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.
Mike Neff · Monday October 14, 2013
Key Moment – Kasey Kahne was on two tires while Brad Keselowski was on four as the field restarted with 23 laps to go. With 11 to go, Keselowski cleared Kahne in Turn 4, but Kahne pulled the crossover and held onto the lead. Two laps later, he wasn’t close enough to cross him over again and Keselowski pulled away to the win.
In a Nutshell – The Hendrick cars were dominant. They led all but 21 laps. Kasey Kahne led the most, with 138 while Jimmie Johnson led 130. Johnson was on his way to a win, and a lead in the points when NASCAR threw a caution for a piece of debris that was unidentified by television cameras. On the subsequent restart, Johnson fell back, opening the door for Kahne to grab the most laps led bonus point and Kenseth to beat him to the finish line while Brad Keselowski, who had faced adversity and been nowhere for most of the race, led the final nine laps to take his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Dramatic Moment – During the final caution of the night, with 25 laps left when the cars came to pit lane, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon took two tires while Jimmie Johnson took four. The resulting track position cost Johnson on the final restart and kept him from winning or even gaining points on Kenseth.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
The folks at NASCAR have issued rules to try and ensure the integrity of the sport, yet they still throw caution flags for debris that no one can see and the television cameras can’t find. If the sanctioning body is going to hold the competitors’ feet to the fire about giving 100%, then they have to step up and develop a means where the fans see whatever debris it is they’re throwing the caution for 100% of the time. If they don’t have the respect for the fans to afford them that common courtesy, then don’t expect the fans to take it lying down. Every caution along those lines is a judgment call; the fans have the right to judge it. Don’t leave it a mystery.
Longtime fans of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have heard this refrain before. The race is going well, Earnhardt looks like he’s going to be in contention to win and then, the right front tire starts chattering. After the race, the driver stated he was positive something was broken on the car due to the rapid pace they fell back through the field. Hopefully, that’s the case because the bad set of tires and chattering right front are old excuses and worn out explanations for failure.
Testing is going to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway Monday to try some different adjustments to the Gen-6 car in an effort to make the racing better. It is rumored a modification developed by Toyota can virtually eliminate aero push from cars that are following others on track. That development alone could practically save the sport. The folks at Goodyear still need to continue working on tires that fall off, to pair with any positive changes but the people running the show are at least trying.
Darlington Raceway announced last week their race in 2014 will be in April. For those of you uninformed about the history of NASCAR, March and April weather in the low country of North and South Carolina sucks. There is a decent chance it will be cold and a better than average chance it will rain. NASCAR, if you’re going to move the Darlington date, move it to September, run it in the daytime and stop all of this crap you’re trying to pull. Not sure what the logic is to move the race to April, but it would certainly look like it is designed to force Darlington to lose its final race date.
Travis Kvapil was arrested for domestic violence this past week but was released on bond before the at track activities began at Charlotte. He wound up racing the No. 93 and will seemingly continue to do so until the legal system runs its course. As always in America, you are innocent until proven guilty so we will have to see what develops as all of the facts come out in the case. Whatever the end result, the timing couldn’t be worse for Kvapil considering October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The driver actually had a sticker on his car in support of prevention of domestic violence.
Three cautions for debris or fluid. One for an incident. After last week’s yellow flag extravaganza, it was enjoyable to see multiple opportunities for green-flag pit stops. Tire wear and track age allowed for some on-track passing, although there were only three on-track passes for the lead.
High-wire acts are certainly death-defying when you don’t use a net, but after a guy has walked across a wire over Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, it is a little anti-climactic walking 100 feet above an infield. Maybe next time, they can fire T-Shirt Cannons at the Wallendas in order to add to the excitement.
Breast Cancer awareness is one of the most supported causes in America. While many sports figures sport pink during the month of October, they don’t always put their money where their mouth is. One NASCAR athlete, in particular is bucking that trend. Kyle Busch announced in Victory Lane, after his Nationwide Series win Friday night that he’s donating all of the winnings from the race to his wife Samantha’s Pretty in Pink Foundation.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Mark Martin is keeping the seat warm for injured driver/owner Tony Stewart in his No. 14 car. That’s about it. His blown engine early on Saturday resulted in a 42nd-place result, pushing his average finish since joining SHR to 22.125. There is no question that it is time for Mark to pack up the AARP card, heading down to Florida to spend time with his family while calling it a career.
Kyle Larson made his Cup Series debut for Phoenix Racing Saturday night. After a strong run on Friday night, at the top of the track he spent much of Saturday night running the bottom line but still slowly picking his way forward to the top 15. Unfortunately for Larson, his engine gave up after 247 laps, prematurely ending his inaugural Cup race in 37th.
It is rare that you put someone in this category who finished the race in fourth place, but for Jimmie Johnson, there is no doubt he was handed a foul-tasting fate thanks to the final caution of the night. Johnson was on his way to a win and the point lead when the yellow flew for a still unseen piece of debris. Chad Knaus, who’d earlier said that his car was the same with two tires or four, decided to go for four and was beaten off pit lane by two cars. On the restart, Johnson was jostled around a bit and ended up in seventh position. He fought his way back to fourth, but that was poor consolation when he should have been sitting in Victory Lane.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Brad Keselowski was smiled on quite a bit by the fickle finger of fate on Saturday night. At one point, he was well behind the lead cars after taking the jack out of his pit box, running outside the top 20 and took over 250 laps to work his way into the top 5. He still wasn’t in contention, more than 15 seconds behind until the final 35 laps of the race. But when the final restart occurred, Johnson’s misfortune was Keselowski’s good luck charm. The defending series champ slotted into third shortly after the green, passed Matt Kenseth with 15 to go and took the lead from Kasey Kahne with nine left.
Matt Kenseth did things like he used to at Charlotte Saturday. Kenseth qualified like the Kenseth of old with a 20th-place starting position. He then methodically marched his way forward, broke into the top 5 with a little more than 100 laps to go, and then took advantage of Johnson’s poor final restart to actually gain a point in the standings rather than losing six.
Denny Hamlin’s season has been quite a disappointment, to say the least. His top 10-finish on Saturday night was a bright spot for this half of the season. Hamlin’s ninth place was his best result since Pocono; yes, that would be the first Pocono race in June. This is Hamlin’s second top-17 finish since then after his 12th-place result at New Hampshire last month.
Top 10 Finishes By Manufacturer
What’s the Points?
While it looked like it was going to be Jimmie Johnson leaving Charlotte with the point lead Saturday, the last caution caused Matt Kenseth to not only beat Johnson to the checkered flag, but gain a point on his rival to now lead the standings by four. Kevin Harvick came home in sixth place and lost four more points to the leader, leaving him 29 out of the top spot. With Talladega on the horizon, Harvick could close that gap if both Johnson and Kenseth get caught up in some kind of mishap… but that is his only hope at this time. Gaining six points per race on both drivers is a tall order. Rounding out the top five in points are Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch, who are 36 and 37 points away from the leader, respectively.
Greg Biffle had a disappointing Saturday night, posting a 16th-place finish. With that effort, he is 58 points behind Kenseth in sixth place. Kurt Busch was fast in practice and looked to be in contention early but faded late to come home in 14th. That leaves him 59 points in arrears to the leader. Clint Bowyer’s engine went south late in the race on Saturday, but it did keep running enough to let him finish on the lead lap in 11th. That result has him sitting 63 points away from Kenseth and three ahead of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who sits in ninth. The last driver set to go to the banquet in Vegas, at this point in time is Carl Edwards. Cousin Carl is one point behind Earnhardt with 2,158 points in his column.
The last three drivers in the Chase standings are Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, and Kasey Kahne. Kahne is 14 points out of the 10th spot and three points behind Newman to avoid finishing last in the Chase. Keselowski’s win has him two points ahead of Jamie McMurray for best of the rest.
Overall rating (On a scale of 1-6, where 1 is a stinker and six is the finest of brews and a instant classic) — The character of Charlotte Motor Speedway is coming back. There are washboard bumps at the bottom of the turns while there are other bumps scattered around the periphery of the track that can upset the handling of cars. The tires are starting to actually fall off during the runs, which has put a bit of a premium on new tires after double-digit laps. With all of that said… the racing is still lacking with this new car on mile-and-a-half tracks. Hendrick Motorsports leading 313 laps didn’t do anything to enthrall those fans who don’t cheer for the HMS teams. In the end, the late-race pass for the lead salvaged a second can of adult beverage for this one, which had been forfeited by the utterly bogus caution that flew with 26 laps to go. Here’s hoping they figure out something on Monday to make the racing better with this aero dependent car.
What’s Next — Call it the “wild card,” call it the crapshoot, call it the wreckfest. Whatever it is, the roulette wheel that is Talladega begins spinning on Sunday at 2:00 Eastern time. It can be seen on ESPN and heard on MRN Radio.
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Yes, NASCAR and the networks need to show debris or keep the flag in their holster.
The race was pretty boring until the last 23 laps and then Brad and Kasey put on a show. In the end, tires made the difference. It was nice to see Brad compliment Kasey on being a clean racer, and it was an obvious dig at Kyle Busch for being, as Brad has called him before, an ass.
I’m a lifelong resident of SC and I can tell you the weather in May is no better that the weather in April when it comes to rain. I’m hot-natured and like the cooler temps, but that’s just me. If in fact this is a prelude to Nascar moving the race out of Darlington all together, then I will be done with the sport when that happens. When Chicago has a race and Darlington doesn’t, then the sport truly deserves to die.
Kudos to All-Star Danica Patrick for another top-20 finish. I believe this was her 7th of the season.
Watching a race dominated by Felon Racing, and seeing them get beat in the end by a Ford made the race worth watching. As for that last debris caution, and Jimmie’s whining, all I can say is: “Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!” Aside from the fact that you seem to be taking lessons from your whiny, crybaby teammate (Jeff), you and Chad have had your way for way too long! It looks good on you when you get beat! But, that’s Ok Jimmie. I’m sure Rick will be having a good long talk with Brian to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Guess Rick either didn’t stuff enough money in that envelope he gave Brian last week, or he didn’t get it to Brian in time.
note to dale jr….while it’s great to see you leading the race early on, leading on the last lap crossing the s/f line is the only leading of the field that matters….just ask kevin harvick!
once the kane/johnson leading starting, i switched channels and fell asleep and forgot to turn back to race to see end of it.
i’m assuming the fact that i haven’t read or heard, that the 2 passed post-race inspection.
driving into atlanta to work today, i noticed rv’s already heading west on i-20 to ‘dega for party weekend. right now, i’d still pack a poncho or rain suit as the weather can’t decide what it wants to do on friday.
I am normally a skeptic of conspiracy theories, but the string of phantom debris cautions that have bewitched Johnson’s track position are growing in number. Those used to help shine his lucky horseshoe. Makes you wonder, at least a little bit, if the brain-dead trust as NA$CAR understands a little that yet another title for Cheanin’ Chad & company will drive a lot of fans out of the sport for good…hmmm…
I was switching back and forth between a real sport and the “race” when Johnson took off on a restart and left the field. I stopped switching and didn’t know who won until late Sunday and couldn’t believe it wasn’t Johnson. The whining must have been loud and long. I would not want to be Brian this morning.
Is it just me or is Johnson lousy on restarts when he isn’t the leader?
Back in the mid-70s Joe Ruttman drove the AVC Camaro to a lot of wins. I saw him win long-distance races at three different tracks on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the same weekend. AVC built and sold race cars in competition with Howe and Dillon and others. A driver I think was from Toledo Speedway bought a car and couldn’t get it to handle. He took it back and complained. AVC put the setup that Ruttman used for the speedway on the car. He won the next feature at the track.
I was at the race and it was amazing to see how many people left with over 100 laps to go. You would have thought the checker flag and been thrown. Wake up NASCAR! You need to put something exciting on the track or things are just going to get worse. I feel that moving the Darlington date to Mother’s day eve would have killed off the famed SC track but it didn’t. Let’s hope the ticket buyers continue to support the track long enough to see them move the date back to Labor Day.
It seems odd that passing other cars with gen sux car is hard, yet the Hendricks cars seem to be able to mow by other cars with ease. I didn’t watch very much of this race and what little I did watch was just boring. I gave this race zero beers.
I fell asleep with about 100 to go. Boring..
considering the monotony of the race on Saturday, I’m very glad I didn’t spend the $ on airfare to fly there and back. The last 20 something laps were fun to watch, but the rest, well, at least at home I can do something other than be bored AND stuck.
I find it funny though that NASCAR castigates the drivers for manipulation when they are SOOO good at it themselves.
Then the change in schedule for Darlington! What the heck? Kansas doesn’t deserve two races yet they are going to take the date that Darlington has managed to make a decent race weekend – by a lot of hard work from them again? I guess NASCAR is back to it’s let’s knock off the interesting tracks for the boring mile and a half ones again. Yeah, that tactic has worked out well, hasn’t it?
regardless of who won the race, the end was contrived yet again showing that this is no longer a sporting event but simply an entertainment venue.
i keep thinking that in theory anything could happen at any race. the points leader could blow up or be taken out by lapped traffic just as easily as being swept up or causing the highly vaunted and viewer generating “big one” which may or may not even happen. if i hear that “talladega is a wild card” one more time, i’m going to scream.
I would be willing to bet that the majority of smart Nascar fans knew the caution was coming out at some point with under 50 to go. The only doubt that could be placed was the person that was leading. Would Nascar really throw a yellow with Jimmie out front?
Looks like ensuring an exciting finish trumps pleasing Mr Hendrick. Rick will put a stop to that I’m sure.
When will the media and broadcasters start taking Nascar to task for this obvious minipulation? Since ESPN is stuck with coverage next season, I would love it if they call out Nascar during races for these yellows. Listening to Bestwick, he sounded a little frustrated when he reported debris “somewhere” on the backstretch. It would expose Nascar for what it is. A show and not a competition. (As a lifelong fan, I can’t believe I posted that last statement) My how times have changed.
As controlling as NASCAR is and given that they over officiate everything, I’m still amazed they don’t make it a “must” that debris that causes cautions be shown on TV every time. They could have one official make sure the network knows where the debris is and makes sure it’s shown. Nothing undermines their credibilty like the notion that these are phantom cautions to make the racing action better.They are also spending a gozillian dollars at Daytona on amenities when they really need to lower the bankings so that they can race rather than crash.
Rarely has an incredibly sketchy debris caution been more welcome. JJ was stinking up a race that had, for the first 120 or so laps, been quite interesting, what with the high line working well and some decent racing to be found. The race to the finish between BK and Kasey was fantastic, one of the best this year. It’s just a shame the 200 laps in between were awful and that the only thing that could save the race was an extremely suspicious caution. I agree with Wayne V above that if NASCAR wants to maintain its credibility it should be demanding the networks to show every piece of debris.
Gosh, I REALLY hope the aero improvements work as expected. It would be a huge boost to the sport and would really get me excited for 2014.
The race was a snorefest, till the end. Big deal. All you heard or saw was the HMS cars all that was talked about was the HMS cars, and how full the stands were. They really think we are stupid. The media if the want to have a job and something to write about better start calling Nascar out, just like you got your pitchforks sharpened for Travis Kvapil and the Richmond race, plenty of nasty stuff there, aim it at Nascar, there’s where you need your frustration to go. Get it done for your fans, cause if the fans ain’t watching, nobody is going to reading your work or watching you on TV!
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