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.
Editor’s Note: Mike Neff is writing Matt’s column this week.
The Key Moment – On the penultimate caution of the race, Matt Kenseth took fuel only while Kasey Kahne, who appeared to have the dominant car, took two tires and had to check up exiting his pit box. As a result, Kahne restarted sixth, had to fight his way to the front and ended up without enough ability to stick on the bottom and pass Matt Kenseth. That left the driver of the No. 20, in just his third race with new team Joe Gibbs Racing taking the checkers on his birthday.
In a Nutshell – The drivers mixed it up, from top to bottom on restarts until the tires heated up; then, it was single-file racing. There was some on-track passing, which might be a little more than we used to see, but there is still plenty of work to do with this new car.
Dramatic Moment – Kasey Kahne got to second place with 26 laps left and was making ground in the high lane. As he came up on Kenseth, eight circuits later, everyone was holding their breath for fireworks. But as Kahne prepared to make a bid for the lead, Kenseth moved up and took the lane away. We didn’t know it then… but that was all she wrote. For the remainder of the race, Kahne made every run he could, lagging back, pushing hard, driving on the apron, but none of them gave him enough of a run to pull alongside the leader.
Kyle Busch made a hairy, three-wide move on a restart with 100 laps remaining to both take the lead and earn consolation prize in this category
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler on Monday*
After the senseless, $25,000 fine of Denny Hamlin, for speaking his mind about the difficulty in passing with the new car at Phoenix, almost every driver nearly threw their backs out Sunday, bending over backwards to compliment the new car. Let’s not fool ourselves after freedom of speech was no longer guaranteed to earn the drivers a healthy paycheck. As Sunday showed, despite some promising moments the first few races with a new car will be a challenge until the teams figure out how to make them fast and how they’ll respond to mechanical adjustments. Until then, NASCAR, please let the drivers speak their minds again. Fans have begged and pleaded for them to have a personality; instead, as soon as one emerges NASCAR makes a habit of jumping down their throat. Hamlin was the latest case in point.
Goodyear is back to the rock hard tires again. Kasey Kahne kept his left sides on for the last 106 laps of the race; Kenseth won with right sides 42 laps older than his closest competition. We heard talk of the fuel mileage card being played before the fourth caution of the race Sunday; why? It’s because teams can keep tires on forever. Phoenix was headed in the right direction, despite what most fans thought with tires wearing out and actually giving a benefit to those who took four tires versus two or none. This weekend, with a track that has lost some grip thanks to the harsh heat of the Vegas environment, Goodyear could have gone softer and made conservation key; that would have helped cause a dropoff in speed, leading to more passing over those long, green-flag runs. Instead? They opted for the Flintstones again, throwing NASCAR back into the stone age unnecessarily…
With all that said, despite much criticism over NASCAR’s Gen-6 car the moments of brilliance we saw gave us hope. On lap 148, Martin Truex, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton and David Reutimann went four-wide at a 1.5-mile oval. The car can obviously do some passing when someone is obviously faster than the car in front of you; now, if we can just get to happen when the car is only slightly faster.
We all know that NASCAR is embracing Social Media. Well, that’s great and all… but do we really need to shove sponsorship into that mess? During the beginning of the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas, our friends at FOX showed the Kobalt Tools Social Media Command Center. Seriously?!? How about the Kobalt Tools community aid center? Or the Kobalt Tools center to assist unemployed craftsmen? It would go a lot further for a sponsor to spend some money on helping people instead of enabling the ability to Tweet.
There’s no question this new car is a work in progress, but one thing is still never mentioned which would make the biggest difference of all. The problem with cars behind other cars, in the Sprint Cup Series is they don’t get enough air to the nose. That is primarily because there is no air coming from underneath the car in front. My solution would be to raise the nose of these cars so they can’t get closer to the ground than three or four inches. You do that and the entire “aero loose” principle disappears like magic.
One more note on the Gen-6: The cars are really fast. That’s right; race cars should be fast. That’s the point. Some folks are suggesting that we slow the cars down to make the racing a little better. Just a thought… isn’t that was we do with the restrictor plates? Yes, having throttle response would help but if you slow these cars down to 170, they’re going to go flat out every lap and we’ll be watching high-speed parades where cars can’t get away from each other.
Week three of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season and it’s the third week of hearing how tough it is to get on Pit Road. Note to FOX broadcasters: it is always hard to slow a car down from 190 to 50, or 120 to 50 when you’re going from “as fast as you can” to near school zone speeds. Let’s just acknowledge slowing down a 3,300-pound stock car really fast is a bitch and just move on.
Three races in, each manufacturer involved in the sport has won. NASCAR loves to trumpet parity and, at least in Victory Lane this year, mission accomplished for Ford, Chevy, and Toyota.
Pit road penalties set back some of the front runners during the race… but we don’t have the evidence as to why. That gaping hole in the process, for fans and even other teams needs to change, ASAP. We have the technology to show little balloons above the cars and display telemetry for how fast cars are traveling. So let’s get into the 21st century and use GPS technology, enforcing the speed from one end of the pit road to the other with data visible to all teams. This voodoo science of timing loops and average speed is getting old.
Sam Hornish, Jr. put his Nationwide ride in Victory Lane ahead of Kyle Busch on Saturday. Guess they should cancel the press release that announced Busch won every single race he entered in 2013. Yes, there’s no question Busch will win his fair share, now that he’s back in Nationwide with the support of dominant Joe Gibbs Racing. But 100 percent Cup drivers, all the time in that series? Absolutely not going to happen.
Caution flags were all but non-existent during the first half of the race. Just a suggestion to NASCAR officials, though; make sure the cars actually wreck before throwing the yellow rag. Marcos Ambrose got all kinds of sideways in turn four trying to make it to pit road, saved the car and kept on going. But NASCAR threw the yellow, taking advantage to bunch up the cars because Ambrose almost spun. C’mon, folks; let’s be a little more judicious than that.
As long as Michael Waltrip is in the booth, there is hope for every person in the world who can speak some form of English to be a race announcer.
Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Ryan Newman started the season with a fifth-place finish at Daytona. That seems like eons ago. One week after a Talladega Nights fire scene at Phoenix – running from his crashed vehicle he strapped in Sunday and missed a shift. A blown engine now leaves him with two DNFs in three races, a reminder of no contract for 2014 and hopefully no extra Vegas gambling debt.
Jeff Gordon must have drawn the short straw during the Tuesday Morning meeting at Hendrick Motorsports. While Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran in the top 10 all day, Gordon’s car was the proverbial “tub of S^&t!” that A.J. Foyt had at Indianapolis for qualifying in the early ’80s. Already, Gordon has two finishes in the twenties to dig himself a second straight early season hole.
The folks at BK Racing had a whopper of a bad Sunday as Travis Kvapil done blowed up on lap 217. David Reutimann, in perhaps a more embarrassing moment came home one spot behind Danica Patrick (34th). The team that continues to try and establish themselves in the sport is doing everything they can to be competitive, but the difficulties that face smaller, startup outfits continue to come up and bite them in the butt.
Kyle Larson is a phenomenal talent and will almost surely win a race in NASCAR’s upper divisions before this season wraps up. For now, though he’s off to a rough start in the Nationwide Series, where he’s running for Rookie of the Year. A Daytona debut led to a respectable 13th, but his car was in 1,300 pieces, along with his heart after fans were injured by its flying debris. Then, after a decent run at Phoenix he was wrecked out this weekend through no fault of his own again. Larson’s going to make some rookie mistakes; let’s just hope he has enough cars to learn them all before they pay off in wins.
Try as he might to downplay it, the emergence of the runner-up jinx is starting to haunt Clint Bowyer. While avoiding the horrendous luck that plagued Carl Edwards last season, we’re only three races in. Bowyer’s car was simply junk all day at Vegas. He is ninth in points, so we won’t bury him yet, but we will keep an eye on his fortunes going forward.
The “Seven-Come-For-Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Matt Kenseth rolled the dice, with no tires on his final stop then made his car as wide as he possibly could over the final 40 laps to score the first win of his Joe Gibbs Racing career.
GoDaddy Domains sponsored Danica Patrick this weekend and got more air time for a 33rd-place driver since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. put National Guard and AMP all over TV screens while getting shut out of Victory Lane for over three years.
Jamie McMurray done blowed up in Saturday practice. He wasn’t the best on Sunday, but managed to get on the lead lap late in the race and score a top-15 finish. The crew members who screwed up, installing the engine in his car in preparation for Vegas have to be feeling a little better today, too.
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch spent most of the last 20 laps of the race driving it like they stole it. Fortunately, they did not get together and wreck each other. It is great to see drivers going for it so hard, late in the race when one point gained could cost you double digits due to a wreck.
Tony Stewart was pretty much out to lunch for most of the day. However, he got back on the lead lap with 67 laps to go and made the most of it, recording an 11th-place finish when the checkered flag flew. Hopefully, he won enough dough to compensate Rick Hendrick for the engine his teammate Ryan Newman grenaded.
Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard gave notice RCR is on the way back to the top of the heap rather than the scrap heap, scoring two top-10 finishes this weekend. RCR has been up and down for several years but it looks like 2013 is going to be one of the up ones.
Denny Hamlin spoke his mind after Phoenix, was fined and told the sanctioning body that he isn’t going to pay. That typically means the bulls-eye is on your back; however, on the next-to-last restart Hamlin was three-wide but NASCAR chose not to penalize him.
Chevrolet – 5
What’s the Points
Jimmie Johnson leaves Las Vegas atop the standings by five over Brad Keselowski. Dale Earnhardt Jr. sits third in points, 10 out of the lead. This trio already has some reasonable distance over their competition.
Denny Hamlin is sitting fourth, 27 back from Johnson while Carl Edwards rounds out the top five. Mark Martin is sixth, but is not running the whole season so he’ll be dropping out of the running. Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, former teammates, are tied for seventh, followed by Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola. Ricky Stenhouse and Paul Menard, in 11th and 12th, respectively are the only other drivers who are mathematically within one race of the point lead.
If the Chase began now, we’d have a really shortened race season and would be searching for something to do by Memorial Day. As it is, things are lining up and no one is sure at this point who is going to be better than anyone else. You can say the Toyotas have fired the first volley on Intermediates, so they are in the best position, but it is way too early to make any kind of assumption on who will dominate the Chase.
Overall Rating: (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic) — This one gets two cans of semi-chilled Buckhorn. If you don’t know what that is, Google it. If you do, you know I’ve made a toast to the fact the top four drivers raced like hell with each other over the last 20 or so laps to salvage what was going to be a rather boring event from the scrap heap of Busch Light.
Next Up: Bristol Motor Speedway. We’ll see how the ground track that was supposed to return bump and run racing can do now that it has had another year to age.
P.S. – Bristol is a great track. It is one of the favorites for most of the fans of the sport, but let’s get something straight. It is not the World’s Fastest Half Mile. Don’t believe me? Check out the video of JoJo Helberg’s 12.669 lap around another famed half-mile in Winchester, Indiana. Try as they might to tell you otherwise, the folks at Bristol can’t come up with something faster than 12.669.
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I cant be the only person that saw Kenny Wallace on the SpeedTV pre-race shout to the cheering audience that they all make just $25,000 per year when he was giving his wise view of the Hamlin fine.
The audience sure got quiet in a hurry.
And curse that old out to pasture bugger DW for siding with Nascar on the FOX intro. He said Denny was wrong to speak because “people worked for three years on that car new car.” Well, if they screwed up and produced another tractor, when would someone be allowed to say it? When they unveiled the Gen6 all we got were audio clips of how they worked to fix the problems of the Gen5 car. Amazing how willing nascar was to talk about its faults then.
I’m just ashamed of the sport for not being able to be honest thanks to France and Helton’s old-time over sensitivty and need to control things that expose how inept they both are at overseeing what was once a popular sport. Did anyone see the empty stands in Vegas? The camera sure worked hard to avoid crowd shots.
The current incarnation of this sport will be dead in a few more years. It wont be gone, but it wont survive this prolonged “Emperors New Clothes” era of Brian France’s unwillingness to run ‘his’ sport like anything other than a Soviet state.
I cant wait to watch the current shill mouth pieces like Larry Mac and the Waltrips scurry for their next paycheque when it does.
I watched the race on fast forward until the last stop, so it took about 20 mins. I think the comment about the tyres is spot on, with Goodyear making them rock hard, it doesnt matter what you do to the cars they arent able to race. Instead of changing the cars, it would be a lot cheaper to get rid of Goodyear. Look at what Pirelli has done in F1. Also think that Kenseth is going to win a lot more races this year.
After the first 2 races I had enough of Nascar, Danica and Fox for one year, and only glanced at the race twice this afternoon. I did notice all the fans dressed as empty seats, and think if they cannot fill the stands in Las Vegas they are in deep trouble. Las Vegas is a destination all to itself, and as a fan of Nascar if you hit that race you get 3 days of hot Las Vegas action besides the race.
I will tune in next week for Bristol, just to see if the combo of the re-redone track and Gen6 COT will bring back the Bristol magic that the Chase, COT and boneheaded track reconfiguration took away.
only thing i’ll comment on is that one of the announcers during starting line up informed us that the 1 and 42 had engine problems and said they were hendrick engines. when did earnhardt/ganassi racing go to hendrick engines??
saw the beginning of the race and watched the last 20 laps. guess sunday was toyota’s day to win.
“But as Kahne prepared to make a bid for the lead, Kenseth moved up and took the lane away. We didn’t know it then… but that was all she wrote.”
Actually, once Kenseth got the lead on the resart, that wall all whe wrote. Like the Gen 5 car, if you’re close to having an equal car, you’re not going to pass the one in front once you hit the wall of air.
Side-by-side coverage: Commercials on the left side of your screen; video of the lead car circling the track on the right side of your screen. As usual, we turned down the sound and listened to PRN to acually hear about the little RACING that was going on.
This work in progress line is, to be polite bull. Other racing series produce new cars every year, not just a rebody, and it has to perform at the first race, no excuses.
A side note about the races. On Saturday, a female driver, driving an underfunded car, started 20th, stayed out of trouble, and finished 19th, one lap down. On Sunday, a female driver, driving an extremely well funded car for the top organization in NASCAR, started, what, 39th, and finished 33rd, but five laps down. I would still like to see a seat swap between these two.
what do we expect new car bodies on old chassis to do? be a fix all? no way. the stands are empty due to financial struggles and commitements. i’d love to take the wife to vegas for a race. kids in activities and the cost just do not make it a realistic destination for many like it used to. like sponsorships, the races are pricing themselves out of full stands. lower the prices. a $100 ticket on top of hotel and travel costs makes this less tempting. the fans are not in vegas, or california. race fans TRAVEL there to watch the races and it is apparent to me that less can afford to play……
I have offically dubbed Darrell and Mikey “The Waltrip Tools”. Shame on both of them for siding with Nascar on the Denny Hamlin fine. Both are former drivers and Darrell was known for speaking his mind during his heyday. Now they tow the France line like the spineless milquetoasts they have become. If I were a driver I’d never give either of them a minute of my time. I have not even a smidgen of respect left for either of the Waltip Tools.
What I found humorous, or nauseating, was Kenny Wallace saying that race was great with a classic finish. Maybe I expect too much anymore but I would rather see a few lead changes during the battle. The other one was on ESPN news showing the hightlites and stating when Kvapil blew his engine that Danica hit the wall then and finished six laps down as a result. Guees the media and/or NASCAR feels they need to make up excuses for her finishes………..gonna be a long year……..
I didn’t think the race was terrible. There was some passing. FOX made it unbearable though.
The pit road speeding is a 100% easy, solvable problem with the use of a rev-limiter. The tired, tired, out of touch argument that a rev-limiter can give teams another place to cheat is ABSURD, and the fact is NASCAR seems to like torturing us with pit road penalties to “spice up” the competition.
PUT REV LIMITERS ON THE CARS. EVERY SINGLE OTHER RACING SERIES ON THE PLANET USES THEM. JUST STOP IT. USE THE LIMITERS.
Wasn’t dw nicname “jaws” he complained about everything and anything. When will FOX get smart and get rid of the mouth brothers?
I have been saying for years that if you want better racing, eliminate the valances on the front of the cars, so that air gets passed underneath.
This is why racing “back in the day” was good. There was no valance on the front of the car.
Of course Nascar will not allow this as they are, now more than ever, concerned about the car getting airborne.
Perhaps some sort of halfway measure like the 4 inch clearance you suggested would be an improvement.
Janice, EGR switched to Hendrick Enginges this year…
Wow you guys are all cranky. Bunch of grump old losers whining about the good old days. There wasn’t much wrong with yesterday’s race. Sure the tires didn’t wear, but the battle at the end was good and there seemed to be enough action to keep me interested. If you can’t accept it as moderately entertaining you should stop watching racing, as this isn’t for you/
Mike, be careful saying negative things about Gen6. I’m expecting NASCAR to start fining the media before long. I’m sure they’d fine the fans if they could figure out how to do it.
I listened to the scanner on my computer and followed the race via twitter. I’m sure I got as much information as I would have trying to work around the Waltrip show.
Sabas, if you enjoyed the race yesterday, that’s great. Fortunately, it’s a free country and we can state differing opinions.
Be careful encouraging people to stop watching/attending races. People are already doing that all on their own.
Haven’t hit a NASCAR race in several years—by design. I would much rather be at a dirt track.
Everyone else has brought up the points and corrections that I had intended to make…So let me just compliment Mike on this article. He doesn’t yet have all the honesty and humor that Matt brought us, but he’s getting darn close.
I really think the blame for this race not being interesting came from the lack of coverage. Apparently there were lots of passes being made (if you believe NASCAR’s stats) too bad the tv guys can’t figure out how to show those passes. Damn it’s infuriating to know there is racing/passing going on somewhere on the track and all we see are the top 5 riding in line formation. All the while the guys in the booth rambling on about nothing instead of covering the race like MRN.
Have always been a Ford and Bill Elliott fan. It hurt when he was forced to go to Dodge, but I always was happy when he did well.
i’m with you Bad Wolf.
and hahahahha awww shucks “new body old chassis” hits the nail on the head. it only half looks like a production car… from between the A and B pillar forward maybe. and the Busc… nation wide cars? those are no mustangs or camaros. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a street car that looked like that. do they really think we are that stupid? (rhetorical question)
Another nugget to show how useless Goodyear’s tires are: On the last caution Montoya got the lucky dog to get on the lead lap and line up 19th. (I am making the assumption that Montoya got four new tires since FOX didn’t tell us. Actually calling the race is not what TV people do)
The 42 was looking at a top 15 finish since he has all that great fresh Goodyear rubber compared to the guys around him. He used that “advantage” to finish. . .19th. Buy Pirelli everyone.
To all of you so called experts that say the stands were empty, Go to a race! I was there, As I have been for the last 8 years running! This was a great year for Vegas! The grandstand on the north end, (turns 3&4),have been tarped over for the last 3 or 4 years! They were 3/4 full this year! We also have The best infield to watch a race from, (The Neon Garage). As far as Goodyear and the tires, It’s the track not the tire! Tire wear has not been a problem at Vegas for years! So all you armchair Crew Cheifs, get off the couch and go to a race before you try to fix the sport! And for the record, it was also 20 degrees hotter on race day than any day since they hit the track Thursday!!
It has just become the default response, Bear, and it’s hard to do anything else.
But like I said, the main problem is FOX’s horrible coverage, not the race itself.
The more and more this goes on, the more I’m convinced of it, because reports from fans in the stands are ALWAYS more positive, and the reports from MRN listeners are ALWAYS more positive. There was passing, we just didn’t see it. And I thought the end of the race was plenty dramatic.
The problem is, I don’t see a solution to make us happier. Not everyone wants to get an MRN subscription. Most of us can’t go to every race in person. So what can we do about it?
I have thought for years they need to limit the travel on the front ends so that the car remains a few inches off the ground. They also need to adjust the gear rule so that some cars are faster at the end of the straight or they want to get off the corner quicker. Also the cars still look the same so they are going to handle the same.
Don’t you mean Gen-Sicks?
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