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.
Matt McLaughlin · Sunday May 6, 2007
The Key Moment: Jimmie Johnson got the jump on teammate Kyle Busch on the final restart and assumed the lead for good.
In a Nutshell: A day late and a bit too sedate, but the Hendrick Juggernaut rolls on.
Dramatic Moment: With passing at a premium, drivers were letting the roughside drag on restarts trying desperately to make up positions. It sure looked like Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman were intent on igniting a field decimating wreck in the waning laps.
What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week:
OK, what have the Hendrick teams figured out about this Car of Tomorrow thing?
Am I the only one that noticed there was more side-by-side racing in the Busch race Friday night than in Sunday's Cup event? FYI, The Busch Series still uses the Cars of Yesterday.
Thank goodness Johnson won rather than Gordon. If Gordon had won, Darrell Waltrip probably would have been in Victory Lane reading Jeff love sonnets.
They might as well have Dale Jarrett try to qualify that UPS truck, huh?
OK, maybe there is something to this Curse of the No. 25 team legend. How can the other three Hendrick teams run so well and the No. 25 car is an also ran?
Someone suggested that the Cars of Tomorrow might look better racing at night. Yeah, if they didn't turn the lights on.
Why is it every time the No. 12 and No. 42 car race each other it seems Montoya ends up in the wall?
I'm curious: When the King, Richard Petty, and the Queen of England met, did they have to use interpreters to speak? The United States and England…two great countries separated by a common language.
Mark Martin said all along he'd be racing part-time this season. Michael Waltrip said he was spearheading the Toyota invasion. Isn't it interesting that Martin has competed in a lot more races than Waltrip, as the No. 55 team’s Involuntary Retirement Drive hits Hyper-Overdrive.
Hmmm. NASCAR officials invited Tony Stewart (that might be too polite a term for the summons) to watch Friday's Busch race from the control tower to see how difficult their job is. And by some odd coincidence with Stewart there looking over their shoulder, not one phony debris caution was thrown even as Bowyer motored away from the field. Perhaps putting a cardboard standup of Stewart in the back of the tower would make NASCAR officials more standup about their calls. Oddly enough, there weren't a lot of cautions for debris on Sunday either. Perhaps Mr. Stewart's comments struck a nerve after all.
I've been called a simple son of a bitch, but given my druthers in the choice between a cracked HANS device and a cracked vertebrae, I'm going with the cracked HANS.
I keep hearing a rumor there's going to be an open wheel race staged somewhere in the Midwest the last weekend of this month. Anyone know anything about this? Seriously, it's almost sad to consider the state of the Indy 500. Remember when Indy dominated not only the motorsports coverage but all sports coverage in May?
Isn't it odd that some of these drivers and teams missing multiple Cup races are calling on NASCAR to change qualifying procedures to get them into the show? After all, some of these same drivers and teams have benefited from the new rules over past seasons, making races when faster drivers got sent home, and it was just hunky dory with them back then. It's not like some of these guys don't have the financial resources they need to perform…I'm thinking of the No. 55 NAPA team and the No. 44 UPS bunch. Of course, if I was a board member of either corporate entity I'd want to see a thorough accounting of where money was being spent. Let's just say Michael Waltrip's decisionmaking prior to and after his recent highway accident calls into question his ability to respond under pressure. Someone needs to put a sign on Mr. Waltrip's desk that reads "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch."
It's an interesting marketing campaign, but all week I have been getting emails asking who the "Jim Stewart" in the race's official title “Crown Royal presents the Jim Stewart 400" is. Some folks assumed Mr. Stewart was one of the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy and wanted to know if there was a memorial fund. Many thought the race was set to honor one of Hollywood's enduring legends, Jimmy Stewart, perhaps best known for "It's A Wonderful Life." (Remember the scene at Martini's tavern where the bartender tells Clarence "Hey, look, mister, we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast.") As it turns out the Jim Stewart in question is an essay contest winner from Louisiana who enjoys boating and drinking Crown Royal. So do I. Well, boating, anyway…
It is not my habit to suggest ways for NASCAR and the networks to increase profits. But it occured to me there's a major marketing opportunity for the sportbeing missed right now. It would have been a pipe dream a few years ago, but with blindingly fast cable internet downloads and High Def computer monitors, the idea is now feasible. How about working things out with Apple so fans could go to the iTunes store and download complete video coverage of races back from the Golden Era? I'd pay four or five bucks to be able to see the 1985 Southern 500 or the 1976 Daytona 500 again. And for fans not blessed with fast cable service or high def monitors, NASCAR could always package and sell multi-DVD sets of an entire race season like some network shows sell annual DVD sets of their best programs. Put the 1992 season in a reasonably priced box set and I'll be first in line to buy one.
GM is urging NASCAR to have the race cars powered by ethanol in the near future. Why? The grandstands are already fueled by alcohol. The idea of Cup cars with corn-based alcohol in the trunk is a nice nostalgic tribute to the sports moonshining roots, though.
As things are heating up with this Kentucky vs. NASCAR lawsuit sometimes the war of words just gets plain silly. In defending the suitability of the track to host a Cup date, Kentucky lawyers noted that the track is “also immediately accessible via helicopter” (presumably to the teams Mooresville home base). Well that's all well and good. But like many fans, perhaps even a decided majority of them, I presently don't own a helicopter. I'm more concerned with how accessible the track is via a 1997 F150 four wheel drive with a grille and a big cooler in the back. Is there good Interstate access is or this going to be another one of those tracks with soul sapping gridlock after the race that has fans muttering profanely under their breath they ain't never coming back? Of course NASCAR couldn't let that silly statement top one of their own. They responded, “that to some extent, depending upon weather conditions, the entire planet, including the Kentucky Speedway, is ‘immediately accessible via helicopter.’” Oh, yeah? Let's see Brian France take a helicopter on his next visit to Red China. I'm beginning to think after a judge hears opening arguments from both sides he's going to send both lawyers to separate corners for a "time out" until they're ready to act like adults. Of course once he hears the ISC and NASCAR's contention there's no conflict of interest in NASCAR awarding dates to the ISC when both entities are run by one family, he may just order some members of the France family to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation to see if their delusional thoughts make them a danger to others. But on a brighter note, they can always take the helicopter to the loony bin.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
It's hard to know whether to lump Kevin Harvick under fortune foul or fair (like the winds outside of Terrapin Station). Still, he had the dominant car until a pit road accident severely damaged the right front of the No. 29 car. But even as beat up as it was, Harvick managed a seventh place finish.
Jamie McMurray had his recent momentum derailed by an early cut tire and a subsequent hard visit into the wall.
It's been awhile since I've seen the normally even-tempered Jeff Burton that frustrated and angry after falling out of a race. Note to the No. 31 teamâ€¦.if you drop something into the engine, you might want to get it out next time.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s chances at a Top 10 finish took a hit off the front bumper of the No. 66 car.
You can't change the weather, but I know a lot of NASCAR fans like me had plans for a Sunday off that turned out to be a spectacular day.
If he's tried everything else, Ray Evernham might want to have an exorcist visit his shop to rid it of demons.
The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune
Kurt Busch got spun out in an early incident and went a lap down. He just missed the Harvick-Ragan pit road crash, then managed to claw his way back to a fifth place finish.
Tony Stewart dropped to the back of the pack due to a lengthy pit stop to exorcise the demons from his ill-handling car. He worked his way back to the front only to get a piece of the Marlin-Burton-Rudd wreck, and for reasons unfathomable, he didn't get black flagged for debris hanging off the side of his car. Next, he had to survive a little pissing match with Ryan Newman. And because his team got him calmed down in time, Stewart won't even have to get out of bed at 6 AM next Friday to talk to NASCAR officials after all that. Oh, and despite the above he finished eighth.
Denny Hamlin took "best in class" honors, the first finisher not in a Hendrick car in third place.
It was a pretty fair weekend for Clint Bowyer too. He won the Busch race and posted a solid Top 10 finish on Sunday.
The Top 10 finishers drove three Hendrick Chevys, four regular Chevys, two Dodges (both owned by Roger Penske) and a Ford.
What's the Points?
Jeff Gordon retains the points lead, and he'll hold it after Darlington too even if he stays home. Jimmie Johnson advances two spots to second but is 211 points behind his teammate. Matt Kenseth holds onto third, while Denny Hamlin advances a spot to fourth. His mechanical DNF drops Jeff Burton three spots to fifth.
Kyle Busch moves up two spots to sixth, while Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. all gained a spot. They are now eighth through 12th, respectively.
On the other side of things, Jamie McMurray took a nose-dive in the points and falls six spots form seventh to 13th. Back a little further, Ryan Newman advanced five spots to 19th.
Even further back, Ricky Rudd is in danger of seeing the No. 88 team fall out of the Top 35 in owners' points and that's nothing to ‘snicker’ about. The No. 88 is now the new team on the bubble in 35th.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) We'll give this one two and a half cans of watered down domestic stuff that got warm in the trunk overnight. Richmond used to be one of the great tracks on the circuit, but the new cars reallyâ€¦ahemâ€¦rained on that parade.
Next Up: Traditionally Mother's Day weekend had been an off week for the Cup circuit, but NASCAR's assigned the unpopular date of the Saturday prior to Mother's Day to Darlington perhaps hoping they could use slow ticket sales as an excuse to shut down the track. Interestingly enough, as this is written less than 300 tickets are available to Saturday night's race. It might be a bit off the beaten path, but Darlington remains the best track on the circuit. Sorry, Mom, I'm going to be a little late next Sunday.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Right on again Matt. Stop moving around so much. Stay right here at Frontstrech now, great web site
People keep talking about how hideously ugly those COT’s are. Isn’t it good that, at least in the case of the Camry’s, NASCAR’s “Stock Cars” actually have something in common with stock cars again?
Matt, Keep up the great recaps!!! We were at Richmond and actually really enjoyed a retro Sunday show down there.
Season finale at Atlanta. One of the best races ever… Three possible champions, a final ride for the King, incredible strategy to win a title, and championship hopes dashed – never to be fulfilled. GLad I have that one on tape, to remind myself how NASCAR used to be.