NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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
Monday March 3, 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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Mike Neff · Monday March 25, 2013
Key Moment – Kyle Busch stayed out when most of the other lead lap cars came to the pits during two crucial caution flags. His two biggest rivals all day chose to stop. Denny Hamlin came in and took tires with 24 to go; Joey Logano got fresh skins with 29 laps left. Those moves, while costing them track position early allowed them to get past Busch and set up the day’s crazy ending.
In a Nutshell – Logano. Hamlin. Fireworks… at Fontana? Hard to believe but NASCAR’s much-maligned track put together a miracle ending. You can say the same for Kyle Busch – he was the car to beat, until pit road strategy left him a sitting duck. On older tires, Logano and Hamlin blew by for the lead, fighting it out amongst themselves until they started trading paint in Turn 3 on the final lap. Busch took the high line, then snuck by on the outside before the two bounced off the wall to finally score a win for Joe Gibbs Racing at Fontana.
Dramatic Moment – Coming to the white flag, Hamlin and Logano made contact on the front straight. Hamlin had a nose in front as they exited Turn 2. Logano side drafted on the back straight, pinching his rival close to the wall to have the lead entering Turn 3. The two were side-by-side, then touched which slowed them enough to allow Busch to pass them on the high side. But that’s when it all fell apart – for both of them. Logano hit the wall and saved it while Hamlin slid to the inside of the track and made violent, head-on contact with the inside wall that does not have a SAFER barrier. As of Monday morning, Hamlin was still hospitalized, kept for observation while Logano remained uninjured. “Now we’re even,” he said on the radio before reemphasizing the point with a “That’s what he gets” to reporters while Hamlin was being loaded into an ambulance. Ouch.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were the topic of discussion all week. As the NASCAR Gods would have it, they end up battling for the win and end up wrecked as the checkered flag flew. (Logano is credited with a third-place finish while Hamlin ended up 25th thanks to not completing the final lap.) On Lap 6, Logano laid the groundwork for the finish of the race. Coming to the start/finish line, Hamlin was making a move on Busch. Logano took the air off of Hamlin’s spoiler, then possibly made contact while sweeping to the bottom of the track to take the lead from his former JGR teammates. It was clear from that point on that Logano was determined to do whatever it took to win, regardless of etiquette and he almost pulled it off.
Among the many drivers that Logano ticked off Sunday was Tony Stewart. After the race, Logano was parked on pit road. Stewart came over and grabbed Logano by the front of his driver suit with his right hand and unloaded a left at his head. The teams separated them at that point in time but Stewart wasn’t done voicing his displeasure with the upstart driver. After the altercation, Steve Byrnes interviewed Stewart as the three-time champion was heading back to his garage. Byrnes asked what he was mad about. “What the hell do you think I was mad about?” Stewart snapped back. “Dumb little son of a b*tch runs us clear down to the infield. He wants to b*tch about everybody else when he’s the one who drives like a little prick. I’m gonna bust his ass.” Smoke kept going, hours later, claiming Logano was a “rich kid who never worked a day in his life.” Note to self: don’t block “temper temper” on a final restart, in the future when he’s third, desperate for a win and said actions take his car – already struggling in 2013 – well outside the top 20.
But while Stewart cools down a little bit, this Monday he might want to think back to Talladega last fall, when he threw a block in turn three that took out about 20 race cars. When you’re going for a win and there is a restart, you have to do what you have to do. You can debate the Logano/Hamlin incident, who was right and who was wrong… but on this one, Smoke is blowing Smoke up, well, you know…
NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver is having a most unexpected run to the front of the point standings. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran below average at the beginning of the race, then clawed his way to third before a pit road miscue dropped him to the back half of the field. He settled in around 13th for a long run, slipped back to the 20s, but used the two final cautions to his advantage. Putting on new tires on with 11 to go, he fought his way to fourth and ended up second when the dust settled on the final lap. It’s clear the driver has full confidence in crew chief Steve Letarte to make the right adjustments, at the right times for the No. 88 to fight its way back to the front. Remember the days when Earnhardt would run well, during the first green-flag run only to fade every 100 laps? Not anymore.
For a driver who never won a Cup race on anything but a plate track, Michael Waltrip sure loves to talk about how a driver should race another driver trying to win a race. It might be in Mikey’s best interest to leave the non-plate etiquette about that stuff to the guys who’ve actually done it in their careers.
So what made this race so much different than all the others at Fontana? Simple: the track is well aged and the bumps are making the racing as good as it gets. Goodyear also brought a tire to the track that wore out. In the end, tires made a difference but not a huge one. It was the perfect balance that resulted in a great race.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune –
Denny Hamlin looked to be in position to score the first win for JGR at Fontana during the white-flag lap. By the time the race ended, he was on the ground next to his crumpled race car being loaded onto a backboard. (Why was there no SAFER Barrier on the inside wall?) A 25th-place result doesn’t tell the story of a car that ran top 3 for the majority of Sunday’s event.
Mark Martin’s track bar broke loose from the rear end of his car. The result was a spin through traffic and an end to the race on a hook. It doesn’t matter much to Martin, who isn’t running a full season anyway, but it has to be a disappointment for his fans who are hoping to see one more win for the old fart.
The runner-up jinx is still trying to dig its claws into Clint Bowyer. Bowyer’s day started hitting the wall, slipping in oil and spent the rest of the day simply trying to sneak home with a respectable top 15. It wouldn’t happen; his engine gave up the ghost on lap 184 and dropped him to a 35th-place finish. Bowyer is now 14th in points, 62 out of the lead and shows no signs of the 2012 spark that had him up front, week in and week out.
Marcos Ambrose was snake bitten twice by left rear tire blowouts. The second of those tore the back bumper cover off his car, demolishing the quarterpanel and producing the biggest “wreck” of the day outside Logano/Hamlin. He ended the race running, but was 18 laps off the pace (ironically, his best finish so far in 2013 is 18th). You think Ambrose has Qantas on speed dial yet, ready to book his flight back to Tasmania for good?
Crazy things happen on race cars all of the time, but having the gear shift break off of the transmission is one you hear about once every couple of years. For Juan Pablo Montoya, Sunday was his day, forcing the car to limp home 31 laps down in 38th. Then again, considering it’s been 26 races since a top-10 finish, we’re to the point where “it’s always something…”
Timmy Hill did his best to alter the outcome of the race, albeit not intentionally. Hill lost an oil fitting on lap 30 that resulted in nearly a dozen cars making some kind of contact with the outside wall and five of them having to come to pit lane for repairs. Among the ones who were hurt the most: Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Bowyer, and even Brad Keselowski. NASCAR might want to look into having random oil downs when races aren’t turning out as exciting as they would like them to.
After Paulie Harraka’s Nationwide race came to an end in a ball of flames, how can we not have him in a category with Hindenburg in the name? Harraka has been less than stupendous in his racing career since gaining national attention battling with Joey Logano in the Toyota All-Star Showdown. Harraka, a Duke graduate has run four Nationwide and 11 Camping World Truck Series races since without as much as a sniff of a top 10.
The “Seven Come For Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
For Kyle Busch, he is usually in the Hindenburg category far more, but this weekend it certainly fell into his lap. Logano and Hamlin taking each other out allowed Busch, who led the most laps in the race, the opportunity to squeeze by on the top side to grab his 25th Cup Series win of his career.
Thanks to the vagaries of the caution flag rules of NASCAR, Joey Logano bounced off of the wall and kept digging. Even though he crossed the line sixth, the caution was flying so the sanctioning body reverts to the last scoring loop and uses video evidence to set the finishing order. When the caution came out, Logano was in third and, since he was still moving at caution speed throughout, that allowed him to keep the spot.
Jeff Gordon was running worse than any of the Hendrick Motorsports cars before he made a late-race pit stop for Alan Gustafson and the gang to make a major adjustment. Just like the Earnhardt changes, the No. 24 came to life, although not to the extent of Earnhardt’s car. He still scored an 11th place finish, which was a major accomplishment considering how poorly they’d run all day. Right behind him, with similar snail-like speed issues was Jimmie Johnson in 12th, just the fifth time in his career he’d finished outside the top 10 at Fontana.
Being the defending champ has its privileges. Brad Keselowski’s car went south as the race was coming to an end. According to the announcers, he was warned to pick up the pace or be black-flagged. There was no other mention of the No. 2 over the final five laps; considering the action that was going on at the front of the field that was understandable. But despite reports he was well below minimum speed, the Blue Deuce was able to finish the race and scored as the next to last car on the lead lap in 23rd.
Kurt Busch was right in the mix when the green flag flew with 11 to go. He ended up slipping back to fifth place in the final running order, but it was still an impressive run for the de facto fourth RCR car.
Worth Noting –
There were 17 lead changes during the race on Sunday. The unofficial tally of on-track passes for the lead during green flag conditions was five.
In the top 10 on Sunday by manufacturer were:
Toyota – 2
What’s the Points?
Thanks Keselowski’s mechanical issues at the end of the race, Earnhardt assumes the point lead by 12 over the 2012 champ. Jimmie Johnson’s run on Sunday was less than stellar, but slots into third in the point standings, 16 points behind his Hendrick teammate. Carl Edwards, who very quietly finished fourth on Sunday and has pushed his season total to three top-5 finishes is sitting in fourth, 35 points behind Earnhardt. Tied with Edwards is his Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle. Biffle finished sixth on Sunday for his second top-10 finish of the season.
Kyle Busch’s win pushed him from 10th to sixth in the points and leaves him 36 out of the top spot. Kasey Kahne is seventh, while Paul Menard is eighth; he was eighth at Fontana to score his third top 10 of the season. Menard is also the last driver who can mathematically leave Martinsville with the points lead. As mentioned before, Joey Logano is ninth in points and will be parked next to Denny Hamlin who rounds out the top 10.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – It is early in the season, and we have to have a little wiggle room, but this race was as close to an instant classic as we’ve seen in a while. The only thing holding it back from that lofty status is the fact that there were only five on-track passes for the lead. If there had been a little more action at the front of the pack during the first ¾ of the race, like there was over the last 30 laps, this would have been a sure fire six pack. Still, we have to give this one five ice cold cans of Guinness Draft or Budweisers, whichever you’d like to have.
Next Up – The Cup series is off for Easter and then heads to the shortest, oldest track on the circuit, Martinsville Speedway. Considering there’s a half-dozen drivers pissed off at each other, expect the retaliation meter – and the excitement that comes with it – to be pegged at an all-time high.
Connect with Mike!
©2000 - 2008 Mike Neff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I agree! Surprisingly good racing for Fontana!
Those last thirty laps were something. Never thought I’d see racing that good at Fontana of all places!
Gonna be a lot of talk about whether Logano should have come up into Hamlin or not. I’m no fan of either driver, but hard, aggresive driving on the last lap with a win up for grabs is justification enough for me. I believe Joey intentionally made contact with Denny, but I don’t think he meant to wreck him. Even so, Joey’s comment that Denny “Got what he deserved” as they were loading Hamlin into the ambulance had a nasty tone.
Tony Stewart is the hands-down winner of the hypocrite of the decade award. Hey Tony… Logano didn’t force you down to the infield; you tried to pass on the apron and he blocked you. You remember blocking, right? If not, go watch the Talledega race from last October. Jerk.
Controversy, wild tempers, and torn up cars all around Kyle Busch and he’s not involved? A wild, crazy race at Fontana? We have entered the twilight zone, my friends.
Wow, did the Gen-6 car just save Fontana? Of course the cautions helped too.
Well, I thought it was typical Fontana until the last 20-25 laps. And, wouldn’t you just know that it would be an ISC track that would skimp on the safety equipment? And why would you have an asphalt ramp up to the wall? Maybe NASCAR better fix the track but that would mean spending money…..
5 beers with a tequila chaser for the last 30 or so laps, 2.5 for the rest.
Oh, well, so much for that “Tony’s grown and matured SO much after fielding his own team”. BOLSHEVIK! What an arrogant, self-centered egotistical creep. It is now time to resurrect the old fan club: “Fans Against Tony Stewart”, or “FATS”.
Wow, hell hath frozen over… a compelling race at Fontana. Who’d have thunk it?
Tony needs to decide which side of the fence he’s on with respect to blocking issue and then live it. Personally, I didn’t see anything blatantly out of line with the end of the race except for Stewart going over and bitching at Logano for something he himself does all the time.
I’ll give it 4 beers just because the bar is set so low for the Fontana race based on past experiences.
at least hamlin will have an off week. hope his back isn’t too messed up. sure looked like a hard hit.
i’m not a fan of either hamlin or logano, but hamlin gave logano space, over 200 mph is no place to get back.
tony blocked at dega last year and caused a massive wreck. guess it’s the selective memory thing kicking in with tony.
i thought kyle bush’s comment was funny, they all forgot about me.
this was not typical california race. i was kind of surprised. however i don’t like seeing the helicopter starting up, regardless of who the driver is.
maybe off week will cool tempers down.
That was good hard racing at the end. I really don’t think Logano intended to wreck Hamlin for the win, but he definitely intended a good door-to-door bang. He just screwed it up.
I’m not a Logano fan, but I’m glad to see him at least finally realizing his career was going nowhere, and he’s trying to do something about it. It’s lit a fire under him.
I know I’m one of those who beat down on the racing at Fontana a lot, but the last 40 laps of yesterday’s race was danged good racing. Cautions helped the cars from getting too spread out, and the restarts were pretty spectacular to see.
I didn’t see the first 3/4 of the race, but what I did see was worth the price of admission for all who were there I’d say.
Tony, obviously, feels that it’s ok for him to block, but not anyone else.
Don’t like Hamlin at all but hope He’s OK.
Logano isn’t making many friends, but that may be a good thing.
Excellent column, first one I read on Monday morning.These are just my observations and opinions!
First, Tony Stuart. I lost respect for him after this tirade. Berating Logano for doing what every other driver, including himself, would do in that case. Yes he does speak out, but he’s usually not on point with his comments. I watched the replay many times and Logano didn’t do anything wrong.Also, shame on any track without safer barriers wherever cars could hit a wall hard! It also appeared to me as if Denny was in the gas as he was spinning causing him to hit the wall so hard. The rear tires looked to be putting down the power as he was spinning which seemed to make his hit much harder.Not sure why he would do that? Maybe frustration. I should ask DW as he always knows what the drivers are thinking.
Another opinion. Is it just me or does it appear as FOX/SPEED is trying to drive longtime fans like myself away with who they put on TV. Think about it! The Waltrip brothers, I think their problems with their TV work is self explanatory. Too many negatives to get into here. Kenny Wallace, I’m tired of his goofball act. Larry Mac, nice guy, but not really a very good TV person and sometimes that screechy voice and his grammar grind on me. Then Jeff Hammond, his poor on air delivery and overuse of “right now” and “hey” make him hard to listen to.
Has anyone noticed how well Brad K. deals with the media. I saw two interviews, one with Erin Andrews and the other was the last NASCAR video press conference at California. Both were excellent as he showed he could answer questions with ease and have a good relationship with the press. What a spokesman for the sport, NASCAR should be thrilled. Tony Stuart, take notice!!
Fair is fair – and that was a good race and fun to watch. Lots going on through much of the race with guys moving up then back then up. Last few laps were great.
Will give Logano benefit of the doubt on his remark. He really needs to earn some respect and push the door open like Kes did. Maybe this is the year. Going for the win all bets off.
Stewart needs to stop. Enough. He lost all credibility at Dega. Just stop now.
Fontana – who would have thought!
No surprise with Waltrip bashing Logano. The man is nothing but a walking advertisment for Toyota. He knows where his bread is buttered. I agree also that he knows very little about last lap fighting for the win. Overall a pretty darn good race at California.
“The Stewart” needs a good ass whoopin’. Everybody who races him is an idiot, but he’s justified in wrecking the field at Talledega( I was there), and wrecking people under caution (Bowyer and Carl Edwards a few years ago), and running people into the grass at 200MPH (Kenseth at Talladega a few years ago). He’s been told he’s so good so many times that he just believes he can do no wrong. Reminds me of another driver who always claimed he was “just racin” when he “rattled someones cage”.
I could see how this race was going to finish. I knew Kyle would be there to reap the rewards after Joey and Denny crashed. Hope that Denny will be O.K. The Question is WHO will Joey piss off next?
Hey, Tony: Why don’t you go pick on someone your own diameter?
I’m happy to see a good race at Fontana, and to see the fans here admit it. :) Anyone who boycotted this race should go searching online and watch the replays to see what they missed.
Agreeing with Wayne about FOX. But yesterday, Micheal Waltip proved what a complete moron he is. His fluffing off of Bass Pro shops the way he did when he “interviewed” Jamie McMurray was insulting and demeaning to Bass Pro shops. If I was BPS, I would have paid Brian France a visit this morning demanding a full on-air apology from Micheal at the next race, and demanding the immediate removal of him from any NASCAR broadcast. And if France is still too hung over to understand, BPS should remove themselves as the official sporting goods supplier of NASCAR, and demand back every penny they were most likely forced to pay for the privilege of being an official something of Brian’s farce of a circus.
Also, did anyone notice the Coke commercial with Stewart, Newman, Logano, Hamlin, Biffle, the bimbo? Aside from Hamlin and Logano sitting in the same van, it was a Dodge, not a Chev! Does the Felon (the true owner of SHR) own a Chrysler dealership?
It doesn’t get much better than that (minus Denny getting hurt-there needs to be SAFER barriers on all walls, especially big tracks). That ending was as close to a repeat of Daytona 1979 as I have ever seen.
Smoke is a total hypocrite, as mentioned above see last fall at Talladega. I thought this Tony had gone away, but he still like to complain and then do that exact same thing.
Excellent column, Matt. I never expect much from the racing at this track so was happily surprised by the good racing at the end. The rest of the race was really typical Fontana – big gap between the cars, not much to see. Your comment about oiling down the track made me laugh because I thought the same thing – NASCAR waited a long time to call that caution and I was thinking they were back to manufacturing excitement.
Logano’s comments were in poor taste at the very least. He doesn’t have to like Hamlin but “he got what he deserved” when they are loading a guy in an ambulance is a stupid thing to say. I didn’t think Logano wrecked Hamlin on purpose at least by what I could tell on TV. Hope that Hamlin is OK – never like seeing someone get hurt. NASCAR and ISC should be getting a lot more heat for the fact that there was no SAFER barrier in place. This track has very high speed, everyone knows it and ISC doesn’t spend the $ on safety. Big surprise – lip service by NASCAR, bad news for the competitors who are driving the cars.
And then we have Tony, running his mouth, when everyone has seen him do the same brainless thing. Tony has a short temper and a selective memory of times when he has blocked and the result of those moves.
I do think Logano needs to grow up otherwise he is going to find someone (and it may be Tony), who decides to mop the floor with him.
Martinsville may be very interesting.
a couple of points to address here:
Screw Tony. I hope Joey doesn’t listen to his s*it, ‘cause he was doing the right thing in claiming the inside, block or not. He was in front and it was Fatboy’s job get around him. Tony was mad ‘cause the move made him lift and lose momentum.
Joey and denny weren’t trying to wreck each other, they were just bein’ hard-headed and not giving an inch to each other. Remember, it was denny’s bumper that put Joey into the wall. Joey needs to be a little nasty in his dealings with those guys, especially denny and Kyle. They think he’s just a pawn to push outta the way and Joey needs to convince them otherwise. It looks like Tony has got Email.
I agree with Wayne’s comments, too. I forgot to mention, I missed all of the Mikey comments since I watch Fox with the sound muted. Not into the Waltrip Network. I use the radio feed from my computer to follow the race.
I stopped watching Raceday several years ago. Simply not interested in Kenny Wallace’s opinions either since he’s another NASCAR mouthpiece. Never stop by any of those stages when we go to the races either.
I can’t believe I am writing a comment to defend Tony Stewart, but…
You can’t compare restricter plate racing to other tracks. Logano was within his rights to block, but Stewart actually did have position and had to lift to avoid spinning Logano and triggering a melee at front of the field.
Any of the folks calling Tony a hypocrite, please provide an example of him crossing two lanes of the track to get ~1 inch in front of someone on a track without a plate. Further, I challenge you to find footage of any drivers from the following cars doing it on a non restrictor track: 2, 48, 78, 20, 24 or 47.
Good luck, you won’t find it happening.
Spot on Matt. I’ll admit doing a lot of channel flipping between the NCAA tournament and the race in the early stages, but I thought this was easily the best race of the year to date.
drgonzo…. I’ll be open-minded and consider your point of view, but please tell me why you can’t compare restrictor plate racing to racing on other tracks when it comes to blocking on a restart. Thanks.
drgonzo, I’ll agree that it was a different situation, but contrary to the point you are trying to make. Tony’s blocking at Talladega was much worse than Joey’s at Fontana. Joey was blocking on a restart as the cars were coming up to speed. Tony was blocking at Talladega when the cars were already at full speed resulting in a much worse situation and subsequent wreck. Plus Logano was entirely in front of Stewart blocking him. At dega, Tony came down across the nose of Mikey’s car which was already inside his quarter panel.
first off, i hope denny is okay. not a fan of his but don’t want to see someone hurt. in my opinion i thought ( and may be wrong) that once joey got ahead of denny that denny turned left, causing joey to hit the wall and denny to go left towards the infield. i may be wrong but again, just opinion.
And that’s where Tony made his mistake. Every time someone tries to block another driver (especially at the end of a race), don’t lift, just let physics take it’s course.
And BTW, blocking is blocking. In my opinion it is worse to block at an RP track because the probability of mass carnage is higher. Tony lost his chance to take the high road where blocking is concerned when he wiped out half the field at Talladega. You can try to draw distinctions between the two situations all you want, but blocking is still blocking.
Whether you agree with it or not, switching lanes back and forth to block is a normal tactic in restrictor plate races, particularly with the prior gen car. As long as you cleared the car you were blocking no one wrecked even if they hit you.
When you did it unsuccessfully (i.e. not clearing the car you were trying to block) it resulted in a disaster. Two examples at Talledega are last falls Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards vs Brad K.
Therefore the difference between the two situations is that a restrictor plate track the driver you are blocking did not have to lift to avoid a wreck (assuming you cleared them), they just stayed behind you (note that this does not seem to be the case with the new car based on Daytona).
What really irritated me more than anything with Logano was in his interview he said we was having to peddle his car so we wouldn’t pass Ky Busch before the start finish line and that is why Tony had a run on him and therefore he was in a no win situation. If this is true (that he was peddling vs spinning his tires) it would seem that he doesn’t understand the restart rules, since you can pass the leader before the start/finish as long as you didn’t jump the start to do so (See Matt K vs Brad K Bristol 2012).
Please understand people that Joey made the “He gets what he gets” comment before he realized Denny was hurt.
Why is no one talking about the concrete elephant in the room and criticizing Nascar for not having soft walls on the inside walls? Is it because Nascar owns this track. Bruton Smith took some heat a while back for the very same thing. Yet everyone seems to be silent about this.
Long time Smoke fan hear because of the candor he shows, like he did yesterday. His interview with Byrnes was classic Tony. However, I have to disagree with him. Everyone else brought up the Talladega issue and they are spot on. Blaming someone for blocking when you do it yourself is short sighted expecially battling for the win. I don’t blame Joey for that at all.
I’m actually glad to see Logano fighting back. He has taken alot from Hamlin, Busch, Kes in the past and I think he is finally showing some fire. A little job insecurity helps with that too.
Personally, I think Logano and Hamlin are both at fault for what happened. Logano was very physical coming to the line, but Denny made absolutely sure he was not going to win the race. Unfortunately Denny took the worst of it. Mikey siding with Hamlin (shocker!) was a complete joke. Him and his brother have zero credibility.
Hands down, the best race I’ve ever seen at Fontana. And I’ve attended one race there. What a finish. I just hope nas$car doesn’t screw it up by re-paving it any time soon. nas$car needs to make sure the SAFER walls cover the entire track, inside and out. If there is a wall without one installed, a driver will eventually find it, sometimes with bad consequences like yesterday. I really hope Denny is okay and will be able race at Martinsville, And bravo for Logano, wreck not withstanding. He has been berated for not sticking up for himself as other drivers have run all over him. For whatever reason, he’s a different driver this year. Simply put, Stewart is one hypocritical a$$bite. His blocking took half the field out at Talladega last year. And Wayne V, you’re spot on in regards to Fox’s broadcasting of races. One Waltrip is bad enough, but if anything, Michael is 10 times worse then Darrel. It does feel at times that Fox does everything they can to drive fans away. Their mid race report had me literally yelling at the TV. In closing, a good (and needed) win for Kyle. By ya’ll.
does anyone remember when elliot hit the inside wall at pocono? didn’t the fans and media want to take away their races until they had safer barriers around ALL walls? and then not have bruton do the same to his tracks?
Recent articles from Mike Neff:
Infographic for the West Coast Nationals for the Mini Outlaws
Want to find out more about Mike Neff? Maybe see all the articles he's written here at the Frontstetch? Check out his article archive and bio page then!