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.
Mike Neff · Monday September 3, 2012
Key Moment – A green-white-checker finish saw Denny Hamlin grab the lead and hold off Jeff Gordon to take his series leading fourth win of the season.
In A Nutshell – The first 35 laps of the race saw five on-track passes for the lead. The next 285 laps saw typical aero-dependent, intermediate track racing that had long green flag runs with little suspense. The last five laps saw a caution, a green-white-checker finish, a heartbreak, a second consecutive win, and a four-time champion second-guessing if he should have moved the eventual winner.
Dramatic Moment – Martin Truex, Jr. was on his way to his first win in five years when Jamie McMurray blew a tire and pounded the outside wall on the front straight with five laps to go. The lead lap cars all came to pit road for tires and Hamlin beat Truex out of the pits, giving himself the lane choice and the lead for the final restart. Truex spun his tires on the restart and slipped to third, allowing Jeff Gordon to battle Hamlin for the final two laps for the win.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week
Martin Truex missed it by THAT much. Truex hasn’t won a race since Dover in the spring of 2007. He had the field covered as the laps were winding down with the only real concern being an outside chance he might run out of gas. That all changed in the blink of an eye as McMurray’s right front tire blew and the caution flew. During the ensuing pit stops, Hamlin’s pit crew got him out about three feet in front of Truex. That slim margin allowed Hamlin to pick the inside line on the restart, which resulted in Truex spinning the tires and the win blowing away like dust in the wind for the No. 56 team.
Jimmie Johnson ran out of talent. Well, at least that is the opinion of the driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet. Johnson was on the inside of a three-wide situation on the back straight with Sam Hornish Jr. to his immediate right and Ryan Newman on the outside. Johnson moved up, which pushed Hornish into Newman and ultimately hooked Johnson into the outside wall. Although Johnson felt he left plenty of room for Hornish, Newman saw things differently—and stated as much in the heat of the moment in the garage after his night was ended.
Jeff Gordon woulda, shoulda, coulda. Once Hamlin and Gordon cleared Truex on the final restart, it was between the two of them for the win. Gordon had a chance to move Hamlin and didn’t take it and, in his own words, wished he could have done things differently. “I should have just run into the back of him going into three and moved him up the race track and we would have been sitting in victory lane right now counting another win,” he said. “This Chase is too important for me to be in it and not to make a move like that. I wouldn’t have wanted to wreck him but I would have liked to have that one over again”.
It’s a shame more tracks can’t eat tires like Atlanta. In the old days of Darlington and Rockingham, pit crew members wouldn’t even roll their tires on pit lane because the abrasive surface would wear the tires out. Atlanta is now one of the few tracks left where new tires are actually worth more than track position. Jeff Gordon noted that, on the next to last caution of the night, he came in and changed tires after only half a lap of green flag running on the set he had on the car. He restarted eighth and ran up to second in short order. With so many tracks newly repaved like Michigan, where Johnson ran 130 laps on left side tires that still looked like new when they came off the car, it is great to have a track where new tires matter.
Denny Hamlin looks like the favorite for the championship right now. Although he wouldn’t have won the race were if it were not for that last caution, the fact is Hamlin has won two in a row and is on a roll heading into the Chase. He’s heading to Richmond where he’s won as recently as the fall of 2010 and has an average finish of 7.3. A win there would give him five wins total heading into the Chase and three in a row. Hamlin is driving with a confidence he hasn’t had since he was winning nearly 30 Late Model races in a single season. Although he may not fully appreciate the reference, the bitch is back.
Carl Edwards is unofficially officially done. Sure, he’s mathematically still in contention for a Wild Card spot in the Chase, but let’s get serious. The way Edwards’ luck has been this year, he could be leading coming to the checkered flag at Richmond with the other 10 drivers still eligible for the Wild Card sitting in the garage and a meteor would fall from the sky and burn his car to a cinder in turn four. Try as you might to debunk the season after a runner-up finish jinx as much as you want, the bottom line is it is real. Edwards is just the latest in a long line of victims.
What will it take to get fans to come to Atlanta? Atlanta used to be the last race of the season and most of the time the race for the title was over so fans had other things to do. They moved the race up on the schedule and then invoked the Chase, diminishing the venue from the final race that was once so important. Now they’ve chopped their schedule to one race a season and given the track the coveted Labor Day weekend in the South, and the fans showed up—with a crowd about 62,000 strong. With a track that continuously offers up some of the best race finishes in the history of the sport, the fans continue to disappoint.
The Hindenburg Awards for Foul Fortune
Martin Truex Jr. has to be number one on this list for this week. Poised to finally be able to point to the scoring pylon and scream ‘SCOREBOARD’ to all of the people who keep asking when he’s going to win again, he instead is heading home whistling ‘Melancholy Baby.’
Ryan Newman wasn’t in contention to win but he was having a respectable run and was poised to be right in the thick of the Wild Card discussion heading into Richmond. Through no fault of his own, Newman wound up with a totaled race car and is left with the unenviable task of having to win to have any chance of making it into the Chase.
As mentioned above, Carl Edwards had another evening he’d like to forget. After running mediocre at the beginning of the race, he’d worked his way into the top 10 and was knocking on the door of the top 5 when his engine began sounding like a P51. A handful of laps later the motor totally grenaded and his Chase hopes went up in the same plume of oil smoke.
Jamie McMurray has been having a season to forget, and his night wasn’t any better. McMurray was having a night only a mother could love for most of the race but a couple of wave-arounds and some misfortune for a couple other competitors had him poised to turn chicken poop into chicken salad. It all went south with five laps to go in the race when his tire blew and he smacked the wall on the front straight. He was able to limp home but the finish was a pedestrian 24th.
A crew member for David Gilliland was taken to the hospital for evaluation. No other information was available after the race but that status is seldom good news.
The ‘Seven Come For Eleven’ Award For Fine Fortune
Denny Hamlin has to be on top of the list. He led 99 laps before the final caution of the night and had one of the two best cars for the entire race but, had it not been for McMurray’s right front tire suffering a rapid loss of air, he would have just been the first loser. Instead he’s the Big Poppa.
Although some people might think Sam Hornish, Jr. should be in the Foul Fortune category, the end result of his night was an 11th-place finish. In nine races since taking over for AJ Allmendinger, that is Hornish’s best result on an oval.
After running like Fido’s rear end for a good chunk of the race, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took advantage of a wave-around or two and battled to a seventh place finish. Efforts like that might not win the No. 88 a championship, but it will keep him in the hunt until the very end.
Paul Menard was the Lucky Dog not once, but twice. His team continued working on his ride and in the end he logged an eighth place finish.
*Denny Hamlin’s win is the fourth of the season. He is the winningest driver in Sprint Cup this season. The win is Hamlin’s 21st of his career. For the second week in a row, Hamlin won at a track where he’d never won before in the Cup series. *Gordon’s second place finish was his 16th top 5 and 25th top 10 in 39 career races at Atlanta. *Keselowski’s third-place result was his first top 5 and second top 10 in four career starts at Atlanta. *Nine of the 10 Chase point berths have been clinched. Tony Stewart is the only driver in danger of falling out of the top 10 in points, but he is guaranteed a spot in the Chase by virtue of his three wins. *Michael Waltrip Racing has not only earned its first Chase berth but has locked both of its drivers into the postseason. *Kevin Harvick is the only driver in the top 10 with single digit bonus points for the season. *Hamlin has the most bonus points of anyone in the Cup series with 32.
What’s The Points?
Greg Biffle leads the points for another week thanks to his 15th-place finish combined with Jimmie Johnson’s 34th-place result. Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbed one spot to second while Matt Kenseth rode an up and down night to 10th to surpass Johnson by 13 points. Biffle’s 879 points are eight more than Earnhardt.
Clint Bowyer started the race at 30th, climbed to sixth, but ended the night at 27th. As a result he, lost two positions in the standings and now sits eighth. Hamlin and Keselowski both leapfrogged Bowyer and are poised to start the Chase in first and second, respectively.
With one race to go for the Chase, the picture for the Wild Card slots is a little clearer, but is still somewhat muddled. Tony Stewart currently sits in the 10th position. He is 18 points ahead of Kasey Kahne, 23 ahead of Kyle Busch, and 35 ahead of Jeff Gordon. Provided Stewart finishes 12th or better at Richmond, he’s locked into the top 10 in points. If Kahne can gain 19 points on Stewart, he’ll supplant him in the top 10. But Stewart is still locked in as a Wild Card by virtue of his three wins.
Provided Stewart stays in the top 10, then Kahne takes a Wild Card spot. If Busch wins, then he, Stewart, and Kahne will all make the Chase in some mix of Wild Cards and 10th place in points. Should Jeff Gordon win, then things could get interesting. Gordon could win, not gain enough points to pass Kahne, while Busch scores enough points to supplant Stewart at 10th in points. As a result, Kahne would take the Wild Card and Gordon would be out. The opposite would be true if Gordon surpassed Kahne in total points while Busch jumped into the top 10. In reality, if any of the drivers with one win can take the trophy at Richmond, they’ll most likely be the second Wild Card with Kahne taking the other.
Overall Rating (on a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and six being an instant classic) This race garnered a whopping total of two relatively cool adult pops. The rating is completely based on the last two laps of the event which rescued it from being a pure stinker. Although there were four lead changes on track in the first 35 laps, there were only two more for the remainder of the race. The other 12 lead changes occurred during green flag pit stops. The race included an 88 lap green flag parade and a 109 lap green flag train. Fortunately, the GWC finish added the excitement to resurrect it to a two-fisted gem.
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Why don’t the fans show up? Traffic, parking, hotel gouging, the chase, football season, long green flag runs with little side by side racing…
amen carl……and add to that high unemployment. i knew the race would have long green flag runs with car out front taking off. i didn’t even bother watching it on tv. sad as i always planned my weekends around the races.
i stopped going to ams when the rent-a-cops told me i couldn’t access the track from the back roads i had taken for 10 yrs. they made me get out into the mess of traffic on 19/41. hate being in bumper to bumper traffic with a bunch of people that have been drinking for days.
NASCAR doesn’t necessarily need butts in the seats right now, they need tracks like Atlanta and Rockingham to break the monotony of the season.
Lets face it . nascar management(if you want to call it as such) is the blame for everything. All these wave arounds etc. haven’t made the racing any more interesting than it was in the past. It’s no fun to be gouged at hotels, sit in long traffic lines and watch a poor racing show. I turned off the tv with a little more than half the race done because it was BORING.
paltex and Carl D. are absolutely right. NASCAR management IS to blame for fans leaving the sport. Aside from everything else they mentioned, NASCAR won’t get off its high horse and move the Labor Day race weekend back to Darlington, where it rightfully belongs. It has the chance to right the wrong every year, but always blows it.
Was the writer at the race? I was there and the stands were respectably filled. There were a few gaps here and there. The track said attendance was 90,000+ and I have to believe this is close to the ballpark. There were a lot of people tailgating and having a good time. Some of the commenters were right about traffic. It took almost two hours to get out of the track.
The race in person presents well. Although the leader got a way from the pack throughout the body of the race, there was lots of compelling action as other drivers positioned themselves for the final laps. I enjoyed listening to Steve Letarte coach Dale Jr. to a a decent finish. Dale’s post race comments echoes what I heard on the radio. Steve Addington could use some of Letarte’s skills with Tony.
Hopefully, that was the wake-up call for Jeff and he’ll become a fighter again. He won’t beat Kyle at Richmond, so this year’s lost; but Daytona will be here soon enough.
I’m not much of a fan of his, but my dream chase would be Jimmie & Jeff running neck & neck for a 7th championship. That won’t happen unless Jeff picks his game up A LOT and gets two more championships before Jimmie gets one.
This once time fanatical fan (30 years +) turned the race off with a little over 100 laps to go. Sad. Irritated and annoyed at nas$car is one thing. Apathy is quite another. That’s where I’m at.
Stephen Hood touched on one important point. The race in person presents well. This really goes for any race. I’ve argued the same point about Michigan, where I attend both weekends. While the June race did disappoint me, mainly because of who won, the August race delighted me, mainly because of who won, and who suffered engine failures and came up losers (Tony, Jeff, and Jimmie). Races are always better in person, as you see way more than the tight shots and very selected drivers the TV networks show. That’s why I have got into the habit of turning off the TV volume and putting on MRN/PRN. They give way more information!
After seeing whatever that was they called a race Sunday night, I have a better idea. Just have the prayer, national anthem, and fly over – best part of any of the races- then just draw a winner out of a hat and all go home.
I do not go any longer nor even bother to watch any longer because it is not Spring and that is just not right.
so that’s why atlanta lost it’s other race…
In the race for a permanent replacement here at Matt’s old post, I think both contenders have done well. Will we hear from others? I’ll keep tuning in for the weekly recap, since I seldom bother watching the races anymore.
These have been two great recaps. Maybe tag team writing is the way to go?
we better watch what we wish for. NASCAR will take over MRN/PRN and we’ll have nothing good to listen to when the race is on…
For us, apathy has set in. We used to go to between 10 and 13 races a year. This year we are down to 4. I Love atlanta (it does look better in person but don’t they all?) it’s racy, the fans are great and ticket prices are about the best of all the tracks. BUT this year I just didn’t have it in me to pack the RV and take the 6 hour trek to Atlanta. And that is something NASCAR should pay attention to…when long time fans like I just don’t care anymore.
BTW…what happened to matt?
crowds seem to be an issue for ALL Atlanta sports, not just NASCAR.
Here ya go Laidback. http://www.frontstretch.com/mmclaughlin/41124/
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