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.
The Key Moment: Jeff Gordon edged past Jamie McMurray just as David Reutimann's car went up in smoke to take the lead. A series of incidents moments after the restart sealed the win for Gordon.
In a Nutshell: It's come to this. Drivers have decided only the last ten laps matter so they are willing to drive in formation in the high line for a significant portion of the race in an attempt to leave Talladega upright and conscious.
Dramatic Moment: When they restart a plate race with ten laps to go the pressure cooker is on high. When they restart a plate race with two laps to go they adjust the pressure setting to "nuclear."
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Talk about the Perfect Storm brewing for a downpour of beverage cans onto the track. First off, it's Talladega and those folks would probably throw cans at Santa. Then not only does Jeff Gordon win, but by doing so he eclipses Saint Dale of Alabama's win total and does so on the Intimidator's birthday, a virtual blasphemy. Finally to rub salt into the wound the race ends under caution. TV didn't highlight it but first hand accounts tell me Jeff Gordon's description of "rioting" wasn't far from the truth. At least one reader who called me amidst the pandemonium claimed to have seen a sheriff's deputy assaulted for trying to arrest a can tossing fan. Give good sportsmanship points to Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch for serving as wingmen protecting the 24 with their cars when the barrage started. Once again FOX decided not to show the mayhem. I guess they think it makes NASCAR and its fans look bad. But compare that to the coverage of the infamous NFL game where officials mistakenly ended a game prematurely after the fans threw stuff on the field. It's part of the story.
How ironic is it that the first debris caution put Tony Stewart back on the lead lap?
Hey if NASCAR and the track owners use those of you throwing cans on the track as a pretext to ban coolers the rest of us who enjoy a cold brew during a race aren't going to be real happy with ya'll. And there's a lot more of us than there are of you.
With as many tough hits as he's taken in rapid succession has anyone checked Kyle Busch for post-concussion syndrome? Remember the season that Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally admitted he'd been driving in a haze for months after his vicious California wreck?
I found it fascinating Brian France and other senior NASCAR officials visited mainland China this week. I find it tragic they were allowed to return. My guess is that the Chinese got a few tips on setting up a full fendered racing series while NASCAR officials got a refresher course on crushing dissent under a dictatorship.
In other races where a green-white-checkered finish was indicated and it was common knowledge some front runners were low on fuel, NASCAR has mandated red flags rather than running teams out of gas under extended caution laps for clean up. Why not Sunday? It surely did foul up Denny Hamlin's afternoon.
Would someone in NASCAR's stat department please correct Bobby Allison's total wins to 85, one more than Darrell Waltrip. Though DW wasn't about to fess up it was clear that Mike Joy, with a thorough working knowledge of the sport, wasn't going to step into that trap when the "total career wins" graphic flashed up on screen. Hey, when Bobby Allison won that Bowman Gray race in a Mustang the entry form read that a Grand American car was legal in that event. If Bobby Allison didn't win that race why doesn't Richard Petty have 201 victories?
It's been another interesting week listening to Tony Stewart who apparently decided while he didn't have to talk to the media after Phoenix (only other drivers who finish in the top 3 have to), he could talk on his radio program. Of course he gets paid to talk on his radio program. Mr. Stewart feels there are too many unneeded debris cautions lately. Well, duh. Even us ignorant media types figured that out ages ago and have been commenting on it for years. And it seems that Mr. Stewart feels that it is a "privilege" for media members to talk to him. Fact is, back in the day when I had on-site media credentials talking to Stewart was a genuine pain in the ass. Trying to edit what he had to say to sound intelligent and suitable for family reading was equally challenging. Trying to avoid getting punched in the face when he wasn't in the mood to talk was an occupational hazard. Other drivers who have accomplished far more than Stewart has on and off the track were far more gracious and accommodating to even lowly internet scribes. It's a game. The other drivers know it. Writers know it. They talk. We include the name of their sponsors in articles. Fans read. All is swell. Home improvement stores, like Lowe's for instance, get more customers. As far as I'm concerned Tony's PR people can delete me from their email lists. I won't be using the name of the only sponsor stupid enough to back an ill-mannered, bad tempered, violent punk in my articles because quite frankly I'll only walk into one of those stores if the local mom and pop hardware store is already closed for the day and my basement is flooding. I look forward to walking into any of the big box, "wanna see what we are buying from China putting American workers on the dole" stores with the same eagerness as a prostrate exam. Stewart and I are on the same page as far as NASCAR manipulating debris flags to orchestrate rather than officiate races. I'm glad he finally figured it out. Maybe next he'll figure out he can cash in his chips and retire as he recently threatened to do and the sport of stock car racing will get along just fine without him just as it did before he arrived.
There is some debate concerning Stewart's comments as to whether NASCAR throws caution flags to benefit one particular driver. I guess that's natural considering Gordon won the Phoenix race and the attitudes of the ABJG sorts. But I don't believe that NASCAR is trying to give any particular driver a win. I believe they are just trying to tighten up the competition to add some contrived excitement to races which, because of the nature of the rules package currently in use, are all too often become stultifying boring. But if NASCAR is just going to throw a phony debris caution with twenty laps to go to spice things up why should fans have any incentive to watch the first three hours of a race? Just tune in for the last twenty minutes and catch whatever action the bogus debris flag caution might provide.
Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya, old friends, ran into each other again. What are the odds?
One comment Stewart made that perked up a lot of ears was his accusation NASCAR treats their fans as if they are stupid. So how many of you genuinely believe Stewart was fined ten grand for skipping the post-race interview at Phoenix, not for what he said on his radio show?
Let's introduce some facts and figures into the "debris caution" debate. I found these on the RacingStalkers.com compiled by Sean using information gleaned from the Racing-Reference.info website (simply the best racing stats site on the Internet bar none.) I spot checked alternate years and found these stats to be correct but don't want to take credit for compiling them-
Season/Debris Cautions/Total Cautions/Percentage of Debris Cautions in First Eight Races of Season
Note the sharp spike in 2005. Isn't that the second year NASCAR and Brian France decided to add the "Chase" to the sport to interject some excitement into the championship drive? Apparently they decided to do more than that to add a little "excitement" to individual races. You know it's a good thing the senior management types of the pro wrestling organizations apparently don't listen to Tony Stewart's radio show. They'd probably sue him for libel claiming their events are a lot more honestly staged than NASCAR races, and my guess is they'd win the lawsuit with taped coverage of the Phoenix race serving as Exhibit A.
Was anyone else a little repulsed by ESPN commentator Brad Daugherty's reaction to the early Busch series wreck on Saturday? I've been saying for years NASCAR fans don't watch racing to see wrecks, but apparently, at least one does. Maybe it would be best to hold off celebrating a wreck until it was confirmed no drivers had been hurt?
It was kind of overlooked with all the hoopla about Stewart's remarks and resulting fine and Jeff Gordon being poised to eclipse Dale Earnhardt's victory total on what would have been the Intimidator's birthday but Sunday we passed an important milestone. Twenty years ago Bobby Allison's Buick almost ended up going into the grandstands after a wreck. (His son, the late Davey Allison, went on to score his first win that day.) As a result, NASCAR added the restrictor plates as a "temporary" measure until they could find a permanent way to solve the problem.
Speaking of the law of unintended consequences. During Busch qualifying Dale Junior weighed in on the fans throwing beverage cans at Jeff Gordon after the win in Phoenix. He noted that was dangerous for the drivers and for the fans in the lower sections of the stands. He suggested fans wishing to voice their displeasure throw toilet paper instead. Thus I'd suggest any fan planning on attending an upcoming race bring along a roll of baby wipes in case nature calls. The restrooms are likely going to have been looted of essential paper products before the race even begins.
One school of thought claims the safest place to be during a plate race is up front so the wrecks unfold behind you. Did anyone else notice the amount of drivers running second during the Busch race who were involved in incidents, most notably Kyle Busch? Apparently the only safe place to be during a plate race is aboard the 55 transporter heading home.
Did Coors and the No. 40 team make a studious decision to send Stremme's car into the heart of Bud country with chewing gum cloaking?
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
If any driver and team needed a strong run, it was Casey Mears and the No. 25 outfit. Mears looked solid all day and was running second when he got spun and wrecked while trying to pit by his own teammate, Jimmie Johnson. (Maybe Johnson thought Vickers was still driving the No. 25?) To paraphrase the classic line from "Coolhand Luke," I think what we got here is a failure to communicate.
With the way he's been tearing up cars for the last month, maybe it's time Kyle Busch's team dumps the Frosted Flakes sponsorship and signs on Captain Crunch?
Dale Jarrett typically runs well at Talladega, but early ignition problems spoiled his day. As such, the No. 44 team remains outside the Top 35 in owner points and with Jarrett now out of previous champions' provisionals, he's likely to have quite a few weekends off.
It's tough getting wrecked on the final green flag lap of a race like Tony Stewart did, but to have the same driver who caused the wreck then finish you off is irritating. Between his butt chewing on Friday, the fine, and Sunday's race it was a wonder Stewart sounded so reasonable after the race. Other than that, how was your visit to Sweet Home Alabama, Mr. Stewart?
It was another tough weekend for Michael Waltrip Racing with two DNFs and one DNQ. They need to improve PDQ.
Juan Pablo Montoya ran better than his 31st place finish indicates. Perhaps he hadn't gotten the memo Newman was running a yellow paint scheme this week?
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
It's not often a driver appears under the Foul and Fine fortune headings, or that a driver who wrecks twice in a weekend is considered to have good luck. But the fact Kyle Busch was able to walk away from the horrific wreck in the Busch series race and compete Sunday was a miracle. How hard did Busch hit? The impact cracked his HANS device.
Bobby Labonte managed to win the Busch race Saturday on the final lap even as his mortally wounded engine steamed its last gasp.
Jimmie Johnson triggered two major incidents but drove off without a scratch to finish second.
Ryan Newman finished sixth minus most of his right front fender and the cowl section of his car.
In an unusual occurrence at Talladega, the vast majority of the teams got to take their undamaged cars home to prepare them for the next and last plate race the conventional cars will compete in.
What's the Points?
For the second straight week, the top 5 (Gordon/Burton/Kenseth/Johnson/Hamlin) hold serve but Jeff Gordon is leaving them in the dust. Second place Jeff Burton is now 203 points behind Gordon. As such, Gordon will leave Richmond with the points lead even if he finishes 43rd at Richmond and Burton wins.
Among the title contenders, Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray had the best days. They each advanced four spots and they are currently seventh and eighth, respectively. Kurt Busch moved up three spots to tenth while Tony Stewart moved up a spot to sixth.
Carl Edwards fell four spots to twelfth while Kyle Busch fell three spots to ninth. Clint Bowyer fell two spots to ninth.
Other notable drivers on the upswing are; David Stremme (up four spots to 14th) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (up two spots to 13th) Elliott Sadler (up two spots to 15th) and Martin Truex Jr. (up two spots to 18th.)
Drivers having their tickets punched for the downbound train include; Juan Pablo Montoya (down three spots to 19th) Greg Biffle (down two spots to 16th) and Robby Gordon (down four spots to 27th.)
The three MWR drivers are in bad shape. Dale Jarrett is 37th in the points, David Reutimann is 43rd and Michael Waltrip is dead last and still at -27 points after nine races.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic): There's no beer cans left to give out. They all got tossed over the fence. (OK, I'll scoop up three cans off the apron.) It was about what you’d expect when they race at Talladega other than that extended formation flying portion of the race that ought to send a message louder and clearer to NASCAR than anything Tony Stewart decides to say this Tuesday.
Next Up: It's time to find out if NASCAR's wildly imperfect new race cars will mess up the racing at the sport's most perfect venue, Richmond.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
To clarify, the Chase started in 2004 while the sharp increase in debris cautions started in 2005. Guess this means Matt is right – the chase wasn’t exciting enough so debris cautions should do the job….or not. What ever happened to green flag racing???
It’s St. Dale of Kannapolis, NOT Alabama.
St. Dale of Talladega is also acceptable.
Could the “debris caution” be more related to the demise of the “gentleman’s agreement” on yellow in favor of the “Lucky Dog”. The “Lucky dog” was started after the last NHIS race of 2003.
Perhaps renaming it to the “Dirty Dog” would be more accurate?
I am so glad you mentioned how Brad Daugherty reacted to the wreck. I, too, thought it was very disgusting the way he cheered, and even worse to televise it.
You’re dead right on Bobby Allison’s win in a Grand American Mustang. If it was declared legal to race and it won the race then it’s a win in my book and it should be in NASCAR’s too.
What am I missing about McMurray and Kahne that makes the Fatal Attraction quip funny?
Great article, Matt! Prince Brian and Co. needs to realize that contrived “debris” cautions, the Lucky Dawg Pass and manipulating a so-called exciting finish among other faux pas’ will be among their undoing. Come on Bruton and Humpy, give us a real major league stock car racing series!