NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Key Moment – After being dominated for the majority of the race by Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and the No. 20 team took a gamble on what turned out to be the final pitstop, choosing fuel only and beating Johnson out of the pits. Kenseth never lost the lead for the remaining 23 laps.
In a Nutshell – Jimmie Johnson came, saw, kicked butt and then stepped on it when he needed to rise the most. Johnson led 182 laps and was clearly the car to beat for the vast majority of the day but on a late race restart he lost focus and ended up sideways in turn two. As a result, Matt Kenseth again went to victory lane on a mile-and-a-half track this season, the third time in four such races.
Dramatic Moment – The next to last restart of the day, Matt Kenseth had lane choice as the leader so he took the outside and brought the field to the restart box at a conservative 54 mph. When he got on the gas, Johnson didn’t get up to speed as quickly, found himself surrounded by competitors’ cars and ended up taking a slide for life from the middle of turn one to the end of turn two before ending up parked on the apron, watching the field stream by and his hopes for a victory fluttering away.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week
If NASCAR feels the need to call a competition caution, shouldn’t everyone take off all four tires to see how they’re wearing? If the teams don’t give a rat’s about checking all four tires, why are we stopping the race for no reason in the first place?
Jimmie Johnson is a five-time champion and has, for the vast majority of his dominating career, silently gone about his business while those around him have whined and complained about everything under the sun to try and catch up to the No. 48 team. Interestingly, this year, restarts seem to have gotten under the skin of the once unshakable driver and it again cost him a race win yesterday. Johnson is probably going to be whining again this week about restart shenanigans when all he needs to do is focus on handling them better.
Kurt Busch is a former champion who is doing some great things with Furniture Row Racing. Unfortunately he occasionally forgets to use his formidable IQ and does things like he did on Sunday. Driving on the apron to attempt something, not sure if it was a pass, a stunt or just to avoid running into the back of the No. 2, Busch bounced over the drain near the entrance to turn one, moved up the track more than expected and hit the left rear of Brad Keselowski. As a result, Keselowski slid down into the infield and then back up across the track, collecting Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil in the process. A couple other cars had damage from the incident as well, including Paul Menard, whose day was much longer thanks to Busch’s lack of foresight. Racing is a sport completely engulfed in split second decisions, and second guessing them is not for those who’ve never been in the seat of a car, but that certainly was not one of the better choices the elder Busch brother has made in his career.
For those hard core Denny Hamlin / FedEx fans out there, it is over. Hamlin cut a tire early in the event, managed to get back on the lead lap immediately after doing that, and was in contention for a high finish when his right front tire blew and he hit the outside wall hard in turn four just before halfway. The resulting 35th-place finish has Hamlin now 25th in points, 104 out of 20th with nine races to go to the Chase. He is not going to win two or three races and make up nearly 12 points per race on the 20th place car. It would be different if they were finishing in the top two or three every week, but they aren’t. It is time to look to next season, and if that involves Hamlin going under the knife, then the sooner, the better, so he is back at the top of his game next season.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. did win his first pole in a little while this weekend and looked pretty racy at the beginning of the race, but the bad luck bug bit him on the butt again. Hamlin was driving on the access road with his first cut tire of the day when the carcass came off and rolled onto the track directly in front of Earnhardt, who was leading the race. The carcass bounced off of the front of Earnhardt’s car before heading toward teammate Jimmie Johnson’s. As a result, Johnson’s car seemed to get a little faster while the handling on Earnhardt’s car went south. Earnhardt’s team persevered and got him a 12th-place finish, which actually moved him up a spot in the points. It still has to be frustrating for Earnhardt to be running in cars that are competing near the front of the pack now but seeming to constantly have bad luck.
Bobby Labonte was not in the starting lineup on Sunday for the first time since 1993, a span of 704 consecutive races that he’d been behind the wheel of a Cup car. While it is sad to see the career of such a true gentleman and former champion come to an end, it would appear as though that is what is happening at JTG for Labonte. It would be great to see another team pick him up for next season but the odds are that, after a few more starts for JTG Daugherty, he’s going to be hanging up the helmet for the last time. He’ll still be involved in racing for sure, considering he runs a quarter midget track in North Carolina, but we probably won’t be seeing him around the garage for any considerable time in the future. Hate to see him go, he’s a class act.
While Sunday’s race was rescheduled from the night before, it still took place on a Sunday afternoon and at a time when the weather was looking rather nice. To say the stands were less than Standing Room Only would be generous. When you can see the bold stripe pattern through three quarters of the grandstands, there are a lot of empty seats. People harp on the attendance at a lot of tracks but they better be chiming in on this one in particular. This is the third Cup race that has been contested at Kentucky Speedway and the crowd was far from impressive. Sure they had some traffic issues the first year but don’t try and lay that load of malarkey on people not coming back. This track is very close to three major metropolitan areas and there should be fans hanging on the fence for at least the first 10 years of events there. It is embarrassing to say the least that the fan base in the Kentucky area turned out in so little numbers this weekend.
Speaking of little numbers, did anyone happen to notice the payout for first place at the Cup race this weekend? Just over $200,000. This is a mile-and-a-half track that is within a couple of hours of Cincinnati, Lexington and Louisville and the best you can do for the top prize is $200,000? People rag on Martinsville and say that they ought to lose a race because they don’t pay enough in prize money when the closest metropolitan area to them is Greensboro, NC and it is an hour away. Yet, Martinsville paid more to the top finishing driver this Spring than Kentucky did yesterday. That is another strike for the Bluegrass state when it comes to continuing to host Cup races.
Broadcasters of Cup races have been getting lambasted for years for how many commercials they run during races but this race seemed exceptionally bad. In looking at the averages over the length of the event, there was a commercial every 12.2 laps based on a very unscientific note taking during the race. That figure wasn’t after coming back from commercial, that was 12.2 between the start of each commercial break. The average commercial break took six laps, so we saw an average of 6.2 laps of on track action between commercials before the final 29 circuits or so, which we did see without caution. The TV rights for racing are exorbitant but people are not going to keep coming back to watch the races live if they hardly see any live racing.
Watching the inside lane get hammered on every restart this weekend it makes one wonder, wouldn’t it add some level of excitement if NASCAR went to a select cone for lining up the field for the restart? It would be interesting to see the first four or five cars go to the high side before someone took a chance and went to the bottom. It is probably too gimmicky for NASCAR to try but it would make for some intrigue over just watching the inside lane or outside lane, depending on the track, get run over every restart.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Greg Biffle has been looking more promising over the last handful of races, possibly gearing up for a run at the title when the Chase gets here. Unfortunately for him, Kurt Busch’s ill-timed move to the apron sent Brad Keselowski across the track right when Biffle was entering turn one. As a result, Biffle’s day ended on fire and in 34th place. Technically he was back on track and running but the damage had already been done thanks to the incident.
Brad Keselowski, like Biffle, was running at the end of the race but was also over 100 laps down and was basically out there trying to keep Biffle from grabbing a couple of extra points. Keselowski is hoping to start turning up the heat again as the Summer temperatures heat up, and he better, because the chance of missing the Chase altogether is starting to look a little more real for the defending champ.
It is always disheartening when you see a team that is out there chasing the dream and working hard to get by on a limited budget go home on the hook. Dave Blaney is extremely good at making his equipment last and bringing it home in one piece. Unfortunately, being collected in the Keselowski wreck as well dealt a serious blow to Blaney and his Tommy Baldwin race team. Hopefully they’ll rebound and Blaney can have another storybook ending at Daytona to get them back on the right track.
Denny Hamlin blew not one, but two tires during the race this weekend. The first one was more detrimental to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. than it was to Hamlin, but the second one was a hard hit into the outside wall. Hopefully the damage done to Hamlin was only to his leg and not more injury to his still recuperating back.
Brian Vickers was another victim of the blown right front tire at Kentucky. Vickers was having a pretty good run before his right front tire gave out heading into turn three on lap 243. Not only did it put a sour note on the end of his otherwise happy song for the day, but it also ended up costing Jimmie Johnson the win. Kind of a shame that the friend of five-time was the one who ended up bringing out the caution that ultimately ruined his day.
Carl Edwards started on the front row, led the first few laps and then was hardly heard from the rest of the race. He made an effort to become relevant again around lap 150 with a bold pit road call but slid back again and ended the day in 21st. Edwards is second in points but just really doesn’t seem to be the threat to the title that a few other drivers in the series are on a week to week basis.
”The Seven Come For Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Jamie McMurray has been around racing long enough to be able to tell when the fire is getting turned up. He knows that Kyle Larson is coming for a Cup ride and that there are only two of them at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. With Juan Pablo Montoya knocking on the door of another victory, McMurray has to know it is do or die time for his career at EGR. He stepped up to the plate on Sunday with a runner-up finish and some strong driving as the laps were winding down. Don’t be surprised to see Jamie Mac make another run at a win over the next month on some tracks where he’s done it in the past.
Kurt Busch put Brad Keselowski in the wall and took out several other cars while he was doing it. Fortunately for him, none of them had a chance to get back to him during the race, so he scored another top-10 finish for Furniture Row. The FRR bunch now has seven top 10s this season, and 10 in the last two years with Kurt Busch at the wheel. That is more than half of the 18 they have scored in the history of the company. Mind you, the other eight were by Regan Smith over the previous two seasons.
Kasey Kahne was all over the map during Sunday’s race. He went from starting 21st to fourth spot and everywhere in between three times during the race. He had to restart on lap 246 at the back of the pack after a pit road violation and still managed to come home in 11th place. While he most likely would have wanted more he has to be pretty happy to make him out of the Bluegrass State with that finish.
Speaking of starting in the 20s and being up and down, Kevin Harvick started next to Kahne in 22nd and climbed quickly to the top 5 before sliding back in the pack on a pit road misfortune when the caution came out while he was in the pits. He soldiered on and eventually settled out in the 10th where he ran for most of the last third of the race. He also did a masterful job of not broadsiding Kyle Busch when the No. 18 was dead sideways in the middle of the track early on.
Top 10 finishes by Manufacturer
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson surged back from his disappointing spin to finish the race in ninth, which was good for second best among Hendrick drivers and worth maintaining the points lead over Carl Edwards by 38 markers. Clint Bowyer is still in third place, 41 points out of the top spot and the only driver besides Edwards within one race’s points of the leader. Kevin Harvick has quietly managed to hang onto fourth in, most likely with some of that Tae Kwon Do stuff he’s been learning this year. Matt Kenseth’s win didn’t move him up or down in points so he still sits at the tail end of the top 5.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gained one spot this weekend thanks to the misfortune of one Greg Biffle and is now sixth. But he wasn’t the only driving moving up. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. climbed one and two spots, respectively. Biffle slid from sixth back to ninth, while Joey Logano’s fourth-place run pushes him into the 10th spot and the last Chase position, if the “regular season” were to stop right now.
Brad Keselowski’s horrible luck knocked him four spots down in the standings to 13th in and would not be in the Chase if this had been Richmond. The two Wild Card drivers at this point of the season are Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, who both have a win under their belts. David Ragan, the other driver with a win this season is 29th in points and currently not eligible for the Chase.
Overall Rating (from one to six beers, with one being a total snoozer and a six-pack an A+ effort):
Kentucky was really setting up to be a great race where the character and age of the track were going to bring out the best in the drivers’ abilities and we’d see tons of great driving, passing and strategy. Then, as we continue to see more and more every weekend, we got a set of tires that allowed people to take two and keep track position and continue to run as they had before they came in. When there is a deluge the day before and the track is washed clean of the majority of the rubber that was previously down, and NASCAR calls a competition caution, but nearly every car on pit lane takes two tires, you know the tires are too hard and not wearing out enough. As a result, Jimmie Johnson ran away and hid for the majority of the race, only to step on it on the next to last restart of the race and hand the win to Matt Kenseth. The resultant snoozefest only garners two luke warm Hudepohls because someone other than the guy who led 182 laps was the winner. Let’s hope that Goodyear will eventually realize that the tires need to fall off or the racing is going to continue to suck.
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I hope the occupant of the Go Daddy car sent a thank you note to Kurt Bush for helping her rocket up to 23rd place.
Hmmm, Next race Daytona, wonder who’s gonna get “The Call”.
I think this article missed an opportunity to mention some other note worthy happenings..oh well. I agree with Slow Daddy, what wonders will happen at the Summer big show..Daytona..another Pole for Sparkle Pony..ya, like that was random and real..
I’m thinking that if Matt Kenseth can be just a tad more consistent, he can win his second championship. In fact, I think the #20 team has yet to peak.
How refreshing to hear Kyle Petty call out Jimmie Johnson for his whining about the restarts. The blow-hard brothers at Fox would surely have been making excuses for “Old Five-time”.
Instead of picking on All-Star Danica Patrick, I prefer to spotlight her accomplishments… Yesterday she scored another amazing top-30. And she didn’t blow any restarts, which even a five-time champion has been known to do. I tip my Ryan Newman cap to her.
At least TNT (even with commercials) covers the actual race and through the field – unlike Fox who is firmly fixed on the leader only. Next up, we’ll have ESPN (the chase partner) and they will only talk about “the chase” ad nauseum.
Personally I thought it was pretty funny that Johnson blew the restart. Has he forgotten that the leader starts the race? Of course NASCAR could go with another rule and let the flagman restart it, but that probably won’t happen.
I thought Kyle Petty calling Johnson out on his whining was pretty funny. Good for him! As you pointed out Faux and the Waltrip Brothers would have been making excuses. There were some really funny twitter comments being made about Jimmy’s rules for restarts.
I agree that TNT has too many commercials, but Fox and ESPN aren’t that far behind them.
Sounded to me as though there were traffic issues and if the crowd was small, how bad would it have been if it had been full? I didn’t realize KY paid such a small purse but since Bruton wants to wring every dime out of everything somehow it doesn’t surprise me.
I expected this to be a boring race and it actually wasn’t particularly interesting – except for KuBu’s boneheaded move early in the race – which I saw as I was pulling the recycling together and JJ’s attempt to block Logano at the end. I still follow more of the race with raceview, twitter & the radio, but did have the TV on more than usual while I was doing chores. Sorry sitting for 3 plus hours with no lead changes is simply a bore – maybe the folks who didn’t go to the track felt the same way.
Due to the sheer amount of commercials (again), I had trouble watching this race. It also didn’t help that the #48 car dominated the race. ZZZZZZZZZZZZ
when “you-know-who” took the lead i turned off tv and did other things.
i guess “the call” will be the 88 team so they can stop saying it’s been a year since he won. on friday when i saw he had the pole, i figured this was going to be his week, but hamlin’s tire put the kibosh on that.
butts in seats (or lack of them) will always commonplace now. the product and the economy are main factors i see. what hurt kentucky was having to run on sunday cause they didn’t have advertising banners over the empty seats, or the fact that maybe they couldn’t sell enough advertising to cover seats.
I’m starting to believe that most tracks race better in the daytime than at night, because the sun makes the track slick and widens the groove. JJ ran away with the race up front, but behind him there was plenty of good racing, and it was easier to pass than we’ve seen at this track in the past; Gordon and Kahne drove from outside the top 10 to fifth and sixth in less than 40 laps near the end, all while making up ground on the leaders.
Something needs to be done about these tires, though. Even with two tires being the way to go all race, there were still four cautions due to cut or blown tires. Maybe there’s a way for Goodyear to make the tires harder to wear through—thickening them or something like that—so that they can make them fall off more throughout a run?
“wouldn’t it add some level of excitement if NASCAR went to a select cone for lining up the field for the restart?”
What the hell does a “select cone” even mean. No, I have a better idea, go back to the way it was and get rid of the shenanegins that take place every week on the restarts. Instead, put all your efforts, money and research into making the cars race better so the need for the double file restarts goes away. Having one lane have an advantage makes DF restarts unfair.
I’ll give the race 2 cans. The only thing that saved it was Johnson screwing up at the end.
The commercial situation is getting ridiculous. NASCAR and the networks are waging a war with their fans that they can’t win. The ratings go down so they show more commercials at the expense of racing. This causes more people to stop watching or dvr the race. Which causes the ratings to go down more. Which causes the network to show more commercials to recoup their costs. Which forces more people to stop watching or dvr the race. Etc, etc, etc,. I don’t know the answer but that’s the way it’s heading.
We interrupt our commercials to bring you a lap of racing.
Yes – Bobby Labonte has always been a class individual – a definate assett to NA$CRAP – but it is time for him to hang it up. Too many stay around too long and tarnish their reputation.
The only thing that has kept me watching the whole races this year – at least DVRing them so I can fast foward through the endless commercials – is waiting to see JJ screw up in the closing laps!!
Man I try to root for Kurt Busch but he just does bonehead moves. Most of his problems are his own fault (besides his mouth) like frequent wrecks and pit road penalties. Patience dude.
Thank you, Bill B, for asking the question about the select cone since I thought I just didn’t understand.
Agree, too, with your comments about the car, tire, etc. Improve the racing and gimmicks like DF restarts won’t be necessary. Fix the aero issue and the leader won’t be able to just drive off and leave everyone else.
agree, too about the commercials. I like TNT’s coverage but the commercials make it impossible to watch with any continuity.
Gary, when you are more about your “brand” like Danica is, rather than the racing, somehow it just doesn’t inspire me to cheer for her. I’d rather see Johanna Long in the car and see if she could do better but w/o sponsorship, that won’t happen. She didn’t do all that much in Indycar either – Hinchcliffe has won more in the past year than she did the entire time she was in that ride, so it isn’t just NASCAR fans. Hey I get that she’s pretty – that’s great. I like to look at the good looking male racers, too, but if they don’t get results, it’s a rather short-lived relationship (I’m shallow like that). LOL
Again another “Take names, and Kick Butt” performance from the #48.
If JJ driving such superior equipment, can’t get his restarts right, its shows that the weak link in #48 team is its driver, it certainly isn’t the equipment. Heck, if I where the #24, #88 and #5 and I would certainly feel more snookered being that live in the same house.
GinaV24. I totally agree. Hard to cheer for Danica when she’s all about the “brand.” I never said I was a “fan” of Danica’s. I was just stating the facts after Kyle Petty’s seemingly bitter comments that she’s “not a racer.” Danica has always been upfront about the marketing deal and her exposure being the most important thing to her and that’s why I said she’s more into making money than being a great racer which I totally agree doesn’t inspire me to root for her. I rather root for someone who loves racing not the money.
Johanna Long has been quite impressive in lesser equipment.
How many laps in a stock car does Danica have? How many laps for Chase Elliott? The more you do something the better you’re supposed to be at it.
It’s amazing how fast the 48 is when it has to be. It can pass “equal” cars like they’re standing still. But it passes inspection so it must be Brian legal.
The select cone is used at several short tracks. As a driver approaches the cone they select the lane to line-up in.
I just wanted to say that on Saturday there was quite a large crowd of people there even with it raining. We heard many say they could not return on Sunday, We could not go back on Sunday either. Took a huge loss money wise, but We will return next year.
I was at the speedway all day Saturday, as well as at the race on sunday. Saturday as far as you could see there were cars in the parking lots, and the busses were running non-stop. Sunday a lot of people couldn’t get back out to the track due to other commitments. I know several people that fall into that category. The traffic issue on Sunday was due to a car fire 20 miles from the track. When a highway is shut down, how is it the tracks fault?
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