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 21, 2013
Key Moment – Jamie McMurray took the lead with 15 laps to go and the pack suddenly decided to drive around in single file. When the caution flag flew, halfway through the final lap that was still the case, McMurray was still in front and declared the winner.
In a Nutshell – Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had the dominant cars of the race. Johnson led the most laps, but couldn’t get in the right spot at the end to make a run. Kenseth, meanwhile lost the handle on his car with 70 or so laps to go and never really got it back. Earnhardt was running second, with the field almost halfway through the last lap and a plan in his head. However, that’s when Austin Dillon spun and then got launched into the air on the back straight by Casey Mears, who had nowhere else to go — NASCAR had to throw the caution. As a result, Jamie McMurray took home the trophy by being in the right place at the right time.
Dramatic Moment – As the cars paraded around for the final 15 laps, anticipation was building as to who would make the move and when it would come. But as Dillon and Earnhardt prepared to do so, off of Turn 2 Dillon got loose, lost it, and the rest is history.
There was plenty of three and four-wide racing throughout the event… just not during the final 10 percent of it.
What They’ll be Talking About Around The Water Cooler
There is no manual for when to throw a caution and when to not throw one. Most of the time, in the Cup Series, they’ll let the drivers run to the finish line if there isn’t a wreck blocking the track near or shortly after the checkered flag. With a car being launched in the air, it certainly is a wise call to go ahead and throw the yellow, no matter the location but in hindsight, with Dillon and Mears both being fine, it would have been great to see how the race would have played out through the final corners and the front straight.
There were only five instances on Sunday of a driver leading more than nine consecutive laps. Two of them were Matt Kenseth and two were Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The final segment, 15 laps leading up to the finish, belonged to Jamie McMurray. Quite a bit of the race was loaded with three-wide racing even though the ending was about as anti-climactic as it could be.
Junior Nation has voiced their displeasure with Jimmie Johnson for several years when it comes to helping their favorite driver get to the front. Since Earnhardt pushed Johnson to the win at Talladega in the tandem draft, a few years ago they’ve felt like Johnson owes their driver one. However, he seems to refuse to give a hand to their beloved idol. This weekend’s race was no different. Johnson had several chances to help their man and he chose not to. One in-car camera shot actually showed Earnhardt waving for Johnson to get out of the way as he pulled up in front of the No. 88. In the end, Earnhardt was all alone waiting to make his move on the final lap and settled for the runner-up spot.
“Log some laps” should be on the flag at the NASCAR offices that means drivers aren’t giving 100%. The pack driving around the top of the track at Talladega, in a single-file line has to be one of the most mind-numbing things to see anywhere. NASCAR won’t be able to fine anyone, though because they can’t prove they weren’t giving 100%… so it is all lip service. The drivers should at least try to pass someone, once in a while at a plate track if they’re giving it all they have.
The Truck Series was developed to run on the short tracks that NASCAR had largely abandoned by 1994. The series was very popular in the early days, as they had mid-race breaks and no live pit stops. In 1997, that started to change when the series went to Fontana for a race. It completely changed in 2000 when the Trucks went to Daytona and ran superspeedways for the first time. The sanctioning body tried to kill Geoff Bodine that day and they continue to try and kill drivers to this day by not developing a better alternative to slow the Trucks down. The Truck race was definitely exciting, but seeing the carnage that was strewn across the front straight, leading up to the finish line is a stark reminder that this kind of racing is playing with fire and eventually, someone is going to get burned.
How in the world can the Nationwide Series have two weeks off within five weeks of the end of their season? While it isn’t as dumb as having a month off after your first race, like the Trucks do it is a close second. Nothing like killing the momentum of a tight points battle as it heads to the finish line.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Juan Pablo Montoya’s opportunities to win an oval race are quickly running out as he’s heading back to IndyCar racing next season. Sunday, his chance was destroyed through no fault of his own as Marcos Ambrose tried to move to the top lane in the tri-oval and lost control of his car. Ambrose slid down across the track and destroyed Montoya’s Chevy, ending his day after 78 laps.
Kasey Kahne tried to play it safe early in the race, lagging back with Kevin Harvick at the back of the pack. Unfortunately, he lost the draft and eventually lost a lap. Through the misfortune of a couple of other drivers (Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski) who also lost a lap during the race, Kahne stayed a lap down until green-flag pit stops around lap 122. Kahne sped on pit road, exiting from that stop and had to make a pass through, which cost him a second lap and killed any hopes of a good day. Kahne ended the event in 36th.
Austin Dillon drove a great race, finding himself in third place as the field spilled onto the back straight for the final time. Coming out of Turn 2, he looked to move down below Dale Earnhardt, Jr., pulled back up and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. moved across his back bumper, causing him to lose control. As he drove down the track backwards and turned up into the outside wall, Casey Mears drove into the back of his car and launched the No. 14 into the air. Fortunately, it came back down on all four wheels but it ruined the cars and the finishes of both Dillon and Mears. They wound up 26th and 27th, respectively.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. may or may not have hit Austin Dillon to cause him to spin on the last lap, but whether he did or didn’t, he still came home with his best Cup Series finish to date (third). Stenhouse has been the dominant rookie contender all year, but his finishes continue to improve. The first top 5 of his career is another feather in his cap.
During Tech Talk with Slugger Labbe this week, he told Frontstretch that the No. 27 car was going to have an experimental engine at Talladega this weekend. Well, not only did Paul Menard’s engine last all day, but it also pushed him to a top-5 finish. Menard finally brought home a solid result in a plate race after three disappointing finishes that were not of his making.
We seldom bestow the honor of a Seven Come Eleven on a whole organization, but for Sunday’s race, we’ll make an exception for Front Row Motorsports. As the caution flew at Talladega and the race was called, the two cars from Front Row were sitting in sixth and seventh places. David Ragan, who is no stranger to running well at Talladega, led his teammate David Gilliland to the top 10 promised land on lap 187.5. Even Josh Wise (30th) had his best finish since Daytona in July.
Top 10 by Manufacturer
Chevrolet – 4
For the second week in a row, a non-Chase driver won a Chase race. It’s the first time since 2006 that back-to-back races were won by non-Chase drivers. In ’06, it was Tony Stewart going back-to-back at Atlanta and Texas. Interestingly, it was the same year (‘06) when Stewart and Brian Vickers went back-to-back, at Kansas and Talladega that different non-Chase drivers came out on top in consecutive events.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson scored the extra bonus point for leading the most laps and finished seven places ahead of Kenseth. As a result, he is now four points ahead in the standings after the “Wild Card” race that was going to potentially bring everyone else back into play. Now, it has turned this championship into a two-horse race. Kenseth is 22 points ahead of third place with four races to go in the Chase. No one is going to gain 26 points on both Kenseth and Johnson in four races, so your 2013 Champion will either be the No. 20 or the No. 48. Kyle Busch came home in fourth while Kevin Harvick finished 12th, one place ahead of Johnson. The resulting math puts Busch and Harvick in a dead heat for third, 26 points in arrears to Johnson. Rounding out the top 5 in points is Jeff Gordon, who continues to make the most of his gift of a shot in the Chase. Gordon finished 14th, directly behind Johnson, and is now 34 points from the lead. Gordon is the last driver in the standings that is mathematically eligible to take over the lead in a single race.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s runner-up finish vaulted him three positions, up to sixth in points where he is now 52 points out of the lead. Earnhardt is one point in front of Greg Biffle, who came home 11th on Sunday. Clint Bowyer is four points behind Biffle and 57 points behind Jimmie Johnson. Kurt Busch ran a strong race, but slipped back to 18th at the end which leaves him 61 points from the lead and in ninth position. Carl Edwards ended the race at Talladega on all four wheels and one place in front of Kurt Busch. Edwards is now 68 points behind Johnson and is the last driver that will be invited to the stage in Las Vegas.
Ryan Newman, another driver who’s had his fair share of tumbles at Talladega, came home in ninth which leaves him 72 points behind the leader and in 11th in points. Joey Logano’s 16th-place run leaves him 12th, 75 behind Jimmie Johnson. Kasey Kahne’s abysmal day ended with him two laps down and 101 points behind the leader. If Kahne loses 43 points at Martinsville, which would be another really bad day, he’ll be the first driver mathematically eliminated from the Chase.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – 52 lead changes, no “Big One” and only 50 or so single-file parade laps. As plate races go, it was an intriguing race, to say the least. Unfortunately, the final 15 laps going single-file, when that is the time that everyone expects the real racing to take place knocked a couple of brews off of the rating on this one. It is going to receive three frosty Budweisers because you can’t award any other brand for Talladega.
Next Up — From the longest track on the circuit to the shortest track on the schedule, the traveling circus heads to Martinsville, VA for another race that could dramatically impact the championship Chase. The action will be televised live, on ESPN at 1:30 next Sunday and broadcast on the radio on your local MRN affiliates.
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Typical Talladega BS. This ain’t racing.
I can’t figure out for the life of me why anyone from 6th on back in points wouldn’t be willing to take a chance and go for it.
If there is one silver lining to this race it was that, if you wait until the last lap to give it a try, you might not get a chance. Maybe next year this learning experience will pay dividends at the RP tracks.
guess i missed it…..when did ganassi start using hendrick engines? i thought they used childress engines.
i don’t understand why jr waited so long to make a move. i know preferred to go in turn 3/4 but cars aren’t like they use to be. when they stayed strung out like they did for those last 10 or so laps i knew no one was going to try to make a move.
while no “big one”…i’m sure tv and media are upset over the lack of carnage, it was still intense and headache inducing. i always end up with a wicked headache and neck pain from the tension of plate races.
maybe the lack of last lap passing and carnage was because team budgets are stretched so tight. not so much broken up sheet metal and blown engine parts to cart back to charlotte.
i was not happy when johnson took the lead. was happier when he was in the back. we have to hope that kenseth can keep close to johnson next week or he’ll run away with it in the last 4 races.
about johnson helping earnhardt….someone reminded me a few weeks ago when johnson won at dover and jr was 2nd and i commented why didn’t he just move over for jr to win to give sport shot in the arm. johnson only concerned about himself.
loved seeing jamie mc in v/lane and his son.
now i did nearly choke on my lunch when it was mentioned that princess sparkle pony liked this kind of racing. well duh….get in, mash gas pedal and hang on for 500 laps.
I was on the edge of my seat for the last ten laps, just waiting for something to happen. Something did.
Not sure about everyone else, but I thought it was exciting.
Every plate race has it’s own complexion. It looked to me at the end everyone was looking at each other saying “I’m not going to go until you go”. It would have been really interesting to see if Jr. and Dillon could have gotten a run.
I have to say I was shocked with all the extended 3 and 4 wide racing at times that there wasn’t a huge wreck. The Gen-6 car has been excellent at Talladega this year. Hopefully, it will get better at Daytona.
Seriously Janice? Are you that deluded of a Jr fan that you think racers, during the playoffs, should just move over and let Jr win? That’s not racing, that’s just as bad of manipulation as what went on at Richmond.
I’m not sure Austin Dillon would agree with the media regarding the lack of carnage they seem to be talking about.
And why no outrage about safety? Once again another car gets airborne at one of these tracks and nobody seems to care. Is it going to take another driver, maybe even Dale Jr, to get killed before anyone takes notice? I’m glad it was uneventful and boring for the most part. Nascar has their highlight reel for next year though
Bill B, to answer your question, there could be several answers
1.) points racing (Top 10 in points pays more than 11th
2.) not enough points awarded for winning a race. Getting caught in a wreck going for 3 extra points is not worth it
3.) $$$$- team orders could have been handed down to bring cars back in one piece. Can’t really blame the owners on that one.
Did anyone notice the cool, calm and collected Kyle Busch on Sunday? He sure has changed hasn’t he? Ya right.
Gotta love the mainstream media. Instead of talking about McMurray, a surprise winner, they are talking more about what could have been for Jr. It would be quite sad if it wasn’t so pathetic.
kevin in so cal —
i’m not a deluded fan or jr’s. NA$CAR needs jr to win. people are sick of johnson, when jr runs well people will possibly spend their hard earned dollars to go to a race. with na$car it’s just that, jr is the golden child. i told a friend of mine this morning that jamie mc had something jr didn’t have this year (so far) a win.
jr is the cash cow for na$car and hendrick.
my personal take on jr….kind of like kyle petty, son of a champion, but is having hard time following in footsteps.
na$car needs jr to be relevant to keep jr nation foaming at the mouth hoping a win is going to happen next week.
janice, what I thought was even more interesting was the comment made that princess sparklepony is GOOD at these types of tracks — I agree – same thought as you — strap in, mash the gas and hang on. One other thing – don’t do anything stupid!
Bill B, I was wondering the same thing – according to what the drivers said, it took 5 cars to make a run, well, there were a few random cars running around when they got shuffled back – for instance the 48 and the 24, if some of the others went, too, it would have at least been a race instead of a single file end of the race (except of course for Austin Dillon’s wild ride). Have I said that I hate RP racing? It seems that TPTB in NASCAR are now considering having Daytona start & end the season, maybe starting in 2015? Wow, what a joke that will make – carnage to start the season and carnage to end it. Although they may have to wait until Ford’s Championship Weekend sponsorship ends at Homestead.
Dillon’s wreck was all about safety. His car shot up 20 feet in the air, landed on all four tires and he DROVE his car back to the garage.
I have been saying for years (not that anyone cares), some kind of points should be awarded based on the positions at the end of every lap, not just the last one. This will stop all the “riding around” and promote hard racing throughout the entire race.
At one point during the race I believe Johnson came out of the pits in 22nd under caution.I said to myself “Not for long”. Went to commercial and when they came back he was leading! How can that car be that much stronger then the other Hendrick cars? Anyone else notice that or am I mistaking?
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