Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Key Moment – 109 laps into the race, the skies opened up and the race went under a red flag. Had the weather held off for another 25 laps, the race would have been called official and no one would have had to stay up until midnight to see the finish.
In a Nutshell – The first 109 laps of the race were about as boring of a parade as they could be. After the extensive rain delay, cautions were running rampant which led to numerous restarts. Engines were blowing more frequently in the last half of the event than they had in a race since Toyota was losing engines like a seven year-old losing baby teeth. In the end, Kyle Busch was the dominant car of the post-rain delay, but Matt Kenseth got a push on the final restart and led the last segment to win. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon overcame some difficulties to post strong finishes but, in the end, it was Kenseth who scored the win ahead of Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Johnson and Gordon.
Dramatic Moment – On the final restart of the race, Kevin Harvick pushed Matt Kenseth to the lead ahead of Kyle Busch. Once the cars were nose to tail, there was no passing for the lead and Kenseth ran off and won the race.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Five hours and 10 minutes of rain delay coverage. Sure, those fans at the track would like to see the race and many of them can’t come back on Monday but sheesh, taking the green at 10 PM was a bit much. Fortunately, with the excitement of the Chase having everyone on the edge of their seats, it certainly had to be easy for all of the fans to stick it out.
By the way, NASCAR, starting the race at 10 is the same as starting it Monday. Anyone who had to take vacation to attend the race or had a long drive to get there did not stick around to see the end of it. If you don’t believe that, check the tape of the race because there were a couple thousand people in the seats when the race restarted.
Danica Patrick is often accused of believing the sport revolves around her. While that is inaccurate, there is one word of advice that she might want to listen to. When there has been a very long red flag and NASCAR calls you back to the car, it is a good idea to get there as quickly as you can. David Hoots came on the radio to ask if all of the drivers were in their cars and ready to race when he was informed the driver of the No. 10 was not in their car. He responded by saying, “We can start without her.”
Which rule change, penalty, NASCAR decision should we start with?
Since I was last with you, Michael Waltrip Racing was fined and penalized for manipulating the outcome of the race at Richmond. The move to have Brian Vickers pit and ultimately allow Joey Logano to make the Chase on points was considered a violation of the infamous 12-4, actions detrimental to stock car racing. Somehow, having your driver pit when the pits are open is an action detrimental to the sport. There was no rule against it, at least at the time, and the MWR folks, specifically Ty Norris, figured it out better than everyone else on the track. While NASCAR most likely wanted to do nothing, as they routinely do, their hand was forced because the hoard of casual fans who apparently were paying attention to the race lost their collective minds and demanded something be done. The fact is that, since NASCAR started there have been people making decisions that ultimately effect the outcome of races against the wishes of others. But past history didn’t matter, present outrage did and the biggest fine in the history of the sport was handed out. Whether you agree with the decision or not, once thing is for sure, NASCAR has opened an enormous can of worms that is going to bite them in the ass for the next 60 years of the sports’ life, assuming it lasts that long.
As part of the fines and penalties that hit MWR, Martin Truex Jr. lost points which knocked him out of the Chase. While Clint Bowyer was accused of spinning on purpose, although it wasn’t proven, and Vickers pitted to let Joey Logano around, Truex did nothing but race his heart out. In the end, he was the only driver who was really penalized by the entire fiasco that developed at the end of Richmond.
While that seemed to be enough of a mess already, things were just beginning to get silly. Some intrepid scanner geeks dug up some radio chatter between the spotter for the No. 38 and his driver that insinuated Penske Racing would like to have David Gilliland slow down in the closing laps. As a result, that would allow Logano to drive past him and gain another spot to ensure he would make the Chase. In the end, Gilliland slowed down enough to let Logano catch him from a straightaway behind and pass him for a spot that helped him make the Chase on points. Amazingly, Penske Racing was chastised and given a firm pat on the wrist along with the entire racing organization being placed on probation for the remainder of the calendar year. Somehow, even though Penske did the same thing MWR did, manipulating the outcome of the race to the benefit of some and the detriment of others, they didn’t get anything near the $300,000 fine that MWR received. Whatever the load of bunk is that NASCAR will try and feed you, the reason is simple: Michael Waltrip is a spineless shill when it comes to NASCAR and they know he won’t fight them over the decision. Roger Penske is a man who will fight tooth and nail if he feels that he’s being accused of something that can’t be proven. If they tried to fine Penske, he’d have sued them and drug this thing out for months, just like the 1981 Indianapolis 500, which wasn’t official until October 9th.
If that wasn’t enough, when the teams got to Chicago the heads of the sanctioning body had a meeting with all of the Cup teams to discuss some new rules and policies going forward. The highlight of the meeting was a new rule that basically says all of the drivers have to compete at 100% of the ability of the driver and car throughout the entire event. NASCAR President Mike Helton did make clear that it does not apply to start and park drivers, so Michael McDowell’s job is safe for now. Umm… what? How in the world are the people calling the races, who don’t even consistently enforce minimum speeds or “out of bounds” are going to be able to tell that people are giving 100% is beyond even the most brilliant of minds.
With the sport already in a complete tizzy over a week of jurisdictional muscle flexing, the NASCAR folks decided to make one more announcement on Sunday morning. The restart rules were tweaked in an effort to make the calls less subjective for race officials. While the true effect remains to be seen, it most likely has just moved the subjectivity from one spot to another on the restarts. The leader will still start the race in the restart box but that is the end of when they will have an advantage. If the leader fires, then the second-place driver beats the leader to the start/finish line that is now OK. If the leader doesn’t start in the box, then it is up to the flagman. The subjectivity will now be all about how fast the leader is bringing the field to green and whether the second-place driver fires at the same time or before the leader. Just another worm in the can…
I would love to be a fly on the wall at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates on Monday morning to hear the explanation of why Juan Pablo Montoya’s rear fender wasn’t cleared from the tire before the race restarted. The result, a flat was highly embarrassing, since it was knocked in on the rear tire right before the red flag flew to start the five-hour rain delay.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Joey Logano, after all of the attention this week, was the first Chase contender to be bitten by a mechanical failure. Coming to the pits with smoke puffing from his exhaust pipe was more than evidence enough that he had a bad engine issue. In an effort to give 100%, though, Logano continued to circulate under the caution with smoke and lord knows whatever fluids spewing from the exhaust pipe. It took awhile, but eventually his motor did give up the ghost and he ended up as the lowest-finishing Chase contender.
Not that anyone thought Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was going to win the title but his engine detonation once again has signed his season’s death certificate. He may rebound and pull off the improbable, but the odds are stacked very strongly against him.
Cole Whitt had a rough first Cup Series race of the year on Sunday. First, he was the driver that brought everyone’s attention to the rain in Turn 4 when he spun to the infield to ultimately bring out the red. He then went back to racing after the red was lifted, only to completely detonate his engine. His No. 30 ride blew up so violently, the car became engulfed in flames.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson had a pit stop penalty called in error by a NASCAR official which cost him quite a bit of track position early in the race. The official thought lugnuts were loose when, in fact, they were all tight on the car.
Kurt Busch was hit with a speeding penalty during some green flag pit stops. He took a wave around to try and get back into contention and made up the ground when Joey Logano’s engine first started smoking. It ended up Busch was able to put the No. 78 in a top-5 finishing position.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has been consistently improving his best career Cup finish. Last week was his first career top 10 result with a 10th place at Richmond. This week, he scored an eighth-place finish at Chicago. Stenhouse was the second-highest finishing Ford driver, one spot behind defending champion Brad Keselowski.
What’s the Points
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – What is to be said about the 24 hours of Chicago? The first half of the race was a mind numbing snoozefest of a parade. The second half was an engine blowing display of starts and stops that never really had a flow but still showed that track position means more than tires or strategy. The aero dependency of these cars is still ruining the sport, even more than the decision makers in Daytona trying to overlegislate their way into a racing series where everyone is equally identical. We’ll give this one two beers simply for the excitement that happened at the end of the race.
Next Up — The Cup Series moves to Loudon, New Hampshire for the Sylvania 300. It will be available on ESPN and PRN at 2:00 on Sunday.
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didn’t manage to stay awake, 4:30 am comes quickly to this old gal, so i was in bed when green flag waved. when they were an hour late getting started the first go round knew it was going to be a long race. only a shame they didn’t get to halfway. wouldn’t have mattered much, cause i think kenseth was leading at that point. would have helped jr. i can’t see him overcoming such a points deficit, and he’s not in a good frame of mind to mount the charge. he is one driver that could benefit from some time with a sports psychologist.
should we start a pool to see how long it will be before johnson is back in the points lead?
Last night was a tale of two races. For the top five or so cars, it was a single-file parade in which it was impossible to pass anyone within two laps after a restart. Behind that, though, it was a really entertaining race with plenty of passing and tire wear being a major factor: Jeff Gordon drove from 18th to sixth on tires only some five or seven laps fresher than those around him, and he wasn’t the only one to make exciting charges up the running order. I couldn’t watch before the rain delay, but the race after the delay was the best I’ve seen at Chicagoland in years.
oh geez, cry me a river because some people are so bent out of shape that Gordon GOT in because NASCAR said so. I’m a happy 24 fan. Mike, trust me that it wasn’t any of the “casual” fans who roared at NASCAR. The media who touts Jr Nation seems to forget that Gordon has a pretty damn big fan following, too.
Also, it wasn’t putting Jeff in that was NASCAR’s mistake, it was NOT excluding Bowyer for his part in the MWR manipulation.
You are right, there is no “rule” against pitting your car under green, but it sure is a damned unsportsmanlike thing to do it to deliberately manipulate the finishing order. Plus, it wasn’t just Vickers, Bowyer pitted again in order to make sure the running order was to the advantage of Logano as well as helping Truex. The media knows it, too, although it seems the majority would rather say how awful it is that NASCAR is ruining the sport by adding a driver. BS!
Gordon had a really good run at Chicagoland – I hope it continues for the next 9 weeks & that he finishes well up in the points.
So now that drivers need to give 100% does that mean that if you ride at the back of the pack outside the draft at the restrictor plate tracks you get penalized?
As for Gordon getting in Jerserygirl has it right. The espn talking heads agree. NASCAR’s real mistake is when they didn’t fine Bowyer whatever number of points it took to push him out of the chase. He spun out on purpose. It was obvious. Forget about being able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Just answer one question. Do you personally think Bowyer spun out on purpose? If so, then penalizing him and only him out of the chase would have solved all the issues. Even ESPN’s talking heads were saying the same thing yesterday.
i wish they would have shown more of the jet dryers. it looked like they were having a race that was just as good as the cup cars and with maybe only three less lead changes. watched a bit of the first half up to the rain delay, left and didn’t come back as i didn’t want to chance cheating death (by boredom) again…
as far as boyer spinning, i couldn’t care less and i really don’t see what the big deal is…. so what you all are saying is that it’s only ok for nascar to manufacture finishes and points but not for the teams to operate well within the rules to “affect” the outcome of a race? really? i’m not trying to judge what’s right or what’s wrong or intent. i just want to see a good race. that’s it. if it weren’t for the ludicrousness that is “the chase,” team based points manipulation wouldn’t mean as much and there would probably be better racing as the races themselves would mean more. now this 100% statement of idiocy. keep firing at your foot nascar it’s becoming more entertaining than the racing “product.”
jerseygirl24 – i found it interesting that johnson was whining about 13 cars being in the chase vs. 12.
this dale sr fan was glad when gordon was put in the chase. only way to make me happier would have been to take bowyer out. he started the mess at richmond with mwr.
the talking heads on espn got on my nerves during the pre-race rain delay.
i did laugh when brain fart said “he” can add the 13th car to the chase. guess he wanted to let people know he’s still in charge. he sure has trouble forming a sentence.
I had to work overtime Sunday and thought I had missed the race by the time I got home after 8, so I only saw from the restart on. Given that I picked up some overtime money and missed what most are calling a snooze fest in the first half, I’d give this one three Rolling Rocks with frost on the outside of the bottle and just a touch of slush on the inside. Mike, can we get our voting rights back?
On the restart after the “competition” yellow, the 48 car pulled away like he had 50 or more horsepower than Kyle Busch. I thought the “race” was over and looked for the Mannings game. On the restarts at the end, he lost positions. When is he going to stop sandbagging and go at 100% all the time like HASCAR wants?
Brian also added the chase because he “can.” How’s that working out?
So Gordon and the Hendrick boys have NEVER done anything sneaky to help themselves in the past?
LOL. Fools are soon parted with their money, which goes directly into Brian France’s pockets.
Let the good times roll.
I know it sucks for the teams and media, but I’m glad we didn’t get a rain shortened event. The race was actually pretty decent after the red flag, and I just hate the idea of rain strategy impacting the Chase. That’s another flaw of the Chase that one rain shortened Chase race can disproportionately impact the standings v. 1 rain race out of 36.
Is there anything to the rumor that Brain France is going to be the new CEO of WWF?
I agree with JP. I have been watching racing since the mid 1970’s and I am amazed at the uproar, people don’t know their Nascar history. Lots of good books on the subject. I fear alot of these fans are new Chase fans, who just like the driver without much understanding of race strategy itself. Labeling it cheating is irresponsible, no cheating was done as it wasn’t proven, Nascar said as many times as the media said it. It has been accepted race strategy in full view of Nascar. I firmly believe this is due to the driver who did not benefit (THIS TIME). What about Jeff being told to slow up (or something to that effect) by the new definiton of not giving it your all and manipulation, shouldn’t he be fined? Oh the mess Nascar has wrought. There was a very good reason the results of the race stood and were final, the founding fathers of Nascar saw this bologna coming a mile away. Go HMS..lol. Those darling perfect, above reproach little darlings. LOL.
I used to LOVE racecars… But now NASCAR’s just a big trainwreck. That’s alright, because I love trains, too…
Janice, Johnson, IMO, only drives for the same organization as Gordon, but he’s not a good teammate. Based on past behavior and present comments – in particular, his woe is me, 13 drivers changes the odds. That’s why it made me laugh when some people were saying that he deliberately hit the wall to “help” Jeff. Johnson looks out only for Johnson.
A few years ago, when all the Roushketeers were playing leapfrog with the lead to allow each time to get a point for leading, I don’t recall that ever happened between the 48 and the 24. If HMS was going to have team orders this year, Kahne would have let Jeff win at Pocono to give him a better chance at the wild card slot.
IMO, Knaus & Johnson’s goal in life is to beat Gordon every single time they can. That’s fine. I want Gordon to beat every other driver out there, too. Since that fits in with NASCAR’s “100%” effort and fairness policy, that’s fine.
Just in case I’m not clear on this – I truly dislike the 48 team. Do I think they cheat? Yes. Did I see the restart @ Chicago where Johnson pulled away like he had extra HP? Yes. Did I notice that after having 4 “terrible” weeks, all of a sudden Chad has flipped the “switch” and it is full steam ahead. Yes. Do I think they were sandbagging to help their teammates in particular Gordon? No, again, because the 48 team only helps the 48 team. Does it piss me off that the 48 has gamed the Chase for years? Yes.
Its one of the reasons I wanted Gordon in the chase & I really want him to win one of the 10 race trophies. Stick it up the you know what of the driver of the 48 and forcibly remove the lucky horseshoe.
Go check out the NHRA Facebook site and read all the whining and complaining about ESPN, NHRA, and NASCAR about how ESPN2 pre-empted a tape-delayed NHRA race to show live NASCAR racing.
Has to be one of NASCAR’S worst weeks ever, absent a fatality on the track.
Yesterday’s events just were the icing on the cake.
Anyway, there are no longer 13 drivers in the Chase, for all intents and purposes.
For all the Johnny Come latelys loving Gordon and extolling his wonderous virtures..16 years ago,(one example) there was a monsterous car called T-Rex. You should read up. For all, calling what happened cheating on anything Richmond. Nascar has deemed nothing was done illegal and it wasn’t. In the T-Rex instance Nascar didn’t like those pesky known but grey areas that allowed to build that car, but all they did was change the rulebooks. Which is what if they don’t like what happened at Richmond should change the rulebook. I am always amazed when its a HMS anything, they “push the grey area” and are “innovators”, anybody else doing the same thing gets a Scarlet “cheater” on their firesuit. Hester Prynne got off easy and she did it!! Lol
Just want to point out that I am fine with guys letting other guys ahead for a point, or pitting for no reason, or going slow (as long as you keep the minimum pace). However if you are going to spin out on purpose, or throw debris out the window to purposely bring out the caution, then that’s where I draw the line.
And one last point. MWR’s execution of that manipulation was terrible. Why don’t you just get a plane with a banner behind it letting everyone know what you’re up to.
I did it for the first time in 20+yrs I did NOT watch record dvr attend or even know who won a cup race until just now .Thank you na$car for this week I can live with out you and not care .But I still love and will read this site
kb, not a johnny come lately Gordon fan at all. I’ve been following his career since he drove winged sprinters. Yes, I will indeed extol his virtues. He’s a pretty great guy and Ray Evernham was an amazing crew chief. Yes, they built the T-Rex car and absolutely took advantage of EVERY area not covered in the rule book. They raced it one time – at the All-Star race and it was an amazing display of an awesome car, a smart crew chief and a damn good driver in his prime.
You are also right in saying that NASCAR took that car and went over it. They told HMS to never bring it back to the race track and then re-wrote the rule book.
The difference between what went on at Richmond and the T-Rex car is that Ray built a phenomenal car to outrun the competition, he didn’t try and manipulate the finish.
Sorry Jersey Girl you missed my point completely. And it was in no way pointed at you(althought I do not agree with alot of your comments) just the legions of fans crying foul when they don’t know their history. I dare say there was a few “manipulating” events that besides MWR that got Gordon in the Chase if you wanted to break it down on some moral high ground. I happen to look at it as racing, racing and strategy. People during T-Rex incident were crying cheating too, you say no..how is it different..a edge to win the race? Splitting hairs to suit your explanation of manipulation.
JerseyGirl, you just made my point for me. Sadly, you seem to think that just because it was an All Star race well thats o.k. Sorry you see it that way. You missed my point completely as well. The point being is Nascar saw it and said no more, and changed the rulebook, it doesn’t matter if it was for an all star event or not, they ran it. More reprocussion came out of that little diddy. Jump to the future, 22/38 no foul Nascar says, people can have selective moral high ground whenever they want, that doesn’t mean its illegal in Nascars eyes. If it isn’t in the rulebook against said action, it isn’t cheating. Bang head on desk when bantering with HMS fans.
Crap. If Gilliland doesn’t let Logano pass at the end of Richmond, Jeff would have been in a tie for 10th with Joey, and Joey would have been in on the first tiebreaker, which is wins. This is just another example of Brian France having his nose shoved so far up Rick Hendricks a$$ he can tell you what he has for breakfast every morning. I hope Jeff wins the championship this year because if he does it’s going to have an asterisk next to it the size we havent seen since Barry Bonds broke the home run record. Sorry Jeff fans…if he had ran better or God forbid won a race during the season he wouldnt have had to rely on that mongoloid to “give” him a spot in the Chase.
kb – early last week you said NASCAR painted themselves into a corner with the MWR penalties. I disagreed on the grounds that they just issued a point and dollars penalty like they have done since the beginning of time. However, with Idiot in Chief BZF stating that they were letting a 13th driver in basically because he has the authority to, the whole ruling junta of NASCAR slammed themselves firmly into a deep corner within an ocean of paint a mile deep all around.
Do we really need THE CHASE?
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