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 – The lead lap cars came to pit road with 35 laps to go and the No. 18 pit crew ripped off a stop better than the two cars who entered the pits in front of them, coming out with the lead. Once Busch had the lead that late in the race he just had to have two good restarts and held on to score the win.
In a Nutshell – Atlanta is an old, worn out race track that puts on the best races of any Intermediate track on the circuit, period. 28 lead changes among 13 drivers with nearly half of them coming on the race track. Juan Pablo Montoya looked strong early, then Carl Edwards was the dominant car. Clint Bowyer chased him down and appeared to be the car to beat before he blowed up. Brad Keselowski then stepped to the fore before his engine soured. Joey Logano led the most times for the most laps but Busch took advantage of the great pit stop to grab the lead late and capitalized to take home the win and secure a Chase berth.
Dramatic Moment – On a restart on lap 31, Kasey Kahne missed a shift which resulted in Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Jeff Burton receiving damage from running into the back of various cars during the scramble. As a result, for the third week in a row, Johnson came home with a disappointing finish, this week 28th.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
The combination compound tire was a rousing success at Atlanta. During the Nationwide race there was only one major problem and it appeared as though that was a car setup issue rather than the tire. In the Cup race there were no issues at all and the tires did give up adhesion rather quickly, providing an advantage to those who had fresher tires. Hopefully the official tire manufacturer of NASCAR will manage to incorporate this technology at more tracks so that we can get away from the dreaded track position advantage.
Atlanta is a tremendous racing venue that is easy to get to, has great site lines and always puts on a whale of a show. How the stands, on a holiday weekend, are only half full for the race that is consistently one of the absolute best every season is mind boggling. Rain is always a concern, pish-posh, rain is a concern anywhere they race in the summer. Tickets are too pricey, wrong. Tickets range from $35-$135 with specials that can get kids in for under $20 and also packages that get a ticket, hot dog and soft drink for $40. Racing with the new car isn’t any good. It always is at Atlanta. It has been the one track, no matter what the style of car, that consistently provides outstanding finishes year-in and year-out. While it would be great to see this race on Mother’s Day Weekend and the Southern 500 back to a day race at Darlington on Labor Day weekend, there is no reason for fans not to come out in droves for the one race that takes place at Atlanta each year.
Jimmie Johnson is done for in the title chase for 2013. There’s no doubt that Johnson has hit a patch of back luck over the last three races. Some of it may have been self induced through some experimentation, but some of it has just been bad luck. Johnson ran into another competitor early in the race Sunday and crushed the front of his car. The team killed themselves making untold numbers of pit stops to salvage a 28th place finish by the end of the night. While momentum isn’t on their side, don’t forget that Johnson STILL leads the points after all of this misfortune. The odds are that this is a bump in the road and the No. 48 team will right the ship just in time to make a serious run at the 2013 title.
Unlike Johnson, Brad Keselowski is all but done in the race to make the Chase for the 2013 Cup. Keselowski will have to win Richmond and finish five spots ahead of Ryan Newman and 10 spots ahead of Martin Truex Jr. to steal the second Wild Card position. Keselowski is 28 points behind Kurt Busch who sits in 10th. He would not only have to finish 28 slots ahead of Busch to get back to the top 10, but he’d also have to leapfrog Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman. That is a humongous hill to climb, so he’d best win the race and hope that Truex and Newman finish far enough behind him.
The Chase is all but decided with one race yet to go. The top six drivers are locked into the Chase along with Kasey Kahne, who has two wins. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 37 points ahead of Jeff Gordon. Provided he finishes 33rd or better, he will be locked into the Chase. If Joey Logano finishes 12th or better, he’ll be locked into the Chase. Greg Biffle is looking at a 10th place finish to ensure himself a spot in the Chase. Kurt Busch has to finish second and lead at least a lap to lock himself in. Everything else is in a state of flux and will probably change 100 times between the drop of the green and the checkered flag at Richmond.
Jeff Gordon finds himself on the outside looking in heading into Richmond for the second year in a row. Last year he was able to race his way into the Chase. This year he’ll have to do the same thing. Fortunately for Gordon, there are two drivers in front of him who do not have wins. Kurt Busch is immediately ahead and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 37 points ahead. If Gordon can have a strong night and either of those drivers have a DNF, the door will swing wide open for him again. It will be interesting to see how it place out at Richmond.
Speaking of Gordon, he and Carl Edwards had two different discussions after the evening at Atlanta. Gordon put a slide job on Edwards early in the race that Edwards felt was unnecessary. He responded by running Gordon exceptionally hard the rest of the night. The two drivers made contact on the back straight at one point after the initial slide job but neither of them took the blame or credit for that rub. Gordon walked away from the first discussion with Edwards saying “I tried to have a regular conversation with him and that didn’t seem possible.” The two spoke again later and it appears as thought neither of them intend to let the ill feelings linger, but we all know that drivers don’t forget.
Edwards and Gordon weren’t the only drivers to leave Atlanta with some bristled emotions. Paul Menard felt like Denny Hamlin pushed him up into the wall, essentially ending his evening. As a result, when Menard found himself under Hamlin in turn four later in the race, he managed to get the back of Hamlin’s car loose enough that he spun out and eventually packed it in for the evening. This is at least the second time this year that Menard has stood up when he felt he was wronged, having turned Jeff Gordon around at Loudon earlier this season.
AJ Allmendinger has been announced as the full-time driver for the No. 47 next season. While JTG isn’t a top flight team and is probably not going to attract a multi-time champion, it would seem logical to have a driver who is a proven winner at the Cup level or a champion in another series fill the seat. Instead they’re choosing a driver who was unable to ever win in equipment that was good enough to win a title in the Cup series last season. Sure this is America where everyone gets a second chance but it is also the land of opportunity and there are plenty of young drivers out there, with a lot of talent, that could do just as well in that seat without the proven track record of not succeeding that Allmendinger brings to the table. For some reason Cup owners continue to go down this road rather than providing chances for up and coming drivers. Maybe that will change some day soon.
Word around the garage in Atlanta is that, after the Truck race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Sunday, Max Papis left the grounds with a dislocated jaw. Papis and Mike Skeen were battling for second place when they made contact in the final turn and both trucks wrecked. On the cool down lap the two exchanged hand gestures. When Papis stopped on pit lane after the race he was pulled from his truck by a member of Skeen’s crew. He suggested they meet in the hauler to discuss the situation. Then a woman, whom Papis identified as Skeen’s girlfriend, approached him screaming at him and ultimately slapped him in the face. He claims the slap was so hard it dislocated his jaw and left him with ringing in his ear.
Speaking of Trucks, Chase Elliott forcibly moved Ty Dillon from the lead of the race on the final lap to score his first win in the Camping World Truck Series. Elliott is a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports and has scored wins this season in ARCA and the Camping World Trucks. Since he is only 17 years old, he is not allowed to compete on ovals that are more than 1.1 mile in length but he is allowed to compete on road courses. Between the Dillon brothers, Kyle Larson and Elliott, the racing world is going to have some exciting talent to watch for years to come.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Brad Keselowski is the defending Sprint Cup Champion. He’s had some very strong runs this year but has somehow managed to avoid having a confetti shower on his car all season long. Thanks to his motor going sour while he was leading the race, he is now in 15th place in the points and in need of some serious help to even have an opportunity to defend his title. Some times it is better to be lucky than good. Right now, Keselowski just needs a little bit of good luck to make things turn for the better and save his chance to defend his title.
Jimmie Johnson takes home another foul fortune award this week thanks to his day being basically ruined before it ever really began when he rear ended a competitor on the first restart of the race and crushed the nose of his car. The remainder of the race was spent trying to right that wrong, which included a spin that brought out another caution. In the end, Johnson finished the race in 28th position, four laps down to the leaders.
Clint Bowyer was running along, minding his own business, with a 10 second lead, when his engine gave up the ghost. Bowyer has clinched a spot in the chase thanks to consistent runs all season, but he really didn’t need to have a momentum killer like this two weeks before the run for the title begins. He’s already shaken off the runner-up jinx this season. Maybe this bump in the road will be enough to get him heading in the right direction as the green flag waves on the Chase in two weeks.
Kasey Kahne is locked into the Chase by virtue of his two wins, which was the only redeeming grace for his Sunday night at Atlanta. Kahne ran into the back of Jeff Gordon on the first restart of the race and punctured his radiator. As a result he ended up spending an hour and 10 minutes in the pits for the night and finished the race 33 laps down to the leaders.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Kurt Busch started the race in 32nd position and quickly moved up the standings to the high teens. By lap 120 he was in the top 10. Busch was sitting in 10th place on the lap 292 restart when the outside line failed to go. He made some aggressive moves and, by the time Brian Vickers spun off of turn four at the end of the lap, he was in second position. The subsequent restart cost him a couple of spots but he still managed to come home with a fourth place finish, gaining him two spots in the standings and putting him inside the Chase cut-off with one race to go.
Brian Vickers was at the tail end of the lead lap when he spun off of turn four during the first lap after the penultimate restart of the race. As a result he came down pit lane and put on new tires while the rest of the lead lap cars stayed out. As a result, Vickers made the final restart in 14th and overtook four cars to score a 10th place finish.
David Gilliland was not the benefactor of some huge stroke of good luck. He simply ran a very clean, smart race which turned into a 17th place finish for the Front Row Motorsports driver. He was in 12th place before the final restart and lost a few spots over the last 21 laps but it was still his best finish of the season on a non-restrictor plate track.
Kyle Busch’s win in the Advocare 500 was his 28th victory in his Sprint Cup career. Busch has made 318 starts.
This is Busch’s fourth victory of 2013 and his 11th top 5 of 2013.
Busch has competed in 16 Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and this is his second victory and fifth top 10 finish.
Joey Logano’s runner-up finish was his second top 2 finish of 2013. This was Logano’s first ever top 5 or top 10 at Atlanta. In fact, this was his first finish better than 18th at AMS in the Cup series.
Martin Truex Jr’s third place finish was his fifth top 3 of the season.
Truex’s third is his second career top 5 at Atlanta in 15 starts. Interestingly, those two top 5s have been in his last two starts at the track.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the highest finishing rookie again this week, taking home the Rookie of the Race award.
28 lead changes is the most on a non-plate track all season.
The Top 10 finishers by manufacturer –
Toyota – 3
During the post-race press conference last night, J.D. Gibbs let the assembled masses know that his dad, three-time Super Bowl championship coach Joe Gibbs, coaches his son’s Pop Warner football team. He also shared that last year, four time Super Bowl coach Dan Reeves also coached the same team. It has to be intimidating to walk out for the coin toss and shake hands with Dan Reeves and Joe Gibbs for your Pop Warner coaching debut.
What’s the Points
Jimmie Johnson, despite his three successive bad weeks at the track, is still the point leader. Thanks to Clint Bowyer’s misfortune, Johnson leaves Atlanta 28 points ahead of Bowyer with one race to go until the Chase. Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards are tied with 795 points, 42 behind Johnson. Kyle Busch is 52 points behind Johnson but is 73 points ahead of Jeff Gordon in 11th which puts Busch in the Chase.
Matt Kenseth is the last driver who is locked into the Chase by virtue of his 55 point bulge over Gordon. Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored another top 10 finish Sunday, which puts him 37 points ahead of Gordon heading into a track where he’s been historically strong. Joey Logano’s runner-up finish vaulted him up two positions to eighth in the points, 16 ahead of Gordon with a win to fall back on should he have a bad night at Richmond. Greg Biffle is on the bubble of the Chase and needs to have a strong run at Richmond to solidify his Chase position. With only a 14 point gap to 11th, he has little room for error in the final race of the regular season. Kurt Busch rounds out the top 10 in points thanks to his strong Atlanta finish. With the 2004 champ on the verge of giving Furniture Row their first Chase birth, it could be quite the swan song for him in the Richard Childress family as he rides off to Stewart Haas Racing.
Because of his misfortune at Atlanta, Kasey Kahne is outside of the top 10 in points. Fortunately for him he has two wins on his resume from 2013 so he’s locked into the Chase. Martin Truex Jr. is five points ahead of Ryan Newman for the second Wild Card spot. With both of them holding one win for the year, it will very possibly be a race between the two for who can finish better at Richmond to make the Chase.
Overall rating (On a scale of 1-6, where 1 is a stinker and six is the finest of brews and a instant classic.)
The old racing surface at Atlanta consistently offers up the best Intermediate racing on the schedule. Even though the fans do not seem to show up when the series rolls into town, the drivers love it. The new compound tires that Goodyear brought to the track worked swimmingly and the race offered up the most lead changes of any non-plate race of the year. Not only were there that many lead changes, but roughly half of them were on track. Thanks to the great racing, multiple racing grooves and some ruffled feathers at the end of the night, we’ll give the Advocare 500 five well crafted porters with extra high alcohol content. Had Logano been able to catch Busch at the end and raced side-by-side to the line, it would have achieved six beer status.
One race left in the regular season. Get ready to be inundated by the myriad of possibilities heading into Richmond that will allow any number of drivers to make the Chase and potentially win the championship. In the end, there will probably be one position that changes between now and when the checkered flag flies in Richmond. Whatever the case may be, it should make for some compelling racing that will be worth tuning in or making the trip to see in person. If you can’t be in the stands, the race will be televised on ABC Saturday night, starting at 7:30. The race can also be heard on MRN radio.
©2000 - 2008 Mike Neff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
It made me laugh last night when I heard J.D. Gibbs mention his dad coaching in Pop Warner football. Last week I was at the Bristol race and heard Coach Joe Gibbs speak to the crowd at the FedEx tent. He told a great story about coaching Pop Warner this year. Here is the paraphrased (from memory) story Coach Gibbs told:
“We’ve got this big kid on our team that I’m thinking, he’s going to our best player, he’s going to be great. So during the first game, after a couple of plays this kid comes out of the game and goes to talk to my son J.D., who is really the coach, I’m just the assistant (big laughs from the crowd). Anyway, I’m thinking he must have broke a chin strap or something. He goes back in for a few plays and then comes back out. I catch him before he gets to J.D. and say what’s wrong. He looks up at me and says, coach them boys are hittin me where I ain’t got any pads. I look at him and say, you see that bench over there, you can go sit on that bench for the rest of the game or else you can go back out there and hit them where they don’t have any pads!”
Funny true story, and a great guy. Just thought ya’ll might like to hear that.
Dramatic Moment Correction – It was Jeff Gordon, not Kasey Kahne that missed a shift. Kahne was the innocent bystander that got taken out by 4-time’s failure to launch.
Hindenburg Award Correction – Kahne ran into the back of Jimmie Johnson, not Jeff Gordon. If I remember correctly, Earnhardt ran into Gordon, Johnson ran into Earnhardt and Kahne ran into Johnson and I think Burton ran into Kahne.
moparjeff – wrong. Gordon spun the tires on the restart and since Kenseth decided to give him a “push” at the same time, that caused the field to have accordion and then the cars further back, including Kahne all ran into one another.
Also, Mike Neff, the correct word is “sight” lines, not site, when you are talking about a view.
IMO, Chase could have used better judgement/tactics than driving into the back of Dillon at the end of the race. Even though he’s only 17 and an HMS developmental driver, so far I can’t say that I’m going to like him enough to cheer for him. I preferred Landon Cassil for personality, who has apparently been dumped by HMS for whatever reason.
When Gordon retires, I’m probably going to be watching the Dillon boys at RCR, rather than any of the current or upcoming HMS drivers. They may put Chase into the 24 at some point, but that doesn’t mean I have to like him.
Overall I thought it was a good race. There was actually passing – for the lead, too, which was really great. I’ve been to Atlanta and I agree that it is a fun place to watch a race. Unfortunately, it also requires me to get on a plane, rent a car and spend $ on a hotel so it’s simply not in the cards every year.
Still hoping that Gordon can pull off a miracle (they needed one last yr and have to do it again) and get in the chase. If he’s not in, I’m done with NASCAR for the year. I simply don’t care about the chase if my fav isn’t involved. NASCAR can put that in their pipe and smoke it.
The 78 cost the 22 the race by impeding it’s exit from the pit box. It was never mentioned that the driver of the 78 used to drive which car?
AJ has had equipment that could win championships? When? Cant recall when the 84, 12 or 22 or 43 last won a championship, or seriously contended. Yes, the 2 won, but thats another team and you can see that even with a better driver the 22 still has an inferior pit crew, and the crew chief made some questionable calls that luckily worked out. And Logano didnt win in the 22 car in the first half of the season either. Roger Penske thinks hes good enough and I’ll take his word over a bloggers any day.
I have to second what was said about Allmendinger with the person above me.
He’s won in everything he’s ever sat in except Cup.
In the 43 he should have had several wins. Bad luck intervened more than anything. Like when he had a 9 second lead at Dover with a car noone could touch and blew a tire under green and lost 2 laps.
Kurt Busch wrecking him at the Glen when Kurt was a lap down and AJ was leading.
Continual Pit Crew blunders to the point where Greg Erwin fired the entire lot of them mid race.
he did nearly make the chase in the 43….look how awful they are now with Almirola.
More bad luck in the 22.
ECU failure at Vegas while in the top 5.
Engine failure while leading Kentucky.
Suspension failure while leading Bristol.
Hub failure at Charlotte.
Todd Gordon failure several other races…particularly Sonoma.
Well done Mike, I hate I missed the truck race though!
Mike, you’re dead wrong about Allmendinger. JTG-D is damned lucky to have signed a driver as talented as A.J. Allmendinger. In a top ride I think he’d ultimately be a championship contender. He won’t win in the #47, though. It’s junk.
i just worry about allmendinger falling off the sobriety train getting back into the weekly racing deal, especially as long part of season wears on and if performance isn’t there, frustration will set in.
Sorry Janice, there is nothing to indicate AJ had any issues with sobriety. The known facts are he tested positive for taking Adderall once. (A drug to treat ADD). Did he make a mistake? Yes. I would hardly call it a major substance abuse problem. He was going through a bad divorce at the time too. AJ is a winner and personable driver. It’s a shame Penske didn’t have the money to put him in a full time Indy ride. He should have won the Indy 500, he was the fastest car that day.
Mike, you talk about how awesome the racing is at Atlanta and then you spend half the article not talking about the race.
I apologize if I don’t share the same feeling as you do about Atlanta. Every mile and a half cookie cutter is a parade for most of the race. I can see it with my own eyes. Ticket prices and great sightlines don’t change that.
Gina V24 – Nothing against Gordon – my beef is with Neff’s dramatic moment description of an event that never took place. I said Gordon missed a shift because that is what Neff reported. Guess that detail was wrong too.
Gordon doesn’t deserve to be IN the chase!
Hendrick should get Brian to find Johnson’s horse shoe and put it back where it will do the most good. Why can’t this stuff happen during the stupid chase?
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