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.
NASCAR Weekly Q & A · Mike Neff · Wednesday August 1, 2012
James Hurd puts his hands on almost every impact gun used on pit road during NASCAR National Touring races. Whether it’s Cup, Nationwide or Truck, almost every tire changer on pit lane uses an Ingersoll-Rand Thunder Gun. The familiar high-pitched whine that fans hear during pit stops, while the lug nuts are flying off and being driven on the five studs on each corner of the car comes from the yellow and black impact gun that has been produced by IR since the ’60s. Hurd travels the circuit and tunes up the Thunder Guns for everyone, assuring their effectiveness on race day. While it varies from every week to three or four times a season, each and every time that a tire changer wants to have his gun looked over or rebuilt Hurd brings it to the IR hauler and he disassembles, inspects and tunes up each gun.
The story of this air gun started many years ago, when Hurd’s grandfather came to watch the races on the beach in his VW Micro Bus that he drove to gravel pits in Georgia to sell tools to laborers in the quarries. It just so happened that drivers didn’t have tools with them to fix their cars when they broke down, so Hurd’s business enjoyed an unintentional expansion at the track. Having the supply while the drivers had a demand, Hurd’s grandfather was allowed the chance to make some money while he was on vacation. In the end, Hurd’s father developed the precursor to the modern tool truck that visits race shops, body shops and tracks throughout the country. How successful was it? Bill France invited Hurd to Daytona when it opened in 1959 and had him attend the race for years to provide his competitors with the convenience Hurd provided. Eventually, he became one of the first distributors ever for IR.
The current Hurd was glad to tell Frontstretch about his family’s history in NASCAR and tool distribution while also regaling us with his vast knowledge of the Thunder Gun. While the family history was the last thing he shared with us, we’ll post it first because it ties everything together nicely.
In Jim Hurd’s own words: The history of how we got into this thing. I’ll tell you really quick. My grandfather, back in the 50s, sold a lot of construction equipment. He sold a lot of tools like jackhammers and whatever to rock quarries in Atlanta. He did pretty good at it. He’d drive in the rock quarry every week and he had a little micro bus with tools in it and stuff. He said you stay in business like that, working with rock quarries because they always blow stuff up and bury stuff. It was unbelievable. Anyway, he had a micro bus, a little Volkswagen bus. They always went to the races at Daytona, on the beach, back in the ’50s. My grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, my uncle, my aunt and whoever. The only vehicle they had was the Volkswagen, my grandmother couldn’t drive, didn’t know how to drive or whatever. They’d load the kids up and go watch ‘em race on the beach. In the mid-50s they were down there and, back in the day when they raced cars, they’d load up the wife and kids up, wherever they were from, go down there, throw out the kids and the wife, unload the luggage, tape up the doors and the headlights, and go race on the beach. They tore up stuff and they didn’t have any tools to work on the cars with. Just so happens, my grandfather was there with a van slap full of tools. He said the one year he went down there and sold everything he had. He paid for the trip down there by selling everything. So after that, every year he’d load up and go back down there and sell out. He started getting notes from the drivers and then, Bill France Sr., the founder of NASCAR, came up to him in 1956 or ’57 and needed something. In 1958, he came up to my grandfather again and this time told him ‘Mr. Hurd, I’ve got this track being built in 1959, Daytona International Speedway. You’re providing a great service for us. We need you. These drivers… they didn’t have teams back then, he said, ‘these drivers need you. Is there any way you can come to the track and we’ll set you up in the garage?’ So in 1959, he parked his van down there and we’ve been there ever since.
Hurd took Frontstretch into the lounge in the IR hauler and lets us check out the walls that are covered with pictures of his grandfather and the roots of IR in racing. On the wall in the stairwell to the lounge is a picture of his father standing next to his van in 1966. Under the fan, mounted to the frame, was a large nitrogen bottle. There is no question OSHA was not nearly as picky in the mid-‘60s as they are now, as he drove the van from Atlanta to Daytona with that tank under the vehicle. Hurd continued his story: Can you imagine he drove down the highway with that under the van? Oh my God. Anyway, here is him. Proto on the side from back when IR owned them. Official Ingersoll-Rand logo. He was not an IR employee, he was what they would call a distributor in today’s hierarchy. You can see in the back that it is full of tools. What he ended up doing, I don’t know for sure, but he was one of the first distributors of Ingersoll-Rand tools in the Southeast. I know he was the only one in Georgia when he first started out. The micro bus was the first version of the MAC Tools or Snap-On tools truck you see now only 30 years before they were even thought of.
So, when he was in Daytona or a couple of races afterwards, they started asking him to come to more of the races. In 1961, people were buying impacts from him and the Wood Brothers came to him and asked if he had anything a little bit faster. So he sold them a new Thunder Gun, although at the time it wasn’t called a Thunder Gun, it was a 405, which was the precursor to today’s gun. He wrote a letter back to my grandfather to tell him how much they liked it and they wanted like four more. The Woods were kicking everyone’s butt on pit road back then. They may not have had the fastest cars on the track, but they were winning races and the other teams were trying to figure out how the Woods were beating them. It was the impacts. So the other teams came to him and said: ‘Mr. Hurd, do you have any more of those impacts?’ He said sure and sold them the impacts. As the other teams started catching up, the Woods came and asked him if he had anything faster. My grandfather took one apart and checked it all out. Started machining some parts and trying out some different combinations and doing stuff until he ended up coming out with the Thunder Gun. The gun they use today is the same tool that he designed in the late ’60s. It is the same tool. I have an invoice to Petty Motorsports, from 1962, where my grandfather sold to the Pettys two 405 Thunder Guns. That is the oldest thing I can find where my father sold anything for racing. I wish I had the guns, but I’ve got an invoice with that on there. That is 50 years ago they bought a gun that is the same thing they’re using today. That is pretty cool.
So, as I was growing up I’d always go to the race, when I was out of school. Michigan, Pocono, always Daytona, always Atlanta. We were based out of Atlanta for a long time. I grew up in it and I liked it. My dad and uncle were in the car business, but they didn’t want to have anything to do with all of this traveling mess. I grew up in it and I kind of took it over from my grandfather. This is my 28th year full-time doing this racing thing. It is kind of one of those unsung, hidden hero kind of things sitting back here.
That is the story behind Hurd’s involvement in the sport. He also gave us some insight into the Thunder Guns themselves.
Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com: How long has the Thunder Gun been around?
Jim Hurd: Thunder Gun has been around since the early ’60s.
Neff: Why do they call it the Thunder Gun? That just seems like a dumb name to me. You’d think it would be the screaming gun or the whining gun. I don’t think of it as Thunder.
Hurd: That is a good question. I’ll have to think about it. I’m trying to think of it but I don’t know.
Neff: How much does one of the Thunder Guns cost?
Hurd: Out of the box, they start out about $1,500 and go up from there.
Neff: I know it is a sporting thing, so everyone has their own preferences but how much faster can you really make the guns by tweaking them with all of the bells and whistles you can put on?
Hurd: These guns, the way they are now, IR manufactures them to our specs so they’re pretty much full-blown, straight from the factory now. There are some accessories that we add on to them. They don’t really make it faster, but they will lighten it up some more. The nose cone that comes on the gun is steel. We will put a carbon fiber nose cone or a titanium nose cone on the gun to lighten them up. It is just a preference for the guys. Some like the lightweight nature of the carbon fiber, because it gives them faster hand speed, while other guys like the steel which gives them momentum when hitting the lug nuts. Probably 90% of all of the Thunder Guns I sell, well I sell them all but, about 90% of them will have carbon fiber nose cones. That is like a $500 add-on to the gun.
Neff: How frequently do you rebuild them?
Hurd: It depends on the team. I tell them that a good maintenance schedule is 4-6 races, but some teams I do them every race. It is a preventative maintenance deal. I also do pit practice. They have separate tools they use for pit practice. Pretty much every team out here has their race day guns, for race day only, with practice guns that they pit practice with. So, during the year, these guys practice 2 or 3 days a week, so I’m constantly fixing those things during the week, back at the shop. The rest of these guns stay on the transporter so, when I get to the track, they’ll be trickling in for three or four hours before the race. Some of them are last-minute deals. They’ll hook up the gun, then remember, and they’ll come running down. I’m providing a service, that is all there is to it. Believe it or not, knock on wood, our stuff doesn’t break. It is probably unheard of but this is the same impact that we’ve basically been building for 50 years. We’ve got it down pretty good. There is stuff and tweaks that we can still do but right out of the box, these things are ready to go. It is really unfortunate because you really want stuff to wear out.
Neff: That was going to be my next question. How long will one of these guns last if you’re doing the proper preventative maintenance on them?
Hurd: I’ve got guns out there that are 10, 12, 14 years old. These teams aren’t going to buy all new guns every year. They want new stuff. I’ve got some teams that’ll buy two new guns every six months. They’ll take two of their race guns and put them in practice while the practice guns will move over and become their backup guns. After backup duty, they’ll be handed down to developmental guys that are coming up with the team. Just for them to start practicing with the teams. These guns don’t really wear out, it is where the human touches come into play. A guy changes a tire and sits the gun down on the ground and the casing gets scratched and even potentially cracked. And that is just from the guy putting it on the ground. There are other guys who don’t even lay the tool down. They’ll yank the tire out of the way with one arm while holding it with the other. (Hurd showed the Frontstretch a gun that is nearly a year old and the case is hardly marked.)
Neff: How long does it take you to rebuild a gun?
Hurd: It depends. It all depends on what is wrong with it. It can take 10 minutes to 45 minutes. It depends on what I have to do. Some guys will tell me to check it out and put some grip tape on it. I know that gun will be fine. There are three or four key points I examine whenever I take one apart and I can see if there is certain wear which tells me I need to go farther inside of it. Some of the guys will tell me that they were running the gun and it fluctuated on them at some point. If the gun is running and it fluctuates, that is not a good thing. They might have let off the trigger too soon. I know what to look at and I can tell if something is going to occur or not. Usually, the gun will give you a sense that something is going to happen before it has an issue. Some guys guns will slow down from them dropping it or slamming it real hard. They can tell, just from the sound of the gun even though they’re going so fast. It will still do the job but they have to slow down just a little. These guys are hitting lugs in eight-tenths of a second. I can’t even blink that fast. Some of these guys will have an issue where they say it was there gun even though it wasn’t. They’ll come over and say ‘hey, find something wrong with my gun’. The crew chief will come over and want to know if it is him or the gun.
Things can happen, like o-rings, the forward/reverse switch. Sometimes they’ll drop lug nuts and have to pick them up. The grit that is on the ground can get in around that switch which will flat spot the o-ring. If a guy has it in forward, and he’s hitting the lugs, the jackman is looking for the lug nuts to be hit. When the jackman sees the first lug being hit, he’s already dropping the jack, so the changer will hit the rest of the lugs, then pick up the one that dropped. Meanwhile the driver is trying to take off while the lug is being picked up, and the end result is that the driver has to come back in because the lug was missed. The little o-ring on the forward and back switch is only .19 and it can cost the team a bunch of money. I have to stay on top of those things because the guys rely on me.
Neff: How many moving parts are in one of these guns?
Hurd: A LOT!!
Hurd: I shouldn’t say a lot considering the size of it. I think there are probably 20 moving parts. If you count the casing, the cover over it and a few other pieces, everything else is moving. There are 5 pieces that don’t move. These guns spin somewhere around 12 -14 thousand RPM and have over 1,000 ft/lbs of torque. Now I’m not saying you get that immediately but these guys can hit five lugnuts in .8 or less per second and each nut will have anywhere from 90 to 140 ft/lbs of torque on them. That tells you just how fast that gun dispenses the torque. You hit a lug nut in .2 of a second and it is going to have 90 ft/lbs of torque on it. They don’t let off of the trigger either.
Some guy says that I work on the guns all of the time. I don’t really work on them. They just really want me to look at them and catch problems before they occur. I’m here as a service. They might not need anything but these guys jobs depend on these guns. If you screw up twice, you’re fired. These guys make a lot of money so, more than likely, the equipment is going to fail them before the person himself.
The business today you cannot afford any problems on pit road. The 50 years that we have in the business is testimony to it. The reputation we have with 50 years of doing this, we have a very good reputation and IR knows it, as you can see from this hauler. They’re getting more and more involved in motorsports, partly because every business they own is represented here. Club Car golf cars are everywhere. Thermal King is on all of these haulers. Schlage Locks are all over these haulers. Trane Air Conditioners are on the garages and the buildings. Everything they own is here, so it is good they’re utilizing motorsports to promote their brand.
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Very interesting read. I’ve been a fan of stock car racing for over 40 years and cannot remember another story on the history of these guns. Nice.
Well done Mike, great read
i will wait for yours new update.really enjoy to read this sites. and got lots of information.
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