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.
Key Moment – The caution flag flew for Matt Kenseth breaking a track bar mount on lap 310. The lead lap cars pitted and Brad Keselowski never visited pit road again, making his tank of fuel last 89 laps en route to his fifth win of the season and second of the Chase.
In a Nutshell – Denny Hamlin led early, Kyle Busch led the most, Jimmie Johnson was poised to lead at the end, but Brad Keselowski made his fuel go the furthest while going the fastest at the end of the race.
Dramatic Moment – Johnson was trying to make his fuel last to the end while Busch and Hamlin knew they couldn’t. Johnson slowed his pace and gave up the lead on lap 354 to Busch, who pitted on lap 389 for fuel while Hamlin came in a lap later. Keselowski pushed hard enough to get past Johnson but not hard enough to run out of gas so he inherited the lead, and the win, when Busch and Hamlin pitted.
Watching Jeff Gordon run down Keselowski at the end, for a few seconds made you think there could be a side-by-side duel to the finish. But Gordon, and third-place Mark Martin’s bid to catch the No. 2 car fell short by about 10-15 laps.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week.
There isn’t a race fan in the United States who hasn’t heard the dulcet tones of Chris Economaki. One of the four faces on the Mt. Rushmore of race announcers, Economaki passed away this week at 91 years of age. There are many different moments in racing history that come to mind when you hear voices but I will always remember Economaki referring to the nose of an Indy car in the early ’80s as “a bulbous, W.C. Fields nose.” Godspeed, Chris.
Fuel Mileage bites the No. 48 again. Jimmie Johnson said as much in his post ace interview. The No. 48 team never does well when it comes to fuel mileage races. While Hendrick may be on top of the heap when it comes to several things in this sport, stretching fuel is most certainly not one of them. The question now is how many times it will come back to bite them in this Chase…
Ford still stinks. The blue oval only has two cars in the Chase and they don’t have any in the top 10 in points. Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth both led the point standings during the “regular season” and right now neither one of them is eligible to travel to Vegas for the post season awards banquet. As Tom Bowles wrote this morning, they’re on pace for their worst performance in the championship battle since 1982, when Dale Earnhardt finished 12th driving for Bud Moore.
Radio meltdowns are becoming more common than Kurt Busch changing rides. At Richmond and Chicago, Clint Bowyer sounded like he was passing a kidney stone while yelling at his team on the radio. This week, Biffle had more bleeps during his radio rant than Kurt Busch finding out they put starch in his boxers at the cleaners. Sure, there is pressure and drivers can get frustrated, but does screaming and swearing really help anything?
We’re on pace for the fewest crashes in the history of the Chase. We’re heading into Talladega, so this point will probably be rendered moot, but through three Chase races we have had a grand total of three caution flags for “wrecks.” Casey Mears and Jeff Gordon brought out yellow rags at Chicago and Matt Kenseth “wrecked” at Dover when he spun and nudged his nose against the wall. Point racing is supposed to be out the window for any of the drivers outside of the Chase, but it sure seems like there isn’t anyone living on the edge in the Cup Series these days.
Marty Smith got booted from the pit studio God love him, Smith was back where he belongs, on pit road, during the race this weekend. He got rid of the professor specs and looked more in his element than hanging out behind the desk with Nicole and the boys.
How did Dale Jr. go a lap down? ESPN showed Dale Jr. slow down to pit and then drive on, past the pace car, when the caution flag came out in the middle of the infamous green flag pit stops that put most of the field a lap down. When they came back from commercial and told the audience about the cars on the lead lap, Earnhardt was not one of them. Although Dave Burns tried to elaborate a little bit, there was never a real explanation. It would have been nice to hear what really happened.
Carl Edwards scored a top-5 finish. Unlike last year, top 5s have been extremely hard to come by for the driver of the No. 99 for Roush Fenway. In fact, this is the third top 5 of the season for Cousin Carl and the first since California in March. Unfortunately for his fans, the broadcast team never even mentioned it after the end of the race or (while we’re at it) any of the other non-Chase drivers not named Kyle Busch who ran worth a darn all day.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Things just keep going downhill for Matt Kenseth. He bemoaned at Chicago the fact that parts keep falling off of his car. Although he was running in the best position of any Ford driver at Dover, the track bar mount fell off of the left side of his Ford. He came to the pits, the team applied some duct tape or something and sent him back out, only to have him spin out and bump the inside wall before heading to the garage to have the thing properly fixed. He ended the race running but 29 laps down in 35th.
It is hard to call it foul fortune, because it is part of racing, but for Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Clint Bowyer, the vagaries of fuel mileage strategy took quality runs with potential race-winning cars and turned them into lap down finishes.
JJ Yeley got to pilot the No. 36 this week for Tommy Baldwin Racing. He started the race in 40th but quickly climbed into the top 30. He was heading into the pits for some new skins when the right front tire exploded on the back straight, bringing out a debris caution and ruining the handling on his car for the rest of the day. Yeley was poised for a great afternoon; instead, his only real claim of success ended up being finishing ahead of Kenseth, along with the infamy of trapping over half the field a lap or more off the pace.
Although the No. 22 is already slated for Joey Logano next season, Sam Hornish is still driving it for all he’s worth this year. He started the race in the fourth spot, dropped into the back half of the top 10 before he was caught by the caution flag on lap 70. He was still in the top 20 before another pit stop dropped him back into the low 20s. He battled his way all of the way back to 16th before the fuel mileage bug bit him and he ended the race in 25th place.
Most of the field was caught by the caution for Yeley’s exploding tire, one which left eight cars on the lead lap for the ensuing restart. With just five cautions in the event, and four of the five being at least 60 laps apart, the wave around never really came into play so the end of the race saw only six cars on the lead lap.
”The Seven Come For Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Brad Keselowski has been getting great fuel mileage all year but there was some doubt as to whether he would be able to make it to the finish when the race went back to green after the debris caution on lap 310. Three laps later, Matt Kenseth went for a loop in turn four and the ensuing caution lasted four laps which, as it turned out, saved Keselowski enough fuel to not only win the race but do several burnouts during his victory celebration.
Although it might seem like a bad break, the fact that Busch, Hamlin, and Bowyer were able to stay on the lead lap early enabled them to finish in the top 10 late when they ran low on fuel because so few cars were on the lead lap.
When Kenseth slid off of the track and brought out the final caution of the race, Jeff Gordon dove onto pit road to top off his fuel tank. As the race unfolded and the leaders went into fuel conservation mode, Gordon started clipping off fast lap after fast lap. He looked poised to give Keselowski a run for his money but the handle went away as the final laps drew to a close. His second place finish did move him out of last place in the Chase standings, but he still lost ground to the leader and is out of contention for a title this year.
Carl Edwards was given the Lucky Dog pass on the second caution of the event. On the third and fourth yellow flag sessions, he was very close to going a lap down but managed to stay in front of the leader long enough for the caution to come out and let him catch back up to the field. Edwards didn’t pass many cars during the race but his timing was pretty impeccable all day and that luck was rewarded with a top-5 finish.
You have to be a nuclear physicist to understand how the prize money is awarded for Cup series races, so I won’t try and explain this. In nothing short of Monkey Business, Landon Cassill crossed the finish line in the 36th position. He was awarded $97,280 for his effort. Joey Logano scored a top-10 finish for the 11th time this year, 11 times more than Mr. Cassill, and scored the tidy sum of $95,535. Not sure how that math on that works out, but there is no way it can be anything but stupid.
What’s the Points?
Brad Keselowski stretched the fuel and stretched his points so that he is now your point leader by five over Jimmie Johnson. Johnson and Keselowski have taken turns leading the points after each of the first three point races. Denny Hamlin, who was on top of the heap after the points were monkeyed around for the start of the Chase, is now sitting in third, 16 points behind the leader. Although there is a ton of racing still to go, it is going to take some crazy misfortune for one of these three to not hoist the trophy when the checkers fly in Homestead.
Clint Bowyer was on the lead lap when the caution flew the first time — and he stayed there the rest of the race. His splash and go at the end dropped him from the lead lap but he finished in ninth and is now fourth in the point standings. In an odd twist of fate, Kasey Kahne has been tied with someone every week of the Chase. This week he’s tied with Tony Stewart for fifth, 32 points out of the top spot. Although far from mathematically eliminated, the two of them are on life support.
From Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on down in the point standings, the party is over. Thirty-nine or more points out of the lead is simply too much to overcome in seven races. That many points can be made up on one person, but when you have to leapfrog six other drivers as well, it just isn’t going to happen. Enjoy your handsome parting gifts.
Overall Rating (from one to six beers, with one being a total snoozer and a six-pack an A+ effort): This one was well on the way to a debatable two to three can snoozer before the fuel strategy angle came into play over the last 90 laps. Although it only added enough intrigue to pull the rating up to a weak four-can affair, the way the end of the race played out was enough to salvage it from a third straight half or less of a six-pack effort. Four cans of Schlitz is hardly a big winner, but it at least kept those people watching from falling asleep during the final 50 laps.
Next Up: The one they all talk about: the crapshoot that is Talladega. With tandem racing no longer a viable alternative, at least until the last two laps, plus a rule package that frequently forces cars to back off or blow up, this very well may be just another bad hole card rather than a wild card. Here’s hoping that the excitement level at the biggest track on the circuit lives up to the hype.
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What happened to all the posters on this website? I guess when old RG1 went away so did everyone else. Wonder why Tom was so rude to him, that was job security.
I was on the road this weekend and didn’t DVR the race because I figured it would just be another Jimmy Johnson win. Still, I wasn’t totally surprised to find that Keselowshi had won. He snatched a win from Johnson at Chicago and yesterday he beat Johnson at one of JJ’s best tracks. Though I’m not ready to hand him the trophy, that’s how you win championships. I don’t want to hear any “Yeah, but it was fuel mileage” comments… all the teams play by the same rules and when it comes to points, a win is a win. Go Brad!
brad and his bunch are making this a little more bearable. he’s a breath of fresh air in the hendrick owned series.
8 cars on lead lap in less than 100 laps of the race, i watched the inside of my eyelids. i’m still trying to figure out why jr was 2 laps down when he kept on going to get back on the track when the yellow flew. figured nascar would had allowed that as it was jr. oh well….maybe hendrick’s check hand’t cleared france’s account yet.
personally, if i were ryan newman i’d be wondering where the loyalty lies with my owner, since apparently, his crew and crew chief are going to princess sparkle pony next season. ryan will definitely be odd man out at shr next year. speaking of shr….why, except for the fact that espn had time to kill, did they interview steward in post-race. he was 20th! and at the end of the “interview” stewart looked as if he wanted to slap jamie little.
won’t it be interesting if brad and the #2 bunch pull off the championship and dodge leaves next year.
i think kenseth’s cars are being prepared will pieces from the previous week’s cars that haven’t been damaged. that’s what he gets for announcing his plans to leave early in the season. he’s showing us what it is to be a true lame duck.
never fear…tv will gave jr winning next week at dega to get back into the chase hunt. sorry, jr just doesn’t have the “fire in his belly” like his dad had, or like even brad k has. jr reminds me of someone just showing up to collect a pay check. he needs the see sports physiologist.
Janice are you saying everyone finishing behind Jr as well is showing up for a paycheck? go figure. glad he finished 11th so you have something to rip him on.
The past two weeks of football has been unreal and edge-of-your-seat excitement.
Dover? Fuel mileage.
Kenseth had a part break?
Things that make you go “Hmmmmmm”.
Kind of fishy when drivers say they are leaving a team that stuff starts happening to their cars.
I will point out that Brad is now 5 points ahead of JJ not 1 point (at least that’s what it says on NASCAR.com as of 9:58 AM Monday morning).
I wonder if JJ could have made it running full speed or if Chad is playing conservative. That could be trouble if Brad isn’t and doesn’t have any issues in the next 7 races. So, will the 48 ride around at the back next week at Talladega to avoid the big one while Brad goes for it. We saw how that backfired for JJ last year. When he finally decided it was time to head for the front it was too late.
It is now appears as if only three guys are left with a chance at the championship – 2, 48, 11, however if they each have a bad race (20th or worse) things could get interesting again. That’s a big IF but there are still 7 races left.
I was glad for once that the wave around rule didn’t allow half the field to get back on the lead lap. I hate that rule.
Sorry, I was at Dover and yeah the fuel mileage deal at the end added some interest, but really except for hoping that Gordon would be able to catch the 2 and win, I really didn’t care that much.
I don’t know if TV showed the moment when the 48 thought he was going to get by the 18 and KyBu took it 3 wide. JJ crapped his pants and bailed out. More afraid of wrecking than interested in racing. It would have been much more interesting had the 48 run out of gas.
Nascar has become just a game in a box like Monopoly. On a Sunday after the chase started nascar had about 3.5 million to tune in. The NFL contest was viewed by over 21 million that same day. Real sports with true athletes take the day. How long will it be until the phony nascar product can’t sell air time?
Team Ganassi should stop kidding and become a start and park. And Montoya’s coming back next year?! What a joke.
another weekend of racing, another weekend where the truck race is the best race of the weekend. For quite a while I blamed the tracks for crappy racing, but the trucks, mods, and K&N series run on the same tracks and have better races.
Someone in Daytona needs to wake up and realize the top series is no longer the best race of the weekend, especially if they ever want to compete with the NFL
The race was another boring one, but the truck race was better. Here’s a link for my two cents worth. NASCAR Truck Series More Exciting Than Cup
Why the heck is nar$car starting these races at two, ET? If the idea is to compete with the NFL, nas$car is sure going about it the wrong way. A lot of viewers are already watching football. The dolts at Daytona don’t seem to realize that there’s a lot of stuff on tv besides what nas$car has turned into big turd. I tried to watch some of the race, but when I checkd in at lap 52 and saw there were only seven cars on the lead lap, that was all for me. This former nas$car fanatic has had enough. I won’t even put forth the effort to give this race a rating.
that was a race?
No excitement. Fewest crashes in the chase. Who wants to watch 12 “radioactive cars” go round and round and pretend it’s a race? It’s like little boys playing war for 3-4 hours.
JR went down a lap because as he went into the pits he was passed by the leader. Strange day at Dover…and IMO 39 points behind is still doable with 7 to go!
I wish the media would stop saying so and so is now out of Chase contention. We haven’t even gotten to Talladega and your counting people out already? Everything could change this weekend. A big pileup with Chase cars and we have a whole new ballgame.
Between the Ryder Cup golf, football, and the baseball pennant races, the racing was kind of an after thought this weekend. I really tried but every time I went to watch, the 48 was on the tv screen. I gave up because it was obvious a Chase heavy broadcast as usual. Even leading the race, Kyle was lucky to get the coverage he got this week.
OK, so we’re three races into the Chase and what do we have. The 48 dominated at Chicago until the 2 snookered him in the pits late and stole a win. At NH Hamlin took over two thirds of the way into the race and cruised to a win. At Dover Busch dominated but was short on gas. BK won one on fuel mileage. YAWN. Any wonder why last week’s race was one of the lowest rated on TV in the last 4 years?
Best racing in the Cup event? BK racing to stay ahead of the Shrub after the jack failure on pit road to keep from going a lap down.
Best racing of the weekend? Nelson Piquet Jr.‘s last lap “No guts, no glory” pass to win the truck race in Vegas. Truck racers don’t get paid the big bucks, are trying to advance thier careers and don’t have a Chase battle to worry about. Coincidence?
An untimely caution flag for the 36’s blown tire and shredded sheetmetal left 6 cars on the lead lap despite the much despised Wave Around Rule. Time for the Double Secret Two Lap Wave Around Rule? Nah, this crap happens time to time. And all Brian’s horses and all Brian’s men (and three subsequent bogus “debris” cautions) couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Ryan Newman has become NASCAR’s Rodney Dangerfield. Yeah, he missed the Chase but he did win at Martinsville. Now it appears his crew chief and pit crew will be moved to support Sparkle Pony Patrick next year. I’m sorry but you can put a 5000 dollar saddle on a five dollar mule but it still won’t win the Kentucky Derby. Working with the under-performing Ms. Patrick has already cost both Tony Eurys thier jobs. Eventually someone has to sober up and realize the only thing Danica should be driving is sheep.
James Finch and team gambled on Kurt Busch and even stood by him when he got suspended earlier this year because of his perpetual smart-ass antics. Thier reward. Kurt is bailing on the team after Talladega. Thanks for the memories, guys. Best of luck to Regan Smith, Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger as they battle for a seat with a start and park team next year.
The next race? Talladega. Talladega belongs in the Chase as much as Olympics figure skating needs to play an NHL style hockey game needs to decide who advances to the medal rounds.
As the Roush teams flounder in the Chase and seek sponsorship for next year, I have a suggestion. Loc-Tite. Race cars tend to run a lot better when they don’t have parts falling off of them. Kenseth apparently sealed his own fate this fall when he announced early he was switching over to JGR and Toyota.
Truck Series once again put on the best race of the weekend.
There was a time in the 80’s and early 90’s when less than 10 cars on the lead lap happened on a fairly regular basis. However, the races were still watchable flag to flag, because you still had racing on the track, attrition (blown motors) and tires that gave up making set-ups and adjustments more important throughout the race.
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Matt, there are so many holes in your post I don’t know where to start:
Danica: You need your head examined if you think Danica is the reason the Eury’s got canned. They were underperforming long before Danica showed up.
Kurt: Finch is going out of business next year. Busch found a new ride.
You obviously have issues with Kurt and Danica but don’t let the facts get in your way. Try doing some research before posting untrue statements.
I gave it a 5 for one reason only. The race frustrated the snot out of the the media darlings and their Toyota/Chevy lovefest. They have always treated Dodge and their teams as if they had leprosy, and nothing would make me happier than to see a Dodge driver win the title.
If Brad survives the big one next week, you can look for debris yellows to fall at strategically placed times in the remaining races, to assure that December won’t be Miller Time.
FWIW, any driver with a pretty face and Go Daddy paying the bills will have priority over a balding, quiet, no-neck engineer without a sponsor when it comes to allocating assets. That may not be right, but that’s racing.
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