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.
Newsletter Preview · Mike Neff · Thursday May 20, 2010
Editor’s Note: Have you heard of our FREE Frontstretch Newsletter, delivering more NASCAR news, commentary, trivia, and more right to your inbox every morning? If not, well, it’s time to sell you on it. Today, we’re showcasing the popular weekly column “Full Throttle” that Senior Writer Mike Neff writes for the Wednesday edition of our newsletter. If you like what you read, well, it’s time to become a subscriber by clicking here to sign up! One simple click, and you’ll be checking out Mike’s work in your email inbox; if not, who knows when you’ll see it again!
With all of the activity and hoopla leading up to inductions into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this month, there has been a lot of talk about the five men who made such an impact on the sport being inducted as the first class. There’s no doubt the Frances are the reason behind the sport’s current existence, pushing it to make the leaps forward that it did in its formative years. Richard Petty is not just King of the NASCAR record books; he’s personally responsible for the way the drivers interact with the fans, as well as the accessibility they can take for granted today. Junior Johnson not only made tremendous contributions in the driving and car ownership arenas, but he also was the reason Winston ultimately ended up with their name on the series.
All of these men have had an amazing impact on the sport; but when it comes to the impact on fans, Dale Earnhardt may have trumped them all as the most important contributor in the history of the stock car racing.
As NASCAR made the move from a regional Southeastern sport to a nationwide phenomenon, the drivers were still making minimal amounts of money, and souvenir sales were but a pittance. But then, Earnhardt’s forward-thinking ideas took control. Under the advice of his wife Teresa, the driver trademarked his name and took control of merchandise licensing so that he controlled who used his image. As Earnhardt became more and more popular, those merchandise sales skyrocketed, with an increasing amount of NASCAR faithful latching on to his successful marketing ideas. After switching over to a black car in 1988, the armies of fans who followed the Intimidator soon created a “blackout” of their own in the stands, from hats to shirts to jackets and everything else that they could carry, wear, or wave. For most of his career, and for several years after it was over, Earnhardt led the rankings of merchandise sales by NASCAR drivers. The reason for this amazing marketing success is the fact that the fans related to the seven-time champ as one of them. He was a man of the people, growing up in a mill town and just as likely feeding chickens and cows as he would be winning races on a Sunday.
That common man personality, combined with his incredible ability to drive a race car, is why I was a fan of Earnhardt long before becoming a NASCAR writer. Growing up a fan of racing, I always enjoyed stock cars, but truly became a diehard fan in the ’80s when races were on ESPN and that No. 3 Chevy was a threat to win almost every single weekend. His exploits were the reason for turning on the TV on race weekends and going to the racetrack to see NASCAR in person. When he had a bad day, I had a bad day; when he won a race, the following week was the best. I bought my share of hats and shirts, owning every Winner’s Circle diecast 1/64th car that was ever produced for Earnhardt.
All of that changed on Feb. 18th, 2001. While my passion for the sport never died, and I’m now lucky enough to even write about it, things have never been the same for me since Earnhardt’s death. Every now and then, I still catch myself during the race looking for the black No. 3, hoping to see him coming through the pack to fight for the lead. Whenever I go to the track, I see his souvenir haulers and am reminded of the names all over the outside of them the season that he was taken from us. The entire racing experience, while still a great time, is always incomplete … and Dale Earnhardt not being in the field is the missing piece.
But not only do I miss the Intimidator, the sport most definitely misses having him at a time like this Hall of Fame induction and current economic crisis. He always had a sense of what was best for the sport; during his Hall of Fame biography show on SPEED, Bill France, Jr. and Brian France commented on how Earnhardt would give them counsel about things going on and the difficulties facing the sanctioning body. There is no doubt that the sport would be different today if he had not perished in that fateful accident. That’s not to say the Chase would not have been tabled, but there is no question there would have been some serious discussions between the Man in Black and this governing body. Many of the other things that have come about over the past nine years would have also been approached differently if Earnhardt was still alive. Without question Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would still be in the No. 8, and DEI would be a more important force in the sport than the merged company that they are now.
The sport of stock car racing is still the best sport on the planet, although it is much different than it was in 2001 and could certainly stand to be better. But as the sport looks to recover from declining ratings and attendance, the biggest thing it seems to be missing in my eyes is the man who was the conscience of the sport. Earnhardt may not have made the final decisions on what went on, but he certainly had some say in how the sport approached its problems – and that opinion would be appreciated now more than ever.
Despite the tragic reminders, it is going to be a great day Sunday when Earnhardt’s life and legacy is celebrated once again when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. The man deserves every single accolade he’s about to receive, and he’ll be honored by the attendance of those once closest to him: Childress, Teresa, Dale Jr., and thousands of his dedicated fans.
It just sure would be nice to celebrate with him there in person, too.
©2000 - 2008 Mike Neff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Very nice piece. I was at Daytona that day, and miss him as much as my own father.
Wow Richard… Wow.
Nicely done, Mike. I was never much for hero worship but the thing I absolutely admired in Earnhardt was his will to win. He would have been going for it if first place money was $50 instead of $500,000.
Dale did truly alter the landscape of the sport. He came at the perfect time. King Richard’s career was all but over. (yes the King did race until 1992, but he shouldn’t have, his final decade was completely non-competitive)
I agree with Richard, Dale’s death left a hole in my life, that no amount of time seems to fill.
Three fingers in the air
Dale may not have been Tiger Woods or Sammy Sosa, but he was no hero. He was a bully on the track and that is apparently what appealed to the NASCAR demographic of the the 1970’s and 80’s. What we have here is the well-know “Death Phenomenon” when a person’s untimely death erases all negative connotations and raises him to “hero status.” Witness Michael Jackson, a suspected child molester who has never been more popular than since his death. I was never a Dale fan because I thought he could win without cheating, but whatver… it was his style and many macho types loved it. I would rather be allowed to choose my own hero, and it would not be anyone named Earnhardt. I certainly feel sorry for anyone whose life is left with a hole in it because of Dale’s passing. That is pathetic.
Susan,,we are glad you are going elsewhere to choose a hero, YOU certainly have no place in Nascar,,,,you don’t even know what is going on!
Excellent, could not have said it better!!
WOW, I’m so sorry you don’t understand hero in Dale Earnhardt, Susan. Maybe if you knew more about the person that was Dale Earnhardt, I guess you missed all the thousands of stories of the good hearted giving this man did.He was a Great driver on the track but even Greater man off the track with all his time and money given to churches ,charitable organizations, and people. No Susan,you are the pathetic one to even mention his name in the same sentence with Michael Jackson, go find your drug addicted, wife beating, thug hero somewhere else ‘cause we sure don’t need you in NASCAR.
Susan, feel free to choose your own hero, anyone you wish. That is your right. But if you call someone else’s choice pathetic it really shows your true character. Just go away. Far, far away. It’s easy to see you don’t care about anybody’s opinion except your own. DE may have been rough around the edges but anyone who saw him race will never forget him. Oh, I see. What we have here is the well-know “New Fan Phenomenon” when someone with no clue types mindlessly to try and impress others on the internet. Thank you Mike Neff. DE fans everywhere thank you.
2/18/01 was the day that racing died, for me. i still miss him. i know he’s rolled in his grave a few times over the past few years.
dale raced with a true passion. he NEVER had to search out sponsors. they were beating a path to his door up til his death, and several stayed out of loyalty after as well. dale understood the working man/woman. sure he had a life of luxury when he was killed, but he earned it. he worked day jobs when he first started out and raced at night and on weekends, mortgaged what he had. he was without rides and hustled to get a seat.
there are numerous stories of his charity. he’d do whatever was needed, but you didn’t hear about it in the press cause he didn’t want people to know. he’d pay to have church parking lots paved with one condition, no word got around town who paid for it. the little make-a-wish girl that gave him the “good luck” penny in 1998 when he finally won the 500, he kept in touch with her and her family. dale was like a gentle giant.
thankfully i got to spend time with dale over the years. he loved the fans. he just loved his sport, sometimes more than he should have in the early years. earnhardt took the sport to the next level when espn carried the races every weekend. it was so evident when he was killed. he was on magazine covers that no other race car driver had been on before…time, newsweek, national and international newspapers.
i so remember those souviner haulers during 2001. i sat and wrote on each one i saw. 2 weeks after his passing, when they were at ams, i was amazed at the little amount of white-space to write. tracks had memorial services the week of his death. 5000 of us race fans stood in the rain at ams on a wednsday to mourn him and celebrate his life. tears and stories.
in 2000 when he won at the spring race in ams…that place rocked, i had never experienced anything like that. in the fall of 2000 when he won at ‘dega it was the same way. i’m so thank ful i saw that last win.
sigh….miss him so very much. even after all these years.
Susan’s point was that when a popular figure dies unexpectedly, many times their “legend” is kicked up a notch.
John Lennon, James Dean, JFK.
Dale Sr. died and we never experienced the twilight of his career. It could have been as stellar, and successful as the first part… but we’ll never know. It also could have faded and been reduced to a DW “championship provisional show”. His “team” could have gotten run out of the show (with him in charge) like Petty.
With an untimely death, we see the trend of excellence and pontificate about the potential for 5, 10, 20 more yeas of the same. but there is no guarantee that would have occurred.
Not anywhere a hero.Not much of a family man either.Would kill anyone to win a race.
I keep getting Talladega Nights and the ESPN documentary “Three” confused. The main characters are so similar, I cant keep them straight in my head.
Save me Tom Cruise.
@ Susan: Let’s see, almost everybody posting to this story still misses Dale. It seems that the pathetic ones are the people that just post to spread their poison.
@ Tom Spam: By all means, I am interested in learning from you. Please write a list of all the drivers that Dale killed while racing, and even feel free to include those seriously injured by him. Until then, you have nothing of any relevance to say.
@ Randy: You never have anything relevant to say.
I personally miss sterling marlin. I feel like his career was never the same after “the incident.”
“If we wanted our boys to grow up to be wusses we would have named them Dr. Qinn and Medicine Woman… Or Noel”
I didn’t follow NASCAR until the 2000 season. Learning more about Dale Earnhardt the man after his death made me wish I had started watching much sooner. Was he the perfect father when he was younger? No. But he grew as a person so you need to give him credit for that.
@ Randy: Did you mean Dr. Q-U-I-N-N? Once again you can’t even get an insult right.
I kind of feel sorry for you. How miserable is your life when you are such a total failure at everything?
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