Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
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.
NASCAR Driver Q & A · Mike Neff · Wednesday May 9, 2012
John King may have only won three feature races in his career, but he’s far from a newbie to racing. He began racing at the age of 15 and has run Late Models on asphalt and dirt. After making some NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts on his own, King made the jump to Red Horse racing for 2012 and proceeded to win the first race of the season at Daytona. King is sitting eighth in points as the series heads to Charlotte for their next race. He’ll be running the Consul Energy No. 7 Toyota for Red Horse Racing and attempting to win the Rookie of the Year, not to mention more races before the season ends. King knows how to work on his own cars, but the guys on his crew don’t let him touch them too much. King sat down with Mike Neff to discuss all that and more.
Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com: You’re the winner of the Truck race at Daytona this year. That is just the third feature win of your career right?
John King: Yes, third feature win.
Neff: Where are you originally from?
King:I’m originally from Kingsport, TN. The past little bit I’ve been living in an area called Fort Blackmore, which isn’t far from Kingsport. That’s where I claim to be from now. Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia.
Neff: Did you go to the UARA race in Kingsport last weekend?
King: No I didn’t. I was in town but I had some other stuff going on and couldn’t make it out.
Neff: You are a graduate of the UARA series. There are a few of them who are making the rounds in the national touring series of NASCAR. You also have some dirt background. Tell us a little about not only running asphalt but running dirt on the way up.
King: My dad has been friends with Bill Elliott for a long time, probably thirty-some years. I showed an interest in racing and my dad has always been involved in racing. 20-some years ago he owned a Late Model Stock that a lot of guys drove. John A drove it, John A. Utsman, Scott Bloomquist was in it at one time and won some races, Johnny Rumley, so he’s always been involved in racing. Bill would come to town for Ford stuff at some of the local dealerships and dad got to be buddies with him and they really hit it off. When I was 13 years old, my dad was sponsoring a guy named Rick Norris down at Bull’s Gap, Volunteer Speedway, local guy who ran Super Late Models on dirt. At that time I took a big interest in it. I was just wanting a four cylinder to race, anything, it didn’t matter. I grew up driving stuff on the farm, heavy equipment, farm trucks pulling trailers full of hay and stuff. At that time he felt like I was a little bit young and that was the time when a lot of young guys were really getting into racing. You were starting to see 13 and 14 year olds at the short tracks in Late Models and such.
When I was 15, I started working for Rick on his car. I’d get out of school and be there in Colonial Heights until 11 o’clock at night, drive home an hour and ten minutes. So I really caught the bug of it then, going to work on race cars and play, pretty much. He had an old Late Model in his basement, and we got it, and that was when the Crate Late Models were first getting started. So we bought a crate motor and started logging laps. I raced my first race when I was 16. We ran a couple years of Crate Late Models.
In 2008, we were coming back through Georgia and we stopped in to see Bill. We hadn’t seen him in a while so we stopped in and he said ‘What are you doing next year?’ This was actually at the end of 2007. I said probably about the same thing I’m doing this year, running around racing. We were traveling all around running 40-some races a year, just a couple of us. He said ‘Why don’t you move to Georgia?’. I thought, ‘and do what?’. He said ‘I’m starting this driver development deal and you can move down here and race out of my shop’. We kind of himhawed around about it and dad called him on the way home and said ‘Are you serious, because you’ve done told him about it. He’s all worked up now’. So we did. I packed up and moved to Georgia and raced Super Late Models on dirt all of 2008. That was my first year in Supers. We got to where we were running pretty good. We didn’t win a lot of races but we traveled around all of the time. We got to where we could go somewhere and be a top-5 car, pretty competitive. I really learned a lot that way, transitioning to different tracks and stuff and how to set the cars up. At the end of ’08 I ran a couple of asphalt races. A two race night at Coeburn, Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Virginia, then we hauled off and went to Myrtle Beach. We didn’t make the feature race but we had a pretty good learning experience there.
In 2009 we ran nothing but asphalt, Late Model Stocks. Did the UARA, Coeburn and Motor Mile. 2010 we ran more asphalt Late Model Stock and then started in the Truck Series. Ran Bristol, Loudon, Martinsville, and Miami (Homestead). 2011 did the same thing. Ran three more truck races and a lot of Late Model Stock races, so that’s where we’ve been.
Neff: There is always that debate when guys go racing. Do you focus on a single track and running for a championship or do you travel around? Do you think it is better traveling around and learning how to adapt to different tracks or is it better to win more and get a championship to prove you’re a winner?
King: I think it depends. If you start young enough, there is enough time to do that. If you want to take a year off and run at Caraway or Motor Mile or wherever and try and get a championship is one thing. I started late. I didn’t start driving until I was 15, didn’t race until I was 16, that was my first race. We just felt it was best to hit the road. We traveled from Ohio to Florida to Alabama and everywhere in-between. I counted up like 30 different dirt tracks that we raced at. A lot of times it was just me and one other guy or me and two other guys. We’d hit the road. In a sense I was crew chief, hauler driver and, y’know, we had a blast. It was hard, a lot of work, seven days a week, non-stop, just a couple of us. We learned a lot.
Neff: Do you think having that experience of working so much on your cars then helps you communicate with your team now, even though they’re different vehicles, to help make your truck better?
King: There is no doubt, you have to know these things. You have to know what is going on, what you’re feeling, what the changes are going to do, to give the correct input. You might make the changes and you might not feel something or you might feel the opposite of what you anticipated. You really need to know what is going on so you can give that input back.
Neff: Now away from the track what do you like to do? Do you hunt, fish, DJ?
King: I don’t know about DJ’ing. I do pretty good on my iPod but it is strictly country. I’m just a country boy from up there. I grew up on a farm putting up hay every year, cows, horses, the whole deal. When I’m home I’m working on the farm, or fishing, or hunting, do a lot of coyote hunting and do a lot of 4-wheeling. There is a lot to do out there.
Neff: Do you have pets?
King: We’ve got dogs running around everywhere, we’ve got horses and the cattle. My sister has a couple cats running around the barn, just mousers. I’ve got a really good yellow lab, my sister has a black lab and we’ve got a cattle dog we just got, he’s young.
Neff: How did this Red Horse deal come about?
King: We had a really tough year last year. We couldn’t finish a race whether it was Truck or Late Model, without having some kind of problem. If we didn’t get in a wreck with somebody else’s mess we’d have a part failure, blow a motor, trash a shock or bend a shaft or something. At the end of last year I was kind of down on it all, trying to figure out what I was going to do. Dad and I sat down and kind of talked and thought we had to make something happen. So we sat back and looked at our best bet at making a good run at it and Red Horse really stands out. Everybody here has a lot of credentials. Everybody here has a lot of history. They’ve been together a long time, they’ve worked together a long time, they’ve had a lot of success. I’ve got good teammates, Timothy Peters, Todd Bodine, it is a win, win, win, etc. etc. etc. I mean as far as Truck teams, I think this is the smoothest operating Truck team, race team period that there is. Not to mention their affiliation with Toyota is a huge help for me. It makes it a lot easier on me to have this quality of equipment and to go to the race track and have everything in place and all I have to focus on is driving. To unload and know that the truck is going to be pretty decent when you unload. That is big for me, having not been to a lot of these race tracks. I’ve got zero laps on the majority of these tracks so the more track time I can get, good quality track time, instead of trying to figure out the truck first and then figuring out how to drive the track and then you figure out the truck was probably closer when you started. It just makes it a lot easier on me.
Neff: On truck preparation, how much computer simulation do you get into? Is it more just the historical knowledge? I know there are a lot of racers around this place or do they rely a lot on computer simulation when it comes to setting up the trucks?
King: I think racing has moved more toward the computer side of it, the technology side of it, there is no doubt. They have sim programs they run that they can put changes in and run and see what is going to happen, but you’ll never get past needing the racers. You’ve got to have a racer. A group of engineers isn’t going to be able to go to a race track and crew a race car. You’ve got to have the guys that have been there their whole lives and done it all and seen it all.
Neff: On the schedule side of things, how frustrating is it to come off of Daytona with the momentum you had going and then you take three weeks off. Then you run at Martinsville and then a week off then Rockingham and Kansas and then you have another month off. Just trying to get momentum going in the season, would you like to see them try and work the schedule so that you can run every other week for a while rather than having these big fits and starts?
King: It would be nice for me. Like I said about the rookie deal, it is nice to get into a groove where you’re going to the race track every weekend or every other weekend. I’ve learned more in the last two races, going to Rockingham and Kansas, than I think I’ve learned in the last two years. I was ready to go to Charlotte the next day if we could have after Kansas, I learned that much and got that comfortable in the truck.
Neff: So what are you doing during all of these off weeks besides working on the farm?
King: Just spending time down here. We’re preparing these trucks, getting ready in advance. Going over everything with a fine toothed comb. Doing some sponsor stuff, we’re fortunate enough to have Consul Energy on the truck. Just doing all of our honey-do lists
Neff: Do they let you work on the trucks?
King: I try, I can, but they don’t let me most of the time. Something I see different here, in this organization, than I’ve seen in any other organization is these guys really take pride in their work. Anywhere else I’ve gone guys are like ‘Sure, go ahead and you can do that’. These guys want to do it because their names are tied to it. They’re sure of what they do, they’re sure about themselves and take a lot of pride in doing it. You see these race trucks and you can tell. I’ve been on that side of it too. I worked on a truck team in 2009, I guess. I worked at a truck team out of Virginia and I took a lot of pride in it. I wasn’t driving, I was just working. They let me do some stuff, just busy work mostly.
Neff: If you weren’t driving, would you still be in racing, would you be farming; what do you think you would do with yourself if you weren’t racing?
King: I’ll always have a race car period, whether it is a dirt car or a Late Model Stock car. If I wasn’t truck racing I’d probably be farming. My dad is a car dealer in Northeast Tennessee, so I’d probably take part in that. But I’d still have my dirt car. I have to be in it somehow.
Neff: Let’s talk Martinsville. Timothy Peters tries to run that Late Model deal, I know he didn’t get to last year. Are you going to try and run that race since the trucks don’t run that weekend again?
King: I’m going to try to. I’ve got my Late Model sitting there in the shop ready to go. I’ve got two really good Hedgecock cars. One has a crate motor in it, we’ve been running it some. I don’t know if we’re going to this year, but we’ve got a couple good race cars.
Neff: The All-American 400 is in Nashville this year. I don’t know if the trucks have that weekend off or not but would you be interested in running that race?
King: I’m not sure if I’m going to do that or not.
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