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 – Jeff Gordon was among the drivers who pitted on a quick caution on lap 155. In the end, it resulted in the No. 24 having enough fuel to make it to the finish when Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. had to pit from the front of the field. Gordon ended the night taking the first win for Hendrick Motorsports at Homestead-Miami Speedway while his teammate Jimmie Johnson sat in his car in the garage, having lost the Championship due to a faulty rear end.
In a Nutshell – Kyle Busch leads the most laps for the second straight race, but the racing gods frowned on him for the second time. Due to timing of caution flags, Busch had to pit with 12 laps to go which relinquished the lead to Gordon. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson had a missing lugnut penalty followed by a failed rear gear to put up a pathetic fight in the final race of the season. Brad Keselowski ends up as the 2012 Sprint Cup Champion, giving Roger Penske his first ever Cup Series title.
Dramatic Moment – The race itself had no drama at all, so the battle for the championship garnered all of the attention. Jimmie Johnson’s team had the fuel strategy in place to make the title hunt interesting. They called the five-time champion in for his final pit stop and the wheels figuratively fell off. In reality, it was the rear tire changer leaving a lug nut off of the left rear, resulting in Johnson having to return to pit lane for the changer to affix the fifth lug nut. Shortly after that moment, which all but handed the title to Keselowki, Johnson’s rear gear failed in the No. 48, completely eliminating the team from contention. In fact it eventually cost them the runner-up position as well.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Brad Keselowski is the 2012 Sprint Cup Champion. Prior to 2012, Keselowski’s most famous moments in Sprint Cup racing involved flipping Carl Edwards and being flipped by Edwards, and sending a tweet from the backstretch at Daytona. Now he’s the third driver to win a title in his first three seasons of full time competition and the first driver to win it driving for Roger Penske.
Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 team were known as the organization that always came through under pressure, but the past two weeks they were the ones who didn’t execute. In Phoenix, Johnson pushed his car harder than he should have in the middle of the race and it ended up costing him a right front tire and his point lead. This weekend they had put themselves in position to win the race and the title and then proceeded to step on it. The missing lug nut when the car had to wait on gas was a foolish mistake. Fortunately for the tire changer, he was let off of the hook by the rear gear which couldn’t handle the pressure either.
In another impressive display of coordinated race officiating and television production, not a single piece of debris that brought out a caution during the Ford Ecoboost 400 was visible on the television screen of a single viewer. With a billion dollars being spent on the television rights to broadcast the Cup Series, you would think someone could get NASCAR to point out the dangerous piece of trash that causes Cup races to be slowed periodically.
Elliott Sadler is never going to be confused with a finisher. For the second season in a row, Sadler came into Phoenix in the middle of the title hunt and left Homestead a mere footnote in the Nationwide Series. Sadler and his No. 2 team came out of the gate in Homestead looking like they were going to do something, qualifying second. The rag went in the air and Sadler proceeded to have a mediocre run, leading three laps before stumbling home to a ninth place finish. Sadler is a great person and a decent driver, but when the chips are on the table, he has routinely come up short.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the sixth driver in the history of the Nationwide (Busch) Series to win consecutive titles. Martin Truex, Jr. was the last driver to pull off the feat in 2004-2005. He moves up to the Cup series next season and will attempt to join Bobby Labonte and Keselowski as the only drivers to win the Nationwide and Cup titles. Stenhouse had to learn how to rein in his emotions early in his career. Although that has paid off well in helping him to two straight titles, it makes him seem almost robotic in his post race interviews. After doing his burnouts and thanking his team on the radio, he answered the questions from ESPN like he had been dowing Ritalin out of his drink bottle all night. Note to Ricky: watch the Keselowski ESPN Sportscenter interview. It is ok to let your emotions out for everyone to see.
In the 2012 Camping World Truck Series, James Buescher showed everyone what he could do if he ran all of the races on the series schedule. He finished third last season after missing the race at Phoenix early in the year. This time around, he won four races and held off the big money of RCR and the blue collar racers from Red Horse Racing. Talk all you want, like some of the twits on the Twitter, about Buescher being the son-in-law of his team owner, the kid can wheel it. Turner has some really talented people in the organization and they are on their way to battling the big guns of the sport, on all levels, for championships.
There have been a lot of post championship interviews on ESPN over the years, but there haven’t been many as enjoyable as Keselowski’s. His opening line of the interview was “I’m buzzed; I’ve been drinking for a while.” He then explained that Roger Penske asked him what he needed to win the title again next year. Keselowski responded with, “I’ve got a list; I’ll give it to you before Christmas.” He finished it up by telling the assembled crowd to cheer because they were on Sportscenter. The entire time he was holding a Miller Lite glass big enough to hold a six pack and drinking out of it repeatedly. NASCAR has had some pretty sterile champions in their time and they’ve had some real personalities. Keselowski is going to be one of the biggest personalities yet.
Kyle Larson, one of the can’t-miss future stars of NASCAR, ended the championship hunt for Ty Dillon on Friday night during the Camping World Truck series. Depending on where you sit on the fence about “them racing deals,” Larson either drove in past his talent level or Dillon blocked a faster Truck and brought the incident upon himself. The talking heads in the announcing booth were quick to drag Larson over the coals and accuse him of wrecking Dillon, but in the end it was probably an equally shared amount of fault on both sides.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Obviously, Jimmie Johnson has to head the list. Johnson had a car and a strategy that had him poised to win the race before his team stubbed their toe and then the faulty rear end killed his slim title hopes. In a change of position reminiscent of Tiger Woods, the once invincible No. 48 team has fallen flat the last two seasons. Although 2011 was a year when they were off, this season they were right where they wanted to be, ready to put the title out of reach, and then fell flat two weeks in a row… while the No. 2 team was all but flawless.
After winning the Nationwide title, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. jumped into a Cup car to get a start on his 2013 efforts. With just over 100 laps to go, his right front tire suffered a rapid loss of air and his car took a hard shot off of the third turn wall. As the only caution of the race that involved an actual race car, we have to doff our hats in respect to his misfortune.
Although it was hard to tell from television, since they only mentioned him a couple of times all night, Matt Kenseth ran in the top-five for most of the night. He stayed there until the team tried taking two tires on a stop and the handling went away on the car. They didn’t pit to try and make it to the finish which meant they had to pit in the last 15 laps to take on fuel, which resulted in an 18th-place finish. Kenseth was very frustrated that his final run in a Ford ended so far back after the car was so good early.
There is plenty of healthy debate about which female driver in NASCAR is the best. Johanna Long continues to try and build a resume that will tip the scales in her favor, but Joey Logano did his best to keep her from adding a chapter on Saturday night by dumping her off of turn two and causing her to make a hard impact with the inside backstretch wall. Long runs for an underfunded team but continues to put out displays that should make some of the bigger teams take notice and consider giving her a ride. Don’t forget, Long is a winner of the Snowball Derby, which many of the best Super Late Model drivers in the country would like to be able to say.
Larson and Dillon could be included in the Foul Fortune category, but they are both responsible for the fact that their Trucks ended up beaten and battered on Friday night. The driver who had the foul twist of fate was Ryan Blaney. Blaney spent the whole evening running around the 10th spot and should have had a finish in that general area before he was caught up in the Larson/Dillon and ended up taking an incredibly hard shot into the outside turn four wall.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Depending on your opinion of the events that transpired at Phoenix, Jeff Gordon very well could be the recipient of this award. Many people were of the opinion that Gordon should have been parked for this race, which would have prevented him from scoring his second win of the season and the 87th of his career.
Greg Biffle started the race at the back of the pack thanks to his Friday incident with Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. He went a lap down early in the race and had to use a Lucky Dog to get back on the lead lap. He struggled his way to the low teens and then pitted when the caution flew for Stenhouse’s wreck. As a result he was able to run to the finish one his final pit stop and finished with a top-10 run.
Similar to Biffle, although not as bad early in the evening, Ryan Newman raced in the upper teens and high single digits for the entire night but was a long way from a top-five car. Thanks to the pit strategy late in the event and a final good call by Matt Borland, Newman ended up coming home in the third spot.
Sam Hornish had a pretty good weekend going at the start of the Nationwide race. It was announced he’d be running full-time in the No. 12 next season in the Nationwide series and then qualified fourth. Hornish was running well for the first 128 laps of the race before a cut tire forced him to the pit road. Hornish caught the problem before the tire went completely down. He made it to the pits and his crew changed the tire, getting him back out into competition. The rest of the field cycled through green flag stops so Hornish ended up not being down a lap when the caution flew for debris on lap 175. In the end, Hornish finished fourth and wrapped up the fourth spot in the season’s final point standings.
Several drivers were impacted by the melee at the end of the Truck race, but one driver who weaved his way through the mess and then had a great run over the green-white-checkered finish was Miguel Paludo. After running in the teens most of the day, Paludo took advantage of the last melee and closing laps to score a top five finish.
*Brad Keselowski won his first Cup Series title in his third season. His previous best point finish was fifth last season.
*In the modern era, the only other drivers to win a title within their first three years of competing full-time in the series were Dale Earnhardt in his second year, and Jeff Gordon in his third.
*It took Keselowski 125 starts to win his first title. That is the fewest since Jeff Gordon took 93.
*Keselowski scored two wins, three top-fives and eight top-10s in the Chase in 2012.
*For the 2012 season, Keselowski scored five wins, 13 top-fives and 23 top-10s.
*This is the first Cup Series championship for Roger Penske. He has been fielding cars in NASCAR since 1972.
*This is the fifth title for Dodge. The previous four were David Pearson (1966), Bobby Isaac (1970) and Richard Petty (1974 and 1975).
*Paul Wolfe is the first crew chief to win the title in Nationwide and Cup series.
*Jeff Gordon’s win is his 87th of his career in 689 starts.
*This was Gordon’s first win at Homestead. The only track on the current Cup schedule where he does not have a win is Kentucky. This is also Hendrick Motorsports first win at Homestead.
*Clint Bowyer’s runner-up finish was his fourth top two finish of the season.
*Ryan Newman’s third-place finish was his second top-three finish of the season.
*The top-10 finishers at Homestead on Sunday evening drove five Chevrolets, three Toyotas, and two Fords.
*Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is a back-to-back champion in the Nationwide series. He is the sixth driver to pull off the feat. The previous five were: Sam Ard (1983-1984), Larry Pearson (1986-87), Randy Lajoie (1996-97), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-1999) and Martin Truex, Jr. (2004-2005).
*Stenhouse, Jr. finished the 2012 season with a series-high six wins, 19 top-fives, and 26 top-10s.
*This is Roush Fenway’s fourth Nationwide Series title. This is also Ford’s fourth title in the Nationwide Series.
*Saturday’s Nationwide victory for Regan Smith was his first-ever in the series.
*James Buescher is the second-youngest Truck Series champion, and the 12th driver in the history of the series to win the title. *The win by Cale Gale on Friday night was his first in 32 career starts in the Camping World Truck Series.
*Gale was the 16th different winner and ninth first-time winner in the series this season, both records for the Trucks.
What’s the Points
Brad Keselowski is the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Champion. He officially ends the season with 2,400 points. That total would have left Keselowski third by three points in last season’s points race. Thanks to Johnson’s difficulties, Clint Bowyer was able to take second place by one point with 2,361 points. For all of the conspiracy theorists out there, Bowyer would not have made up 39 points had he not been taken out by Gordon at Phoenix so put away the tin foil hats, Keselowski is the champ with no asterisk.
Jimmie Johnson avoided being plagued with the runner-up jinx in 2013 by dropping to third in the final standings thanks to his rear end failure. Kasey Kahne finished his first season in Hendrick equipment in the fourth spot in points while Greg Biffle scratched and clawed his way to a top five finish in the points.
Denny Hamlin’s title hopes went south at Martinsville and, despite a good finish at Phoenix, he ended the season sitting in the sixth place in points. Matt Kenseth rode his lame duck status all of the way to a seventh-place point finish while Kevin Harvick rode an eighth-place finish at Homestead to an eighth-place finish in the points. Tony Stewart capped off his unimpressive Chase with a uninspiring 17th-place finish which brought him home ninth in the final point standings. Jeff Gordon’s win was a feel good story for Gordon fans but it didn’t pull him higher than 10th in the final standings. On the plus side, Gordon and Ingrid will get a free trip to Vegas.
The two drivers who get to take home the nice parting gifts without having to give a lame speech thanking all of their sponsors are Martin Truex, Jr. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Truex goes another year without a win while his teammate Bowyer visited Victory Lane three times. Earnhardt made the most headlines outside of the car this season— and that is why he’s forgiven for being so far down in points since he missed two races during the final 10.
Kyle Busch finishes the season with the most points among the non-Chasers and heads into 2013 with a new teammate and yet another, different attitude. Perhaps going a season without winning in Nationwide or Trucks will give him a hunger to carry him to the title, or he’ll go back to running a lot of support series races to continue having some additional information to give to his Cup team.
Overall Rating (from one to six beers, with one being a total snoozer and a six-pack an A+ effort):
NASCAR put the Chase into place so that their would be barn burning point races down to the wire that would enthrall the fans and get them to tune into racing instead of football. Apparently the drivers didn’t get the memo this year. After last season’s barn burner, this year the two horse race didn’t even make it to the last 75 laps. Kyle Busch ran away with most of the race, then it turned into a fuel mileage deal while Brad Keselowski rode around in the teens for the last 25 or so laps, knowing that he was the champ and without a chance at winning the race. The end result is all of the artificial excitement in the world doesn’t add up to anything if there isn’t any real suspense or competition.
Brad Keselowski gave us a really great post-race interview and followed it up with some truly genuine fun on Sportscenter, but that was all there was to talk about during the race. Two debris cautions with nothing shown on TV, three on-track passes for the lead and 85% of the television time focused on the two cars in the title hunt when there really wasn’t anything there to watch and it all adds up to a real snoozer. We’ll give it two warm cans of Miller Lite and one of those is just for the awesome beer glass that Kes was lugging around after the race.
97 days from now, we get to see the 2013 cars officially debut in competition during the Daytona 500. Here’s hoping that the competition is better, the drivers compete with a sense of urgency for every lap, and the leaders of the sport stay out of the way and let the racing take care of itself.
Thank you to all of you who take the time to read and especially to write every week. It is truly enjoyable to know that so many people take the time out of their day to read and enjoy this column. I am truly thankful during this Thanksgiving season for all of you. I hope that you have a safe, happy, and blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas season. We’ll see you in 2013.
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It would have been a barn burner if NASCAR decided to have the final race at Daytona or Talladega.
Watched the Formula 1 race, followed on with the Nascar race on ESPN and decided to call it a day with 100 laps to go. Too much commercials too late at night.
congrats to brad…..interesting interview on wind tunnel after consuming a few miller lights! could definitely tell he was a happy camper.
hendrick still managed to get tv time during champion celebration. yes he’s friends with penske.
congrats to “the captain”, mrs. captain showed true emotion.
is brad the cup champion of the remaining “old school fan”? saw shades of the intimidator in him during the chase, and he’s in good company in the class of “winning championship in 3 yrs or less in series category”.
and thank you brad, paul and the 2 team for always flying old glory when brad wins. loved seeing the old girl celebrate.
There’s a new sheriff in town. In just three short years Brad has done what Kyle, Carl, Denny, Kasey, and Junior have yet to do.
What was it that fat guy said about a death wish?
carl – agree with you….brad now has something, that i think dale jr., won’t achieve…a cup championship.
Several days later, I’m still waiting to know what Kyle Larson did wrong in the truck race Friday night. All he did was have a faster truck, dive down under Ty Dillon, get forced onto the apron which got his truck loose and into Dillon. If Dillon was so concerned about points, maybe he should have let a faster truck go.
Way to go Brad! You’ve done what I thought/hoped Kyle would do.
It’s SO good to have a driver with attitude and personality who does NOT drive for Hendrick win the championship.
Congrats to Brad. No one would have picked him last Feb. Remember, he originally was in the Hendrick pipeline before he went to Penske.
What terrible coverage. They rarely showed intervals so it was impossible to tell who was a lap down and who was close to going a lap down. I noticed both times big name drivers were lined up to go a lap down the magical debris caution came out. And, as pointed out above, we never got to see the fake debris.
2012 in the books.
I don’t know which I’m happier about. The fact that Brad took the Championship from the driver who thinks he’s entitled to it, or that he won a Championship before the three guys who harrassed him so much in Nationwide. Either way, it’s a breath of fresh air, and he will make NASCAR proud.
2012 was easily the worst season I’ve witnessed in my 10+ years of following NASCAR, and Homestead summed it up pretty well. The racing stringing out so quickly it spoiled even Homestead, usually one of the best tracks longer than a mile (though not even Atlanta could escape being a snoozer this year, so that was no surprise); debris cautions they never showed; a fuel-mileage finish nonetheless lacking in any sort of tension as to whether anyone could make it to the end. At least the result was good. Jeff Gordon in Victory Lane, Brad clinching the championship, and Jimmie in the garage was the perfect way to end the season in my book. Here’s hoping for a better 2013 with some genuine on-track action for once.
Congrats to Brad and Jeff. But it got really dicey there before the 48 dropped the lug nut. Wolfe made a huge blunder not pitting with the 48 on the last caution. All I was thinking, is he going to be the next Mike Ford?
I thought the racing was really competitive. The 18 and 56 really battled near the end of the race. ESPN just focused too much on the 2/48. Overall, it was good championship week in Homestead, the Truck finish brought back memories of Darlington 2003, Regan Smith won out of the gate for JR and Jeff finally won at Homestead. Already looking forward to 2013 with a new car, and a Nationwide series that should be really entertaining.
Gotta go with Carl D on this one. Am happy Brad got the championship before KyBu, Edwards and especially Hamlin. All three had pick on him over the past few years. Good to see karma in action.
Good for Kes & the blue duece team.
As long as we have the chase the racing will be the same way…boring.
Congrats to Kez on winning the 10 race trophy and to Gordon for winning at Homestead. No one who watched the post-race interviews with kez will be able to say that he’s “too corporate”. LOL
Funny considering how much noise Logano and the media made about him getting caught up in the Bowyer/Gordon deal and yet he continues to wreck drivers in the Nationwide series without any consequences. I quote “Joey Logano did his best to keep her from adding a chapter on Saturday night by dumping her off of turn two and causing her to make a hard impact with the inside backstretch wall.”
I agree with Zetona here about 2012 being a dismal season for NASCAR fans. 97 days to Daytona – NASCAR needs to pull it’s head out of where the sun don’t shine and FIX the problems. Considering the COT was supposed to fix the aero problem and make the racing better, I have zero confidence that the “new” car is going to make the racing better. It’s time for NASCAR to get it right. The IROC series is dead – get back to racing.
Happy to see Brad win. I think he is a big plus for Nascar. May not be enough to cover all Nascar ills, but a breath of fresh air – with a slight beer whiff, and nothing wrong with that.
Wonder what the anointed ones – Denny, Kyle, and Carl – are thinking. They were supposed to be here by now, and instead it is Brad. They sure put him down enough. Brad just kept coming though.
Brad can wheel it though, and like Jimmy is tough on the lead and smells victory when close.
Mike said: “NASCAR put the Chase into place so that their would be barn burning point races“
That should be “there”
I’m very happy Brad and Penske won. I rooted for the underdog, as JJ and Hendrick dont need yet another championship.
I agree with spot1. The booth sure blamed it all on Larson, although it didn’t surprise me since its pretty much a Dillon lovefest anyway. I don’t think Larson did anything wrong either.
Speaking of the booth. Did I hear some sniffles from the ESPN booth when JJ went into the garage.
Count me as one of the skeptical ones that this new car is going to solve the aero issues. Is it possible to be skeptically optimistic?
I have to admit that seeing the 48 team succumb to the pressure Jimmie predicted the 2 would feel somehow made me feel better. The state of Michigan is very proud of our champ! Just a thought: isn’t Kes, a bit tipsy, with a huge glass of beer in hand about as ‘corporate’ as he can get for his sponsor? And thank you, Miller brewing, for being a sponsor whe encourages your driver to be ‘real’!
To stretch John Lennons lyrics a bit. So this was nascar,another year over and what have you done? A new one has begun,no better than the last?
A great big thumbs down to ESPN for not showing the final rundown of where everyone finished.
I know I could never be a politician as I’m a flip flopper. When Brad came in I didn’t like him very much and I used to root for Tony Stuart. Now I like Brad and think he really “ gets it” sees the whole picture. Everything Tony isn’t. After what Stuart did to Matt Kenseth at the plate track, purposely wrecked him , causing him to go through the grass and come out right in front of most of the field,when he did that he gave up his right to criticize , especially how Brad was driving. What I saw Brad do at Texas was a guy trying hard to win, sorta like Dale SR. used to do. Every time I hear Brad I like what I hear from him. He’s appreciative, imagine that?? A diver who who appreciates where he is!! His approach is a breath of fresh air and he is already doing a good job as champion. By the way Bill B. , Ed Hinton picked Brad at the beginning of the year and boy was he criticized for that. Also Kyle Larson was not at fault for that wreck,With Dillon running for a title he should have given him room to race. Nothing looks sillier than that cowboy hat on that nerdy looking little guy Dillon, one of the more ridiculous things I’ve seen . Throw that hat away and stop looking like a fool!
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