Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Key Moment – Joe Gibbs and Rick Hendrick spent their money to enter stock car racing? Seriously, on a day where Jimmie Johnson set a career high for laps led, where Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing led all but two laps, it’s hard to find a “defining moment.” Maybe Friday afternoon when Jimmie Johnson won the pole? When a driver “owns” a track, like Johnson has owned Martinsville during his career, earning the quickest route off pit lane just makes it that much easier for him to whip the field. He used that first pit stall to regain control, late in the race and it was all over but the burnouts after that.
In a Nutshell – Jimmie Johnson started on the pole and led the most laps (346) but didn’t lead the first one, as Marcos Ambrose snuck back to the start/finish line ahead after the drop of the green. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth were then the main challengers to the No. 48. Combined, they led 152 laps but Johnson regained the top spot with ease down the stretch. First off pit lane, after Ryan Newman brought out the caution on lap 362 Johnson never let it slip from his grasp from that point on.
Behind them, Martinsville’s patented mayhem produced only one minor flareup. Brian Vickers had the most eventful day, causing a couple of caution flags and then getting into a post-race confrontation, on track with Kevin Harvick in turn one after the checkered flag flew. Danica Patrick was two laps down at one point in time but rallied for a 12th-place finish in her first Martinsville event.
Dramatic Moment – When Johnson started his engine on pit road and it fired.
Again, the race itself held very little drama outside of a fiery crash for Kurt Busch that displayed the effectiveness of the on board fire suppression system required on all NASCAR Cup cars. The diciest moment didn’t even occur inside the top 10. Danica Patrick and Brian Vickers had an intense duel for 11th place, coming to the checkers which resulted in Vickers moving Patrick out of the way in Turn 4 as they were coming to the line. Kevin Harvick, who finished 13th in a three-wide finish with Vickers and Patrick then intentionally spun Vickers in Turn 1. As the cars were headed down the back straight, ready to make the left-hander into the garage, it looked like Vickers was going to take a shot at Patrick but Harvick didn’t let him get near her.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Jimmie Johnson hosed Dale Junior after his late-race spin. When Earnhardt Jr. twirled around in Turns 3 and 4, late in the race off of the front bumper of Danica Patrick (who was pushed by Brian Vickers, who may have had help from Aric Almirola … you know how these Martinsville wrecks go) he was blocking the track so the rest of the field had to stop. Earnhardt backed up to get pointed in the right direction, ready to pull away and, in theory keep from losing a lap. But that’s when Johnson drove over the curb instead, holding speed to get by the No. 88 while the rest of the field waited for Earnhardt to get going. That cost Junior an extra lap, one he’d never earn back and ended the day two laps down in 24th. Would staying only one lap down have allowed Earnhardt to finish on the lead lap after the final caution for Kurt Busch? It is impossible to say; all we know is Five-Time didn’t make any friends in Junior Nation by moving around NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver.
Speaking of teammates playing well with each other, there was obvious concerted efforts by the JGR gang on restarts during the race while there were no such shenanigans between the Hendrick teammates. On a handful of restarts when the JGR duo of Kenseth and Busch were on the front row, the leader would take the outside while the second-place runner would let the leader drop in front, ensuring the two drivers would both be able to maintain their positions (otherwise, the second-place runner risked being hung on the outside and freight trained.) That orchestrated teamwork seemed to upset Brad Keselowski; he gave some serious bumps to the JGR cars when given an opportunity late in the event.
Roma Downey was one of the producers of the recent television series The Bible. But after the less than inspired command to start engines at Martinsville, she might want to seek some divine intervention on just how to instruct professional drivers to crank up.
Note to the talking heads in the FOX Hotel, Cafe and Bistro or whatever that contraption is that you have in the infield for races. Kyle Busch did not bump Brad Keselowski because Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano have some bad feelings going on right now. Last I checked, this sport is called NASCAR, not The Hatfields and McCoys. The drivers will settle things amongst themselves, once the time comes. They don’t need teammates, on both sides roughing up each other to send some sort of message.
In an off the cuff comment in the middle of the race, Darrell Waltrip made the following statement about Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leading the points: “As long as it doesn’t last.” Knowing DW, it wasn’t intended as a dig but it just seemed like a very odd thing to say about the driver that more people would like to see win the title than any other.
Denny Hamlin was giving Mark Martin tips on how to drive during the STP Gas Booster 500. That’s like Krusty the Clown telling David Copperfield how to make a quarter appear out of some kid’s ear. Sure, Hamlin was just trying to assist in getting the team a good finish, but considering Martin ran his first Cup race before Hamlin was one year old, he might just want to sit back and observe.
For the folks at FOX, you might want to figure out if you can limit the effect of G-forces on your Gyro Cam. Martinsville has only 12 degrees of banking, but the in-car shots from the Gyro looked like they were going around Daytona.
Regan Smith sent David Reutimann for a spin on Sunday that looked remarkably similar to Kyle Larson taking out C.E. Falk during the Battle at the Beach at Daytona during Speedweeks. So why no tempers flaring there?
Speaking of Reutimann, he and Carl Edwards did a fine job of spinning and continuing in the proper direction without hitting anything. Earnhardt Jr. didn’t hit anything, either but didn’t end up pointing the right direction, ultimately costing him.
Glad to see there were only two start-and-park cars in the race this week.
Gotta send a little love to Jeb Burton. Ward’s boy was on the pole for the Truck race on Saturday, then led 154 laps and came home with a third-place finish. Pretty freaking cool for his seventh start in the Camping World Truck Series – it’s a family name, but with real talent and a bright future ahead.
Danica was seen roughing up Junior during the late stages of the event. While Junior relayed through his spotter that things were all good between them, you have to know that the folks in Daytona had to be soiling themselves seeing their two golden geese mixing it up on the track.
Kurt Busch had a very toasty wreck near the end of the race that ended with him against the wall, hard with flames billowing from under the hood of his car. He had some difficulty getting the window net down on the No. 78 Chevrolet and ended up hitting the on-board fire extinguishing system as a failsafe. They didn’t show it on TV, of course but they did show the in-car at the track. It was impressive to see how rapidly the extinguishing system worked and we’re glad Kurt got out OK. Hopefully, his team will trim that window net bar a little bit so that it will come down more quickly.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Martinsville and Brian Vickers just do not go well together. Vickers had a hand in at least three cautions during the event and ended up 11th with a Toyota that looked like it had been blown up. At least this time, contenders Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray stayed in the clear…
Brad Keselowski was completely hosed by a bad call on pit road when a NASCAR official made them realign the car in his box; it happened even though a replay showed his tire was not even on the white line, let alone over it. Pit road officials are human, and the human element is a very important part of the game, but let’s hope the No. 2 team at least gets an apology email from Daytona on this one.
Similar to Paulie Harraka last week, we have to give some love to Kurt Busch, who ended his race with a ball of flame against the outside retaining wall. After having fuel pump issues during the race, Busch was just logging laps hoping to salvage points when his brakes went out and he had to put it into the wall to avoid a head-on impact. When it was all said and done, he ended the event 37th.
Martin Truex, Jr. was minding his own business during the race when people checked up in front of him for the caution that flew when the “Big One” happened. He ended up having to go to the garage, completely rebuilding the front of his car. While running at the end, the 2012 Chaser was 115 laps down in 40th and is now a distant 25th in points.
Ryan Newman had some self-inflicted Hindenburg Foul Fortune when he stopped on track to bring out a caution once he had a flat tire. NASCAR race control did not think highly of that maneuver, which resulted in Newman being penalized three laps. He wound up 31st.
Interestingly, there was a “Big One” at Martinsville after an early restart where Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and others got jammed up in the top groove. For the drivers involved, here is an honorable mention in the Foul Fortune category for: Nos. 1, 9, 11, 15, 17, 22, 31, 55, 56, 88, and 93.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
It may be weak for the race winner to get some love in this category, but c’mon. J. J. led 346 laps and moved into third all-time on the Martinsville wins list. We have to give him a shout for running the entire race inside the top four.
Brian Vickers had a day he’d probably like to forget but somehow, he managed to keep all four tires on the car, which was more than you can say for the fenders. He ended up with an 11th-place finish.
After starting at the rear, due to an engine change Danica Patrick was on the receiving end of some love from Kenny Schrader, which put her to the back of the pack shortly after the race began. However, through grit and determination Patrick overcame the spin, and eventually falling two laps down to the leader, to come home with a 12th-place finish.
Jamie McMurray shook off his involvement in the Big One and soldiered to a seventh-place result, his best so far in the first six races of 2013.
Clint Bowyer was involved in the Big One at lap 181 and had to receive multiple bare bond patches to repair the front of his car. He then had a pit road penalty on lap 190, which sent him to the back and seemingly ended his chances to contend. But when the dust settled, in the stretch run the No. 15 was mega fast and charged all the way to second place. It’s a highly successful weekend, no doubt no matter what Bowyer might be teasing about on Twitter.
The top 10 at Martinsville included:
Chevrolet – 4
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson leads the series in wins and also leads the points with 231. Johnson does trail Keselowski and Earnhardt, Jr. in top 10s, by one which slots those two in at second and third, respectively. Both remain winless in 2013. Kyle Busch sits fourth in points, with one win and is tied with Keselowski in top 5s, 28 points behind Johnson. Kasey Kahne is sitting in fifth, also with a victory in his pocket.
Greg Biffle has not won yet but is in the running for the Chase, sitting sixth in points. Biffle’s teammate Carl Edwards is working on staying inside the top 10. He has a win this season but sits 38 points out of the lead. Bowyer continues to battle the previous season runner-up jinx but will most likely not be able to avoid it based on the history of the series. For now, he is eighth in points but more than a full race behind Johnson. Paul Menard still manages a strong start again this season, sitting ninth in the standings, tied with Bowyer. Matt Kenseth rounds out the top 10, 59 behind Johnson and five ahead of Joey Logano in eleventh.
Further back, Denny Hamlin dropped from 10th to 18th in just one week. When he does return, winning races will be a must, assuming he can make it back in time to claw back into the top 20.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic) – As Martinsville races go, it was about as average as they come. There were a lot of bruised cars and egos but 38 cars were still running at the finish. There was an intentional spin after the checkered flag, though and someone ended the day on fire so that earns the race four frosty adult soda pops of your choice. I gave three cans for an average race and one due to Martinsville being a short track. You automatically get one can of extra credit because there can never be enough short tracks on the schedule.
Next Up — The Cup Series heads to Texas to compete for the right to wear a giant cowboy hat and fire some fake bullets out of two revolvers. One thing is for sure… the cars are going to be very fast. Let’s hope that the excessive speed does not translate into a failure to pass, though. The race will take place on Saturday night at 8:00 PM; it can be seen on FOX and heard on your local PRN affiliate.
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Love this column, but this effort missed on so many levels:
Oh, and Johnson practically stopped in Turn 3, yet Junior still didn’t get it going.
Auto Club Speedway was a better race than Martinsville…..WOW, did I just say that? Yes I did. And it was.
I can’t believe how boring Martinsville was. One groove and single file racing. Makes sense than MR. BORING himself would win there.
The FOX crew did their best before the race to sell it as possibly the best race EVER at Martinsville. But fell WAY short of that.
And it’s still hard to believe that Dale Jr. can’t do any better as a driver for the Hendrick/Nascar team. If you can’t do it there then you just can’t do it.
I watched the race. Not much to say about it; it was dominated by the #48 team. What else is new?
Somebody get that Nascar official a cane and a seeing-eye dog before he wanders into traffic. Or a referee shirt since he’s obviously qualified to be an SEC football official.
so sick of seeing Fox portray this Joey/Denny incident as intentional wreck to break Denny’s back. replay still shows denny tagged Joey’s right rear (same move as Bristol) but Joey was the one that was put into the outside wall. hey denny, live by the sword die by the sword. maybe YOU should have left well enough alone
Kenny did not spin Danica, and It was terrible watching FOX (and now you) try to make Kenny out to be a complete $&#%^!!
Danica tried to dive bomb a much slower car 15 laps into the race and spun herself out!!! Simple as that….
Thank You Ch
You are right Kenny did not hit Danica no matter how many times Mike Joy tried to rewrite yesterday. The fact is Danica it Kenny.
How did Danica get the first of her laps back after Carl Edwards spun around lap 240? When caution flew she was 28th 2 laps down, next ticker she was 25th 1 lap down. The booth did not say or show any wave arounds. I watched this 10-15 laps numerous times and I’m still stumped.
This has to be one of the more boring races I’ve ever watched at Martinsville. Wow, the California race was ten times more exciting. The last thing most viewers want to see is Johnson winning another Hendricks cup championship.
I have no problem with the #48 not letting the #88 get back into line. We would all be asking if Johnson had lost his mind if he had in fact slowed down and got punted in the rear by a trailing car while waiting for Jr. to get his act together.
Race lacked drama, tho’…did anyone doubt it was going to be the #48’s day after lap 100?
I dislike DW’s broadcasting as much as the next guy but you got what he said about Jr all wrong. DW said Jr was under the radar as the points leader and Jr liked that… as long as it didn’t last. As in…. if he gets credit for leading the points at some later date without the bruhaha in between, Jr will be happy.
Not a Johnson fan but I love watching races at Martinsville. I think Fox does a terrible job of broadcasting most races and Martinsville is no exception.
BTW, I think Danica was the first car 2 laps down when one of the cautions came out and there were no 1 lap down cars so she got the lucky dog. Then on a later caution she took the wave around. Now I’ve circled back around to Fox’s sucky coverage of the race. They sometimes have more important sponsor driven segments that get in the way of keeping fans informed of what’s happening in the race.
wcfan and Bill B, Danica took the wave-around twice. At one point she was the first car two laps down, but a bunch of cars were one lap down and so she took the wave-around. She then raced her way to being the second-placed car one lap down at a later caution, and so took the wave-around while the car in front of her got the Lucky Dog.
Did not watch the event as I figuired who would win and don’t care for any one who drives for Hendricks
Just watch Edwards spin again, and can not believe Danica is the only one who took wave around. Before caution 22nd-27th place 1 lap, Danica 28th place 2 laps down. After caution 22nd place still 1 lap down now Danica 25th 1 lap down and 28th still 2 laps down. Can not believe Danica was only car to take wave around, also can’t believe all lead lap cars pitted with only around 20 laps on tires.
Sure hope no ones got a full time ride for vickers in cup
Actually DW’s comment was probably correct. ‘Fraid Jr. will be more popular chasing a championship than after he’s won one.
yes wcfan, nascar minipulated the results to let Danica have a lap back. Never mind that millions of people online during the race are watching the very same timing and scoring. Ridiculous how much people can’t give danica any credit. If she was 2 laps down and everyone in front of her was 1 lap down, she took the wave around.
I have been harsh to the writers on this site for taking task with Danica almost weekly. As such I must commend them on acknowledging her good finish this week. Haters will hate, but those that actually have an open mind and watched her in Indy Cars know that she can drive. She just needs more experience.
And I personally have no problems with the wave around. You take a risk by not pitting hoping that you get another quick caution. You aren’t guaranteed to be back on the pit stop cycle. Unlike the lucky dog where you are actually handed a lap back.
Regarding FOX, talking about prime rib with Jeff Hammond while there is a pass for the lead and hearing one of the Waltrip brothers call Jr a closer, pretty much sums up their day of broadcasting.
I read on catchfence that Danica took the wave around after lap 242 caution to put her 1 lap down in 27th place. I then rewatched that segment and saw Danica and others take wave around.
Fox was still listing her 2 laps down on lap 256, with all the coverage Fox gives Danica I just found it hard to believe they said nothing when she got that first lap back, and did not see how she could have gotten it during the caution for Carl’s spin.
I thought it very ironic that the race sponsor was STP gas treatment. Shows you NA$CAR is hypocritical since they are so pushing E85. The STP add lists it as a moisture absorbent which is exactly what the ethanol creates.
Fortunately I was watching this one from the stands at Martinsville and not on TV. It’s a much better race when you can see all the action.
Let’s see Johnson didn’t let Jr get in front of him, well, considering he doesn’t usually do any of his teammates favors or even play nicely, not sure why anyone is surprised. He did slow down into 3, but Jr couldn’t flip it around.
I enjoyed the race. It was a beautiful day at the track, I didn’t have to deal with the tv idiots and although my favorite didn’t win, he got a top 5 and moved up some in the points. Right now, that makes me happy.
Danica managed to stay out of trouble. I didn’t see anything wrong with how she drove with Jr on her outside. Crap like that happens late in the race.
Johnson doesn’t owe Jr. squat.
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