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 – Qualifying was rained out which put Jimmie Johnson on the pole for the Party in the Poconos 400. The rest, as they say, is history.
In a Nutshell – Jimmie Johnson led early, Jimmie Johnson led in the middle, Jimmie Johnson led late. That’s all she wrote.
There were a myriad of caution flags in the last 34 laps that presented several restarts; any of them could have caught Johnson out. But there was no jumping the gun this time, one week after a Dover penalty killed Johnson’s chances. His 63rd career victory was also his first at Pocono since he swept both races there in 2004.
Dramatic Moment – At one point, Ryan Newman was on an alternate pit strategy that could have resulted in him possibly outlasting Johnson to the finish, assuming a meteor hit the track, the cars suddenly ran on solar power and a dark cloud descended over just Johnson’s car. Other than that, there wasn’t any drama in the entire race.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Love it or hate it, the Chase is the only thing that can make this year’s title race anything but a blowout. Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are on a completely different level from the rest of the competition right now. Certainly, they have had a couple of off races but they’re 51 points ahead of second place and looking to rack up as many bonus points as they can before the Chase starts.
AJ Allmendinger is going to be in the No. 47 next week to help them evaluate where their race program is lacking. Apparently Jeremy Mayfield, Tyler Walker and AJ Fike weren’t available to do a more thorough team health analysis? It would seem smarter for JTG Daugherty to pick someone like Elliott Sadler or Brian Vickers, who have actually won a race in the Cup series versus someone who’s most famous for taking Adderall in a nightclub in Kentucky. While Allmendinger has five top 5s in his 178 career starts, Sadler has three wins, 19 top 5s, and the experience of 431 Cup starts. Vickers has two wins and 24 top 5s in 268 Cup starts. There are a lot of reasons smaller teams struggle, and bad decisions by management can certainly be a big one.
After the win by Tony Stewart at Dover, people were questioning if Stewart-Haas Racing was turning the corner and heading in the right direction or if it was just a one-hit wonder. Quick answer: they’re gaining momentum. Stewart landed another top-5 finish, just ahead of his teammate Ryan Newman, who finished fifth for his second top 5 of the season. The road ahead is still a long and arduous one for the top two drivers at SHR to make the Chase. However, consistent top 5s could certainly lead to wins and at least a Wild Card in the Chase, if not a top-10 points finish in the “regular season”.
After Fontana in March, the mood over the new race car was upbeat and optimistic. A track that was notorious for hosting some less than exciting races had put on one of the best competitions the Cup Series had seen in a long time. Since then, though the bloom has come off of the rose and Sunday was the epitome of single-file, follow the leader racing. There were three on-track passes for the lead, all of which were Jimmie Johnson blowing by someone to regain his rightful place at the point. Drivers, after the race acknowledged that there was no way to make up ground once the cars stretched out after just a few laps of racing. It’s a damning statement, one that does not bode well for the Gen-6 car. The car is unquestionably faster than the older one but, similar to racing well at a short track, sometimes you have to slow down to put on a better show. If NASCAR could slow these cars down by 15-20 mph, the competition on-track would be far better than it is now.
Chase Elliott won the ARCA race at Pocono to become the youngest winner in the history of the historic sanctioning body’s life. While the feat is impressive, it is worth noting that Elliott was in a Hendrick-backed car with Cup support behind it against a less than stellar field of competition. There’s no question that the apple has not fallen far from the tree, though and Elliott has driving talent. It will be interesting to see how he progresses when he gets into the upper divisions of NASCAR against equipment and talent that are similar.
Another legacy driver who rose to the occasion this past weekend was Jeb Burton. The son of Ward Burton and nephew of Jeff, the 20-year-old from Halifax, Virginia scored the first win of his career in the Camping World Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
While Jimmie Johnson was completely dominating the Party in the Poconos, Kasey Kahne was hitting the Oh No on the Allegheny Plateau. Kahne hadn’t even taken the green flag when he radioed Kenny Francis to tell him something fell off the car, causing a violent vibration. Kahne didn’t really come up to speed and was in the garage by his second lap, replacing his drivetrain. In the end, he came home with a 36th-place finish after logging laps for the majority of the day 21 laps down to his teammate.
Paul Menard was on his way to a finish around 15th that would have kept him in the top 10 for another week. Instead, on the final lap, he lost a tire and dropped back to a 30th-place result. While he’s still in the top 12, he needs to step up and grab a win or two to put himself solidly back in the top 10… or he’ll be on the outside looking in at the Chase.
Matt Kenseth ran in the top six for the first 134 laps of the race before he found himself on the outside of Juan Pablo Montoya in the Tunnel Turn. A slip by the No. 42 and some minor contact on the left rear quarterpanel dropped Kenseth from fifth to 26th. When the checkered flag flew, Kenseth had only gained one spot over the final 20 laps to wrangle a 25th-place finish.
Kenseth’s former Roush Fenway teammate Carl Edwards started strong, only to end with a whimper. Edwards was second on the grid, thanks to his point position and actually passed Jimmie Johnson on the first lap to lead the first nine laps of the race. He stayed in the second spot for 60 laps before beginning a gradual slide that took him to ninth by lap 110. In the end, Edwards crossed the line in 18th.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Ryan Newman tried a different pit strategy on Sunday and fortunately, the end result was he caught the caution flag just right that left him at the front of the pack and resulted in a top-5 finish. Having not scored a top 5 since Daytona, this was a very uplifting result for the No. 39 team.
Greg Biffle was a middle of the pack driver for 80% of Sunday’s race but, when it came time to pay the money, Biffle was at the front. The rapid fire restarts at the end of the race allowed for him to move from seventh to fifth to second. While the drought wasn’t quite as long as Newman’s, this was still the second top 5 of the year for Biffle and his first since race seven in Texas.
Kurt Busch left Dover quite disappointed after vying for the win before coming home in 12th place. He made up for that quickly this week as one of the few drivers who was able to make a significant move forward early. Busch started 20th, but was in eighth by lap 20. He then spent the remainder of the race in that general vicinity, taking the checkered flag in seventh and gaining two spots in the standings to 15th.
There was a group of drivers who all made a substantial move to the front, primarily in the late stages of the race that started in the 20s. Joey Logano started 21st and finished 10th. Jeff Burton started 24th and finished 11th. Jamie McMurray started 22nd and ended up 13th while Montoya started 25th and wound up 14th. Had to give each of these drivers a little love for making the move from the 20s to the teens.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson’s victory, combined with Carl Edwards finishing 18th, gives him a 51 point lead heading into Michigan. Johnson can now take an entire weekend of racing off and still not lose the points lead. Without the Chase, this point race would be looking like a walkover. Edwards hangs onto second, by 18 over Clint Bowyer. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s podium finish at Pocono moved him up two spots in the points to fourth, five ahead of Kevin Harvick, who caps off the top 5. Bowyer and Earnhardt are both in the top 5 without the benefit of a win.
At the head of the second half of the top 10 is Matt Kenseth. While he is tied for the lead in wins, he’s got three DNFs which slots him in 103 points out of the top spot. Kyle Busch is six points behind Kenseth after coming home sixth at Pocono. In eighth place is Kasey Kahne, whose disastrous 36th-place run at Pocono only cost him one spot in the standings. Next, Brad Keselowski led a couple of times in Sunday’s race but wound up 16th when the checkered flag flew. The defending champ finds himself ninth in points with no wins in the bank yet this year. Rounding out the top 10 is Greg Biffle on the strength of his second-place run. Biffle gained three spots on Sunday thanks to that finish. Right now, Tony Stewart is the only driver outside of the top 10 with a win. He’s got a lock on the first Wild Card spot for the Chase right now. Jeff Gordon would have the second since he is 11th in points.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – The only thing missing at Pocono on Sunday that you’ll see in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the giant balloons. The passes on track that occurred beyond three laps from a start or restart could be counted on a couple of hands and feet. Fortunately, there were five caution flags in the last 34 laps so that the restarts afforded some contrived excitement. The fact that there were Ambien commercials during this race was ironic; it was a sleep-inducing affair rating a single, warm, moldy can of Schmidt. Not sure what it will take the make this better but slowing these cars down would go a long way.
Next Up — The series heads to the Irish Hills of Michigan for another barn burner at Michigan International Speedway. Even though Fontana afforded the most exciting race of the season to date, its sister track in Brooklyn isn’t going to be able to duplicate it thanks to the recent repave. The fresh surface is going to keep everyone pinned to the bottom for the entire event with minimal passing for the lead. Turn your tubes to TNT at 1:00 PM on Sunday or set your radio on your local MRN affiliate at the same time.
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I have reached the same conclusion – The Gen 6 car has not lived up to any of NASCAR’s promises with regards to improved racing. I know Pocono usually isn’t the most interesting race to watch but there were always some cars that could move forward. This year it seemed like no one was passing once the restarts got sorted out.
My friends who aren’t race fans ask me “How can you watch cars going around in circles?” I tell them it’s much more than that. It’s about strategy, daring moves, mental toughness, physical endurance, and a combination of horsepower and finesse.
Yesterday it was about cars going around in circles.
this race doesn’t even deserve a “beer can rating”. what i saw of it, and that was minimal, was ridiculous. i remembered to turn it back on around 4 pm. i wonder what the booth did for 3 hrs on sunday afternoon? one thing that caught my attention was the same thing that always does…number of empty seats.
the only drama i remember about this race is hearing on raceday that the 2 and 24 had issues getting through tech inspection on sunday am.
i do have my fingers crossed that i’ll see this morning that the 48 failed post-race, but i know that’s just a pipe dream!
When will Nascar understand that fans can’t tell if cars are running 200 miles an hour or 150 miles an hour? What we CAN tell is that cars not passing each other on track makes for a snooze fest.
So I get home from a fantastic morning of golf and turn on the “race” to see what’s going on and see the 48 out front with Larry Mac talking and I ask myself….
“What’s new here?”
“How’s this different from Fox?”
Then I laugh and turn off the TV and spent a beautiful afternoon with the family.
Yesterday’s snooze fest was due to crew chiefs demanding that the drivers conserve gas as early as lap 70.
It was not long ago that everyone demanded this race shrink from 500 to 400 miles. What we saw yesterday was the law of unintended consequences.
Only 53 more wins to catch David Pearson. Shouldn’t be a problem as long as Brian is in charge. The 48 must be legal since it passed inspection. It doesn’t matter that he is faster than anybody else when he has to be.
Elliot Sadler to help JTG? your kidding right? even if Elliot had the talent, I imagine his present ride needs to come first.
The race may have been a stinker – but at least I didn’t have to listen to Mike Joy !!!
There are two things that can fix Cup racing. You must slow down corner speeds and you must have tire wear (on a safe tire), the leads to speeds falling off over a long run.
While other teams get penalized for various infractions, Jimmie and Chad just go their merry way which is faster then anybody else. It’s as if the dorks at Daytona are dead set on giving another title to JJ. I was busy most of the day, but when I did check on the race JJ was leading. After encountering this three times, I just turned it off. Watching paint dry would be more exciting then watching manipulation at it’s finest (sic). I gave this race a zero. As a 30 year fan of the sport, I’m pretty much had enough. The only races that will peak my interest will be the road course races.
The best thing about yesterday’s race? No Waltrips in the booth screaming, cheerleading, and shilling for the Toyota and Hendrick bunch. Other than that it was pretty much a snooze-a-thon until the last 15 laps.
The COT II hasn’t lived up to the hype (nothing new there) and is just another marketing gimmick like Princess Sparkle Pony and Dale Jr. Maybe if they ran actual stock cars (it can be done) instead of purpose-built spec cars we might see some real racing.
Funny you should mention road courses. I used to HATE them and now they are about the only races I like to watch. The chase has killed Bristol and Richmond for me.
Of course, on road courses, it’s easier to get away with those “debris cautions”.
It’s the tires!!!!!!
California was great because of a softer compound in the tires, forcing drivers to slow down to limit tire wear and forcing crew chiefs to use diferent strategies to position their drivers best late in the race. I know people are concerned about safety, but I think that if you line every damn wall with a soft wall and trust the drivers to not be stupid, a softer tire can revive the sport. Stop listening to whiney baby drivers who want a hard tire!
All that needs to be said is BORING!
Whats the difference between every car running 200 MPH or every car running 150 MPH? If they cant pass up front, they cant pass. But you even mentioned a group of drivers who started in the 20’s and moved up to top 15 finishes. They were able to pass.
Best thing about the race was … no Waltrips. Another complete yawner. JJ led 128 laps … vomit. Glad I finished painting my daughter’s room. Carl D. you are right except they weren’t going around in circles … they were limping around a triangle. What a joke.
Put the dam wicker bill on across the roof again! That creates a big hole for the 2nd place car.
Incredibly boring race. Cars riding around in circles indeed. I did what many others did from the sound of it. Enjoyed the fact there were NO Waltrips yakking away – even though Larry Mac was there and since it was a stellar day, I spent it mostly outside with trips inside to see if anything had changed? One trip an hour told me whatever I needed to know.
Really no reason to watch the races any more. Maybe when the chase starts but maybe not then either.
I noticed that Harvick was running up front and then got shuffeled back during a pit sequence and never could get back up front. Newman had the opposite happen.
Last week at Dover I noticed a similar thing. Montoya and Gordon stayed out and had no trouble staying in the top 5 when earlier in the race they were mired back in traffic.
The only point I am making is that it seems like track position is too important. This is what you would expect with a kit car with high aero dependence where everyone is running the same speed.
There were reports of #48 being too light during post race inspection and then all os a sudden it was ok. Did someone fail to notice who’s car was sitting on the scale for a moment? I am sure they appologised to Mr. Hendricks after. Before anybody says it was just a little under remember the connecting rod that was les than a gram under.
bruce – are you serious? he was a little light? if it was the 2 group they’d be crucified again.
Make up for last week’s black flag.
Being a fan of the 42, I followed his progress on nascar.com. He went from 25th to about 15th on the opening green flag run, so there were passes under the long green. TNT just chose to show commercials instead of racing. That being said, Ryan Newman’s strategy was about the only interesting thing that went on at Pocono. Amazingly the race was still more entertaining that IndyCar’s the night before.
Yuppers, about the 48 car. We figured if it was a Penske car on the scale, they would have been arrested on the spot. Nascar has created this perception of bias rightly or wrongly. That is part of what the problem is with Nascar and fan frustration. But given they haven’t done anything about it, its safe to say they don’t give a darn.
Pocono sucked, but that doesn’t undo the good races the Gen6 car has created this year. It’s now apparent that those good races were often the result of the better tires that can be run on the lighter Gen6; the car is as aero-dependent as ever. Still, the racing HAS been better this year than last, and there were far more snoozers by this point last year than there have been in 2013.
The Pocono race track is not the problem. The problem is the crap cars, the crap tires, and all of the aerodynamic bullcrap!!!! A July 1979 Pocono race had 56 lead changes, and a June 1980 Pocono event had 49 lead changes. That was because NASCAR raced REAL stock cars with bias-ply tires, and there was no such thing as aerodynamics. You bring those back, and eliminate the aero, and the racing will improve by leaps and bounds.
See, I’m of the belief that if Johnson wasn’t in the race it would have actually been pretty good (as would a lot of races since about 2004). Just out of curiosity, if you slow the speeds down how do you know we just won’t get a slower version of what we have now? If it’s going to be follow the leader, I’d rather them go faster so it won’t last as long.
And I am of the belief that if Johnson hadn’t of been in the race someone else would have gotten out front and run away from the field.
NASCAR is stupid, plain and simple. They don’t change the fundamental elements of the car like the super-sensitive splitter or the rock hard tires and expect racing to get better just because the car is prettier? BRING MECHANICAL GRIP BACK, I’M TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT AERO, AERO, AERO ALL THE DAMN TIME.
Bill B. that may be true of other races, but in this case Johnson was just dominant. He caught Ryan Newman twice and got around him. This wasn’t an aero-push race, this was a Jimmie Johnson kicked everyone’s ass race. Sometimes guys are just gonna dominate and it’s not gonna be aero push.
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