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 – Kasey Kahne stayed out on older tires when the caution flew on lap 384. Everyone else on the lead lap pitted and took either two or four. As a result, Kevin Harvick started alongside Kahne and got the jump on the restart. From that point on, it was just a matter of counting down the laps.
In a Nutshell – The overhead camera control rope broke, damaging cars, injuring fans and resulting in a red flag. The first three hundred laps saw five cautions. The last 100 laps saw six. Dominant cars early were wrecked, blew up, or got caught out by pit strategy. Mr. Where Did He Come From found the ol’ magic again and won the race by leading the last 11 laps. Can you say bizarre?
Dramatic Moment – After having the dominant car early in the race, even after receiving extensive damage from the camera rope, Kyle Busch saw another Charlotte Cup race go up in smoke as his engine expired. On the same lap, Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s engine gave up the ghost which resulted in Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil all receiving damage in the incident.
There were several other hair-raising moments in the last 100 laps, in particular when a multi-car wreck wiped out Mark Martin, Aric Almirola, Jeff Gordon and damaged several other cars. But this race will be known as the one with the rope, where falling debris from FOX’s camera cable was lucky not to injure fans more seriously.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
The CamCat broke – Apparently, that is the name of the aerial camera contraption that is hung from a couple of boom cranes and spans the length of the front straight. The rope that moves the camera from one end to the other snapped near Turn 1 and fell to the front straight, causing chaos. Kyle Busch and Marcos Ambrose both received damage from the rope, while it took NASCAR a good 30 seconds to figure out what was going on and then throw the caution flag. Once the dust cleared, those cars were hurting, along with ten fans who received various minor injuries. Seven were treated at the race track and released, while the other three fans were transported to a local hospital. As the evening wound down, the assembled press was informed that all three fans were treated and released.
It’s clearly one of the most bizarre incidents we’ve seen, ever and FOX has no reason yet for the collapse. The cabling was used before, including this year’s Daytona 500 but there’s certainly concern anytime that type of equipment breaks on the racetrack. The usage of those types of cameras, with rope hanging overhead has been suspended pending a full investigation of what went wrong. On the flip side, kudos to NASCAR for not only throwing a red flag but allowing those cars with damage to repair themselves. It reeks of inconsistency, yes but it was also the right thing to do when things fall out of the sky and on top of race cars on the speedway.
12 drivers led the race 24 times – While there were only four on-track passes for the lead, there was a lot of leading by a handful of drivers. Kasey Kahne was the dominant car in hindsight, out in front eight different times for 161 laps. Matt Kenseth led three times for 112 before his night went sour. Kyle Busch was in first place twice for 65 laps prior to his powerplant self-destructing, while Kevin Harvick led three times for 28 laps. The other eight drivers led nine times for a total of 34 laps.
The night was full of misfortune for many of the drivers who looked like potential winners. We already spoke to Kyle Busch blowing up and interacting with the power rope for the aerial camera. Marcos Ambrose also wound up with a wad of rope under his car. He finished the race in 10th position, but it is hard to say where he might have been without the rope shenanigans. Kenseth and Jeff Gordon got caught out by a caution flag that stuck them back in the pack. They both ended up receiving damage in separate incidents on laps 334 and 326, respectively. Jimmie Johnson was far from the dominant car he was during the All-Star Race, but he was getting better before causing a melee in Turn 4 on lap 334. His misfortune not only took out his hopes and Kenseth’s but also Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Menard and Tony Stewart.
Mark Martin wrecked a whole bunch of cars on lap 326. In a typical sign of the times, the intensity picked up during the last 100 laps and on the restart on lap 324, drivers were going for all they could get. As the field came through the quad-oval on lap 326, Aric Almirola looked under Martin and was almost past him. Martin turned left into Almirola’s right rear and turned him straight to the outside. Almirola immediately collected Jeff Gordon before the sliding, spinning and sparking led to four other cars being involved. Martin claims he was squeezed but, since Charlotte has lines painted on the track, it is pretty easy to see that Mr. Martin has a revisionist view on the whole event.
There were 36 infractions during the race, along with three prior to the event. Two engine changes and a transmission change sent the cars of Danica Patrick, Trevor Bayne and Joe Nemechek to the back of the pack. As the race began, it looked like a typical event with a few speeding penalties and the usual cars pitting too soon and heading to the garage. Then, lap 308 hit. Over the final 92 laps, there were 25 NASCAR violations. A ton of them were for pitting before the pits were open, while several more were for too many crew members in contact with the car. The full gambit of penalties were used; heck, there was even one for running the stop and go paddle. You know when there’s that much red ink on the paper that you’ve had an eventful show…
Kasey Kahne was good all day and night. The 600 is usually the tale of two races. The cars that are good early lose it when the transition to night occurs and don’t make it back until the very end if at all. Well, Kasey Kahne not only led at lap 100 but also lap 300. He was clearly the car to beat until Harvick stole it away.
This race resembled an old school Cup race more than most in the last 10 years. If you finished on the lead lap, you were guaranteed a 13th-place finish. No one ended up one lap down. Two laps down put you in the top 15. Three laps down had you in the top 18 and four laps down all but assured you a top 20. The carnage over the last 100 laps of the event was more reminiscent of a short track than a mile-and-a-half speedway.
Kevin Harvick has to be second guessing his decision to move to Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season. Harvick just notched his second points win of the season while Stewart-Haas has been running, to quote a fellow media member, like a “bag of ass.” Everyone involved in the mix is saying all the right things, but it has to be disconcerting to Harvick looking over the fence at his future home and seeing the futility they’ve been showing. To be fair, however, Sunday night Ryan Newman finished sixth and led the race while his boss Tony Stewart ran one spot behind.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Kyle Busch looked to be a major player in his pursuit of his first win at Charlotte in the Cup Series before his engine folded its cards on lap 257. That sent him heading to the house well before most everyone else at the track did.
Travis Kvapil was certainly not going to win the race, but he was soldiering along to an OK finish before unceremoniously getting taken out of the event when Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s engine let go. Greg Biffle also suffered from a weird series of events that saw two top teams (JGR and Hendrick) see engines fail at nearly the exact same time.
Brad Keselowski’s night was hardly going according to plan, but the defending champion was making strides when he was taken out on lap 317 by Danica Patrick. Keselowski was above Patrick when she broke loose and had to chase her car up the hill. As a result, she collected the defending champ, killed his racecar and his hopes for a win.
Jeff Gordon got caught out by a caution, was stuck back in traffic with all sorts of insanity going on around him, and eventually was caught up in someone else’s mess. Not exactly what the former 600 winner had in mind considering he’s fighting for a spot inside the top 10 in points.
Danica Patrick had a long day. She started 24th, quickly fell back into the mid-30s, clawed her way back to the upper 20s, nearly led on a round of green flag pit stops, and then wrecked the 2012 champion Brad Keselowski. From there, things got worse as the crew was trying to fix her car to send her back into the fray. Every lap they sent her around, she would blow a right front tire in a series of embarrassing moments. When the checkered flag waved, she was 15 laps down in 29th place.
Joe Nemechek, who isn’t racing for points and just does it because he loves it was trying to run the full distance but couldn’t. An electrical problem relegated him to a 41st-place finish, completing just over half of the 400 laps scheduled.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
You may be wondering why we didn’t list Marcos Ambrose in the bad luck section of the column. The simple fact is, he ended up with a top 10. There is no way to know for sure where he would have ended up without the misfortune that happened with the aerial camera. However, the Australian still dueled his way back from one of the most bizarre incidents we’ve ever seen.
In another “glass half full” moment, Kurt Busch lost a battery under the last red flag. While most people might find that horrible, the fact is he was able to fix all of it under caution and fight his way back to the front. The problem may have cost him a win, but he still finished on the lead lap, in third place and proved once again why he is still one of the best drivers in the series.
Kevin Harvick didn’t have the car to win when the caution flew on lap 385. Fortunately for him, when coming down pit lane to take on two tires, everyone who was behind him did as well. When the dust had settled from the pit stops, he found himself on the front row for the restart and just had to beat Kasey Kahne with four older tires. The rest, as they say, is history.
Chevrolet – 5
What’s the Points?
Despite a disappointing finish of 22nd, Jimmie Johnson still holds the point lead over Carl Edwards by 32. Edwards is still the only driver within one race of the leader. Matt Kenseth, who could have gained a bunch of points actually gained just eight and is now just 51 out of the top spot. Clint Bowyer is still doing Yeoman’s work in staving off the Runner-up jinx, sitting in fourth just 60 points off of the lead. Kasey Kahne rode another strong finish to a one-spot gain in the points while his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped two spots to be left in sixth.
Kevin Harvick scored the win and with it moved up three positions in the standings. He is now a solid seventh. Paul Menard came home 13th in the race, despite crash damage but that was good enough to move him up three spots in the rankings to eighth. In the ninth spot is Martin Truex, Jr. who was the big gainer of the evening, adding five spots to his tally. Rounding out the top 10 is your 2012 defending champion Brad Keselowski. He has a lot of work ahead of him so I don’t have to find anything.
Overall rating (On a scale of 1-6, where one is a stinker and six is the finest of brews and a instant classic.) — This race started out like the usual ho-hum Saturday morning. But while the early stages made you feel like another intermediate debacle was at hand, the ending pulled out a bit of a surprise. As the final 100 laps unfolded, Mr. Where Did He Come From pulled his usual stunt and swept to the lead on the final restart. From there, it was just a matter of driving smart. In the long run, that saved Harvick, who had something in the tank for the guys who were up front all day while they came to pit. So, with the strangeness of this race overall I’m going to give it three cans. Was it the most competitive we’ve ever seen? Absolutely not. But a lot of stuff just “happened.” We’ll leave it at that.
The series moves off to Dover, the one-mile, high-banked concrete track which is named the Monster Mile for a reason. We will see some cars devoured and others killed by their owners. In the end, it should be a great show and don’t be too surprised if Jimmie Johnson runs away with the show this time. Coverage starts at 1:00 PM on Sunday on Fox Sports and MRN.
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What a Danica hater you must be!! Saying that she got loose up the track and took Keselowski out!! It was very evident that she got “loose” because she got hit in the side by boyfriend Stenhouse!! Even Keselowski didn’t blame her for it!! Maybe time for Mark Martin to have his eyesight checked also, as it was very evident that Amirola was past him when he turned left into his rear quarterpanel. Maybe you and Martin can get a two for deal at the eye doctor’s office !!
What race did Ken Smith watch? Stenhouse never touched Danica. Danica moved up, Brad came down. They wrecked. As for Martin, he arced it down through the quad oval and hit Almirola. Martin had at least a car width of room to work with on his outside. He didn’t use it.
you know, when they showed hammond on top of that camera during end of pre-race show, wonder if that had any impact on the cable issue.
race was on, i fell asleep when kenseth was leading and before jr’s engine blew or the wrecks. was surprised to see harvick won, and i too, wonder what kevin is thinking about shr. they’re struggling cause of 3 cars, and i think i read an interview where zipadelli said the 3rd team caught them short as they weren’t prepared for that this year. i can’t see stewart taking kevin’s criticism as gallantly as rcr has done so over the years.
loved end of indy race. wonderful seeing tk win and vassar as his owner and his buddies there (alex z and max papas) cheering him on.
I wonder what Jeff Gordon had to say about NASCAR allowing the cars to be fixed, after they denied him the chance to repair his car after the concrete came loose at Martinsville a few years back?
How many “debris” cautions does it take to get Danica back on the lead lap?
How many laps does it take for Danica to get back down a lap?
As Johnson was spinning in the grass I was thinking he was going to cause another accident and get away with it, so I was hoping for someone to hit his car. Thank you Montoya. You’re back in my good book.
I hope Danicky stays together until the banquet. One of them will hold the Rookie of the Year trophy while the other one drives them home. I bet Brian has the trophy ready now with her name on it.
I will wager that “The Truth” also believed Mike Joy when he said the stands were full !!
There is a huge difference between the Martinsville racetrack incident and the overhead camera problem. The racetrack was a result of erosion due to racing as well as time, weather, upkeep by track employees, and the stress added by the race going on at the time. The camera incident was due to an outside organization with no real connection to the track and controlled by those other than track employees. Apples and oranges.
ken smith – i laughed when i heard mike joy say that. 120,000 people when back stretch was empty. and infield camp grounds full maybe cause the track offered all kinds of discounts to get people there.
Weaning myself after 40 years as a fan. Watched till the camera debacle, turned over to baseball, only to hear John Kruck in the booth… Decided I’d rather read a good book than listen to Kruck and Waltrips all night so I flipped off the TV and flipped on the Nook to read a John Sandford novel.
Good decision by me as I didn’t miss a thing apparently.
After watching nascar races for 30 years, I’ve had enough. I didn’t watch the charlotte race. And it used to be one of my favorites. You’ve done it, Mr. France. In my case apathy has settled in.
After watching the Indy 500, watching NASCAR was about as exciting as watching paint dry.
if you look at he 3 cars behind Sten/Pat/Kes, the middle car had enough sense to back off rather than push going through the middle.
Little Ricky did get the run up on his little lady..lol. He seems to be doing that alot, Ricky and the media must have a super secret pact cause nobody ever mentions it. Old Jaws did last night, maybe hoping to pave the way for himself by causing trouble..hehehe. Mark Martin is getting predictable in placing blame or playing dumb as to how these wrecks happen around him. Martin Truex, yet no win. Kevin Harvick gets super lucky…again…sigh.
the indy 500 was awesome… racing and passing and non manufactured drama. the charlotte soda pop 600 or whatever the hell it was.. was well, the “fiber” (for god sake it was a nylon ROPE) braking and another mark martin senior moment was about the most exiting part. yes exiting.
p.s. it seems nascar races are more dangerous for the fans than the drivers these days… who woulda thought?
GREAT comment, BD ; “non manufactured drama.” that just about sums it up.
The fake debris cautions need to end. I can’t take them anymore.
Seems you are making the rules up as you go along just like NASCAR.
Thanks for props to KuBusch, Matt…I don’t know why I like that odd little dude, just do. Hope he wins one this year.
As for allowing work on the damaged cars after the cable incident, it was the right and fair call. Not the same case at all, but I recall a few years back an ESPN camera caught Harvick’s car on fire…it was too heavily damaged to continue.
Only one thing to look forward to, One more race with the Waltrips, the buffoonery, cornpone antics, boogity,schilling, lack of objectivity,bragging, hugely self centered approach. I know I missed many of their faults, but time is limited so I’ll mention just a few. Worst broadcasters in any arena, an HUGE embarrassment to racing in general!! I hope I made my feelings clear enought! Most fan that I know feel the same way.
Earlier in the article you mentioned Danica had to go to the rear to start the race.
In your typical “Bash Danica” section of the article, you mentioned she started 24th and dropped back? Did you do that for effect or did you not get your facts straight? Either way, it just shows your hatred towards Danica. And by the way, Kes took the blame for the incident, but nice try.
Looks like Indy once again trumps Nascar. Hope everyone had a good nap after the 500 Sunday.
I hope Brian France watched the Indy 500.
the Indy 500 has my vote. I saw an article by one of the guest writers for the Frontstretch who was bitching about it ending under caution and therefore it wasn’t “exciting” enough. Oh gee, forget about all those passes under green and overall a good race. If we can’t “manufacture” an exciting finish with multiple GWC attempts and a crashfest at the end, well, it’s not a good ending from NASCAR’s point of view. Funny thing – when the racing WAS the reason to watch, GWC’s weren’t needed.
I applaud Indycar’s choice to NOT have them restart again with 2 to go!
I’m with Bill on the red flag deal – I was at the martinsville race. He had the dominant car when the track came apart. That defect was squarely on the track AND NASCAR. It wasn’t a wreck, the track failed and Gordon should have been allowed to work on his car and restart the race in position.
It would appear that Mr. Neff wrote his article by simply reading the AP or something. Whether you like Danica or not you at least have to make a fair assessment. To say she “started 24th and quickly fell back” is not accurate. Due to the engine change she started at the back and worked her way up to 24th….
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