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.
Full Throttle · Mike Neff · Monday July 23, 2007
When it comes to who’s a fan favorite in Nextel Cup, there’s no question Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has always carried the biggest legion of followers to each track the series visits. The winner of the Most Popular Driver contest for four years running, he dominates every vote about the sport that ever seems to take place.
All that might be about to change.
Six weeks after his groundbreaking announcement that he’s not only leaving the company that his father and stepmother built, but moving to the so-called “Evil Empire” of NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, there are cracks beginning to appear in the foundation of the house that is Junior Nation.
Right now, those cracks appear to be subtle in nature, although they’re visible nonetheless. This week, ESPN's online popularity contest known as Who's Now, a completely unscientific poll that pits modern athletes against each other in a bracket style tournament to determine which is the most “now,” paired Earnhardt against Peyton Manning, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, in a round of 16 matchup. This seemed like it would be a very close competition, especially considering the fact that Earnhardt usually wins every online voting contest in which his name appears.
When the final vote was tallied, 70.6% of the over 150,000 votes received were in favor of Manning, while Earnhardt only garnered 29.4%. Forget a nail-biting finish; this vote was a whitewashing. Junior was completely dominated in a contest that would have appeared, on the surface, to have been a perfect opportunity for Junior Nation to come out in force and show the amount of support that they have for their driver. It’s a scenario in which they’ve always come out full force in the past; for Junior to lose badly in so openly advertised a competition is enough to raise a question mark in my book.
Of course, this outcome may just be a blip on the radar screen, a cross-sport poll that shows the vast red army that follows Earnhardt as passionately as the black army that worshiped his father simply doesn't pay attention to ESPN or their gimmicky contest. But this could also be the first glimpse of the ramifications that Junior's decision to go to Hendrick might have on his popularity in the sport. As I’ve noted previously, Junior has been one of the most dominant merchandising players NASCAR has ever seen since he rose into the Cup level full-time in 2000. The sea of red in the stands every week speaks volumes to his popularity with his legion of fans, backing up the throngs of phone and online support which has led to his four consecutive Most Popular Driver trophies. No question about it, six years after his father’s death, Junior has emerged as a marketing force all his own.
A career decision is what’s threatening to change all that in a heartbeat. All of the molding of Junior’s image took place while he was driving for his father’s company, Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. It was a safety net for him, a company which has allowed Junior to come into his own while, at the same time, seamlessly carrying on the legacy of the Earnhardt name for a legion of trusting supporters. But things are about to become very, very different. Junior has announced that he will break rank with both history and tradition, moving instead to the organization that embodied everything that both his and his father's core fans appear to have despised.
Junior’s move to the slick, corporate, big city team of Hendrick doesn’t jive with the way most of his fans think. Fielding cars for Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, old-timers see the organization supporting California boys who didn't pay the dues the way Earnhardt's father did on the dirt tracks and bullrings of the Southeast. The majority of those that root for Earnhardt are also ardent non-fans of Gordon, willing to disown their mother or child if they were to root for the No. 1 driver for Hendrick. Such hatred for the Rainbow Warrior became clear by the embarrassing scenes Junior fans have jumpstarted at Talladega. In 2004, several showered the track with debris when Gordon defeated Earnhardt after a questionable caution flag call at the end of the race. Not to be outdone, fans this year repeated the same unruly behavior when Gordon won there over Earnhardt again, doing the unthinkable by surpassing Dale Earnhardt, Sr.‘s all-time victory total in the process. Now, those same fans must stomach the fact the Intimidator’s son is going to be Gordon’s teammate, and – even more despicable in their eyes – his friend.
Such logic of not being loyal to Junior can be understood on some levels…but not all. It’s true that Hendrick Motorsports embodies the new image of NASCAR: very corporate, very politically correct, and most importantly, very successful. The organization has dominated the first third of this season, with Gordon currently leading the points by 303 over his nearest challenger. That’s the point that brings fan’s loyalty into question: if someone truly wants to see their driver succeed and win races and championships, it seems as though there would not be a better place for him to end up at than with the team who’s had the most recent success.
Hendrick has won HALF of the championships decided in the sport in the last 12 years, and 111 races over that time. Add to that another 10 races out of the first 19 this year, and you have to realize that there isn't a better choice to enhance the opportunity to win a championship than Hendrick. Any fan that is serious about wanting to see Junior win that title trophy has to realize that potential. With the best equipment on the track, not only could their man be the most popular in the sport, but he could earn a second distinction as well – most dominant.
Junior hopes all his fans will be able to see that in the end, and only time will tell if they follow through with what they claim. But if this first vote is any indication – as innocent as it may be – there are signs not all of Junior Nation has come to terms with the future.
©2000 - 2008 Mike Neff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
That was a stupid poll! Even I knew Junior wouldn’t win over Peyton Manning. And no one will win over Tiger Woods! Junior is the most popular RACER. And his true fans will never leave him.
You’re basing this on an ESPN poll? You must be trying Nascar’s version of ‘how things really are’. As long as Junior isn’t sucked into the Hendrick clone machine, his fans don’t care where he drives. His biggst appeal has always been that he has no pretensions. As long as he doesn’t lose that, I can’t see things changing too much.
You need to do a little checking around on numerous message boards and chat rooms to find out just how many people did vote for Jr. and several times for each person, some over a 1,000 times. Everybody in the rooms and boards I have been on find it hard to believe that only a total of 150,000 votes came in in the first place for these two. Espn is a site that mainly caters to stick and ball sports and (stuart is a S.O.B, and I refuse to watch him)ESPN has shown little care for Nascar until now when there getting ready to start covering the next 6 races. I am some what surprised they purchased a contract to carry them at all, and there coverage sucks to say the least. And any fan that would ditch there driver for leaving a sinking ship with a absent owner that lacks alot to be desired was never a fan in the first place….wannabe fans move on and dont come back. Jr. and his nation will be just fine without them, time will reveal this!
I can’t help but laugh at your column. You obviously don’t know Jr fans very well. Sure, there will be a few rats who desert the ship, but the main core of Jr fans will follow him to the ends of the earth. Actually, we are proud that he had the courage to take charge of his life and sign with someone who will supply him with top-notch cars, someone who will respect and support him. As a matter of fact, he is already making new fans because of this move. He will not change who he is, and that is what matters.
So rest easy, Jr fans are strong, faithful, and true to our driver.
No doubt about it! JR. stock is falling, and fast!
Part (or maybe most) of JR.S “charisma” was that he represented the “old school” NASCAR! A country bumpkin made good!
A “TEE” shirt & beer image, now joining the White Collar & Wine congregation!
THAT AIN’T GONNA WORK!
And here’s your sign!!
(oh yes, a few month’s ago a similar poll was held and JR. did womp the others big time! This time his cry-baby image has caught up to him!)
I think comparing Dale Jr. to one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks is like comparing apples to oranges. Sure, there are fans of both sports. I’m a fan of Peyton, but I like Jr. better, because Nascar is my sport. I voted in the ESPN poll, but found it to be pretty boring and felt that it wasted far too much of my time for the java stuff to load. Oh, and Douglas? Crybaby?! Get with it, dude. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a driver with more integrity and honesty than Dale Jr. Douglas, Dale Jr. takes responsibility for accidents that weren’t his fault. I don’t know who your favorite driver is, but I’ll bet he doesn’t do that.
That ESPN poll was nothing more than silly donkey dung! A premiere quarterback ( who won the last Super Bowl) beat a racecar driver! What a shocker!!! What nonsense…Dale Earnhardt, Jr. needed to weed out the low class trashy people who can’t accept the fact that Dale Earnhardt, Sr. is never coming back. Sorry to be so harsh, but that’s the truth. I have gained much admiration for Jr. for putting his driving ability on the line for all to see. He’ll now be in top notch equipment and have all the support and resources he needs to be successful. I think he’ll finally be able to reach his potential and his fans will be right behind him all the way.
I’m not part of the Jr nation of fans, but you must be dreaming if you think his going to HMS is going to cost him any fans, sure some will leave, but he will gain many more, for the first time since I have been reading Jr and other racing boards, the Jr and Gordon fans are getting along, Jr will not only gain better cars to drive, he will also gain fans
Dale Jr. has lots of bandwagon fans who know nothing about NASCAR, act like he’s the only driver on the track, and just like rooting for a famous name and like that they can wear Budweiser merchandise in the process. His real fans will follow him to Hendrick and will root for him regardless of his sponsor. The others will find the next bandwagon to jump on.
What a ridiculous article. That ESPN contest is a joke. Everyone knows who’s going to win. Of course Jr lost to Manning, any driver would lose to a NFL qb that just won the Super Bowl. Racing will never be as big as football but JR will always be the most popular driver. His fans will follow him wherever he goes because he’s a genuine guy and he cares about his fans. I don’t know a single person who’s no longer a JR fan because he left DEI. In fact I think he’s made some more fans because he made a tough decision and did what’s right for his future.
The results of polls like that are too predictable. Considering that ESPN was conducting the poll, I think we as NASCAR fans know that Peyton Manning would win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. It’s the audience to which they are catering. At this time, the ESPN audience does not include as many NASCAR fans proportionally as NFL fans.
The same is said about NASCAR.com polls. In those polls, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ends up on the winning side more than ever. Why? Because he is the most popular driver and the question being asked is pretty much irrelevant.
YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY ONE OF THOSE JEALOUS “NON” FANS OF JUNIOR NATION. WE ARE NOT IN AGREEMENT W/YOU BY ANY MEANS. Try as it may Nascar will never be on the same page as football. There are many more football fans than Nascar. The Mannings are the Mannings, that all I’ll say. Who cares anyway? Any true fan of Junior’s doesn’t care about any poll. Take this to the bank
What a waste of space. It is like pitting a Democrat against a Republican and polling only Democrats and Independents. Junior should gain fans as parents who wouldn’t let their kids wear Bud gear
Please find a little more info to back up your opinion next time. A silly little ESPN poll should not make or break Junior’s fan following. Get a life!
Jeff Gordon has a tremendous following as well but he lost to LeBron James. The sky is not falling. We’re just not used to ESPN giving air time to NASCAR. Me personally, I watch SPEED.
Mike, what a silly column. You know it’s a slow week when you see BS like this. Who cares about a stupid ESPN poll like this. As Jim said, it’s apples & oranges. If you want to have a real poll, why don’t you ask this: Since Jr. announced he’s going to Hendrick & can’t take Bud with him, are you a.) still a Jr fan no matter what, b.) was a Jr fan, but no longer, because he went to Hendrick and/or lost Bud, c.) became a Jr fan since the announcement. Maybe with the results of a poll like that you can have some argument, regarding whether cracks could be forming in the foundation of Junior Nation.
The few cracks that might be forming will fill with new cement in the “nation” foundation when all is said and done. Mark my words!
I think the problem in the poll is that your comparing a average driver to one of the top 3 quarterbacks of all time. All my racing friends all watch football too. If you wanted a real poll as whos better J. Gordon or Payton Manning. That would be alot more even. Anyone who knows anything about sports will have to think about that one.
“…The molding of Juniorâ€™s image took place while he was driving for his fatherâ€™s company…it was a safety net for him…” Seriously? Ha! Obviously the net wasn’t big enough. Wasn’t it Teresa Earnhardt who said that Jr. needed to decide whether he wanted to be a driver or a public personality?
That’s one reason Dale Jr. left DEI, they didn’t like his image. They didn’t understand that it was because of his public personality that he had so many fans. HMS understands. Rick has said he won’t make Dale Jr. change his ways. And, if Jr. does change in any way it’ll be because that’s what he wants to do. He’s maturing.
As for this WHO’S NOW? Poll. That’s ridiculous. I knew Peyton Manning was going to win because…c’mon! He’s freaking Peyton Manning. FYI. I voted for Dale Jr.
Like you said, many NASCAR fans don’t watch Sports Center -so they won’t catch those five minutes of the Who’s Now segment. They won’t waste two hours of their time to get 30 seconds of “COMING UP…WHY DALE JR..blah blah blah…” When it takes the people 20 minutes to get to a non-baseball/football/basketball story. NASCAR Nation usually sticks with something that is all NASCAR, like NASCAR Now or NASCAR Live.
I think JrNation is still strong. Those abandoning ship were never a part of the REAL JrNation to begin with.
You are telling it like it is . Here at work we all moved over to Martin Truex Jr Got new banners and flags and took down Jrs. I know he lost 23 fans here . no telling how many other to.
Junior nation is comprised of Dale Junior fans, and Bud fans. True fans of Dale Junior will support him wherever he drives, and whatever his sponsor is. Bud fans will be unhappy that they are no longer associated with the most popular driver in the sport today. However, however many fans Junior may loose in this new deal, he’ll gain back ten fold!
we love him—not his sponsor- not his number—the guy who tells it like it is and gives his all— the fella who will NOT change into “corporate” Nascar but will continue to be our JR.
What about the Hendrick fans that he is adding to his following. There are a lot of Hendrick fans that will now be wearing Dale Tee shirts.
What a goofy poll. Manning must be the #1 jock commercial whore on TV so that exposure has a lot to do with it. He could not even win a Super Bowl until his owner had the NFL changed to the no hard hitting “No Fun League” that it is now. Manning is a Paper Panty Waste who can’t perform under pressure. He would poop his pants in a COT.
Let me say this. I was at Gateway on Saturday night. I saw lots of Junior gear , lots of Stewart gear, lots of Gordon gear,, yet they were all wearing Office Depot hats. There is fixing to be a new “red army”
Obviously you wrote this article so you would get lots of hits. I dare say that Jr has lost not a single “real” fan. I and many others would follow Jr even if he drove a #13 toyota sponsored by Planters Peanuts. It’s not the car that we “JR NATION” follow it’s the driver.
I’m a die-hard Dale Jr. fan. Have been for years. I didn’t vote in that silly ESPN poll. In fact, I don’t vote in any online polls. They don’t make any difference in the long run.
You want to prove your point here? Watch the next race at Talladega and listen for the reaction Dale Jr. gets. If there are more boos than usual, then you have a case. But basing Dale Jr’s star power on a ESPN poll—a channel that wouldn’t focus on NASCAR unless they were forced to—is just silly.
It’s not about his daddy, or a company, a sponsor or even an number, it’s about the man. I’m a proud member of Jr Nation and will be no matter what the future holds for him. It’s rediculous to say that an ESPN poll is a sign of the fan’s loyaltiies. Put links to this poll on SPEED or NASCAR.com or any other site or sports channel that would reach a large number of NASCAR fans and see what would happen. Not saying Jr would win, but, doubt it would be the landslide that it was.
I feel positive that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is not worrying about a loss of popularity.
Just wait until his “new “ merchandise goes on sale !
I’m a Hendrick/Gordon (and forever a #3) fan, and have been for years. The move to Hendrick will attract new fans, I am proof. Say what you want (most journalists do anyways) but Jr nation is growing! Go 24!
Are you kidding me? This poll does nothing to indicate cracks in Jr Nation. What it does show is how far NASCAR still has to go to match the national popularity of football, baseball and basketball. If this poll had been taken 6 months ago the results would have still been the same. As for the rivalry between Gordon and Earnhardt, this gets it’s life from the interaction of the fans stirred by the exaggeratory comments of the media in regards to the rivalry. The truth be known, I am sure both drivers enjoy the on track rivalry but respect and enjoy each others company off of the track. I am sure they look at all of this rivalry hype and just shake their heads.
I give a hoot about Who’s Now!!! Dale Jr. Is the best of them all. ESPN produced a True Movie, about Dale Sr. All Earnhardt’s, said that was not true. If people want to switch drivers, feel free. To me it seems that you were never an Earnhardt fan to start with. I am very proud of what Dale Jr. has done with his life now. I can finally buy my son and myself something without Bud all over it. Anyone calling Jr. a crybaby, should watch the replays.
I am shaking my head at this column. Just because Jr is leaving DEI and Bud doesn’t mean that he is leaving NASCAR. Jr doesn’t care about the popularity, the most votes…what he cares about like every other driver out there is to have a car that he can drive to winners circle after a race and bring home a championship ! Did Sr’s fans desert him when he moved to Ford back to Chevy and the times he changed teams ? NO…there are people that want Jr Nation to crumble but it’s still as strong as ever and will remain the same with him throughout his career.
Dale going to HMS is the best thing for him and DEI. Both Dale and Martin are running a lot better since Dale’s announcement. Gone now are all the distractions with his contract talks with DEI. If fans want to jump ship because of where he is going then so be it. They aren’t really true fans to begin with then. He doesn’t have worry about the stepmother anymore. She never really cared for him that much anyway. The one thing that sticks in my mind is when Ty Norris was let go it seemed that the program at DEI started its downward trend.I will always remain a fan regardless where he goes as I did with Dale Sr.
I didn’t even know there was a pole on ESPN but I vote every day for the Chex Most Popular Driver Award. Junior Nation is just fine & well. His true fans don’t care about what color his car is, what number is on it or what sponsor. We are loyal Junior fans. He could drive the Oscar Meyer Weiner Wagon & we would still be for “THE MAN”. We don’t necessarily have to like his teammates (I certainly don’t) but he wants to win not only for himself but also for his fans and I am damn well one of them.
Cheer me on or Boo me, at least they know I’m here. Know who said that? Dale Earnhardt to a young and upcoming Jeff Gordon.
Get over it people. Bobby Allison once drove for six teams in one year, and was always popular. Dale jr and Bud are not synonymous.
You must be desperate for hits on your site.
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