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.
Mike Neff · Monday September 9, 2013
Key Moment – The caution flag flew with 55 laps to go, in the middle of green-flag pit stops to trap many of the leaders a lap down. Prior to that, Carl Edwards had been a non-factor, slowly working his way to around fifth place. But with the lucky break, he exited the pits in the top spot and that allowed him to go on and win the race.
In a Nutshell – Brad Keselowski did everything he could to put himself in contention to make the Chase, but came up short at the end. Kurt Busch looked like a strong contender for the win but had to settle for making the Chase. Jeff Gordon looked like he was going to pull off the last-minute Chase save again this year but came up two positions short. Ryan Newman had the playoffs in his grasp, but a spin by Clint Bowyer and a fumble by his pit crew left Newman out of the Chase by virtue of a tiebreaker to Martin Truex, Jr. Carl Edwards put himself in contention on the penultimate pit stop, then jumped the final restart to secure the win and take the meaningless points lead into the Chase.
Dramatic Moment – Ryan Newman raced his way to the lead as the laps were winding down to put himself in position to take one of the two “wild card” slots in the Chase. The battle between him and Edwards was compelling, nullified when Clint Bowyer spun with six laps to go. The resulting stops changed the outcome of the race; Newman’s crew didn’t hold the lead and it ultimately cost their driver a spot in the Chase.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Clint Bowyer spun by himself with a handful of laps to go. Conspiracy theorists are trying to spin it that Bowyer fell on his sword to give Truex an opportunity to grab a Chase spot. But the fact is, Bowyer couldn’t have expected Newman’s crew to blow the stop, or Truex to end up just enough spots behind Newman to secure the Chase via tiebreaker. If the Michael Waltrip Racing group took that chance, congratulations on having it work out, but it just seems too much of a crapshoot for Bowyer to have done it on purpose — questionable in-car audio aside.
In April of 2012, Tony Stewart was leading the race at Richmond when Carl Edwards fired early on a late-race restart. Stewart didn’t bite and Edwards was penalized for taking off too early. Fast forward to Saturday night. Paul Menard took two tires on the final pit stop of the night to put himself in the lead with three laps to go. He took off on the restart, Edwards passed him and was completely ahead of Menard by the time the leaders crossed the start/finish line. For whatever reason, NASCAR chose to swallow the whistle and allowed Edwards to drive off and take the win this time. Were they evening things out? A lot of people felt like the No. 99 was unfairly penalized last season.
What’s wrong with Jimmie Johnson? Johnson was so far ahead of the field after Pocono that people were already handing him the championship trophy. In the last four weeks, he’s finished 40th, 36th, 28th, and 40th. Johnson’s lead after Pocono was the biggest since the implementation of the new point system. He left Richmond second in the “old school” standings. With the reset, he now remains second, three behind Matt Kenseth. The No. 48 team has been known to turn on the switch when the Chase starts; they’ve overcome bad summers before. But they’re going to be tested this year, for sure because their momentum is completely non-existent right now.
The amount of hot air that was vented over the last week, and especially Saturday night, about all of the different possibilities and vagaries that could take place at Richmond among the 15 or so drivers who could potentially end up in the Chase would have filled every airship ever flown in the history of mankind. That makes it ironic when the checkered flag flew at the end of the Federated Auto Parts 400, there was exactly zero change in the Chase drivers from the end of the Advocare 500 in Atlanta. Was there some drama? Maybe. Did it really matter? No. At the end of the day, the drivers who are running well when the series heads into Richmond will usually be the drivers who are in contention at Homestead.
Predictions are running rampant and everyone has their own opinion about who is going to win the title. With Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards winning the last two races, they have to be under consideration. Clint Bowyer looked strong early and kept himself near the top of the point standings all season. Matt Kenseth has been strong on intermediate tracks, with three wins out of five races run on 1.5-milers this year. Kasey Kahne has the best average finish among all drivers on 1.5-mile tracks so he has to be considered a threat, too. Jimmie Johnson is always a favorite in the Chase, but the No. 48 team is going to have to do some serious tightening of the screws if they’re going to truly threaten for their sixth title. I think the wheels truly have come off (see above).
Three of the five caution flags the flew on Saturday night were for debris. Once again, we didn’t get to see any of the debris on TV. We only saw one safety truck even on the track to appear to pick anything up. Amazingly, after the third caution of the night, as the field headed off to Turn 1, Jamie McMurray hit a water bottle that was laying in the groove; um, wasn’t that supposed to be cleaned up? Debris cautions have become such a crutch for NASCAR to try and orchestrate the races that they should seriously be outlawed. Unless there is a tire carcass or a bumper cover laying in the primary groove, they need to keep the yellow flag in the back pocket and let the teams settle the races.
Ryan Newman reportedly already has a contract in hand for next season to drive for Richard Childress Racing. That is a good thing, for his sake because the way he threw his pit crew under the bus on Saturday night after coming into the pits with the lead but leaving in fifth position was downright disturbing. It is going to be difficult to put together a pit crew who will want to bust their butt every week for someone who so casually chucks them to the wolves.
There are always ironies that play out during Cup weekends. The incestuous nature of the sport results in former bedfellows finding themselves squared off on opposite sides of competition. In an interesting twist after the race on Saturday night, Dr. Jerry Punch, who was waiting to interview Kurt Busch when he had his famous meltdown that ultimately cost him his job at Penske ended up being the pit road reporter who interviewed Busch about making it to the Chase. It was a very sweet irony, indeed.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Denny Hamlin considers Richmond his home track. Saturday night, it looked like his home had been foreclosed. Hamlin started sixth and stayed in the top 10 early. Unfortunately, he slipped back to the 20s before halfway and spent the rest of the day battling for spots around there before coming home 21st. 2013 has been a throwaway season for Hamlin. Hopefully, his squad will figure out some things that will make 2014 more successful.
Clint Bowyer looked like the car to beat for most of the night. He started in fourth and led 72 laps before he got caught out by a caution on lap 345. Bowyer was buried back in the pack after that, ending the night in 25th position and was accused of spinning on purpose to bring out the last caution of the night.
Defending champ Brad Keselowski, like Bowyer, looked pretty strong early, led the most laps in the race, but also found himself caught out by the debris caution on lap 345. His chances were gone, after that as the loss of track position left him struggling to simply finish 17th. Ironically it was Jimmie Johnson, the five-time series champion who blew a tire that spread the debris on the track, a wreck that ultimately prevented Keselowski from having the opportunity to defend his title.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Many people might think Joey Logano should be in the foul fortune column with his horrible race on Saturday. Logano was fortunate because the late caution allowed him to take a wave around to get to one lap down and on the same lap as several other drivers. One of those drivers was Brian Vickers, who was doing his best to make sure that his teammate Martin Truex, Jr. made the Chase. With Vickers running one of the slowest laps in the history of Richmond, Logano was able to pass him and David Gilliland, putting himself one point ahead of Jeff Gordon and into the Chase.
Carl Edwards was a non-factor for most of the race but was lucky enough to have not pitted when the caution flew for Johnson’s blown tire. His team ripped off a great pit stop and put him out front to contend for the race win. He then jumped the final restart, but was fortunate enough to have NASCAR not penalize him so that he could go on to win the race.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was having a solid run already on Saturday night. But he capitalized on the timing of the Johnson flat and put himself in contention for a top 10. By the time the dust had settled, at the checkered flag Stenhouse quietly found himself with the first top 10 of his Cup Series career. Stenhouse has been knocking on the door of a top 10 all season, and he managed to ride the momentum of his first pole last week to his first top 10 overall this week.
Ford – 2
What’s the Points?
For those of you who like “old school” points, Carl Edwards overtook Jimmie Johnson for the lead Saturday night. Edwards left Richmond one point ahead of Johnson in the now meaningless regular season standings.
As the series heads to the final 10 races, we get the artificially inflated point totals that apparently are supposed to make the battle for the title somehow more important. Matt Kenseth is now the point leader thanks to his five wins during the first 26 races of the year. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch are tied for second, as each of them has four wins on the season. Kenseth has 2,015 points while Johnson and Busch are sitting on 2,012. Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards both have two victories in the “regular season” so they are sitting with 2,006 points, nine out of the top spot. Joey Logano and Greg Biffle each have one win during the year so they’re holding 2,003 points, 12 behind Kenseth but three ahead of the Wild Cards and non-winners.
Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch all enter the Chase with 2,000 points after not scoring a win in the first 26 races but having the necessary points to end up inside the top 10. Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. are the two “wild card” entrants. They will have 2,000 points each because Wild Card entrants do not receive bonus points for their wins.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – Richmond International Raceway routinely provides the best races on the schedule. The side-by-side competition and the importance of tires keep the fans on the edge of their seats all night. 17 lead changes, a total that included seven of them on-track is the kind of action that fans want to see. The race gets five ice-cold Michelob Amber Bocks. The only thing keeping it from receiving the full six was the lame no-call by NASCAR that allowed Carl Edwards to steal the victory. There is no doubt that the official review by NASCAR will find nothing wrong, but Edwards should have been penalized because that is the precedent that NASCAR has set.
Next Up — The first race of the Chase is next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. The folks in Daytona are hoping that the fans will show up in droves. If they don’t, you just might witness the beginning of the end for the intermediate track in Joliet, IL. The race will be aired on ESPN at 2:00 PM ET; it will also be broadcast live on your local MRN affiliate.
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Logano earned his spot a couple of times over this year to make the Chase. So Jeff and Ryan fell short, thats racing. This race had the usual lucky ones and not so lucky ones, again thats racing. Good going Joey, best of luck in the Chase.
Wrestling on wheels.
I understand you feel Bowyers spin had to start “the perfect storm” for it to work in Truex favor… But let’s not forget the 15’s crazy pit stops afterward and the early pitting and slow speed of Vickers. It was a longshot…but at that point the only shot Truex had… And it worked! Sorry..no congrats from this fan!
This is the can of worms Nascar opened when they allowed multiple teams and ‘satellite’ teams. Unintended consequences.
Thank you Lord, for football season. It’s real. It’s exciting. May have some lousy calls from the officials but there are NO phony debris cautions.
And so now the season is over for all the drivers and teams not in the chase. Too bad. Could have been exciting over the last 10 “races”.
There’s not even any room for debate here, Bowyer clearly spun intentionally to alter the results of the race and the chase.
If this type of manipulation were done in a football or basketball game, those involved would face criminal charges.
Here is what NASCAR should do to rectify the situation. Remove Truex from the chase, penalize Bowyer enough points so that he will miss the chase, and fine MWR one million dollars.
On another note, whoever made the decision not to penalize Edwards, should be fired.
Hmm a brief glance at the nationwide wide points with several legitimate championship contenders, heck I think even the trucks have more legitimate contenders and a better point race (if that’s really your thing) than cup…. Again.
Nothing will happen to anybody, this is the norm now that NASCAR and The WWE have merged into one entity. Just another reason why people are staying away in droves.
Talked to a friend of mine the other day on the phone, he asked what I was doing and said “watching the race” to which he replied “Race? They still do that?” And he used to be a race fan. NASCAR’s salad days are over and they need to do something quick before its too late. Now that the NFL is here, it’s only going to get worse. Your average sports pan just doesn’t care anymore. Look at what happened to Speed channel. Fox Sports 1 is a joke.
Oh man. That race was rotten on several levels. Just so many things wrong with the way NASCAR handled it:
1. The debris caution around Lap 270. It happened a few laps after Jeff Gordon passed Brian Vickers for the lucky dog spot. I’m a 24 fan, and I was hoping for a caution to get him back on the lead lap. I had a feeling NASCAR might throw the caution for him, and it sure looks like they did. Maybe there WAS actual debris, but the TV crews HAVE to show it, and they didn’t. If NASCAR wants to be rid of this debate, they have to help the TV crews as much as possible.
2. Edwards jumping the restart is the biggest blown call I’ve seen NASCAR make in quite some time. I’m not the biggest fan of the whole leader-leads-at-the-line rule on restarts, because it tends to screw over everyone who’s not in the leader’s lane, but as long as the rule is in place, ENFORCE IT. And in a situation like Saturday’s, the onus is on NASCAR to explain clearly why the heck that was legal. They have a ton of data and telemetry they can show us.
3. I think Bowyer’s spin was intentional. On a day when almost nobody lost control, Bowyer lost control of one of the better-handling cars on the night. The other evidence is also pretty incriminating. Obviously, for an offense this severe you have to be 100% certain that it was deliberate (innocent until proven guilty), so NASCAR may not hand out any punishment—but if they know what’s good for them they’ll give a detailed explanation of why the evidence wasn’t enough to convict. Keeping with that theme, I’m not sure Truex’s team was complicit, so maybe they’ll escape some punishment. If MWR is caught, though, the penalties HAVE to be harsh.
Ugh. This would have been much less of a scandal if NASCAR was a little more honest and a little more transparent.
hhmmmm..even the NFL blew a call yesterday on penalties that should have been nullified. They then played the same down over again and the result was a TD for the team.
so in conclusion
the last restart shows that Nascar definitely knows how to put on a show.gotta give them credit for blowing the plain as the nose on your face(pardon the pun)screw-up that was Carl Edwards a full car length over Menard.
It’s just like we say at my job all the time: “You can’t make this stuff up!”
No congrats to Bowyer for me. MWR blatantly attempted to and succeeded in, manipulating the finish. Yes, calls can be blown in any sport but this was ridiculous. MWR knows they cheated – when does Mikey refuse to speak to the press? The only time that I recall was when his team was caught cheating at Daytona with the fuel and then he refused to talk yesterday at the truck race. This guy runs his mouth for a living.
I won’t be watching this farce of a “championship”. Football will have my attention for the next 10 weeks. NASCAR just became “who cares” as far as I’m concerned.
Ever since they started throwing fake debris cautions it has made this more of a show then a race. I’ve really struggled over the years with NASCAR manipulating the races to cover up the piss poor product the cars, tires and tracks have out out there. Restarts don’t excite me when they aren’t genuine. If a race is meant to go the whole way without a caution, let it happen – It’s not fair to the team who gets a big lead because they hit the setup early on to have it erased by a fake caution. If your not happy with your product – FIX IT! – eliminate some aero dependency on the cars, better tires, different tracks.
Friday night watching a cup driver steal a win from a NW regular by jumping a restart left another bad taste in my mouth. Two things that are awful about NASCAR right now – cup drivers dominating NW and horrible officiating – both on display. I didn’t think Saturday could be any worse, but boy was I wrong. When Newman took the lead and was about to race his way into the Chase, it reminded me why I love the sport. 10 minutes later, after an intentional spin and blatant blown restart call, i was reminded why I can no longer get excited about this sport and waste my time.
My driver is in the Chase, but I am done watching races for the year. Hell, I might be done forever unless NASCAR decides to actually let the teams “race” on tracks that put on a good show. I put up with the boring CHASE races on 1.5 milers for so many years, but now that the race to the championship is insincere I see no need to watch. I’m tired of wasting 4-6 hours of my life every weekend only to feel cheated and manipulated.
You have to think that Tony, after watching the footage and listening to the radio chatter, is going to wheel his hot-rod wheelchair into Helton’s office and go all AJ on him. I can’t imagine him not being totally steamed at such a blatant manipulation of the chase field. Regardless of Newman’s ultimate destination, Tony was trying hard to get Ryan’s car in the chase, and to have him cheated out of it won’t settle well with Smoke or Zippy. Can’t wait to hear from them!
No talk of the debri caution just as Gordon passed Vickers for the Lucky Dog. Looked fishy to me!
Having Hendrick drivers, teams, satellite drivers, and teams whining about cheating is about the funniest damn thing I’ve ever heard.
Also odd, I don’t hear anyone mentioning that Menard obviously jumped first on the final restart when Edwards drove around him before the start-finish line. Can you say “tire spin”?
Mike,you must be one the writers on this site that drinks the MWR cool ade. You didn’t tell about Vickers being told by Ty Norris to come in for a pit stop because they needed one point. On top of that you are condoing their actions by saying, if they took that chance, congratulations on having it work out.
Jerseygirl you are right about Mikey and the press. He never saw a mike that he didn’t like.
Nascar minipulates races every week and you expect them to penalize a team who tried to do the same thing. Personally, I hope Nascar does nothing so it will make them look even more stupid.
Nascar made their bed with this stupid chase and now it is finally catching up with them and I can’t get the smile off my face at how this is going to make Nascar look. This controversy is all over the web and makes Nascar look like a joke and I love it. They are getting what they deserve.
I hope the ratings tank for the Chase too. No Gordon. No Stewart. No defending champ. And the possibility of Johnson winning #6. Sounds like must see tv to me.
With regards to the restart, if the roles were reversed and Menard jumped, you can bet he would have been penalized. After all, it would look pretty stupid if a non Chase driver won the race, wouldn’t it?
And oh by the way, the Bears are home this weekend. Having nobody show up for the first race of your precious playoffs doesn’t look so good. Maybe they can give a discount to all Amtrak employees considering the nice long train they will be watching all day long on Sunday.
This race seemed to demonstrate that Henrick is not nearly as good at team orders as most people suspect. At the final caution the #5, #24 and #88 were all on the lead lap. All they needed to do is have the #5 or #88 stay out and Lagano wouldn’t have been able to take the wave around and hence pick up a few positions.
Steve’s right with the Bears at home and with a team that actually looks pretty good more folks will be at Soldier Field than Joliet. I was at Joliet last weekend and it was awesome driving 148 mph and my daughter had a great time doing the ride along but as for a Nascar race … YAWN! This weekend I won’t be near that track. Heading north for the Packer game. Bowyer’s intential spin and Edwards jump of the restart with Nascar’s no call shows that Nascar and the Chase is a joke. A bad one. Bowyer should be disqualified from the Chase and MWR fined.
with that final jump of restart, that was it for me. then hearing what jr said about they’d be able to download info about the “spin”…
makes me wonder if the 48 will stop having issues next weekend since the “chase” begins. tv won’t focus on any drivers not in the chase.
after seeing childress talking to ryan prior to the race on sat on tv, and the pat on the back childress gave ryan, knew then and there where mr. newman would be headed.
The spin by Bowyer was unquestionably deliberate; and I do believe Edwards jumped the restart, but what are you gonna do? I’m just gonna let this one go and hope somebody… anybody… beats Johnson for the title.
Good luck on that… Carl D.
Wow. Neff’s apologist stance on the Bowyer spin would not have been tolerated under previous authorship. When you can’t count on FS to tell the truth…..
Old Farmer… Unbelievable. There’s actually a tiny bit of credibility in Nascar this morning, huh? I’m completely numb.
Cheaters never prosper! Way to go NASCAR. It’s about time you got one right.
Don’t have to give an opinion as jerseygirl said it all about Mikey the Mouth! I wish at the very LEAST that FOX would take both Waltrips off the air. They are both despised by a very large part of the NASCAR fan base and that number is growing daily!
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