Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Monday March 18, 2013
The Key Moment – Brad Keselowski, the race leader, never got up to speed on the final restart, allowing Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch to pass him before the first corner. While Keselowski and Busch battled over second, Kahne drove off to a win.
In a Nutshell – New car, new track, same old Bristol racing.
Dramatic Moment – There’s many to choose from, including that final restart, but my nod goes to the incident where Jeff Gordon blew a tire while leading and took out second-place contender Matt Kenseth. It’s rare these days you see the entire complexion of the race change in the blink of an eye. (Or during commercial break, in this case… sigh.)
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week
OK, a pretty good race. So was it the new Gen-6 car or the new Bristol track surface that returned some action to Thunder Valley? I’m going to guess that the track configuration deserves more of the credit considering both Saturday’s Nationwide race and Sunday’s Cup event were barn-burners, armed with two completely different sorts of cars on the track. Am I going to get fined 25 grand for saying that?
It was hard not to notice vast swathes of empty seats in the grandstands at a track that once sold out 55 consecutive Cup races. My guess, though is that Sunday did more to sell tickets for Bristol’s August night race than all the clever commercials and promotions Bruton Smith can dream up. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and Sunday’s race was just about spot on. Now if he could just get the local hospitality (hostility?) industry to offer hotel rooms for under 400 bucks a night, we might see the stands full again sometime soon.
When, exactly did the old restart rules go out the window? Before my time as a writer, as long as I’ve been a fan (and we’re talking almost five decades here) I’ve understood that the leader decides the pace of the restart. If the second-place driver is first to the line, they have two choices: either surrender the position or get black-flagged. (Ask Carl Edwards.) If the new rule is that once the second-place driver restarts inside the restart “box,” the race is on, I’m fine with that. It’d make for more exciting racing, but I hate to hand NASCAR officials another “judgment call” because they don’t have the best record of consistency in such matters. In other forms of auto racing, if the restart is questionable track officials will wave it off, line everyone back up and try it again. And I’m not talking little dirt track hobby stock races, either. I’ve seen it happen at the Indy 500.
It would appear that after a week of public furor, in the wake of Denny Hamlin’s $25,000 fine all parties would like to sweep this unsightly mess under the carpet. Hamlin’s penalty for his post-Phoenix comments that the Gen Six (sux?) car was a work in progress were clearly evident to anyone who’d managed to stay awake for the entire 500-kilometer event. Fans didn’t need Hamlin to tell them that the new car needed some tweaking; after all, there was almost zero side-by-side racing they’ve all so desperately wanted. It seems even some folks in the NASCAR hierarchy are admitting now, way off the record, Hamlin’s fine was an overreaction and an unnecessary distraction that cast more light on the issue than his actual comments warranted. Additionally, almost all sources say that the person behind the fine was Brian France. Color me surprised… but here’s the weird part. When’s the last time France was actually around at the conclusion of a race to listen to what anyone had to say?
A couple things really bothered me about Hamlin’s fine and its resolution. Firstly, it didn’t seem like enough contemporaries in the garage area rallied to his support. Rather, most ducked like scared little rabbits into their warren to avoid the topic. Anyone else remember the movie The Stepford Wives? Secondly, Hamlin now says he’s on the “same page” as Brian France on the issue. Note to Mr. Hamlin: If you’re on the same page as Brian France, not only are you reading the wrong book, you’re in the wrong library. Hamlin did hint that one of the reasons he was so enraged by the fine is he feels other drivers have had more controversial comments and not been penalized. He feels after his eight years in the sport, along with his notable accomplishments during that period he should have earned the same respect from NASCAR given to the sport’s other top stars. He hinted broadly that it seemed the Hendrick Motorsports drivers can get away with almost anything, on or off the track. It’s interesting to note that when Kyle Busch won the first Gen-5 (aka Car of Tomorrow) race, he proclaimed in Victory Lane the car “sucked.” He was not fined for the remark, and – coincidentally – he was driving for HMS in that era.
It also rather bothered me that Hamlin said the matter wasn’t worth pursuing because the amount in dispute was “only” $25,000 dollars. Driver No. 11 needs to recall his fine is more than some of his fans clear, post-taxes in a year. If $25,000 is nothing, I could use it anyway, Denny.
Listen, I am Irish. And old. I’ve been celebrating St. Patty’s Day since it meant sneaking a Schlitz out of my dad’s case in the garage. I can say with authority Saint Patrick’s Day was not named after Danica, despite the FOX TV network’s attempt to canonize her as the Patron Saint of Failing TV Ratings. The only thing Saint Patty and Danica have in common is they both wear green a lot.
Rain fell in Bristol Sunday morning and threatened all day. So where was NASCAR’s new “suck truck” that Brian France is so proud of? Still sitting at Daytona. Apparently, they haven’t figured out a way to transport that vehicle from track to track yet. Or maybe it’s still being fitted with its “glass dashboard.”
Penske Racing’s defection to Ford is fortuitous for the Blue Oval Boys. With Brad Keselowski posting four top-5 finishes, in four races they’ve pretty much been carrying their flag this year.
Saturday was a cold, rainy and at times even snowy day with slate gray clouds seemingly at treetop level here in South Central PA. I think Admiral Byrd would have refused an expedition to my mailbox. To pass the time on such days, I routinely root through my collection of old car magazines, particularly Car and Driver, and re-read road tests from an era when Hemi Cudas, Daytonas (both of the 365 and Charger form) Cobra Jets and LS6 powered Chevelles roamed the earth, fighting for street supremacy. Why bring this up? It seems while NASCAR is facing several more lawsuits, from fans injured in Daytona’s Nationwide race their defense seems to be “nobody could have seen this coming.” Really? Legendary auto writer Brock Yates wrote, back in the day, “Racing experts are in almost total agreement that fans in the lower seats at Daytona are in great danger, both from a car bounding into the stands and from flying debris. They must be better protected from both hazards.” That, my friends was written in the May 1968 issue of Car and Driver in a recount of a race that ran in February that same year. (Page 91 if you have access to a copy.)
OK, I give up. What was a guy dressed as a banana doing backstage at drivers intros?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Last week’s winner, Matt Kenseth was challenging Jeff Gordon for the top spot and probably would have had him within a lap. That’s when Gordon blew a tire and collected the No. 20 car, causing his second trip to the garage in four races (35th). It’s a cruel sport, this NASCAR; you’re in the penthouse one week and the outhouse the next.
The race was only nine laps down when Tony Stewart lost a tire and tore his car to shreds. Where there’s Smoke, there’s suffering as of late; 31st is his third finish outside the top 10 in four races.
Jeff Burton suffered an unusual problem when his foot got stuck between the throttle pedal and the firewall as he attempted to lift for a wreck. He wound up 32nd.
Joey Logano was running second when he and Denny Hamlin had a little dispute over who should have the spot. The ill will then spilled over after the race in a brief but heated conversation in the garage area. That’s the second time (add in: Daytona 500) these former teammates have now tangled in 2013. Do we have the makings of a rivalry here?
Hamlin clearly had one of the fastest cars at Bristol, but lost the handle late (23rd). For the final seven laps, he crawled around using the wall like a bank on a pool table trying to keep the No. 11 in the pocket.
Jimmie Johnson, a picture of consistency this year to date, finally felt the fickle finger of fate when he blew a tire and slammed the wall. He ran 22nd.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Kasey Kahne had his car all sorts of sideways several times in his charge to the front. You also have to think he was getting pretty nervous there, at the end having seen two of his teammates lose tires and clobber the wall.
Kyle Busch looked to be going for a weekend sweep, winning both practice sessions, the Cup pole and Saturday’s N.W. race. He, in fact, dominated early on Sunday but once again drew a pit road speeding penalty and was sent to the back of the pack. Considering that obstacle, second was a nice recovery.
After a disastrous 2012 Cup season and a slow start to this one Jamie McMurray was finally enjoying a good run in third when he spun out. Slowly but surely, McMurray rallied back to a credible 10th-place finish, his best so far in 2013. These days, such results at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing are rarer than graduating virgins at Penn State.
Kurt Busch had a top-10 run going when he ducked into the pits under green with a flat tire. He fell off the lead lap, but bounced back, charging to fourth in a rarity for his underfunded Furniture Row Racing team.
We’ll finish up with two drivers who are consistently strong in Thunder Valley as of late. In his first Cup start, in 2013 Brian Vickers managed a credible eighth-place finish, on the lead lap in the No. 55 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also drove well, moving up from a 32nd-place starting spot to sixth.
What’s the Points?
Reigning champ Keselowski is back atop the point standings. Previous leader Johnson fell two spots to third, with Earnhardt sandwiched between them. Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle round out the top 5.
It’s still way too early to fixate on the championship, but it is notable that every driver from ninth on back has already spotted more than a full race’s worth of points to Keselowski. Already, there’s a bit of a chasm keeping those drivers on the right side of the Chase.
Among those who need to turn their seasons around, four races in we find Kenseth (13th), Kevin Harvick (17th), Gordon (21st) and Stewart (24th).
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 this one four icy cold bottles of Corona (dyed green, of course) with an oversize shot of Gentleman Jack as a chaser. The closing laps couldn’t rival Saturday’s race, but there was intense, side-by-side competition throughout the field all day.
Next Up – The series heads off west (for the third time this season) to compete in the annual snoozefest at Fontana. On a brighter note, fans still battling the ill effects of last weekend’s lost hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time ought to get back on schedule with a long afternoon nap. Here’s a surprise: good seats are still available for Sunday. And trust me, they will be… right up until the wrecking balls consign them to a landfill so a new mall can be built on the former site of this failed track. Turns out, even in the best of times at Fontana there’s no such thing as a good seat for a bad race.
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Great way to start Monday morning with your column! It was a pretty decent race, by far the best of the season so far.
Brain Farce just makes me sick!! He is just plain stupid, and how can anyone respect ANY of the drivers as they expound the “company line”….I sure hope to live to see the death of nascrap!!
i haven’t seen any updates, are the two fans from the daytona mess still in the hospital? i think early part of last week they were still hospitalized.
It’s not only the local motels that are hurting the fans. Taxes will be going up again, gas is going up, the economy is NOT growing and jobs are still hard to find.
But, thanks to Bruton Smith for listening to fans and spending the money, the race was much better.
Also, remember, not long after Kyle Busch said the COT sucked, he lost his Hendrick ride.
Good to hear from you, Matt. By far the best race of the season. Good action. Now it’s back to the west coast (didn’t they just race there?) for just the opposite kind of race. Boring. I attended a race there 11 years ago and it’s just as boring in person. We need a few more short tracks. Have a good day.
Great column, as always.
I just want everyone out there to be aware, if you go to Bristol’s website and want to purchase tickets, the same will happen, as the tickets have been sold to Ticketmaster, who sold them to a couple other sellers and they are scalping them at obscene prices.
I won’t speak to the attendance issue because there are so many factors that come into play, but more short tracks might go a long way to increasing television ratings.
al – did your wife buy them from a ticket broker besides tickemaster? i know brokers increase the pric as well. ticketmaster is highway robbery, you can buy multiple tickets but then nail you for fees for each ticket in the group.
hopefully when you attend the august race you won’t have to stay overnight to avoid the hospitality price gouging as well.
good to see another column from you, Matt. I watched thru the early part of the race and it was interesting to watch. Short tracks are always lots more fun to watch than the dreaded mile and a half overload. I was going out with friends – when I left Gordon was in the lead – heard on the radio the report that he blew the tire & was out. Ugh! Funny how I’ve read that Goodyear was blaming the teams (surprise) but some of them (including Gordon) probably pushed the tires too far in distance but what was the excuse for Stewart’s blowing up with only 9 laps in?
Hope maybe the weather will be better this weekend than it was this past one – I can do yard work rather than watch the borefest at Fontana.
Ouch, Al_, that is quite a markup on tickets! Yeah we stopped buying concert tickets from Ticketmaster. All of the markup made us rethink it.
LOL, yeah, Brainless must have watched a video of the post-race since I doubt he was there to hear it in person. I can’t imagine he was at the track – unless it was the dog or horses running.
I want to know who the (as of me typing this) three race ‘fans’ who voted the race yesterday as one can or no cans of brew? Who are you and why are you bothering to read and click on this website?
Now if it was next weekend, I’d probably agree whole-heartedly. But not at Bristol.
And Bill B is right on – more short tracks would do wonders for revitalizing Nascar. Start with Fontana! To channel President Reagan: Mr. France – Tear down that track!
I saw plenty of empty seats in the stands for the cup race yesterday but that was nothing compared to the whole empty sections of grandstands for the Nationwide race Saturday. This has to be embarrassing for the track that used to be hardest ticket to get in motorsports.
JP… I think what did Kyle Busch in at HMS was leaving the track after he wrecked out of a race and was nowhere to be found after the crew fixed the car. They ended up putting Junior in the car since he had wrecked as well. The next season Kyle was gone and Junior was the new driver.
I thought the race was quite fun to watch, especially on mute. The 5-way battle in the top 5 for the last 100 laps or so was quite exciting.
Funny, I remember someone mentioning that “Danica blowing her R/F tire at Phoenix is because she sucks and can’t manage her tires.”
I guess Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are bad drivers too.
I’m guessing that if people are going to spend the money it takes to go to Bristol they would rather spend it on the “night race”. That said, maybe Bruton should consider asking NASCAR to switch dates with Texas in April.
On Hamiln, I’m getting sick of his act. I was on his side with the find last week, but after what he did to Logano, I’m glad he got nailed. For a guy whose most notable accomplishment was choking the championship 2010, he preaches like he was Dale Sr. I just remember when he said a few years ago Brad K. was going to be a washout.
Carl D., if you remember, during Kyle’s last year at Hendrick he was always having “issues” in the pits. Loose lug nuts, etc. He even starting saying he was afraid to come in to pit because of those mysterious “issues”. THAT’S why he was pissed and left the car.
Hendrick knew Jr. was going to move over to his company ahead of time. People talk.
Matt, the banana was part of the Bristol driver intros. The drivers get to choose their own music. I’m having a brain fade who, but that driver chose the Harlem Shake. It involves people in various goofy costumes dancing hilariously. Look it up on YouTube if you dont understand.
Kevin in SoCal, it was JJ Yeley who did the Harlem Shake.
Oh, and about the track dryer, do you really think ISC is going to loan their super-duper track dryer to an SMI track?
I was lucky enough to be in Phx and Vegas for the races. I love racing and would go to every event if I didn’t have responsibilities. However, I would like to see the season shortened. If I’m going to spend the money to go to a race weekend I want the weather nice and warm for the weekend. Not have a day here or there that is mid-60s. Nationwide race in Phx was a nice day though it could’ve been warmer. Sunday was cold. Nationwide race in Vegas was another cold day. Sunday was awesome because the sun was actually out. I preferred the Phx spring race when it actually was in the spring (April) and not the winter. Maybe there would be full crowds and better racing if it wasn’t 36 weeks a year. Just my opinion.
Before I make this controversial statement I will concede that I don’t like going to events in cold weather. I’ve only been to a handful of NFL games that take place after mid-October. However, I must ask, are we NASCAR fans wimps compared to NFL fans? NFL games sell out in Dec and Jan, in snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Why is it so difficult for NASCAR fans to dress for the weather and deal with it. (Of course rain is another story, apples and organges there).
JP… I guess i forgot the specific details of Kyle’s last year at HMS. Thanks for the refresher.
It was good racing at Bristol yesterday, but I don’t expect to see the stands full come August. When they reconfigured the track they threw away a following that took decades to build up, and it will take a decade of racing like yesterday to get back to full stands and sell outs. When it was the hardest ticket in Nascar the fans would put up with an occasional dud of a race, knowing that the next one would be an instant classic. Bristol needs to prove once again that the majority of races will be top shelf before the fans come back en mass.
The “Bristol of Old” is gone forever, but the race yesterday was about as good as one can expect in todays Nascar.
Bill B. … Back in the 80’s I spent a weekend in the infield at Rockingham in either late Feb. or early March. It was freezing cold. There were 55-gallon drums in the infield and anything that would burn was going in those barrels. It looked like a city of homeless people standing around those burn barrels all night long because it was too cold to sleep. Maybe Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers fans could have handled it better than me; more power to them. I wouldn’t do it again.
Upstate24fan; I’m with you on Hamster. I was 100% behind him on that stupid fine issue, even though I never cared for the little whiner, but watching what he did to Logano just withdrew my support. Logano passes him and pulls up in front (maybe a bit early) causing Hamster to lift. OK, that’s racing. But then does that justify going after him and wrecking him on purpose? Hamster, just like his Gibbs teammate PeeWee Herman, is total slime. I am so glad that Gibbs had the wherewithal to sign a quality driver (and HUMAN BEING) like Kenseth in order to get back some respect.
He just can’t help himself folks. The broadcast is fairly Danica light and yet Matt still has to take a shot at her in his column. Face it Matt, people are interested in how she does. As long as people are interested, she is going to get her face time, no matter how much you bitch about it.
Instead of complaining about Danica every week how bout talking about guys like Nemechek who has not started and parked all year, the #51 team that is currently 8th in owners points or Kurt Busch who finished 4th? Nope, rather hate on Danica.
bill – i remember going to spring atlanta race right around march 10th(it use to be 3 weeks after the daytona 500) and freezing in the grandstands. you’d dress in layers and tote quilts and blankets to help keep warm. i still have my “race track coat”, which is a down filled coat with hood and deep pockets. remmber being at richmond once in the snow. going early in season is like going in blistering heat of the summer. that’s one reason they moved the “summer” dega race to later in the year cause of the evil heat and humidity.
and always, regardless of what forecast is, pack a poncho! nothing worse than rain at the race track. never know what is going to drip down from the stands when standing underneath for cover in downpour!
Way sick of Hamlin too.
He was so much better than Keselowski – how did that work out? He better watch out that Logano doesn’t go by him.
Couldn’t agree more about Kenseth.
Fun race to watch – can’t remember last time I said that.
More short tracks!!
Bill, I’ve sat through cold rainy races at Martinsville and whoever’s dumb idea it was to make Charlotte a night race in late OCT should have his head examined. I don’t know that NFL fans are heartier than NASCAR fans. I always come equipped with cold weather AND rain gear (got caught without it at Richmond one year in May – I almost died of hypothermia). After that, never went to a race without it.
However, since in effect NASCAR made the season different by instituting the chase over teh last 10 races, why not change the season and do one race at each track? That would shorten the season and make more of a supply/demand for races. Of course, NASCAR still would have to make the cars be able to pass at the mile and a halfers or they will still be duds.
I like the Pee Wee Herman comparison. LOL I hadn’t thought of it, but I like it. I figure the Busch brothers and Hamlin were all raised by the same family of wolves and no one ever taught them manners or sportsmanship. There is a difference between racing hard and being a jackass.
This weekend is your chance to send a message to nascar. Boycott Fontana…do not watch the race. Let the ratings speak.
I think the reason that more drivers didn’t run to Denny’s aid is because they all think he is a bit too egocentric. His comments about Hendrick drivers after his decision to not appeal and Joey Logano after Bristol only confirm as much. Hamlin needs to be more self-aware and less self-absorbed. Just think what would have happened if he would have taken a shot in the press at Big E or Bobby Allison or the like back in the day. He wouldn’t have made to lap 50 before he would have been in the garage with his own radiator issues. Hamlin needs to grow up.
Why are we still even racing at Fontana? NASCAR needs to realize Irwindale’s potential and award it a Cup race, to kick Fontana off of the NASCAR slate. Irwindale deserves a Cup race, along with a Nationwide race and a Truck Series race, because it is a slam bam short track that fans will LOVE for sure. It is a travesty that Irwindale is essentially bankrupt while Fontana is still up and running. It should be the other way around.
The discussion of attending races in the cold has triggered one of my rare late night reflections on racing “the way it used to be”. (In my defense I only got home from work two hours ago.)
The Puffy Coat.
Unfortunately for me now, the Spring Carlisle Swap meet is always held on the SAME WEEKEND as Richmond! Since we have season tickets for both Richmond races, I can now only get to Carlisle in the Fall (sniff, sniff).
I was at Bristol this weekend and there is no question that weather is a factor in attendance of the spring race, just as it was in Atlanta.
It rained all night both Friday and Saturday night, and we were very lucky that both days the weather moderated.
I can tell you that Sunday’s race was only about 50-55% full.
Right after we left the track Sunday the clouds rolled in and it got windy and cold.
This race needs to be moved at least two weekends later; March weather is much too volatile in the south.
More short tracks & Less fontana (Dull Dull Dull)