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.
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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.
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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 · Tuesday September 10, 2013
Monday night, NASCAR’s Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton stood up in front of the media to announce one of the harshest penalties towards an organization in its 64-year history. A $300,000 fine was issued for Michael Waltrip, along with an indefinite suspension of Ty Norris, the placement of all three of the team’s crew chiefs on probation and a 50-point penalty for each driver and car prior to the seeding of the Chase. The consequences, wide-ranging in scope are designed to punish Michael Waltrip Racing as a whole — far beyond any of the individual race teams. The sport’s officials felt there was outright manipulation, altering the finish of Saturday night’s race at Richmond and there was no choice but to come down hard to ensure such strategy would never happen within a Sprint Cup race again.
Unfortunately, the end result is that Martin Truex, Jr. is the only driver who “loses out” in this entire scenario. Brian Vickers isn’t running for points, so the only penalty there is for the No. 55 is owner points and they weren’t in contention for the title anyway. Clint Bowyer’s penalty is post-Richmond, not post-Chase seeding. That means he still has 2,000 points, leaving him 15 behind Matt Kenseth which is exactly where he was before the flap. Truex, meanwhile goes from contending for the title to being just another car on the track while the chosen 12 battle it out. Sound fair to you? The shame of it all is that Truex raced his guts out Saturday night to make the Chase. He did nothing untoward, oblivious to the actions around him and yet he’s the one paying the ultimate price.
The myriad of angles and opinions on this topic are going to be as wide and diversified as the entirety of the NASCAR fan base. Before I present my take on things, though here is a brief list of some of the facts that were presented during the media press conference on Monday night. These were themes spoken, again and again when Helton was questioned by the assembled press.
With that as the palette from which to paint your opinion… here is mine. NASCAR just took another giant step towards becoming professional wrestling. For years, we have seen the people who make the calls in the tower try and orchestrate excitement in races. Bogus debris cautions, refusal to make actual pit road times available in real time, assorted discrepancies in how in race rule interpretations are applied and selective use of the caution flag during late-race incidents are just a few examples of that. The fact that Mike Helton has to make a point that NASCAR takes its credibility very seriously shows they know they have a credibility problem. Here’s my concern: this decision has done absolutely nothing to bolster that credibility.
Helton pointed out, at the beginning of the press conference, that the presence of teams in NASCAR has been a great benefit to the sport. He said that they have always tried to maintain a fair and level playing field with the presence of multi-car teams. He acknowledged that they’ve never had to step up and penalize a team before now. The problem with that is the reaction didn’t happen until fans screamed enough on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to do so. The reason it took this long for something to happen is… what happened Saturday night has happened, in some way, shape, or form since the dawn of multi-car organizations.
For years, there were instances of teammates scuffing tires for other teammates. Teams have swapped crew members, during races, to try and benefit one team over another. During the whole tandem drafting experience, teammates constantly hung out non-teammates when the opportunity presented itself. None of these actions were ever met with scrutiny or discipline, even though they obviously were to the benefit of teammates over the other competitors. Saturday night, because it was on TV, people now have more access than ever to scanners and in-car audio. People were aware of the conversations on the radio and, as a result, the anger spewed forth that somehow, someone was wronged by the fact that Clint Bowyer spun out or, more accurately, Brian Vickers didn’t race as hard as he could have.
Racing is a very competitive sport. The testosterone on pit road, the intensity and emotion in the cockpits, the ebbs and flows of momentum can push people to the breaking limit. It can also allow some people who are smarter than others to take advantage of a system and gain because of it.
Even before the Car of Tomorrow, but especially since, NASCAR has continuously tried to legislate competition. The Chase, the new point system, the tighter tolerances on the cars, the wave around, the Lucky Dog… all of it is trying to dictate how the races unfold. Well, auto racing isn’t supposed to be equal. It isn’t supposed to give everyone exactly the same equipment to work with. Innovation and ingenuity have led to hundreds and thousands of automotive discoveries over time. That’s not where NASCAR wants to go anymore; instead, they make the rule book so tight so that there is no wiggle room, resulting in people having to try desperate things. Saturday night wasn’t desperate — it was smart. Ty Norris, standing high above the racing surface in Richmond, with four laps left on the scoring pylon, realized that having Brian Vickers slow down and allowing Joey Logano to pass would put Logano in the top 10 in points and, ultimately Martin Truex, Jr. in the Chase. The fact that he was that aware of such a convoluted situation, able to make a strategic decision to give his driver a shot at a championship should be commended, not penalized.
There have been 7,384 laps of competition through the first 26 races of the season. 207 caution flags have flown during those races, giving drivers and teams hundreds of opportunities to make changes and strategic decisions about their cars and their races that ultimately have shaped and determined where they sit after the checkered flag has flown at Richmond. There have been times, throughout the year, where drivers have gone to the pits at odd times, drivers have stayed on the track when they could have pulled into the pits to keep a caution from flying, or stayed in the groove a little too long with a blown engine, resulting in a caution for oil cleanup. The point is there are a multitude of opportunities to make a decision based on what is better for your teammates during the season. Just because one was made on Saturday night should not be grounds to invalidate a team’s efforts for an entire year, which is the intended or unintended consequence of this decision.
Having teams as a major component of your sport — arguably one of the biggest components since Furniture Row is technically the first single-car team to ever make the Chase — there has to be acceptance of some team orders. Don’t forget, when Roush had all of his teams in the Chase, they were orchestrating teammates getting bonus points for leading races. We’ve got non-Chase teammates trying engine modifications and testing to try and develop faster, better setups for those that have made the postseason. Those types of strategies won’t change because of what was announced Monday night.
The bottom line is that racing used to be about racing and not a bunch of rules, regulations, and overly judicious crap. Just because a team was smart enough to outsmart the system doesn’t mean they should be penalized. Also, if you’re going to penalize the team, penalize the whole team, not just the guy who didn’t do anything but race his heart out, with a broken wrist, to try and make the Chase.
Do I want to see team rules where one driver gets preferential treatment over his other teammates? Or rules that cause finishes of races to be orchestrated? Of course not. I want to see racing the way it ought to be… drivers and teams pushing the limits of their physical and mental abilities to make their cars go as fast as possible, exploiting the gray area of the rules. Saturday night wasn’t even a gray area. The rules simply work that the driver who crosses the line ahead of another driver is scored ahead of them. Ty Norris realized that, if he had Brian Vickers slow down and come to pit road, it would put Joey Logano into the top 10 in points, which would put Martin Truex, Jr. into the Chase. There wasn’t anything wrong with that… it was smart.
Another aspect of this entire situation is that Toyota has just had a position in the Chase taken away from them. Toyota had four drivers contending for the title after Richmond. Now, they have three. They went from 33% of the Chase field to 25%. I’m no lawyer, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but it certainly seems like there is a very substantial ground for some litigation here. Honestly, that might be the better of two evils for NASCAR if you think about it. Toyota has a vested interest in the sport but they’re hardly overcommitted. If Toyota chose to, they could take their ball and leave. That would leave NASCAR with two manufacturers and the rumors of Dodge returning. That is far from the competitive landscape that NASCAR wants to have.
NASCAR hasn’t turned a blind eye to team orders over the years. They’ve limited the sharing of tires. They’ve eliminated the team radios between cars. The number of cars a team can field is limited. So there have been attempts at limiting the advantage each car owner can have during the race. However, this penalty has taken that restriction to an entirely new level. NASCAR has now put themselves squarely into the team strategy equation. Certainly, there are times when it is obvious that a team is trying some kind of shenanigans, but other times it is subtle. But once you enter this type of arena, setting a precedent it’s hard to go back. NASCAR is going to have to make calls that they never should have had to make. They’ve not only opened a can of worms, —they’ve now put themselves into a position where they can openly impact the outcome of races by making calls on the decisions of race teams. It is an area where I do not think they really want to go, nor should they go.
But they’re there.
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What we are talking about here is, a driver blatantly causing a caution for their or a teammate’s benefit. If you are alright with that then your article makes sense.
Mike, the argument that Nascar should turn a blind eye towards this incident because Toyota might take their ball and go home is so wrong. If you have to allow a manufacturer to manipulate the races in order to keep them in the sport, they need to go.
The two I feel the most sorry for in all this are the drivers Martin Truex and Brian Vickers, neither of which had any idea of what was going on off track. Would not be surprised if Clint Bowyer has several meetings with the wall througout the chase – as well he should!!
Great article! Nascar lost all credibility years ago with “debris” cautions.
What are the Las Vegas odds for Clint winning the Sprint Cup Championship this year?
Carl your spot on.
Yesterday you and other writers at this site were condoning what MWR had done at Richmond. A day later after Nascar handed down penaltys, your still are defending their actions.Toyota could pull their support from MWR and still remain in NASCAR.
Fox should remove M. Waltrip from the announcing booth.
Mike Helton said, _“•Mike Helton believes the Chase has created more competitive racing throughout the season. By design, there is a lot of attention about who will make the Chase and who won’t. That is what the Chase is all about and that is what NASCAR racing is all about.
And this is why I dont hate the Chase. I dont love it, but I dont hate it either. I think its more fun watching 10-12 drivers race for a championship now than watching only 3-4 have a chance at this late point in the season.
Mike Neff, you might think its smart and tactical for Ty Norris to think up this strategy, but its still morally and ethically wrong. I agree with Bill B above, in that intentionally causing a caution is wrong.
Vickers pitted early… that’s not something I like, but it’s fair.
Now, Bowyer spinning on purpose to cause a caution period… that’s not fair.
Mike, your title is misleading and honestly, sill. This was not “trying to work as a team”. This was an example of CHEATING as an organization. I doubt very much that Ty Norris thought this up all by himself. This was collusion of the highest order. Bowyer shouldn’t be eligible for the chase and if he should happen to win the 10 race trophy, that scandal may swamp whatever is left of NASCAR’s “integrity”.
Bowyer should be out, Gordon should be in.
Kevin, unlike you, I do hate the chase. It has ruined the fun of enjoying the races as events. Now it’s all about the points and I have a favorite driver and if he’s not in this farce, then I have no interest in watching the next 10 races.
MWR cheated and the fact that some people, including Mike Neff apparently, think that it is OK makes ME feel sick inside. Toyota bought their way in, they’ve had a mouthpiece on Fox in both Mikey & DW and it has gotten so I simply can’t listen to any of the announcers.
MWR didn’t try to function as a team, they succeeded in cheating the system. If not for the immediate outcry of foul by the fans on social media — and maybe some of the paid media, too – MWR would have gotten away with this. I don’t for a minute believe that Ty Norris thought this up on the spur of the moment.
NaBru – Vickers and Bowyer both pitted so that they would be OFF the lead lap and screw with Gordon being able to maintain his points position relative to Logano and not get in by being in the top 10. Gordon would have/should have made it in based on having raced his way in except for the manipulation by MWR. I’m sure that Bowyer is happier than heck that Gordon isn’t in – it’s a little payback for him from last year. Personally, I hope that Bowyer winds up in the wall several times during these last 10 races. I don’t want him hurt, but I do want to see him wrecked & yes, I’ll be cheering!
@Kevin in SoCal. I agree Gordon doesn’t belong in the “Chase” but he was kept out by not only his 26 race stats but also by someone else’s actions. Remember when Tony Stewart said he didn’t belong in the “Chase” and then went on to win the championship. So anything can happen. Go figure.
Well said Mike. The problem I have with this whole deal is that none of this would have happened without the chase.
When you rely on gimmicks to manufacture ‘excitement’, this is what you get.
WELL SAID!!WELL SAID!!! What you stated is the whole problem with what Nascar did to MWR. Nascar is itself guilty of what they are accusing MWR of doing, without accusing them per say of anything. They just put the screws to them big time with fines. Vickers doing what he did was strategic, why is that bad? EVERYBODY DOES IT. I believe this was a knee jerk reaction which seems to be the political norm these days to calm a largely uniformed mob, being swayed by their favorites, not critical thinking.
Gordon vs Bowyer at Phoenix part II, and this time its premeditated! One thing that I find curious is the 2011 “Chase” was that Edwards was the highest finishing Ford in each rach.
Where can I buy my Official Na$CRAP “NAPA Know-How” Chase swag? The real reason that Clint Bowyer spun was he could not get his 5 Hour Energy Shot open, because his arms were tired. Clint Bowyer, the driver who TOOK A DIVE and was part of a team wide effort to fix the Chase entries for drivers, is eligible to win the Na$CRAP championship. HOW CLUELESSLY STUPID ARE YOU Na$CRAP? The GIMMICK Chase has finally been been EXPOSED once and for what it ALWAYS HAS BEEN. A MEANINGLESS GIMMICK.
I hear people say “caught cheating” I’m glad someone here can explain this to me. Q What rules were broken? Please list the rules as stated in the rulebook. It amazes me that NASCAR could not forsee this when the “Armchair Drivers” across America knew what had to be done and was hopoing they would do it or hoping they would not. It’s okay to change pit crews during a race to “manipulate the outcome” but you can’t pit when pit road is open?
The penalties are a crock and NASCAR is over the top on this one. There is already a rule in the book concerning intentionally causing a caution. The penalty is 3 laps (I believe). Once again NASCAR does exactly what it wants to do and uses the Actions Detrimental catch-all gray area to justify it.
Racing is all about manipulating the finish to your advantage. When did it become illegal to pit when pit road is open? I call BS on this one.
The height of hypocrisy.
Want to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Suspend Bowyer for the rest of the season.
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