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!
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 – The caution flew with 29 laps to go. Kyle Busch was on pit road, Marcos Ambrose was not. As a result, Busch restarted with the lead of the race while Ambrose, who had the dominant car, fell back to 12th.
In a Nutshell – Marcos Ambrose dominated the first two-thirds of the race. The luck of the caution flag caught Ambrose out and resulted in Kyle Busch leading when the race restarted while Ambrose had to start mired in the pack. Busch had a difficult fight with Martin Truex Jr. shortly after that restart but, after repelling that challenge, assumed the point and held onto it through a couple of late race restarts.
Dramatic Moment – When Busch took the lead as Ambrose went to pits on the caution that ultimately cost Ambrose the race, Busch had to face Martin Truex Jr’s attack for the lead. The two went side-by-side through the esses and into the Bus Stop. Truex has a slight advantage as the two entered the first part of the Bus Stop but Busch drove it hard into the corner, bounced it off of the side of Truex and managed to pull ahead for good. The fact that both drivers did not wreck was a testament to their driving ability.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Jeff Gordon used to strike fear into the hearts of the competition whenever the schedule went to a road course. Unfortunately for Gordon, he’s become just another driver on road courses over the last few years. He hasn’t won on a road course since 2006 and hasn’t won at Watkins Glen since 2001. This race Gordon crashed early, by himself, in an area of the track where people seldom wreck, just because his car got loose behind another car. Gordon is still a good driver and a superstar in the sport, but he’s definitely not the driver he was 10 years ago.
Red flags are certainly not something you want to use excessively but, at the same time, burning up lap after lap under the caution flag when the race is within 20 laps of the finish is senseless. When the safety crew gets to the scene of an accident, they should be able to assess if it is going to take more than three laps to clean it up. If that is the case, NASCAR needs to throw the red and not waste the more exciting laps of the race diving around at slow speed on glorified parade laps.
It is telling that, in today’s super aerodynamic sensitive world of stock car racing, the most exciting races on the schedule are the road courses and the short tracks, the only places where aerodynamics don’t make much of a difference. Perhaps, if enough people keep putting the pressure on NASCAR to eliminate the aero dependency we can start seeing some better races on the oval tracks as well.
During the race on Sunday, it was announced that there will be a new tire for the Atlanta race. Technically it is just a new right side tire. The new right side tire will be a hybrid compound with the inside of the tire being comprised of the compound from Michigan with the outside of the tire being made up of the compound that has been run for a couple of years at Atlanta. This is a interesting development of passenger tire technology coming into auto racing vs. auto racing technology influencing the passenger tire market.
After Max Papis was in the No. 14 this weekend for Tony Stewart, the discussion has turned to who will be in the top ride at Stewart Haas for the remainder of the season. Rumors are flying that Austin Dillon might be in the seat. Regan Smith has thrown his hat in the ring. The feel good story would be to see Scott Riggs get in the ride after he put in time for Haas before they were a championship caliber team, as well as doing several tests for the team this year. There is even discussion about Kyle Larson filling in. Larson did drive for Stewart’s dirt team at one time but it is a bit early for him to be jumping into a Cup car. Whoever it is, they’re going to have a microscope on their performance and best show some signs of brilliance or they’re going to get raked over the coals.
With everyone clamoring for more road course racing in the Cup series, why don’t we take full advantage of the course at Watkins Glen? The drivers in the series, for the most part, have shown that they can run road courses just as well as they can run ovals. The boot will add a couple of different passing opportunities which is the thing that everyone looks for on road courses. There is no doubt the fans at Watkins Glen would love to see it and most of the other fans of the sport would love to see it too.
Tony Stewart my not have been in a car this weekend but his driver, Donny Schatz, did it again at Knoxville, Iowa. Schatz took the win in the Knoxville Nationals, the Daytona 500 of Winged Sprint Car racing, for the seventh time in eight years. Schatz raced his way into the A-Main by winning the B-Main. He then started 21st and took the lead with nine laps to go, cruising to the impressive win. Schatz has also finished in the top two at Knoxville in 11 of the last 12 Nationals.
SPEED is going away. Starting August 17th it is being replaced by Fox Sports 1. While there is going to be some motorsports coverage, there are some staples that are going away. Speed Center is no longer going to be on the air. The Sunday night program that would give racing results and highlights from all forms of motorsports is officially done. Also, Wind Tunnel, the ultimate race fan call in show hosted by the Big Ol’ Television Wind Bag Dave Despain, has aired for the last time. Not sure if the decision was Despain’s, the networks, or a combination. When the show was cut back to once a week it was mostly Despain who wanted the schedule to back off. It very well may be that this was just the right time for Dave to start enjoying the retirement he was ready to begin nearly 11 years ago when the show started. Whatever the case, the Tunnelheads are going to be hard pressed to find a replacement.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Marcos Ambrose had the race in the bag until Aric Almirola went for a spin while Kyle Busch was on pit road and Ambrose was still on the track. As a result, Ambrose ended up back in traffic and couldn’t make the kind of time he was making while he was in the lead. After restarting 12th with 29 laps to go, he only clawed his way up to 10th before a lap 7 restart when he was caught on the outside heading into the esses. As he got loose, Max Papis was behind him and tried to stay off of him but eventually got into his right rear, spinning Ambrose into the guardrail and ending his day.
Kasey Kahne, not really known for his road racing prowess, although he does have a win at Sonoma in the Cup series, was soldiering to a respectable top 15 finish when he was bumped on a late race restart, spun in the esses and was drilled by Dale Earnhardt Jr., ending his race early.
Speaking of Earnhardt, the driver of the No. 88 was looking for a respectable day at a road course, and was doing a admirable job. He was in the top 12 when Kahne spun in front of him and he had nowhere to go. The contact with Kahne tore the right front off of Earnhardt’s car and caused him to go from maintaining his points position to losing double digit points to the drivers around him in points.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
While the caution for Almirola was the kiss of death for Ambrose, it was a 10 the hard way for Kyle Busch. Busch was on the pit lane when Almirola went into the tire barrier to bring out the caution that caught Ambrose out. From there it was just a matter of Busch surviving not one, not two but four restarts over the final 27 laps of the race.
Brad Keselowski sailed into turn one on lap 14 and almost didn’t come out. After spinning off of the racing surface into what used to be a giant litter box, Keselowski blended back into the pack in 22nd position. Fortunately for Keselowski, it was early and he had time to regroup. Similar to Busch, Keselowski was on the pit road when the caution flew for Almirola’s entanglement with the tire barrier. As a result, he made it all of the way back to the front and finished in the runner-up spot yet again.
Casey Mears started the race in 30th position. He clawed his way forward for the early part of the race and was in the high 20s when he got caught out on a caution that dropped him deep in the pack. Fortunately for Mears he was one of the last drivers to make it onto pit road before the caution flew for Almirola, which allowed him to restart in the top 12. Mears used that good fortune and some driving talent to maintain his position on the track and ultimately came home with a 12th place finish.
The victory for Kyle Busch is his 27th of his career in 315 starts. That has given him a three race edge over his brother Kurt who was tied with his younger sibling coming into the 2013 season for 28th on the all-time wins list. Busch is now alone in 24th, one win behind Rex White and Matt Kenseth for 22nd. Just for a means of perspective, 50 wins will put a driver in the top 12 on the all-time list. There aren’t a lot of people between Busch and the top 12, but there are a lot of wins.
This was Busch’s second win at Watkins Glen and his fourth top 5 in nine career starts at the road course in the Finger Lake Region of New York.
Busch has three wins and 10 top 5s in 2013.
Brad Keselowski finished second for the first time this season and for the third consecutive year at Watkins Glen. Keselowski has seven top 5 finishes in 2013.
Martin True Jr. came home in third place for his fourth top three finish of the year and his fifth top 5. This was Truex third career top 5 at Watkins Glen.
This was the first time in six races at Watkins Glen that Marcos Ambrose did not finish in the top three.
The top 10 by Manufacturer:
Toyota – 4
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took home the Rookie of the Race award again.
2010 was the last race at Watkins Glen where the driver leading the most laps scored the win. Juan Pablo Montoya took home the trophy that day.
The Blue Deuce has crossed the line in second the last four years in a row at Watkins Glen. Brad Keselowski had run second three years in a row and Kurt Busch was in the ride the previous year (2010). That is rarer than if Marcos Ambrose had pulled off the triple this season.
What’s the Points
Jimmie Johnson came home in eighth place this weekend, only losing two points in his quest to lead the points into the Chase. Clint Bowyer maintains the second spot in points without a win but with twelve top 10s and only one DNF. Carl Edwards managed to hang on to his third place in points thanks to his fourth place finish. Kevin Harvick had a quiet 13th place finish at Watkins Glen and that allowed him to continue to sit fourth in the points. Kyle Busch is the first driver to make a move in the points this week. His win, combined with Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s misfortune let Busch move into the fifth spot in points.
Earnhardt leads the second half of the top 10 in the sixth spot. Matt Kenseth finished 23rd but fended off the challenge from behind to stay seventh in points. Brad Keselowski made the big move, jumping four positions to the eighth spot in points and much more comfortably in the Chase hunt. Greg Biffle got off of the 10th place bubble by virtue of his 16th place finish. Truex’s third place finish has vaulted him into the last spot in the Chase.
Kasey Kahne’s misfortune has dropped him out of the top 10 but puts him first in Wild Card contention. Ryan Newman has taken over his boss’s spot in the Chase by virtue of his Brickyard win while the boss is recuperating in a hospital from a broken leg.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – Since road course racing is the new excitement of the Cup Series, we’ll look at the race at Watkins Glen through those rose-colored glasses. While it wasn’t the fender-banging, grass-slinging battle royale that ended last season’s race, the excitement was still there thanks to a late-race caution. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, nose-to-tail through the final corners was better than a walkover but it wasn’t an instant classic. We’ll give this one three cold Busch Lights and hope that the development of the new tire they’re bringing to Atlanta can bring back exciting racing on ovals.
Next Up — The series heads to Michigan next week for the wide and fast two-mile oval in the Irish Hills. After just one year the track’s surface has begun to age and afford some better racing than the single groove that dominated the first year after the repave. With four races to the Chase, there will be some drivers taking some chances because they need a win to secure their position in the hunt for the title. The coverage starts at 1:00 on Sunday on both ESPN and MRN.
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I hate wasting an entire afternoon just to see Kyle or JJ win. I would have like to see Almirola actually put his car in REVERSE to get it out of the tires, it’s not impossible that he could have gotten out of there and not changed the complexion on the race the way he did.
To think that I used to hate road courses….and now they are the most exciting (for me).
That was the first Nascar race I’ve watched live since May.
They used to say ‘dega was the equalizer. Not anymore. It’s the road courses.
Awesome to see Kyle win again.
If I was running the show at Stewart-Haas, I’d see if I could put in a call with Budweiser and Childress to see if we could get Harvick for the Chase. Would help build chemistry, and allow Childress to put Dillon in the 29 to see if he wants to run him full-time in Cup. Would work out well for everyone involved, even though I feel it would be next to impossible to make it happen.
Just to nitpick, I don’t think Gordon got loose, he got tight and couldn’t get the car to turn enough to avoid the wall. Either that, or he made a rookie mistake and lost track of where he was on the track due to his being on top of the car in front. Did anyone notice that when Gilliland (I think) hit the wall entering the front straight, Gordon was behind him and almost did the same? Seems like Gordon’s luck ran out a few laps later.
Zero on track passes for the lead does not make for a compelling race. new car is too areo dependant.
Thee real feel-good story would be for Tony Stewart to put Bobby Labonte in the #14. We’d get to see what Bobby could do in competitive racecar. Yes, I know it’s not going to happen, but I still like the idea.
Nice to see Brad K. have a decent finish. I’d like to see him make the chase and if he can avoid a bad finish in the next four races then he will make it.
Poor Greg Biffle… never a factor and out of a chase spot. I like the Bif but he’s got to be feeling like a change would do him good. Maybe there will be a quality ride available when his contract expires after next season.
since stewart-haas is a satellite of hendrick, i can’t see dillon going into the 14. can see someone tied to hendrick in that car, like smith or larson but definitely not chase elliott as he’s not experienced enough. i’d like to see trevor bayne in the 14 but he’s a blue oval driver.
enjoyed the last few laps of the race. was wishing brad would get past kyle busch for the win. at least brad raced him clean. thought brad’s post-race comment was funny, he’s had enough controversy for the year.
stop the presses….
princess sparkle pony had a 20th place finish, finished on the lead lap.
surprised media isn’t salivating all over this fact.
Sorry… I should have fact checked a little more. Biffle is 9th in points. I was going by points as shown late in the race when they were showing him in 12th place. Apparently he gained some positions late in the race and moved up in the points. My bad.
There wasn’t much (any) passing for the lead which usually makes for a boring race. Still, watching a road course with no on track passing for the lead is much more interesting than watching an oval race with no passing for the lead.
danica got a top 20 through attrition, but at least she was running.
i think ambrose wasn’t going to win anyway due to something breaking in the suspension. i also thought that it was interesting to see how mad he was in the car and then to see him composed and smiling during the interview. i wonder if that hurts his soul.
the glen is a high speed road course so i suppose some aero dependency is to be expected but i found the lack of passing due to it a bit worrysome. it appeared that “the track” put on a better race than “the car.” still i agree that i’d rather see races like that rather than cookie cutter borefests.
so, for me, the verdict is in and the gen 6 car is guilty as charged. it’s a dud. it’s only slightly better than the travesty that preceded it. it’s only slightly better looking in the front end only, it’s just as aero sensitive, perhaps it’s a tiny bit safer and nascar has even further limited the creativity of the teams to do anything to make it race better. this dog just ain’t gonna hunt.
I recently saw a youtube video that had clips of old races from Darlington and Atlanta (among other tracks) and you could visibly see rubber on the track, all marbled up outside the groove and building up on the front grills. Ahhh the good old days when tires actually wore. Lets be honest, tires again meant nothing this weekend compared to track position and the dreaded “clean air”. When Keselowski took fuel only early in the race and held his position I knew we were in trouble. Then watching Montoya, Ambrose and Johnson struggle to pass anyone in traffic was deja vu of most races this year. Gen6 is really fast, and speed causes extreme aero sensitivity. If the tires wore out to where the cars slowed 10-20mph over a run then setup from mechanical grip would start to take over. We need to get back to that, or stick to the slower, shorter tracks to show the product everyone wants to see. It just sucks that only 8 out of 36 races are on short tracks or road courses. Aside from Martinsville or the Lottery (Talladega) the Chase is a major YAWN.
The chase has been and is a complete failure for what it was supposed to do. Add to that the COT (which was DOA as Kyle told the world) and the 48 (six-time) crew apparently the only folks in the ENTIRE WORLD that can be so dead-on consistent…nothing fishy there….and what do you get?
Nothing but ESPN (the station all sports folks want to be on) saying bye-bye.
This was a good race. There was a lot of wrangling for position on the track. I don’t look to see a lot of wrecks, but a little rubbin’ fenders makes for good racin’. I gave this race a high four rating. nas$car needs to put a road course race in the chase. Plus, add another road course race to the schedule. Mid-Ohio or Road America would both fit the bill. I don’t like the chase, but add a little spice to it.
I watched most of that agonizing race yesterday. Five lead changes among five drivers? That was exciting? Whoever was able to get out in front could pull away, and nobody was able to catch him. There didn’t seem to be a lot of passing either. Even Team Dominant (JimmieChad) had trouble advancing his position. Turned it off before the checkered flag fell, mercifully ending the race, and didn’t want to watch the winner and his antagonizing antics. What was shown on TV was 90-laps of follow-the-leader. Not at all worth watching. This race wasn’t worth a half a can of flat room-temperature Coke Zero.
More road courses? No thanks! Not after what was shown yesterday.
Using the long course would add several good heavy braking and good passing zones. Based on the few passes yesterday, they need to do it.
Sorry Patty, but not everyone is sad to see ESPN go. They could care less about Nascar. Its just filler until their bread and butter football games come back on. If their coverage of IndyCar is any indication, they will do a much better job than ESPN.
Correction to above post: It should say: If NBC’s coverage of IndyCar is any indication…..
Who is the driver named Martin True, Jr. that is mentioned in the column? I haven’t heard of him before.
We hate gimmicky “Chase” with a passion. The rest of the season for most is a few races away..let them all race till Homestead, then the true winner will be crowned.
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