NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Benny Parsons : 1941-2007 · Matt McLaughlin · Tuesday January 16, 2007
Editor’s Note : In honor of Benny Parsons, who died Tuesday at the age of 65, Matt McLaughlin chooses to remember the life Parsons lived on the track…including one incredible championship no one will ever forget.
The date was October 21st, 1973, and the Winston Cup teams were in Rockingham, North Carolina for the final event of the season, the American 500. Going into the race Benny Parsons had what most people thought was a comfortable lead in the Winston Cup title chase, but because of a bizarre points system, one of several fumbled attempts by NASCAR in the 70’s, no one was quite sure what he needed to do to take the title. There was just one thing everyone did know : Parsons needed to keep his Chevy off the wall. But there on the unlucky 13th lap sat Benny Parsons in a thoroughly mangled racecar, his hopes for a championship seemingly strewn along the length of the first and second corners, right along with major pieces of his car.
A little background on the events leading up to that day may help explain things. There were only 28 events on the 1973 schedule, the second year of a downsized schedule that had once averaged about 48 races a year. Winston, which had become the title sponsor of NASCAR’s senior division in 1971, had insisted in 1972 any race of less than 250 miles be dropped from the schedule. It had been those rough and tumble short track races that had once given the smaller teams a chance to compete with the big dogs of the day : Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and David Pearson, so many teams were no longer attending every event because of the new rules. In fact, only six teams had gone to every race in 1972. In an effort to lure more teams into running the full circuit, rather than “cherry picking” (running only the events with large purses) a new points system was devised where the winner received 100 points and every team got a half point for every lap they completed. Thus, a team hoping to take the title had to go to every race and run every lap possible. A driver finishing 12th, but on the lead lap, received just as many points as the driver who finished second if they were on the same lap. The system was not quite as bizarre as it seems, because in those days it was not unusual for the winner to be on a lap by himself, while a car that finished fifth would be 10 or 20 laps down.
Benny Parsons was one of those running the full schedule in '73, driving a pumpkin orange with Petty blue wheels â€˜73 Chevelle. (Let’s keep in mind the â€˜70s were an aesthetic disaster). The car was owned by L.G. DeWitt and ran without a primary sponsor at most races, although UNOCAL 76 was on the car’s quarter panels occasionally, as was Dewitt Trucking or any other sponsor interested in a one race deal. The team was lightly funded and lightly regarded, though Parsons and Dewitt had won a hundred mile event at the tiny South Boston track back in â€˜71. Parsons was a well-liked driver with an infectious sense of humor, but was considered a journeyman who had come up through the ARCA ranks to produce limited Cup success to date. An underdog organization if you ever saw one, the 72 team's ability to continue operating simply depended on winning enough money at each event without tearing up the car to get to the next race.
Going into 1973, the odds-on favorite to take the title was Richard Petty in his heavily funded STP Dodge. Petty had won the title in 1971 and 1972, scoring 21 victories in the 1971 season alone. His primary competition was Bobby Allison in a Coca-Cola sponsored Chevrolet, the runner up for the '72 title. Cale Yarborough was also returning to NASCAR after a brief stint in the Indy Car ranks, driving for the Junior Johnson – Ron Howard team, and so he was also considered a threat. Though they would only compete in 18 events, the combination of David Pearson and the Woods Brothers Mercury would also be a tough contender at the big tracks; as for the rest of the drivers, they would have to settle for the crumbs.
1973 was a turbulent season, and almost from the outset the big teams were complaining that the points system rewarded consistency rather than running hard. Meanwhile, the smaller teams were complaining only the big dogs got appearance money and that the purses were ridiculously small. Everyone was pointing fingers at everyone else and complaining they were cheating. Midway through the season NASCAR made a highly controversial rules change trying to achieve “parity” (yes, that dreaded word has been around all these years). The big 426 Hemis and Ford Boss 429 engines were saddled with smaller restrictor plates, all in an effort to try and give the production-based Chevy 427 Rat a chance with its conventional cylinder heads. The Ford based teams were particularly vocal because to that point (and indeed throughout the entire season) only Pearson and his Wood Brothers’ Mercury had won races for the Blue Oval folks.
Throughout it all, Benny Parsons was quietly out there running, careful to avoid wrecks or hurting an engine while the big name drivers were blowing up or wrecking fighting over the lead. The season was not without its incidents for Parsons, though. He lost an engine at Daytona and wound up 30th, a poor way to start things. The team only had a couple of the new Chevelles and often had to run year-old Monte Carlos, which were about as aerodynamic as a brick outhouse, and in one case actually trotted out a â€˜71 Mercury because that was all they had left that kept running.
Benny did have his one shining day in the sun July 8th at Bristol. The day was so brutally hot only six drivers made the entire race without needing a relief driver. Even Benny was forced to put John Utsman in the car after Parsons built up a comfortable lead. How comfortable? He was credited with finishing seven laps ahead of second place driver L.D. Ottinger, as most of the big name drivers were felled by mechanical problems or wrecks that blistering day in Tennessee. For the win Parsons, was awarded the princely sum of 6,800 dollars, boosting his underdog team's growing chances for an unlikely points title. Quietly, Parsons continued marching towards his championship, finishing in the Top 5 fifteen times and in the top ten 21 times in 27 starts.
The pundits were stunned when Parsons arrived at the track in Rockingham for the last race of the year with a 194.3 point lead. Not only was Parsons and the DeWitt team in the lead, two other lightly regarded drivers, James Hylton in a family team Mercury and Cecil Gordon in the number 24 Monte Carlo (just a coincidence; Cecil is no relation to the current Gordon who drives the 24) were also in the top six in the points, right along with Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, and Cale Yarborough.
Benny knew what he needed to do to take the title; finish the race and run as many laps as possible without taking any risks. He was honest about the fact he wasn't gunning for a win that day, telling reporters, “My very livelihood is at stake. Richard or Cale’s isn’t. The championship would assure us of continuing racing. Everyone needs a sponsor, and winning would give us a selling point for additional backing next year. Nothing less than winning the championship affords us that opportunity.”
Well, as the saying goes, “The best laid plans of mice and menâ€¦” On that fateful 13th lap, Johnny Barnes got sideways in the first corner. Parsons tried to duck low to avoid him, but quickly ran out of room; the resultant impact sounded like a bomb going off. When the smoke cleared, there sat Benny’s Chevy with its right side torn away, its roll cage can-openered open, the right front tire gone, and the entire rear axle assembly laying separate from the car. The car looked hopeless, and a dejected Benny Parsons told the press, “There just went fifty thousand dollars down the drain.” It may seem hard to believe to anyone of you who was still getting ready to duke it out in the Fallopian Tube 500 back in the seventies, but 50,000 dollars was the money the points champion took home in those days.
While Benny was showing his concern, his crew chief Travis Carter (current owner of the 23 team) wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. The wreck was towed back to the garage area, and something remarkable happened. Members of other independent teams came hurrying over to give the DeWitt crew a hand trying to piece back together the shattered Chevy. Another Chevelle that had failed to qualify was pressed into service as a parts car, and the right side portion of the roll cage was cut off and welded into place on Parson’s No. 72. The damaged sheetmetal was removed with a torch, and the suspension was completely rebuilt. The miracle that eventually occurred that day is right up there with the ending of the Charlie Brown Christmas special, where the Peanuts gang brings the ugly little tree back to lifeâ€¦only that Christmas tree looked great. What was left of Parson’s car was so ugly you’d have had to tie a steak to the roll cage to get a dog to relieve itself on one of the tires. There was no right front fender, door panel, or quarter panel. The windshield, decklid, and hood were held on with duct tape. The color of the roll cage section grafted in, didn’t match, and the welds looked like they were squeezed out of a toothpaste tube. But it ran. On the 149th lap, Parsons returned to the track in his beat up racecar to the wild cheers from the fans in the stands. Parsons had one bit of good luck even while his car was being juryrigged back together, as Richard Petty retired on the 133rd lap with mechanical problems. Parsons drove slowly around the track, collecting lap points while in his pits Carter scribbled frantically away, trying to determine how many laps Benny had to complete to take the championship. On the 394th lap Benny parked the car, which was vibrating too badly to continue by that point. Still, it was enough. That day David slew Goliath, and Benny Parsons and the under-funded DeWitt team won the 1973 Winston Cup championship with a little help from their friends.
AFTERMATH. 1973 was the only Winston Cup championship that Benny Parsons won, though he went on to win 19 more races before hanging up his crash helmet at the end of 1988 and signing on as a commentator for ESPN. In his career, which spanned three decades he won about 4.4 million dollars, half the earnings Jimmie Johnson took home last year. Parsons’ championship was also the first for a Chevrolet driver since 1961; Chevy would succeed again later on in the â€˜70s when Cale Yarborough won three straight championships for Junior Johnson. The other big story of 1973 was David Pearson, who won 11 of 18 races he entered, 10 of them on superspeedways, to finish 13th in points despite missing ten events. After the '73 season, Richard Petty returned to form, winning the championship the following two years. As for the underdog team Parsons drove to the title, L.G. DeWitt’s organization continued running until 1980; in 1978, in fact, he prepared a car for one race for an up and coming rookie by the name of Bill Elliott.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!