always top shelf. It took a few minutes after Danica hit the wall, but Larry did come back and say the Goodyears are just wonderful.
Matt, how can you not be excited for Las Vegas? Fox kept breathlessly telling the viewers all afternoon that Jimmy Johnson and Danica Patrick would be leading the charge to Vegas.
I didn’t think the race was all that bad. People expect too much at times.
I thought it was an average race too. Not bad, not great.
How funny was it that Jimmie Johnson was crying about Edwards “pushing” the rules? Hey pot, meet the kettle.
As Robin Miller said on Wind Tunnel last night, It was a typical NASCAR race, on the dull side until the last few laps then had an exciting finish-his words. I don’t see how Danica could be leading the NASCAR crowd anywhere yet but we’re gonna have the crap all year.
man, i was trying to figure out what the 33 car was. i think this paint scheme is the new ugliest paint scheme. glad that peter max car that dale sr drove in the all star race all those years ago has been replaced by a new ugliest car in nascar.
race, so/so. watched beginning, watched last 20 laps. knew caution would come out with 5 or so laps to go.
everyone made comments last week about how people jumped to conclusions about johnson tearing up the car that won at daytona and the conspiracy issues. well if his crew chief didn’t have reputation for rule infraction that he has, maybe the conspiracy theorists would not had shown themselves.
poor dw his latest love got wrecked. did jeff hammond that refer the #10 as the #7 car? guess he’s not on the dw program with danica love.
on to vegas. heard there was a taxi cab strike in that city on the news today.
i’m waiting for a new “don’t go below yellow line at any track” to be established after mr. hamlin’s move.
and chris myers…..54 IS NOT OLD. yes in nascar it might be rare. hope martin wins while fox has the broadcast, so myers can eat some crow!
DRV’d the race and watched it last night. Fast-forwarded through the boring parts. Watched the race in about 30 minutes.
The Fenning Edwards pairing has gotten off to a good start. I would expect some growing pains with the Gen 6, its a new car that NA$CAR pawned off on the teams with little/no time to test. Phoenix is a notoriously tight track. wasn’t hard to envision a rather drab race. Whoever got out front stayed out front. The solution to avoiding obsolescence once stick and ball sports swing into hih gear: Build more short tracks and/or tracks that prmote multiple racing grooves. Or give Rockingham back its dates, and add Iowa as well.
Yes Carl D., Without DVR, FOX and NASCAR would get Less than the 45 minutes or so it gets from me each week.
McLaughlin, “At least this week, all the fans left on their feet. “
The above was beyond simply a poor choice of humor. The flippancy of that statement stands in unbelievable hypocrisy when compared to the earlier part of your article.
It is the equivalent of you leaving YOUR airplane in the hangar while letting the injured fan ride home.
I wish FOX would get with the program. There was passing throughout the race. The problem was, nobody saw any of it, except during a couple of “Crank It Up” segments where they used a fixed camera on the wall, which revealed several cars going door to door. Listening to the scanner, there were lots of teams passing cars in the field, but when the networks fixate on a few select cars, they’re cheating the fans out of seeing most of the race. It’s a shame that week after week, the product on the track is better than the product people see on TV.
I thought the race was great and I thought there was plenty of passing, it just wasn’t for the lead. And FOX did a terrible job of showing it. The the final laps were exciting, even before the caution, because BK was hunting down Johnson. The racing was much, much better than last week and deserves a nod for it.
I wonder how many haters will blame Danica for “not driving the car right and that’s why it blew a R/F tire” this week…
No real cars= no real fans. Gen 6 is as lame as the last!
Come on guys, the car has 1 (that’s O-N-E) leitimate race under its belt! Give the teams some time to work on it. If they could make that turd CoT work after several hundred races, then these cars should be great by mid-season.
They have a lot of the right things you’d like to see. Lighter, more left side weight, lower CoG, more drag. Those things should make this car much better after they have a chance to figure out the chassis dynamics to make it run.
Hooray for 2 columns in a row from Matt!
This was a pretty typical race at Phoenix not terribly exciting to watch. Have to laugh at all of the hype over the Gen6 car which seems to be producing about the same level of aero issues as the COT did. I’m not surprised at all, considering that what NASCAR promises vs what it delivers is always suspect any more.
I had the tv on mute so I didn’t have to listen to DW wax poetic over Danica over and over nor cry tears when she blew a tire and wasn’t able to continue and win the race. He really doesn’t do ANY driver a favor when he fixates on them. Let the fans decide who they want to cheer for, rather than try and stuff it down our throats by repeating their name incessantly.
Listening to both Johnson & Hamlin whine excessively over their foul fortunes when finishing 2nd & 3rd makes me feel ill.
Gee, I’m so excited about Las Vegas – did you hear Johnson & Patrick will be leading the charge! Be still my heart.
Of course Vegas will be another late starting race for me on the East Coast. I only watched as much of the borefest at Phoenix as I did because it was getting cold & dark and I’m fighting a cold.
The audio on my raceview worked although nothing else did. I sat online waiting to “chat” with the help desk for an hour and a half. Amazingly bad for a product that when Turner had it was reasonably functional, if not perfect.
JJ doing what he does best: Crying!! Love the tv commentators that said it was “sour grapes!! Kudos to them for having the guts to call a spade a spade!!
What a negative article..I Would almost think Matt didn’t like Nascar racing at all..The guy I heard complaining about “no passing” passed the whole field except for 2
As a three time champion, JJ thinks NASCAR should kiss his Butt.
One thing you can be sure of from Matt with these race critiques: You never go without hearing him take a shot at Danica. So when Danica finishes Top 10 in a non restrictor plate race this year (bank on it), what’s the excuse going to be? Fuel mileage, luck, the drivers felt bad for her? Couldn’t give her credit for a good run last week and back on the haterade this week.
And by the way, Matt, your attempt at humor is weak and borderline classless. Time to get some new material. The fans leaving on their feet comment was especially classy.
yeah, Matt’s back, won’t have to waste a minute watching and will get the real story. Sorry I missed your last weeks column, I stopped reading the site because you were gone. Let’s take up a collection to keep him. Welcome back.
I recall two on track passes for the lead. It happened the same run, Biffle past Montoya who then returned the favor. It was the best sequence of racing shown until the final lap.
Would it kill FOX to show side by side racing further back in the pack? Watching a leader all by himself is not entertaining. There is a reason Sebastian Vettel doesn’t get on camera during F1 races after the start.
Cheers to Toyota. It is nice to see mechanical failure (Sorry Goodyear, you do not count) back in racing. The fact that the Toyotas are the fastest yet least reliable is evidence that they are trying. This is not always obvious in this sport.
BTW, you are entitled to voice your opinion butif you don’t like the message Matt is delivering there is an easy answer…. Don’r read it.
Bill, there are alot of things that I agree with that Matt says about the sport, but every week he has to say something negative about Danica. Its tiring and makes him look like a sexist hater. Last week in Daytona Danica had a nice run and deserved some credit but Matt couldn’t do it.
For someone who supposedly knows alot about racing, he appears to know very little about her racing background. If you have seen her drive in Indy in person, you know she can drive. She mixed it up plenty with the boys in that series going over 200mph in the process.
What I find hypocritical is he complains that Danica gets too much coverage from the media, but he talks about her every week in his column? Doesn’t that make him a contributor to the very problem?
I wait with breathless anticipation for what excuses Matt will come up with when she finishes top 10 in a non plate track. Until then I will continue to get a good chuckle at his backhanded juvenile comments about her each week.
Good to see you back Matt. Just as curmudgeonly as ever.
NA$CAR has only 3 tricks left in it’s bag of tricks this season. Princess Sparkle Pony, Jr, and the COT II better known as the Gen 6. So be prepared to have those 3 items shoved down your throat even after Fox ends the season. So mute the TV, find MRN/PRN, and listen to real commentary while watching the weekend “highlight reel” that Fox presents and passes off as race coverage.
“Nationwide” is a business name and is comprised of one word, not two and your use of N.W. is in error. The abbreviation N.W. usually stands for North West.