Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Tuesday June 19, 2007
If history teaches nothing else, it teaches us NASCAR management hates losing battles. And lately, NASCAR has been losing some high profile battles that have caused it to lose some serious face.
Just this year, the citizens of Staten Island and Washington State caused NASCAR's sister company, the ISC, to eliminate proposed new tracks in those areas when the public let it be known loud and clear they didn't want their tax money being spent to build a racing facility. In fact, if it was all the same with the France family, they sent a message loud and clear that they’d prefer not to have a track in their area at all.
Not too long before that, Texas Motor Speedway and SMI, oh, excuse me, Ferdinand Ferko, took NASCAR and Bill France hisself to task, claiming Bruton Smith was never awarded the race date he was promised for building his palace of speed outside of Fort Worth. Smith purchased half of the North Wilkesboro facility to sack one date for his track, and he claimed he was owed another one as a result of promises never fulfilled. Of course, Bill France disagreed…strongly. But as the case wound towards court, opening a case which threatened to open up NASCAR and the ISC's accounting books (likely written on opposite sides of the same sheet of paper) France backed down. As a result, Texas got their second date, at the expense of an ISC track, no less, one that NASCAR no longer pays an official visit. The less said about the rape of Rockingham… the better.
Now, Kentucky Speedway is headed towards a court date next March with NASCAR. They aren't demanding just a race date. They want the France family to divest themselves of either NASCAR or the ISC to eliminate an apparent conflict of interest in how the sport is run and how race dates are awarded.
This April, even a mere driver took the organization to task. Tony Stewart alleged on his radio program NASCAR was throwing unnecessary caution flags to orchestrate, rather than officiate, races. Old Tony got drug behind the woodshed and paddled as a result, a reminder from the powers that be that the reason he is popular is because of NASCAR; NASCAR isn't popular because of him. (A rather odd contention. I don't see as many Tony Stewart T-shirts as I do Dale Earnhardt Jr. T-shirts, but I see way more folks wearing No. 20 livery than sporting tributes to Brian France in their wardrobes). Anyway, that’s besides the point of what has now become the biggest lawsuit to affect the sport to date, a case that continues to generate news even after an initial decision was made.
Recently, NASCAR lost a battle against an entity as big or bigger than itself. AT&T fought for the right to rebrand the 31 car from Cingular to AT&T logos, a move NASCAR resisted due to agreements signed with sponsor Nextel. A judge ignored NASCAR’s requests, however, and awarded AT&T the right to do what it pleased. Ironically, the No. 31 car first appeared at that All-Star Challenge sponsored by that other cell phone company, seemingly intent on maximizing traffic tragedies caused by inattentive morons chatting on their cell phones when they should be watching where they're going. Well, that's a fight NASCAR decided they could not and would not lose. They filed a countersuit made public over the weekend asking for "at least" one hundred million dollars in damages.
Excuse me? Is that $100,000,000 dollars? Do cell phone companies even make a hundred million dollars a year? If so, I guess that's why I am suddenly afraid to ride my motorcycle on the street lest I get run over by moron yuppie scum mom in her Lexus SUV calling to check in our her spoiled child's progress in competitive Gymbroree?
It's unclear whether NASCAR has the only dog in this fight for the bad guys. A representative of Nextel declined to comment on whether they were a party to the lawsuit or even supported it after an inquiry made for this article. (That's documented fact, so please spare me the threats of retribution, you cellular bullies). And what is the basis of NASCAR's assumptive request for such a huge punitive reward? Well, taken from the text of the suit which is in the public domain, “Cingular's refusal to follow NASCAR rules and accept NASCAR's denial of this paint scheme, and the filing of this lawsuit, has undermined NASCAR's authority as the sanctioning body of stock car auto racing.”
Umm, guys. Maybe you're showing a little ego here. Stock car auto racing is not the sole possession of NASCAR. Other oval track stock car racing series, albeit much smaller than NASCAR, also conduct stock car races coast to coast on a weekly basis. Perhaps what the suit should have read is that “AT&T has undermined NASCAR's authority as the sanctioning body of NASCAR racing.” The suit goes on to ask that NASCAR be given the right to throw out and exclude any other company in the wireless communication game from their events. Of course, this includes Alltel, the sponsor of Ryan Newman's No. 12 team which was grandfathered into the sport under the same grandfather clause that NASCAR now says that AT&T violated.
NASCAR says they need the right to exclude who they want because the current title sponsor's involvement benefits everyone. Drivers and teams earn points and championship money through the largesse of the N phone company. Fans benefit from their involvement as well. Well, on behalf of one plain old country, longtime stock car racing fan, NASCAR has my permission to stop fighting on my account. Quite personally, if any presidential candidate were to include a plank in their platform saying that if any right-minded individual who had their ability to do their job, take a trip on publicly funded roadways, or enjoy a movie at the theater became infringed upon by an idiot using a Nextel walkie-squwackie, that same right-minded individual had the right to crown the offender upside the head with a ball-bat, they'd have my vote and half my net worth as a campaign contribution.
As usual, NASCAR officials aren't thinking through the longterm implications of their actions. Down the road, perhaps the cell phone companies have to cut back on marketing to pay huge lawsuits from former users who did indeed die of brain tumors caused by wireless devices and a new title sponsor has to be found. If Coors Light were to step up to the plate to be title sponsor of the "Coors Light Cup" would Budweiser and Miller then be tossed from gangplank after years of high visibility, high dollar support of race teams to the benefit of the teams and the fans? NASCAR seems to have as many "official fill in the blank of NASCAR" sponsorships as the beach has grains of sand. If emboldened by their success in a lawsuit against AT&T by a friendly judge, could the Daytona Beach mafia take a few minutes off of their drunken high speed commutes home to exclude other existing or potential sponsors? It’s very possible; for starters, they sure don't seem real happy with the folks at Pennzoil who sponsor the No. 29 car but have Shell logos included in the paint scheme. (Like cell phone companies, I can't generate much sympathy for any oil companies while I pay $3.15 a gallon for gas.)
The whole lawsuit comes down to this: NASCAR has always said the drivers and teams are private contractors. That's why there's no pension fund for drivers, NASCAR paid health insurance, etc. But those same drivers and teams are dipping into a rapidly dwindling pond of potential sponsors looking for money to run their organizations as NASCAR is sucking up official sponsors. Hey, it's a free market economy. Let NASCAR grab the sponsorship they can, and let the teams and drivers grab what they can, but don't let either dictate who the other can deal with.
AT&T must not be too worried. Inquiries for comment for this article to their "contact us" link on their site went unanswered. And the day after NASCAR announced their bombastic lawsuit that even pushed the lost 54 million dollar dry cleaners pants off the front pages, AT&T went ahead and renewed a lengthy contract extension with RCR and Jeff Burton. After all, AT&T knows something about being an all-conquering monopoly that can do no wrong. If they didn't, we'd all still be communicating by smoke signals and pony express. But finally, the feds decided the salad days were over and there had to be competition for sake of consumer choice; that same messy process gave birth to cell phone companies.
Personally, I've got no problem with the humbled and down-sized land line company that is AT&T. I still use their long distance service because it works. I hope AT&T logos remain on Jeff Burton's car. I like Jeff Burton. He's a good guy. But I hope the N people pack it up and go home. I don't like Brian France. He's not a good guy.
Hey, maybe NASCAR decided to make a run at AT&T for one hundred million dollars because they know the Kentucky track's suit is going to cost them more than that when it's decided against them. NASCAR doesn't like to lose battles. But it used to always win because it knew when to pick its fights. Now, it might not just be the battle they lose, it might be the war. And I can give you about one hundred million reasons why.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
so let me ask this..say Sprint..i mean Nextel..i mean SprintNextel wins this silly thing and kicks out AT&T and Alltel…does Sunoco sit over here and the little light bulb goes on and they say AH HA! and kick out Shell and Marathon? what about the new sponsor for Cup Lite do they take a second look and say hey theyre lawsuit happy and thats alot of bad press..well pass on sponsoring this thing
I have a hard time figuring out..if the teams are independent contractors..then wouldn’t the contracts they have with their sponsors be independent of NA$CAR also? Also..I hate to be the bearer of bad news..but I don’t know that many people who buy their cell phone, gasoline, beer, etc. solely on their favorite driver. Albeit..there are some..but I think the majority of the thinking NA$CAR fans buy what works for them..not what is pushed in their faces…Also..if NA$CAR/NEXTEL had just kept their mouths shut and let the ATT thing just kind of happen..who would have really noticed..yeah..for a race or two..but after that it would have been a non issue..I would be intested in how many people actually went out and changed from NEXTEL to ATT solely on the #31 car’s name change…
Your article is one GREAT piece of work!
NASCAR is all about the MONEY! NOT! the racing!
NASCAR forgets that sponsors buy the cars, and support the teams to compete in NASCAR!
Now it’s (NASCAR) saying: we don’t want you sponsors! To the tune of $100M! Lets go to court!
I have to believe that current sponsors, and future potential sponsors will be looking closely at this, afraid that someday their company will be bought out (or otherwise changed) negating any “investment” they may have had, or would have, in a NASCAR TEAM!
I think NASCAR is loosing all sense of reality here. If NASCAR wins and AT&T is removed where does that leave Jeff Burton. 18 million dollar sponsors don’t come out of nowhere. And if they do succeed at getting AT&T out what next? In five years we’ll be running 43 white cars with a small NEXTEL decal on the side. In my opinion, had they just let the car be switched to AT&T in February and not fought this. It would have resulted in a lot less bad publicity for Nascar and Nextel. Let’s be honest, the car’s been AT&T branded for over a month. As the world stopped turning? If a judge listened to both sides and decided that AT&T could be on the car, well that should be the end of it. Even if Nascar does win and tosses out AT&T, it will be short term gain and long term pain for NASCAR. I for one am starting to get fed up with the whole organization. On a related note, Stewart was taken behind the woodshed, but since that day, there are a lot fewer “bogus” debris cautions. Coincidence???
One question. Were you as outraged when Marlboro could not sponsor a car during the Winston years? Every time I read an article about this I can’t figure out why no one was as upset about the exclusivity RJ Reynolds had for 20+ years. They couldn’t even sell Phillip Morris products at the track but I never heard anyone complain. Why is that?
NASCAR is becoming more about the money nowadays. Have you ever since the entire list of all of the “Official” whatever “Of NASCAR.” There are probably 50 -60 different companies and products represented. I have to wonder if they win this if NASCAR will then go after any competitors of these sponsors. Will they go after Dodge-sponsored cars because Ford is the “Official Truck of NASCAR.”
Also, I agree with others that Nextel should have just let A T & T make the change without any complaints. They would have changed with hardly any notice at all. Just look at all of the free advertising that Nextel gave A T & T over the past few months.
There are a lot of good points being made here (everybody who’s commented so far has had great points as well). I really don’t have much to add, other than count me in as another fan who is concerned about the precedent that could be set here.
Gilles – I’ve thought the same thing about Tony Stewart and the bogus cautions. I still agree with what Tony said on his show, and I am really mad at NASCAR for taking him behind the woodshed. It just fueled my contempt for NASCAR (the sanctioning body that evidently doesn’t care about racing, only money) even more. Tony’s a true racer, and he’s more in touch with what the fans love about racing than NASCAR is.
mindcrime – that’s a great point. I think it’s indicative of how our society has changed – for better or for worse. Even though I am not a smoker, nor do I advocate smoking, part of me thinks that somebody should have challenged it back then and Marlboro should have been allowed to run a car, assuming the advertising laws of the time aren’t what prevented it from happening, and the only reason Winston continued as the series sponsor is because of a grandfather clause.
Scott – you’ve nailed it: this has done nothing but give AT&T free publicity when nobody would’ve really cared otherwise.
As far as the difference between Marlboro and Winston, Marlboro (and the other tobackky companies) weren’t sponsoring cars when Winston stepped in. Marlboro was investing in open wheel racing here and overseas at a time USAC was bigger than NASCAR. AT&T/Cingular and Altel were already aboard cars when Nextel came crashing the party like a bull in a china shop.
Excellent article. I think you and the responders to your article have about covered it all. NA$CAR just cannot conceive of the idea that they are not the GOD of stock car racing. One final thought. Since NA$CAR wants the power to kick out all competing wireless companies, perhaps Alltel should consider joining AT&T in this fight. I think it would bring BOTH companies some FAVORABLE pubicity. I, and I am sure many others, would not use nextel now if they gave it to me FREE. And I also agree, I canot stand that little idiot, Brian France. He needs a good spanking.
Some interesting points by most parties. Another thought to existing and potential sponsers, with a little bit of Yankee (not NY just America in general) history, we do not like to be told or pushed into what we buy, rather give us choices. And from there we make a decision. So the lesson here for the sponsors is the backlash for forcing your product on us could go the other way. We want you to compete for our loyalty, just like our racers have to do. Then you will win us over.
The inconsitency that bother me most about this is how the actual brand exposure for a car sponsorship pales in comparison to the commercial exposure by the same brand on NASCAR’s TV coverage of the event.
I mean, even before AT&T got their injunction, when the 31 was still wearing Cingular logos, the FOX TV coverage of the races was plastered with “Cingular is the new AT&T” logos. We saw the “AT&T crewchief question of the week”, etc., etc.
So, if NASCAR allows FOX/TNT/ESPN/ABC to have AT&T paid sponsorship, then why not allow a racecar to as well? Especially when the car is not shown nearly as often on TV as the commercial spots, unless it’s running in the top 5.
The only folks who would not be exposed to the AT&T branding, should NASCAR win in this case, would be those who go to the race live, instead of watching it on TV.
If Bill France, Jr. (may he rest in peace) were still running the show, this wouldn’t even be an issue. At the first hint of “trouble,” he and RC would have had a little meeting and it would have been solved.
Maybe Bowling for Soup needs to do a NASCAR version of their hit “1985” because we can’t judge what’s going on today by a 22 year old paradigm.
NASCAR has decided to chase after the big money and with it comes all the same headaches that these big players deal with all the time.
Being involved with NASCAR is like renting an apartment instead of buying a house – you have no equity. The landlord (NASCAR) has all the equity.
Thing is that without corporate sponsors and TV money, NASCAR would die a quick death. But don’t kid yourselves, the people writing the big checks year after year are getting plenty in return or they’d be gone in a heart beat.
Of course, I agree with that if NASCAR had said nothing it would have been a nothing burger. Kind of like when a new Hooter’s opens up and the silly protesters get them on the front page for free.
I have always had Cingular/AT&T cellular service. When Nextel became NASCAR’s primary sponsor, I considered switching at the time…......but….....I didn’t because everyone I know that uses Nextel always complain about loss of signal…etc. I use my service because it WORKS, not because of NASCAR.
Hey mindcrime, you said…
I think Brian France should be charged with actions detrimental to the sport and fined 100 million dollars and docked 100 owner points for the farce he’s making out of NASCAR. Daddy would be proud…may he rest in peace
Nice article Matt! I want to add a couple sidebar comments.
NASCAR has become a corporate business. Looking back at the days when Junior Johnson and Fireball Roberts hustled stock cars around tracks and comparing the same activities by Jimmy Johnson and Junior Earnhardt, there is little in common than a 4 wheeled vehicle.
NASCAR is less about racing than business and the trend continues toward the dollar and away from competition. Decades ago, NASCAR was about who could drive while today, the competition is to get the money to spend on incredibly expensive programs. There is less connection between the skills of each driver nowadays than there was 40 years back.
Bill France Jr. just passed away. I’d like to add my personal opinion. Bill France Jr. was great for NASCAR! Bill France Jr was terrible for racing.
Great column Matt. As usual you are one of the few motorsports writers not afraid to speak the truth about NASCAR and what they are really all about.
True competition ceased to matter a long time ago, now NASCAR is nothing more than an entertainment-based money making enterprise. Just look at the the lack of parity right now. NASCAR made sure they slowed down the Fords a few years back. Now that Chevy has won twelve of fifteen races this season, where are cries for parity? You won’t hear them because NASCAR and Chevy are thick as thieves. I don’t favor one car make over another, I follow the drivers, so this is just an unbiased observation — Anyone who doesn’t think NASCAR favors the bowtie is not paying attention.
I agree with Travis R about Tony Stewart and the spot-on comments he made on his radio show about the fake cautions. I think he dealt a real blow to NASCAR’s credibility. Who else noticed that the whole DEI/Junior story couldn’t have come along at a better time for NASCAR? The NASCAR brass must have been heaving a huge sigh of relief to have attention diverted away from Tony’s comments and onto one of the biggest stories the sport has ever seen.
Hopefully fans won’t forget, not that they didn’t suspect NASCAR manipulated the races even before Tony spoke out. I wanted to see NASCAR squirm, for one reason. It was my hope that it would bring about some needed changes. But I’m afraid more drivers are going to have to get on Tony’s soap box for that to happen.
mindcrime – AT&T was an associate sponsor on Matt Kenseth’s car – but, they were nixed by NASCAR as a full time sponsor for Roush because they weren’t a full time sponsor before Nextel. Don’t think they’re not enjoying tweaking the beach boys with this for that snub!
NASCAR has always had ‘exclusivity’ deals with their high level sponsors like Winston and Unocal (back in the day). Petroleum companies couldn’t run fuel sponsorships – they all had to use lubricants on their cars – because of the Unocal deal. I’m sure Sunoco has the same deal. I recall one driver at Talladega being denied his sponsorship from Texaco Auto Diesel because it was a fuel…
is Sterling Marlin’s 1989 Daytona 500 car.
I didn’t see the pic you were linking to – but, I’ll go out on a limb and say it was the car Sterling Marlin/Terry Labonte drove. Great paint scheme, IMO.
Sunoco Ultra was the product range branding they used back then, not just for their 93 octane fuel as now. The fact they got to use the #93 to some benefit was cute. But, their oils carried the Ultra name as well. Notice no mention of any specific product on the car. The consumer can infer which product on their own… If fuel comes to mind first, then great!
(In fact, I think Texaco started using the Havoline name for its fuels around this time too. Maybe Sunoco was on to something)
The contingency stickers pay the car owner if they run the sticker. If Sunoco was directly advertising their fuels, I would imagine that they would have paid Billy Hagan for the lost revenue.
BTW – I don’t condone the exclusivity thing, I’m just saying that its been that way a long time. No different than Marlboro in open wheel racing.