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 – NASCAR used all of the tools at their disposal to restart the race and run it to the advertised distance of 499 miles, plus a few more, rather than calling it when the red flag flew for rain on lap 124. That threw out a ho-hum finish, turned it wild and gave the Davids a chance to beat up on Goliath.
In a Nutshell – Talladega once again proved that restrictor plates are the great equalizer as Front Row Motorsports pulled off the improbable. With car owner Bob Jenkins entering the race with just two top-5 finishes, in 403 career starts David Ragan and David Gilliland ended the day 1-2, as if they were born contenders while several Sprint Cup superstars spent the night scratching their heads.
Dramatic Moment – During the green-white-checkered finish, Ragan and Gilliland made a powerful move up the center of the three-wide racing on the backstretch to surprise Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth as the two were jockeying for the lead. It was perhaps the biggest moment at any plate track since Phoenix Racing pulled the same feat, winning with an unheralded Brad Keselowski in 2009 while Carl Edwards flipped across the line behind him.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Front Row Motorsports won their first race in 406 combined starts. Not only is it their only win, but the final lap was just the 102nd led in the history of the organization. The best result for the team, prior to Sunday this season was a 20th at Richmond for Mr. Ragan. I think he likes this one a whole lot better…
Underdogs, on Sunday had their day, but where does it rank in the 21st Century? Only a handful of victories seem to match FRM’s miracle finish: Phoenix Racing’s aforementioned Talladega trophy, in 2009 with Brad Keselowski and the Wood Brothers’ Daytona 500 triumph with a 20-year-old Trevor Bayne in 2011. Note the other two came on plate tracks, one of the few places nowadays all 43 cars are truly created equal.
Ryan Newman called out NASCAR after spending his final moments on the track underneath Kurt Busch’s car during the second “Big One” of the race. Newman did not mince words. “First of all, to my family and friends, I’m doing this interview to let everybody know that I’m all right,” he said. “They can build safer race cars, they can build SAFER walls, but they can’t get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the race track, and that is pretty disappointing. I wanted to make sure I got that point across. Y’all can figure out who ‘they’ is but that is no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. It was poor. Poor judgment in restarting the race, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment running in the dark, running in the rain. That’s it, thank you.” With NASCAR’s recent stand on Denny Hamlin’s rant against the sanctioning body, it will be interesting to see if they decide to remove any money from Newman’s bank account. A few years ago, following some choice words at ‘Dega the driver was indeed issued one of those old “secret fines” before the sport was forced by near rebellion to make them public.
Speaking of NASCAR’s struggle with consistency, how ironic was it that they chose to show the 2013 Daytona 500 during the rain delay on FOX? Just Saturday, the caution flag flew with the leaders a couple of hundred yards from the finish line and ripped the win from Kasey Kahne’s hand. The 500 replay showed a wreck exiting turn two on the final lap, yet the caution flag still wasn’t in the air as Jimmie Johnson passed under the flagstand to take the checkers. It makes it hard for competitors to understand what the playing field is when the boundaries change every time out.
Brad Keselowski is complaining that Ragan lined up in the wrong lane for the final restart, forcing Keselowski to the bottom lane which he believes put him at a disadvantage. The beef seems to come right before the green, on the backstretch where some random passing behind the pace car caused Keselowski and Ragan to swap positions before NASCAR took control and ordered a last-minute swap. In reality, it might have been Scott Speed out of line; which one of the three was in front of who is clearly debatable, at the time of caution as shown in the 2:42 mark of this clip. My take? Keselowski needs to take a deep breath, relax and realize a change of lanes was no perfect guarantee of future success. You have to wonder, considering the Penske Racing problems with their appeal if the reigning champ simply needed an outlet upon which to vent.
NASCAR is definitely going to be under fire this coming week over both races this weekend running late into the evening. They always claim that they won’t start a race if they don’t think the entire length of the advertised distance can be completed. Well, due to the rain, the Nationwide race was cut short by ten laps before the green-white-checkered added three laps to the modified total. Both series faced such finishes but NASCAR announced the rules would be changed and, instead of the customary three attempts, only one try would be made to complete these events. While it didn’t matter in the end, it was also the end to marathon days that make you wonder how many fans kept the television on for all of it.
Darrell Waltrip has added a few words to the lexicon of racing over the years. The incessant Boogity, boogity, boogity. The restrictor plate centric “coopetition.” This weekend’s latest addition sprang from Juan Pablo Montoya’s failure to fire after the red flag. DW enlightened all of us that the No. 42 was having electronical problems.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Take your pick, as most anyone who was caught up in the “Big Ones” at Talladega can fall into this category. That would include Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, David Stremme, Kurt Busch, David Reutimann, Casey Mears, Scott Speed, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, JJ Yeley, Danica Patrick, Bobby Labonte, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Michael Waltrip. Of this group, only Speed, Truex, and Waltrip were able to recover, scoring top-10 finishes with Waltrip coming home a surprising fourth.
Matt Kenseth led 142 laps on Sunday before being shuffled out on the final lap. That means Kenseth has led 228 laps in the two restrictor plate races this season and has a 37th and eighth-place result to show for them.
On a day when one of the true underdog organizations in the sport scored their first win, Michael McDowell had an unfortunate right front failure which resulted in a 21st-place finish, one lap down that also ensured Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman would end the day with their cars in pieces.
Trevor Bayne didn’t even have the opportunity to be caught up in one of the Big Ones on Sunday as his engine done blowed up on lap 22. He wound up dead last.
Juan Pablo Montoya was bitten by the bad luck bug again this week as, when the cars fired to life after the red flag, his did not. He was forced to the garage to have the computers diagnose the problem before his ECU was fixed to allow him back into the race, three laps back. He finished 25th.
Kurt Busch, like Mr. Newman wound up with a smile turned upside down as he experienced the first rollover of his stock car racing career. Busch described the moment as “lovely” while explaining there were only four races his mom didn’t attend each year: Daytona and Talladega. The fact his tire landed mere feet from crunching the driver of the No. 39 should give you enough of an answer as to why.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
While Michael Waltrip bounced off the wall during the second Big One of the day, he still managed to bring the No. 55 home in one piece for a fourth-place finish. Considering the carnage that happened around him, that was some very fine fortune indeed.
Regan Smith, once dreaming daily nightmares of a win lost at Talladega had himself a redemption weekend. He was awarded the victory in Saturday’s Nationwide race, based on that caution flag waving before notching a sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.
While Front Row Motorsports was claiming the win on Sunday, Leavine Family Racing scored their first top-10 finish when Scott Speed crossed the line ninth once the checkered flag was in the air. Small steps.
Aric Almirola turned in his fourth straight top-10 finish of the season by running 10th at Talladega on Sunday. No one else in Sprint Cup can match that current streak.
Austin Dillon deserves an honorable mention here, despite competing in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. He had a broken spark plug, lost a lap then spent 74 laps trying to regain it before a very late caution gave him one last chance. Before you could blink, he was leading the event, in the midst of a green-white-checkered finish and wound up with a surprise top 10 (10th).
Top 10 finishers by manufacturer at Talladega
Ford – 5
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson continues to lead the Cup Series standings, losing just two points to Carl Edwards, his closest pursuer. Thanks to Kasey Kahne’s early exit from the race on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. climbed one position back to third. Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski also gained one spot each, even though they all lost ground to Johnson. At this point, Edwards is the only driver who is within one race of the top spot, and that is just barely as he is 41 points behind JJ.
Further back, Kahne resides in sixth, barely ahead of Aric Almirola who made a four-spot gain on Sunday to jump into seventh in points. Paul Menard, even though he struggled with a sour powerplant Sunday that resulted in a 26th-place finish, gained two spots in his own right, to eighth. Kyle Busch caused the first Big One (at least, that’s what he said in his post-wreck interview) but returned to the track and put in enough laps to come home 37th. That leaves him hanging on to ninth. Greg Biffle was also turning laps in a wounded race car on Sunday, nursing it home to maintain a spot in the top 10 (just barely).
Matt Kenseth’s strong run gained him two more positions in the standings to 11th. He is one point behind Biffle for the top 10 and, based on the way he’s been running this season, it won’t take more than a race or two for him to be solidly inside the Chase. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin jumped back into the seat for the start of the Talladega race before giving it up to Brian Vickers. Unfortunately, the best laid plans went South quickly when the No. 11 was in the first Big One. When it was all said and done, Hamlin’s point total has him sitting in 31st position, 76 points behind Kurt Busch who holds down the last spot in the top 20. He has 16 races before the Chase cutoff, which means he needs to score five points more than the person in 20th for all of those races to get inside the cutoff. Assuming he wins a couple of events, possibly three to win the Wild Card, it shouldn’t be hard for him to gain the 76 points.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – While it was hardly 85 lead changes and three-wide all day, there was far more mixing it up at Talladega than many people thought there would be after the parade that was Daytona. Kenseth leading 142 laps put a bit of a damper on things, and a single-file parade out of the red flag was less than edge-of-the-seat competition. But average, at a plate race is nothing to sneeze at. We’ll give it three cans of Budweiser, this time around in honor of the folks in the infield at Talladega who posted pictures of Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana among the NASCAR celebs who shared time with the loyal fans on Saturday night.
Next Up — The series moves to one of the oldest speedways on the schedule in Darlington, South Carolina. The famous, egg-shaped oval that will leave just about all of the cars with a few layers of missing paint off their right side should provide some of the best racing of the season and, if history repeats itself, some frazzled emotions on pit lane. The race broadcast will be at 6:45 PM ET on Saturday night on FOX along with MRN radio.
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Another restrictor plate race another crapshoot ending. Lots of wrecked cars. Thankfully no one was hurt.
be interesting to see if ryan is fined, public or secret fine. i live west of atlanta and when the race was restarted, it was very overcast and the sun was setting. it was dark at my house when they finised. yes talladega is roughly an hour west of where i live and in central time zone, but without lights, and drizzle falling, ryan was right in his comments.
way too much engineering and money is spent on the plate tracks and way too many cars come home wrecked. it seems like g/w/c is normal for ending race at plate tracks, and that’s just a recipe for more wrecks and carnage.
How refreshing it was to hear Ryan Newman complain about how someone else ruined his day. I guess boss Tony Stewart was too busy trying to beat Jeff Burton and salvage a 27th place finish to do it himself this week. Someone should send another case of cheese to SHR to go with all that whine. Ryan, if you don’t like late-race restarts at restrictor plate tracks, you know where the entrance to the garage area is, right? Then you can safely watch the end of the race from the comfort of your motorcoach.
I believe it was Mark Knoffler who sang “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Kurt Busch was definitely the bug yesterday.
Brad Keselowski is my favorite driver but in this case he should have just kept his trap shut and moved on. One of his strengths has always been his ability to not get distracted by things that are out of his control.
According to Jayski, Martin Truex Jr. won the “Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race” award. I did not know that award existed.
The only way ‘dega is an “equalizer” is if the 48 is taken out early in the “big one”. Otherwise, what REAL difference does it make? Of course, if that DID happen, Nascar would just go on another fishing exhibition and find something to take away some points with whoever was “guilty”.
All that said, I’m very happy for Front Row.
And well said, Ryan. Hope you can pay the fines coming your way. Oh, and you may find yourself in trouble during the next inspection…just sayin’.
I took a nap during the rain delay and watched the last sixty laps only because I knew another “big one” was going to happen. The endings at these plate tracks is so predictable. It will take a driver dying before anything is done about it.
Under the topic Underdogs, on Sunday had their day, but where does it rank in the 21st Century?
How about David Regan’s win at Darlington in the 78 car? No one lucks into a win at Darlington!
i watched after the rain delay expecting a spectacle but hoping for some good racing. also found it interesting that hamlin wouldn’t talk about logano and even more so that he guaranteed another “WOAP” (my new term for wreck of apocalyptic proportions.) we keep joking but it really has become a lowest common denominator entertainment venue like professional wrestling hasn’t it? from the has been or wanna be national anthem performers tip of it’s nose to the manipulated body of it’s work all the way to the tip of it’s toes with a giant money grab at the core of it’s greedy heart.
that said, an underdog team did race their way to a win. even if it was at talladega. some how somewhere there’s still hope for legitimacy and real racing. i hope.
Laidback—It was Regan Smith (not “David Regan” aka David Ragan) who won in the 78 car at Darlington. That was a huge upset, however Furniture Row (78) is a little better funded and quite a bit more competitive (Kurt Busch is running that car in the Top 10 every week)than Front Row. To place two cars 1-2, when you only have 2 Top 5 finishes historically in over 400 starts is a big-time upset.
i keep waiting to read or hear that the winning car didn’t pass post-race tech. it was great seeing someone different win. for most of the race i thought it was either going to be kenseth or johnson.
RP tracks are not “equalizers”, they are simply crapshoot, lucky finishes. Certainly any track where luck is such a big part of the mix should not be included in the last 10 races to determine the championship.
Personally I think they are stupid and frightening to watch and I don’t watch racing for the wrecks. 90% of the race is boring, with 10% scary/exciting.
I was following the race via twitter, trackpass and the radio feed – in between working outside and in the house. If I have the TV on at all, it is with the sound muted and only to see the replays since more than likely Fox was in commercial during the live action.
I found out who won when I got home. No, I didn’t sit around to listen to DW/Mikey & the Fox Fools talk during the red flag. Congrats to the David’s, it was nice to have an underdog win.
Let’s see John Middlebrook overturn the Penske and Gibbs penalties.
THAT would be an equalizer.
I hope Nascar doesn’t find an illegal part that weighs about equal to two cotton balls in the Front Row Motorsports cars.
I really doubt they will since Front Row Motorsports poses no real challenge and it’s a nice feel-good story for them to win that “race”.
On the caution call at the end of the Nationwide race, that is always going to be a judgment call. Race Control has to make a split second decision based on what is happening. I think they should have let the leaders cross the line then throw the caution, but I was happy Regan Smith won. That is a “rock and a hard place” call.
Yes we all know a certain driver of the 55 was fortunate to get through all the wreckage. FOX talked about him non stop. I guess falling out of line and losing the draft is “a smart move” according to DW.
Nascar should consider themselves lucky. If Busch’s car didn’t land on Newmans he would have been doing barrel rolls down the track. I’m not a fan of Kurt’s but I’m glad that might not have had a happy ending. Funny how FOX glossed over that, instead choosing to use superlatives at the wreckage.
I don’t blame Newman at all for his comments, considering how many times he has been airborne, cars falling on him etc at plate tracks. Nascar loves all the carnage. It sells tickets. Too bad we have to put the drivers at risk for this kind of entertainment.
Correction to my previous post. Should have said:
I’m glad that DID NOT happen as that might not have had a happy ending.
can you imagine if they had actually NOT let that race run to completion? Then there would be twice as much whining. The fans and viewers got what the wanted, including me. fast speeds sometimes cause wrecks, sorry. and…CRAPSHOOT? really? who won Daytona? hardly a crapshoot there, who won TDEGA last year? another favorite. King Richard won the infamous Daytona 500 in 79 after another big wreck, I didnt hear all this noise then.
Same ol’ restrictor plate BS, with BS wrecks and a BS winner.
On the bright side, the Indycar race in Sau Paulo had was incredibly exciting and had a last-lap pass for the win. The right way.
I agree with Newman’s own. They haven’t put enuf brain sweat on keeping these cars down when going backwards. One thing is to angle that back/ TV panel out at the bottom to get downforce at the point of attack when turned around. That’ll also keep cars from touching, as the following car will be the one losing grip.
They could also make the spoiler a triangle shape to get downforce both ways.
They just ain’t thinking it though. Get that thing in the wind tunnel bolted in backwards and keep bendin’ stuff until the lift goes away.
When that first yellow flag for rain came out, you could almost hear the NASCAR control going, “OH SH*T!!”, when they realised that there were FOUR!, count them, FOUR!, Fords at the front, with the “un-chosen one” leading! They had to get that race restarted somehow, no matter what. I’m glad they did get it restarted, and to have it end with three Fords in the first three positions made this race worthy of five ice-cold Rickard’s Reds! But don’t worry NASCAR! Your chosen one, driving the chosen brand, did finish fifth! And Jaws-In-The-Booth was happy that his brother finished fourth. That part sucked!
By the way, for all you Stenhouse haters coming out of the woodwork, I suggest you go back and look at the replay of that second big one. Yeley went down, and when he did, Stenhouse got a run on him and began to pass him. Then, suddenly, when Stenhouse was like half-way passed his rear quarter panel, Yeley suddenly changed his mind and moved back up. Yeley put Stenhouse into the wall! I watched it on RaceHub tonight, and you could see clearly that Yeley started to move down and that opened up a large enough hole so Stenhouse could go for it to pass Yeley! Then, Yeley did a complete about-face and moved back up, crowding Stenhouse and forcing him into the wall. That was Yeley’s fault.
“ It will take a driver dying before anything is done about it”
Does the name Dale Earnhardt ring a bell?
Already happened, still no changes.
John, I saw that Sao Paulo race too…it was great, and definitely better than the “single file until the big one” Talladega racing we’ve seen in every event for the last five years.
I watched the tail end of Talladega, the first race I’ve watched all year. Same old.
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