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.
Countdown To Daytona Beach · Matt McLaughlin · Sunday February 4, 2007
Editor’s Note : The following is part four of Matt McLaughlin’s 11-part series on the history of racing at Daytona. Miss the first three editions? Don’t worry…we have the links for you here. Enjoy!
The Hemi Chryslers had dominated the 1964 Daytona Speedweeks, but it was a very different picture when the 1965 event rolled around. The big Hemis had been outlawed, and Chrysler was boycotting NASCAR racing. Besides the Dodge and Plymouth cars being out of action, so were their factory drivers, sitting on the sidelines at Chrysler’s insistence. As a result, attendance at the 500,which had approached 70,000 in 1964, was off to less than 59,000 and even at that some people think Bill France was overstating the number to make it look like less of a disaster. Darel Dieringer held off a determined charge by Ned Jarrett in the final corner of the first qualifier to take the win in a Mercury. The second qualifier was another one of those carnage strewn events Daytona sometimes produced. With the Chrysler teams sitting out, a lot of rookie drivers saw an opportunity to make the big show. Some of them had never competed on any track bigger than a half mile before in their lives. One of them, Rod Eulenfeld, spun out on the very first lap and came back onto the track triggering a 13 car pile up that involved a lot of the other rookies as well. Buck Baker was also injured in the pile up. Throughout the tracks history the Daytona 500 has been marred by terrible and occasionally tragic wrecks involving rookies running on the massive speedway in traffic for the first time. Conventional wisdom is a rookie who gets through his qualifier incident free will be all right in the 500. Many times they do not. Fred Lorenzen appeared to have the second qualifier sewn up when he made a rare mental error. He passed Junior Johnson on the 39th lap of the event, and as he crossed the line thought the race was over and lifted off the throttle a lap early. Junior stormed back past him and won the race the next lap over a highly flustered Lorenzen.
The day of the 1965 Daytona 500 dawned dark and dreary, with heavy rains in the forecast. NASCAR tried desperately to get the event in anyway. Junior Johnson looked stout early but lost a tire and slugged the wall a ton, fortunately doing a lot more damage to the wall than his person, but unfortunately ending his day. That left Marvin Panch and Fred Lorenzen to race each other and the rain. As the rain began falling Panch tried a desperate high side move to get around Lorenzen getting back to the yellow fearing the rain would end the event. Neither driver could see due to the heavy downpour and Fred drifted high. The two cars collided and Panch spun out while Lorenzen managed to regain control. The race was red flagged five laps later on lap 133, and after a long rain delay was called as darkness fell. Fred Lorenzen was given credit for winning the Daytona 500. Fords finished 1-13 due to the lack of Chrysler competition, a record that will probably never be broken. Eventual 1965 champion, Ned Jarrett finished fifth that rainy day.
The Daytona 500 was run under threatening skies again in 1966, both literally and figuratively. Rain was in the forecast for the afternoon of the big event, and while the Ford teams were present at the race, there were threats of a Ford boycott after the race if NASCAR didn’t approve the 427 SOHC engine. Both 100 mile qualifiers that year were decided by last lap passes. Paul Goldsmith passed Richard Petty down the final straightaway to the checkers to claim the first race by a car length, leading another Chrysler 1-2-3 finish. In the second event Earl Balmer in a Dodge passed Jim Hurtubise in a Plymouth on the final lap, while Dick Hutcherson finished third in a Holmon and Moody Ford to salvage a little honor for the blue oval brigade.
The story of the 1966 Daytona 500 was once again Richard Petty in the blue 43 Plymouth. He took the lead for the final time on lap 113 and was never headed, once again finishing on a lap by himself. In doing so he became the first two time winner of the February Daytona classic. Rain washed out the event with two laps left to run, to help end the other competitor’s misery. A side story involved tires which were failing left and right. Jim Hurtubise seemed to have the worst problem chunking tires. Rubber shrapnel from his disintegrating tires smashed out the windshield of many front runner eliminating them from contention. By coincidence those rubber chunks took out more top name Fords than fellow Mopar drivers. In a remark he probably later regretted making Curtis Turner blamed it on Chrysler strategy. Other than Petty’s dominance the results weren’t all that lopsided. Cale Yarborough wound up second in a Banjo Matthews’ Ford, followed by David Pearson in a Dodge, and Fed Lorenzen in another Ford. Still Ford was steamed that Petty had shown them up so badly and shortly thereafter began a boycott of their own pulling their factory teams. Daytona ticket sales had rebounded nicely to an announced 90,000 mark with all the top drivers on hand, but once again a factory boycott crippled ticket sales throughout most of the rest of the season.
In 1967, Chrysler was once again considering a boycott, but their frustrated drivers, including Richard Petty, announced they would not honor a second boycott. The focus returned to racing at Daytona. the first qualifier race that year was an exciting event with NASCAR regular LeeRoy Yarbrough passing Indy car legend AJ Foyt with five laps to go and holding off Foyt’s determined attempts to retake the lead. Tiny Lund, who was a lap down, moved over to let LeeRoy by, and in doing so blocked one of Foyt’s attempts at passing. After the race AJ showed that famous temper that reflared at Texas in the IRL victory lane, storming around insisting that Lund had purposely gotten in his way, and threatening not to run the 500. He asked what a NASCAR official was going to do about that., to which the calm reply was, “Wellâ€¦..I guess we’ll just have to move everybody else up one starting place.” Foyt backed down and ran the race. Team strategy won the race for Fred Lorenzen in the second qualifier, as the thinking man’s driver played tortoise to the hares in the early part of the event, letting Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Mario Andretti fight over the lead tooth and nail. They all had to stop for a splash and go in the pits, while Lorenzen ran the entire event without a pit stop and took the win. Curtis Turner, who had shocked everyone by taking the pole in a Smokey Yunick Chevelle started on the pole of the first qualifying race, but parked the car after a single lap, not wanting to risk wrecking it before the big dance on Sunday.
The mechanical attrition rate in that years 500 was atrocious, with early front runners and favorites LeeRoy Yarbrough and Curtis Turner both sidelined by engine failures. David Pearson also lost an engine in his Dodge on lap 159 while duking it out with Andretti for the lead. Holmon and Moody teammates Fred Lorenzen and Mario Andretti were the cream of the crop that day eventually running on a lap of their own. Everyone was waiting for crafty stock car veteran Lorenzen to slingshot by Andretti in the final lap or two, but Richard Petty’s Plymouth suffered an uncharacteristic engine failure with two laps to go, oiling down the track and ending the event under caution. Mario pulled his blue and gold Ford into victory circle that day for his first and only win in the NASCAR series. Andretti remains the only driver to win the Daytona 500, The Indy 500 and the Formula One championship. That Daytona 500 was one of the few races Richard Petty lost that year.
The 1968 Daytona 500 marked the debut of the Ford Motor Company’s areo friendly Ford Torino, and its sister car the Mercury Cyclone, both of which had been designed with stock car racing in mind, and were notably more aerodynamic than the taxi cab Mopars. The Mercurys were thought to have an advantage over their Torino counterparts and many of the traditional Ford teams switched to the Mercs on the big tracks like Daytona. Richard Petty had an unusual black vinyl top installed on his blue Plymouth at the 500 that year. Petty crewmen were whispering in other team members ears the vinyl roofs pebbled surface helped diffuse the air flow and made the car quicker. Other teams began scrambling to install vinyl roofs on their cars. Petty was seen rubbing baby powder on his roof and again his team whispered the baby powder helped the car slip through the air. Other teams began rubbing baby powder on their cars. In later years Petty would admit it was all a prank, to play on the “monkey see-monkey do” attitudes other teams had taken towards the Petty crew after the way they dominated in 1967. Others still claim Richard’s guys did some surgery to the roof area of his Plymouth to make the car more aerodynamic and used the vinyl roof to help cover their treachery.
The qualifying races were rained out that year. that’s not to say there was no pre-race excitement. 67 was the year Smokey Yunick tried sneaking the highly illegal Chevelle through inspection, and he got so disgusted with the list of things the inspectors said needed to be corrected, Yunick hopped in the car and drove it off down the beachâ€¦.with the gas tank still sitting in the inspection garage. I guess they didn’t find all of Smokey’s tricks. There was also a confrontation in the garage area the day the qualifying races were set to run. The rains stopped and Bill France told the drivers to hurry to their cars to get the race started. The drivers refused saying the track was too wet. France went and got his personal car, pulled on a helmet and said there was going to be a race even if he was the only car out there, and the prize money would be paid. Dave Marcis, a rookie that year was prepared to take up the challenge though the other drivers refused. Heavy rain started falling again and washed out what could have been a pretty bizarre race.
Mario Andretti looked stout again in that years 500 but got caught up in a wreck with John Sears that also wiped out Buddy Baker. Baker and Andretti had some heated words after the wreck. Meanwhile out on the track there was a heated battle going on between the best of the Ford teams, LeeRoy Yarbrough in the Junior Johnson Mercury , Cale Yarborough(no relation) in the Wood Brothers Merc , David Pearson, newly transplanted from a Dodge to the Holmon and Moody seat in a Ford, and Bobby Allison driving for Bondy Long, who had owned Ned Jarrett’s 65 championship car. In the end it came down to Cale and LeeRoy with Cale in the faster car, but having trouble getting through traffic to get to LeeRoy. He managed the feat in dramatic fashion making the final pass with three laps to go and holding on for the win. Cyclones or Torinos took four of the five spots, with only Indy car standout Al Unser Senior in a Dodge spoiling the party by finishing fourth, behind Allison, but ahead of Pearson. Richard Petty, vinyl roof and all, ended up eighth two laps off the pace. The new Ford’s debut was a success.
The big pre-race story at the 1969 Daytona 500 was an unthinkable alliance making its Southeastern debut, Richard Petty driving a Ford. Mopar had attempted to design an aerodynamic car of their own but it was no match for the Fords. Ford had re-upped the ante with the new Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II, even more aerodynamic versions of the previous years cars. Petty had decided it was better to switch than fight. Ford was also supposed to debut their own Hemi engine, the Boss 429, and in fact most teams had them under the hood when they arrived, but NASCAR was not satisfied the required number of street Boss’s had been built, and the teams had to fall back on their tried and true 427’s.
Defending Grand National champion David Pearson put on a stunning demonstration of the new Ford’s aerodynamic capabilities, by turning the first official lap at over 190 miles per hour that year in his Talladega. If his competition needed a little demonstration of what that meant in race conditions, Pearson was kind enough to show them by charging from 15th to 1st in 18 laps and winning the first 125 mile qualifying race. Pearson was trailed by Cale Yarborough in a Mercury, Donnie Allison in a Ford, and AJ Foyt in another Ford. Finishing off the top five sweep for Fords was a rookie by the name of Benny Parsons in his first Grand National start. Of course Buddy Baker, one of the fastest Dodges, drove only two laps, before following Curtis Turner’s logic, parking that Dodge, rather than risking the car he had put on the pole for the big show. In a stunning reversal Bobby Isaac won the second qualifier in a Dodge leading a 1-3 sweep for the Mopars. Among those getting a chance to see the rear bumpers of the Dodge boys was Richard Petty in his new Ford, who finished 6th, and admitted his team was still trying to figure out the Fords.
The Sportsman class, from which the Busch series evolved, ran their first Daytona race the Saturday before the 500. Don Tavish had been killed in a terrible eighth lap wreck. LeeRoy Yarbrough won the event.
For the first time the crowd for the Daytona 500 exceeded 100,000 souls, 101,800 according to the official press release. They came to see the Ford/Mopar battle but in the end it was tire strategy, not the make of car that decided the outcome. Once again the attrition rate was a major factor with wrecks playing a major role. Cale Yarborough broke his nose and didn’t do the cars nose any good either slugging the wall on lap 103 after blowing a tire. Tires would remain a major problem during the 1969 season. Richard Petty made what he later admitted was a mistake in judgment and rear ended Bobby Isaac while Isaac was trying to get around slower traffic. Isaac got the worse end of the deal and was eliminated in his Dodge that had won the second qualifier, while Petty soldiered on though out of contention. Paul Goldsmith, another of the strong Mopar runners was also eliminated in a wreck.
Unlike today, in those days there were two distinct tire compounds, a softer one with better grip but high wear characteristics, and a harder more durable, but less grippy compound. Charlie Glotzbach in a Dodge had taken the lead from LeeRoy Yarbrough in a Ford and was pulling away. On the final pit stop Glotzbach’s team went with the conservative approach running the hard tires, while Junior Johnson’s had his team roll the dice with the softer compound tires on LeeRoy’s car. The difference in grip was enough to allow Yarbrough to pass Glotzbach, and LeeRoy took the win in the same race that had slipped from his grasp the previous year. Glotzbach held on for second, ahead of Donnie Allison, AJ Foyt and Buddy Baker in that order. Six Fords and four Dodges made up the top ten. Junior Johnson had won the Daytona 500 both as a driver and a team owner.
The Mopar camp had a secret weapon of their own for the 1970 Daytona 500. Frustrated by the Ford dominance on big tracks they had developed the Dodge Daytona, named after the track it was meant to dominate when introduced midway through the 1969 season, and its sister ship the Plymouth Superbird. Both were odd looking contraptions with pointy beaks and high tail fins only a motherâ€¦and the windâ€¦could love. The Superbird had been enough to lure Richard Petty back into the Plymouth camp.
Despite the Ford’s Clark Kent appearance compared to the Superbird, the cars were almost equal performance wise. In the first qualifying race Cale Yarborough in the Woods Brother Mercury and Bobby Isaac in the K and K Insurance Dodge Daytona seemed the cars to beat after David Pearson in a Ford retired with mechanical problems, and Pete Hamilton in a Superbird faded. The difference once again came down to pit strategy. Isaac took on two tires during his stop, while Cale’s team elected to go only with fuel. Yarborough had a five second lead after the stop and managed to stretch it to a 5.5 second win over Isaac when the checkers flew. He averaged a blistering 183 plus miles per hour in the caution free event. There was a caution for a wreck in the second qualifying event and it was a bad one. Rookie Talmadge Prince blew an engine an got sideways in his own oil. Bill Seifert slipped in that same oil and was unable to avoid hitting Prince’s car broadside. Prince was killed instantly. Seifert was rushed to the hospital with chest injuries and bruising to his heart. Charlie Glotzbach and Buddy Baker, both in Dodge’s took command of the event after the 13 lap caution period and Glotzbach used the slingshot move around Baker to take the victory. Charlie’s win was a bit of a miracle in itself. He was starting his first race since being shot in an argument with an employee at the business he owned. Initially no one thought Glotzbach would live. Since they were named after the track perhaps it seems fitting Dodge Daytonas finished 1-4, with a Superbird and another Daytona rounding out the top six.
With the fierce competition between Ford and Mopar for dominance both factories turned up the wick in the engine department running their mills at the ragged edge to try to get every last possible bit of horsepower. As a result there were a lot of mechanical failures in the 1970 Daytona 500. Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Donnie Allison, and Tiny Lund all popped engines. So did the newcomer with the odd name, Dick Trickle, making his first Grand National start. A major surprise was the strong performance of Petty’s teammate Pete Hamilton, in another Superbird also Petty blue, but carrying number 40, with a red panel on the nose to help tell the cars apart and sponsorship from Seven Up, the first soft drink manufacturer to play a major role in stock car racing. (They had signed on with Petty for select events in 1969) It came down to rookie Hamilton and the cagey two time champion David Pearson in a Ford. Richard Petty was calling the shots form the sidelines and ordered the team to go with four tires on the last stop. Pearson’s Holmon-Moody team gambled on two tires. Once again the race was decided on pit strategy, but that year the more conservative approach won the day. As Pearson tried to slingshot past Hamilton the tires of his Ford were so worn he got sideways. Hamilton also got out of shape but recovered quickly enough to take the Petty Enterprises car to victory lane at Daytona , the third driver to do so. Pearson finished second, the only Ford in the top five. Bobby Allison, Charlie Glotzbach, and Bobby Isaac, all in Daytonas finished behind Pearson in that order.
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