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 – With eight laps to go, Kasey Kahne had a run coming out of Turn 4 and briefly nosed ahead of Matt Kenseth before Kenseth muscled his way back past to secure the top spot for the remainder of the race.
In a Nutshell – Bristol is the second shortest track on the schedule and everything happens faster at Bristol that any other track. However, the one thing that doesn’t happen fast is passing. In a microcosm of the entire sport as it sits right now, races are no longer won by out running someone, they’re won by out strategizing them. Nine leaders and 16 lead changes, including four actually on the track, didn’t mean near as much as Matt Kenseth making a pit stop on lap 336, taking two tires and making his fuel last until he was done with his burnout after scoring the win.
Dramatic Moment – Carl Edwards led the race five times for 119 laps but as the field circulated under caution for the ninth time of the night his car began to misfire. When the green flag flew, Edwards car did not come up to full song and by lap 387 he was behind the wall with an expired engine. Had Edwards engine not failed, the end of the race might have been very different.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Most people have been prepared to hand the championship to Jimmie Johnson after his early season and huge point lead. While the No. 48 might have been experimenting a little over the last month, they are now faced with a point deficit to Matt Kenseth if they are not able to win one of the next two races. Johnson has been the class of the series but they’ve lost quite a bit of momentum over the last three races and if Kenseth can ride the wave from this win to another over the next two races, they may have the upper hand on the No. 48.
Try as the folks on TV did, the bottom line at the end of the race on Saturday night was track position means more than anything. With tires that last FOREVER in racing terms, getting to the front with the earliest possible window to make it to the end of the race is paramount every week. Kenseth had enough fuel to win and do a burnout. Had the race gone Green-White-Checkered, Kahne would have been the winner because Kenseth would have run out of fuel before the green flag waved again. If the people that run the sport don’t pull their proverbial heads from their accumulated rectums soon and start coming up with tires that give up grip after being driven for thirty or forty laps, the racing is going to continue to suck more than a black hole.
Racing at Bristol changed forever in 2007 when the track was repaved. It is no longer the single groove track at the bottom, but the racing is far better for those fans that don’t want to see people wrecked in order for a pass to be made. The caution flag flew 11 times for 74 laps Saturday night and included an eight car pile up for those folks who wanted to see wrinkled sheet metal. Passing is difficult for sure but is possible, and would be better if tires meant more.
Someone abducted the real Kevin Harvick and put a rational human being in his place. The old Happy ran over the top of cars to get his hands around the neck of someone he thought had done him wrong. Saturday night he put his head in the window and accepted the explanation of someone who just totaled his car without so much as banging his fist on the guy’s car. It can’t be much longer before we have dogs and cats living together.
The National Anthem by the MRO kids is still the best rendition all year. If you don’t smile during that pre-race activity at Bristol you are one cold-hearted bastard.
Kyle Busch was the winning Truck on Wednesday night and the dominant car on Friday night, but messed up in qualifying which resulted in him having to start at the back of the pack. Busch managed a eleventh place finish but had to use up his car quite a bit to get through the field for that finish. Had he started near the front it could have been a very different outcome on Saturday night
Attendance at Bristol was still far from a sellout. While the crowd looked smaller than last year to the trained eye of your writer, most of the drivers felt it was the best that it has been in years. With 11 cautions, 95% of the cars with torn up sheet metal and a pit lane altercation, this race will hopefully have gone a way toward increasing attendance.
Landon Cassill’s car had a paint scheme that is known as fire camo. Not since Dale Earnhardt drove the Peter Maxx paint scheme in the Winston has a car looked like someone puked all over it.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
After years of start and parking, Joe Nemechek has been running at the end of most races this season. He’s put in a valiant effort with an underdog team, making it through the season on patchwork sponsorship. Unfortunately for Nemechek Saturday night, he took the green flag and made it through Turn 1 before the car began to smoke. He was credited with one completed lap and a DNF for a blown engine.
Carl Edwards was one of the best cars at Bristol for the first 380 laps. Unfortunately for him, the race was 500 laps long. On a lap 381 restart, Edwards car did not come up to song and by lap 387 he was behind the wall with a blown engine. Amazingly, it was the first DNF for Roush Fenway Racing all season. With three drivers that is 71 completed races and one incomplete. It’s a pretty impressive statistic if you’re not Carl Edwards or one of his fans.
Kevin Harvick has had one finish in the last five races that was better than 13th. As the Chase rapidly approaches on the horizon, it is all about gaining momentum to head into the final 10 races with the cars and teams hitting on all cylinders. Harvick was strong early in the year, notching two wins and racking up five top 5s and 10 top 10s through the first 18 races. Over the last six races he’s only managed one top 5 and two top 10s. If Harvick starts off the Chase with a similar showing, things could rapidly deteriorate knowing he won’t be back at Richard Childress Racing in 2014.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Juan Pablo Montoya was having a strong run at Bristol before he received a speeding penalty on lap 337 leaving the pits. He restarted at the end of the longest line on lap 342. He persevered and scored his second top 5 finish in three races. Since Montoya found out he was not going to be coming back to Ganassi in 2014 he’s posted a fifth, eleventh and third place finish. While most people believe Montoya’s NASCAR career is over, he is certainly driving like he’s auditioning, not riding out the string.
Brian Vickers had an impressive run at Bristol last August that many people think secured a ride for him in 2013. Now that he’s ready for full-time competition in the No.55 next season, he looked to have an even better run at Bristol this year. Starting on the outside of the second row Vickers didn’t stay up front for long. He was back to eleventh on lap 50 and 24th at the halfway point of the race. From there he slowly but steadily marched forward and took advantage of the misfortune of the drivers who were running in front of him to come home with a fourth place finish.
Joey Logano received damage early in the event and ended up spending more time on pit road than anyone who finished on the lead lap outside of Jeff Burton, David Ragan and Kyle Busch. Logano, like Vickers, was in the 24th position, on lap 200, before carving through the field to secure a fifth place finish when the checkered flag flew in Bristol.
Paul Menard started the race in 21st before using pit strategy to get to the front of the field. Menard led the race twice for 64 laps, dropped back as far as 14th before ending the race in the final spot of the top 5.
Toyota – 2
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson was 75 points ahead of Clint Bowyer when the checkered flag flew at Indianapolis. After finishes of 13th, 8th, 40th and 36th, he now holds a mere 18 point lead over Bowyer with two races left until the Chase. Since the points mean absolutely nothing when the race at Richmond is finished, the No. 48 team doesn’t really care about where they are at this point. What they do care about is momentum, so look for Johnson and his team to put on a blitz to try and win at least one if not both of the two races remaining before the Chase. Carl Edwards, who could have made a big move in the momentum game with a win at Bristol instead finds himself still in third place, 53 points behind Johnson. Kevin Harvick is sitting eight points behind Edwards in fourth while is 82 points out of the lead in the last spot of the top 5 in points.
Matt Kenseth is three points behind Harvick in the meaningless point category but will be the point leader once the Chase starts barring an unimaginable collapse that would cost his a 55 point loss over the final two races. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 107 points behind Johnson and, more importantly 33 points ahead of Brad Keselowski in 11th. Kasey Kahne’s runner-up finish allowed him to jump three positions to eighth in points. Provided he can hang onto a spot in the top 10, which he currently holds by 20 points over Keselowski, Kahne will end up tied for fourth in points when the Chase begins. Greg Biffle sits ninth in points after gaining one spot Saturday night while Joey Logano rounds out the top 10 thanks to gaining three positions in the standings Saturday.
Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch both dropped three positions in the points Saturday night. Neither of them has a victory to fall back on for the battle for the Chase so they pressure is squarely on their shoulders to perform over the next two weeks. For now, the two Wild Card winners would be Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman. They are the top two point holders outside the top 10 who have scored victories this season.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic) – For those fans who want to see people wrecked in order for a pass to be completed, the race at Bristol Saturday night would be worth a can of 15-year-old Schlitz. On the other hand, those fans who enjoy side-by-side, three-wide, mad scramble racing from the drop of the green to the waving of the checkered flag, Saturday night was the kind of race that you want to see week in and week out. Passing isn’t easy, but it can be done. 500 laps around the high banks with sparks flying and tempers flaring is exactly what fans of short track racing love to see. This one gets three frosty cans of Budweiser. It would be more but tire wear should dictate the end of a Bristol race more than fuel mileage.
Next Up – It isn’t Darlington but it is NASCAR on Labor Day in the South. The series heads to Atlanta for a rare Sunday night race. This race and the Coca-Cola 600 are the only races scheduled for Sunday nights during the Cup season. Coverage begins at 7:30 on ESPN and PRN.
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Bristol has turned into another fuel mileage race? Thank you Nascar.
When I turned over from the Bronco’s game and saw the 48 in the garage, I perked up. That was a sight to see.
Then later, finding out Kenseth had won the race made it super sweet. Way to go Kenseth. Hope you can survive the nascar inspectors…..
Don’t for a minute count “FIVE TIME!” out. He’ll be on a cookie cutter soon so watch out for that secret extra HP to show up. LOL.
Still would have loved to have seen Kyle make ANOTHER sweep though.
i just don’t know…..maybe na$car told hendrick to let the competition catch up to johnson going into the chase to make it more interesting (if that is humanly possible). just got a weird feeling about the past few weeks with johnson finishing where he has. i don’t put anything past na$car.
see where princess sparkle pony had a top 25 finish.
if dale sr had been in that race, running 2nd to kenseth, he would have use the fender to win. kane seems to lack the anatomy to run and punt someone for the win.
bristol SHOULD NOT be a fuel mileage race.
those coming to atlanta…..remember your rain gear. we’ve gone 2 days without rain, but it’s already in the forecast.
A very enjoyable and interesting race. Still, they really need to make tire wear more of a variable. It’s not as big of a deal at a short track but it could be so much better.
“Not since Dale Earnhardt drove the Peter Maxx paint scheme in the Winston has a car looked like someone puked all over it.”
Mike, I totally agree they have got to do something about the tires lasting forever.
I think it would solve the scarcity of on-track passing. We’ll see what the new compound (I guess it’s really just a different combination) brings Sunday.
Felt bad for Ku. Busch, leading the race, then having the hub come loose. Rooting for him to make the chase.
Second paragraph: “races are no longer won by our running someone” should we our run them or ‘out’ run them.
Also, you didn’t give us your beer can rating and took out the voting option.
I completely agree on the Landon Cassill car, I had to go to Jayski to see what that God aweful eyesore was.
Nazicar will hand MK and Toy-Yoda the championship in fear of them pulling out of the sport.
i was trying to figure out what that 40 car was trying to show…sponsor didn’t get a very good return on investment. i thought it was some kind of camouflage. there seems to be so many different patterns.
Solidly written article as usual Mike but I think you needed to highlight more what I feel most fans will be discussing at the water cooler today; should Kahne have wrecked Kenseth to win? After all Kenseth took out the 5 at the Glen. My feeling is on the last lap at a short track good manners go out the window. As noted in comments above, Earnhardt would have done it and look at the memorable finishes he caused at Bristol that fans are still debating. What would have been interesting is if Gordon was still running second. Desperately in need of the win to have a chance at the championship would he have moved his own teammate? I recall him surgically moving Rusty out of the way one time at this track. (And if I recall Wallace took askance at the move and flat out parked Gordon at Richmond in response. That’s the sort of rivalry this sport needs right now even if a Kahne-Kenseth battle would be like watching two Care Bears wrestle.
So why didn’t Kahne move the 20? Blame it on the Chase. Yeah, a win would have helped cement Kasey’s place, but if the move went wrong and he wrecked a bad finish would have cost him more than the win would have helped. Simply put, the Chase is ruining NASCAR racing.
Are we seeing the first bitter fruits of ESPN/ABC’s lame duck status for 2015. In many key markets including here in Philly, the fourth largest city, ABC affiliates showed PRESEAON football games rather than the race. In some markets the race was on ESPN. In others they joined the race in progress after the games. As of five minutes before the race here in Philly the Comcast guide was showing the race as being broadcast only on something called the Living Well Network. (Or the Livid As Hell Network)and the listing showed HIGH SCHOOL football on ESPN. (sorry fans of high school sports, ESPN did in fact show the race.) Certainly ABC has no interest in promoting the sport and raising the ratings only to have to hand off the broadcast rights to a bitter rival after next year.
Exactly how badly is Tony Stewart hurt. To the best of my knowledge he hasn’t been seen in public or granted a live interview since the sprint car wreck. We know he broke two bones in his lower right leg, but I’m hearing some worrisome things about the amount of damage to flesh and muscle in the area. So does SHR really want KuBu as a fourth driver or as a stand in for Stewart for early next year?
Enjoy the rest of your summer campers, cause come next Tuesday, Summer time’s done come and gone, my, oh,my.
i’d speculate that blood thinners stewart may be on as a result of the injury will keep him sidelined til next year. if bone was exposed, that is a serious break with lots of muscle/tissue and infection issues.
i would not want to be the pt team working with him. no amount of money could pay the pour soul to deal with stewart’s temperment.
Tire wear has never been much of a factor at Bristol, and at the end of the race, Kahne’s fresh tires made him much faster than Kenseth; it was just too hard to pass on the bottom. The announcers mentioned a gear ratio change that meant cars had less drive off the corner, and that may have made it harder to pass on the inside.
If Fontana was the best finish of the year, then Saturday was the best race of the season from start to finish, even if it was hard to pass on the bottom. It had a bit of everything: contact all through the pack, close racing, a few tempers flaring, and a nail-biting finish. I’m looking forward to Atlanta and Richmond, which should both produce good racing. Heck, I think Chicago might actually be pretty good as well if they bring a tire that falls off on that aged surface.
Also, I think Mike forgot to actually give the race a proper rating. My personal opinion is five cans.
Stewart’s pt team… I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
Matt “NASCAR Kid” McLaughlin makes an appearance. It’s great to hear from you Matt, I hope all is well!
The “old” Kevin Harvick is the same today as he was back then, all bark and no bite. I agree with everybody saying the reason racing stinks is because of “The Chase”, if you let em’ race till Homestead racing would go back to racing. Point racing for the gimmicky Chase is ruining this sport. And what a nasty bunch working at SHR! I doubt if the money counters at Fort Knox in Daytona read these comments from various sites, everybody knows “The Chase” has been and will continue to be a problem, yet King Brian digs in his heels because it was his idea dammit..or so it seems.
I like this new Bristol, though it appears they got there on accident. It was like watching a dirt race on concrete. You could make passes on the bottom but it took the old fashioned slide job to get it done. I was kind of hoping though Kasey would use the “chrome horn” a little more. I agree, tires have to mean something again. It’s probably one of the best ways to negate the “areopush” on big tracks.
I agree with Matt completely: How many of you really think that the outcome would have been the same if there was no “CHASE” to gain entry to? It (the chase) absolutely degrades every race of the year, before AND during.
Yes, the racing at Bristol changed as soon as Bright Brian dreamed up ‘the CHASE’! Things got REAL polite when that happened.
Decent article, Mike, but Bristol should NOT be a fuel mileage race – ever. Track position is key everywhere and it, along with the rock hard tires, have screwed up the FUN of watching drivers have to work their cars AND be able to pass. Yuck! It wasn’t a bad race by any means but also not all that great.
As Matt said, Philly stations showed pre-season football rather than the race — wow, how far down the food chain NASCAR and BRISTOL have fallen!
I agree, you missed the topic that most people were talking about – should KK have wrecked him for the win?
Actually I think he should have but obviously the “chase” and maybe even KK’s personality didn’t allow that to happen. I agree that certainly Earnhardt would have – we saw that quite a lot as I recall and I remember clearly the Gordon-Wallace rivalry. One of my favorite wins for Jeff was when he moved Rusty over and took the win to break his winless drought. Note I say he moved him, he didn’t wreck him. That’s a skillset most of the newer drivers don’t possess – they can wreck one another, but bumping & running seldom happens. of course, maybe these stupid Kit cars are also to blame. Rusty has NEVER gotten over losing that race to Gordon and it shows in every ESPN broadcast.
I have no idea if Johnson & Chad are just doing their usual laying back in the weeds until the chase actually begins or not – always hard to say with them.
There should be more “Racing Luck” involved in NASCAR racing and less “Racing Science”.
Waaa waaa waaaa! I guess those of you crying about the Chase would rather be watching all the excitement of Jimmie Johnson running away with the championship by over 50 points.
The young driver who “moved” a driver very well and still gotta alot of flack about it was Joey Logano at Pocono to Mark Martin. Marky Mark stated “he would not have done it that way” which the low information casual Nascar fan took it as Joey did something horribly wrong. It still not clear whether he actually made contact or the “air” took over. The point being it was executed perfectly and still complaints. I suspect Kasey Kahne and Keso if they moved Matt and Kyle would have the same people complain. Its racing, if you don’t try and get to the front then you are just following the leader. To even have this discussion is dumb. I blame “The Chase”.
If Knaus is hiding in the grass until the “Chase” I wish the 48 would have wrapped up a spot long ago. This race was entertaining knowing Johnson and his Superman pit crew weren’t in the mix all night.
Thanks for the corrections SS. Changed the typo and added my three cans of frosty Budweiser.
Forgot to mention two things. The inside line on the restart was at such a disadvantage that one driver and team actually stopped at the end of pit road to let another car pass them so they’d be on the outside lane. I forget which driver it was but the move backfired when JPM got nailed for speeding and sent to the rear of the field.
Also a very happy anniversary to my long time bud Jay, who’s Jayski Silly Season Page debuted 17 years ago today. (Monday) Most of you who have read my stuff a long time have told me you first found my articles on Jay’s “Links” page back in the day when the Internet was still something of a novelty. Thanks to Jay for being the locomotive that pulled along the NASCAR Internet train all these years.
to Kevin…#48 only 18pts ahead of #15 as of now. The big problem still with that is the stupid point system, where it takes 19 positions to take the lead without any bonus points. Where as before if in the top ten in the race, could do it in about 4-5 finishing positions.
Matt, that was Denny Hamlin.
Kevin, I would rather watch someone leading the points all season, then this contrived nonsense for the chase. When it was a full season chase, a team could improve its position through the whole season and each race mattered. Now it’s points racing from Daytona on and it is just as boring as watching someone “run away” with the points, which as racebuster has pointed out, isn’t true at this point.
Am I the only one that thinks Kahne had no shot to pass Kenseth cleanly? Not because his car wasn’t fast enough, but because I beleive the dreaded clean air has now made its way to our short tracks
He tried 3 times unsuccessfully so I knew he either had to bump him out of the way or finish 2nd. The only excitement was finding out which one he would do.
And Kevin, if you don’t think the Chase has ruined the racing, not just at Bristol, but everywhere, you have your head in the sand as much as Brian France does. If there was no chase, you can bet Kasey would have tried harder. With only 2 races before the chase, he played the safe route and took “a good points day” as is usually the case.
I will give kudos to ESPN for their surprisingly good coverage. They showed battles pretty much all night long and was happy to see that. I’m usually critical of them, so I will give them credit when they do something right as well.
I was worried when I didn’t see this article early Monday morning, seeing that it was Saturday night race.
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