Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Key Moment – Pick most any restart in the second half of the race and you’ll find Jimmie Johnson on the outside. As a result, the No. 48 car was unable to move forward after having led 123 laps early in the race. Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, tried to pit off sequence to give him an advantage on the restarts, but in the end, it was fruitless and he had to settle for a fifth-place finish.
Johnson’s omission from the front opened it up for a host of other contenders to take control. In the end, Jeff Gordon came through to reappear on the championship radar screen, however faintly with three races left.
In a Nutshell – Matt Kenseth has discovered new life at Martinsville since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing, but it still hasn’t led him to Victory Lane at the shortest track on the schedule. After Kenseth led the most laps during the race, Gordon passed him with 20 laps to go and went on to win his eighth career race at the track, tying him with Jimmie Johnson for the most among active drivers at Martinsville. When the dust had settled, Johnson and Kenseth are now tied in points with three races left to go in the 2013 Cup season; Kenseth posted his best career finish at the track.
Dramatic Moment – Jeff Gordon babied his tires to the end and, with 20 circuits left, he moved under Kenseth in Turn 1 to assume the lead. Surprisingly, a race that was slowed by 17 caution flags went green for the final 77 laps, a setup that put Gordon on cruise control to the checkered flag.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
While we’ve been maintaining for two weeks that this championship is a two-horse race, it is now a two-horse dead heat with three races to go. Kenseth and Johnson are tied in points, so the person who can score the most out of these two drivers over the next three races will be the champ. Jeff Gordon, thanks to his win on Sunday, is 27 points behind Kenseth and Johnson. That puts him just barely on the fringes of contention. But unless the two point leaders are involved in a cataclysmic crash, heading into Turn 1 at Texas they aren’t going to both lose 27 points to Gordon.
Greg Biffle and Johnson had a moment in the middle of the race Sunday where Johnson got into the left rear corner of Biffle’s car, knocking the bumper cover loose. Biffle returned the favor to Johnson but did not dislodge the cover on the No. 48. During post-race interviews, as Steve Post began to talk to Johnson about the race, Biffle grabbed Johnson by the back of the neck and spun him around, unleashing an expletive-laced tirade over Johnson’s driving while warning the title contender that he better watch out. Johnson handled the confrontation with his typical unemotional aplomb and eventually received a Twitter apology from Biffle. There are quite a few in the garage who would not have been nearly as understanding of that scruff of the neck grab, probably turning the incident into a scrap on national television.
Some folks are calling Jeff Gordon’s run to his current top three position in points a validation for NASCAR adding him to the Chase this season, following fan uproar over events at Richmond a couple of months ago. Sure, Gordon and the No. 24 team have had a good run, but changing the rules on the fly because of Twitter complaints is a bad precedent to be establishing in a sport that itself admits has an integrity issue. If, by some miracle, Four-Time becomes the second Five-Time this year, there will be even more claims of right triumphing over wrong. The bottom line is, most years there is a team that closes with a good run from 11th or 13th in points, depending on which version of the Chase was employed that given season. That doesn’t mean that team should have had a shot at the title in a ten-race playoff. The same holds true for Gordon. They didn’t run well enough to earn a spot in the Chase during the regular season so this run, while impressive, should be for 13th, not 1st.
Darrell Wallace Jr. scored his first win in the Camping World Truck Series on Saturday. Many people, especially the folks at NASCAR, quickly jumped on the drum beating about Wallace being African-American and a graduate of their Drive for Diversity program, calling the win historic. Wallace is not the first African-American nor the first D4D graduate to win a national touring series race, so calling it historic is a bit of a stretch. It is certainly significant – the first African-American since Wendell Scott in 1963 to win in NASCAR’s top three series – but it doesn’t seem historic. As a note, I consider Bubba Wallace a personal friend and I could not be happier for him. When he won on Saturday, I didn’t even consider the fact he was African-American. I just considered he’s a good driver and he just took another step towards the ultimate goal of being a Cup Series competitor. Shouldn’t that be what the ultimate goal of the D4D is? Acceptance, looking at people for accomplishments and the people they are… not the color of their skin? I hope that someday, we will get to that point and I pray that people will remember the steps Wallace took to help make that happen.
Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon overshadowed Darrell Wallace, Jr.‘s first Truck win on Saturday. Harvick was making a one-off Truck start for his former/future team. He was spun out by Dillon, with an assist to Matt Crafton, and then body-slammed Dillon’s truck with his own as the two of them headed back around the track to get into the garage. Harvick ended up stopping in Dillon’s pit and then made some disparaging remarks about the brothers, their driving style and why he was leaving RCR on FOX Sports 1. Harvick made some sort of apology on Sunday, although if you read the words closely it was not directed toward Childress or his grandsons. Harvick is on his way out the door at RCR, so the situation was already strained, but it is now going to be on the verge of breaking.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Kyle Larson continues to have some terrible luck as he attempts to garner some Cup Series experience before he goes full-time next year. For the second time in as many tries, an engine turned sour, preventing him from making the most of his opportunity with the No. 51 Chevy prepped by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and run by Harry Scott, Jr. While the powerplants were likely experimental, high-risk for the rookie the ledger still reads two starts, two DNFs for one of the most highly-touted talents of his generation.
Every race at Martinsville, there’s one or two drivers who seem to bring out the caution flag more than most. This year’s culprit? The Whopper. BK Racing had not one but both its drivers responsible for four cautions on the day. Travis Kvapil spun twice, winding up a crumpled soda can in his Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota en route to 24th. And David Reutimann? He spun twice to bring out the caution, only to have mechanical problems for the sixth time this year. He eventually pulled his car into the garage area, where it caught on fire due to a faulty rear gear. Not exactly the “flame-broiled” finish the team was expecting… he wound up 37th.
Jimmie Johnson, while fifth had to be feeling down. The No. 48 car was on the outside too many times, for too many restarts and lost too much track position midrace. Chad Knaus, sensing handling problems on short runs took the team off sequence, bringing them in for new tires but essentially writing off a shot at the win in the process. A top-5 finish, in hindsight was somewhat miraculous coming through traffic but when your championship rival outpoints you at a track where you’re supposed to put them away, well…
Mark Martin has been less than stellar in his substitute role for Tony Stewart but Sunday, it was definitely not his fault. Kurt Busch tried to avoid contact with another car off of Turn 4, a move which resulted in turning straight into Martin. That wreck led to extensive time behind the wall, a 36th-place result and seventh outside the top 10 in eight starts for the 54-year-old in the No. 14 Chevy. From the sounds of things, 2013 is going to be Martin’s last year in Cup competition, although he would still like one more shot at the Daytona 500. We’ll see if SHR throws him a bone for keeping Tony Stewart’s seat warm the last few weeks.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
After the events on Saturday and his claims for roughly two-thirds of the race that his car was blowing up, Kevin Harvick soldiered home to a sixth-place finish at Martinsville. In all honesty, Harvick came closer to not having a seat in a car on Sunday than most people realize. Fortunately for him and his title hopes, cooler heads prevailed, a sort of apology was issued, and the No. 29 team had a decent day. Let’s see how they come out of the box at Texas before we start assuming everything is peaches and cream at RCR.
Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya both received Lucky Dogs during Sunday’s race and both finished on the lead lap in 12th and 13th, respectively. While Montoya is usually known for his “take no prisoners” style of driving on short tracks, it was actually Edwards who appeared to be on a mission to hit everything but the pace car early in the race. He seemed to calm down over the second half and brought home a respectable finish, recovering from early incidents with Jeff Burton and Kvapil.
Brad Keselowski spent the first half of the Martinsville race looking like a 15th-place car. But the chemistry with crew chief Paul Wolfe, after the duo returned to Victory Lane at Charlotte seems to be back on track. A series of midrace adjustments, combined with strong strategy put the No. 2 car up front; Keselowski stayed there down the stretch and ran fourth, a career best for him on this short track.
Speaking of career bests, Matt Kenseth has to be jumping for joy this Monday morning after outpointing Jimmie Johnson at his best track. Kenseth was 14th in the Spring and had led 169 career laps at Martinsville entering Sunday. This race? He led 202, overcame a poor-handling car on long runs and had the perfect setup for the final green-flag stint to stay up front. The second-place result could well be the key to the championship should the No. 20 Toyota team pull away from their rivals by Homestead.
Sheet metal fabricators are going to be doing a booming business this coming week. There was not a single car on the track, when the checkered flag flew, that did not have some sort of wrinkled metal. The car owners in the Cup Series will be writing some big checks for more body panels this week.
What’s the Points?
Technically, Matt Kenseth leads Jimmie Johnson by zero. That’s what the official press release says that NASCAR handed out after the race. Why a seemingly contradictory statement? Although both drivers are tied for the championship, with 2,294 points, Kenseth holds the tiebreaker with two more wins during this season. It could be ironic if the title comes down to that tiebreaker and Johnson wins one more race while Kenseth doesn’t. Remember, Kenseth won the first race at Kansas with an engine that was found to be illegal — yet he was allowed to keep the win. Keep that in the back of your mind over the next three weeks.
Thanks to his win at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon jumps up to third in the points, 27 behind the leading duo. Sure, it is a nice story but he’s a longshot at best to win this deal. Kevin Harvick managed to keep his “lame duck” job for another week and finished in the top 10 to hold onto fourth in the title hunt. He’s one point behind Gordon and has the same chance to overtake the three drivers ahead of him as Gordon does leapfrogging the two leaders. Rounding out the top 5 is Kyle Busch. “Shrub” gave them a run for most of the day at Martinsville but faded late to a disappointing 15th-place finish. That puts him 36 points from the top spot. He is the last driver within one race worth of points from the lead but we all know he’s not going to make that up.
Heading up the second 10 is Clint Bowyer. He is 55 points out and is just focusing on trying to get into the top 5 by the end of the race at Homestead. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came home eighth on Sunday and lost a place in the standings to Bowyer. At this point, he’s still going to get to go to Vegas, which isn’t bad considering how his Chase started. Greg Biffle is eighth in points and might be getting a call from NASCAR suggesting an anger management counselor. He’s not going to fall out of the top 10 in points but he’s also not going to get higher than sixth in the next three weeks. Next comes Kurt Busch, who had a long day before ending the race in 18th. Fortunately for him Carl Edwards, who is right behind him, didn’t fare a whole lot better so they both held their position in ninth and tenth in points, respectively. The differential between the two is just a single point.
The remaining three had a swap for the 11th position thanks to Ryan Newman being punted into the outside fence in Turn 1 and mangling the back of his car. He dropped to 12th in the standings while Joey Logano ran strong for the first half of the day before coming home in 14th. That was still good enough to put him 85 behind the leader and 21 ahead of Newman in the 11th spot. Then comes Kasey Kahne, who had another disappointing race in the 2013 Chase. At one point, Kahne wound up hung on the curb, in Turns 1 and 2 for multiple caution laps before his car could be yanked off by a tow truck. Kahne is now 124 points from the lead and could be mathematically eliminated from the title at Texas.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – What can you say? 17 cautions, a pass for the lead with 20 to go, the Championship battle is tied, a driver nearly assaulted another driver during post-race interviews and nobody threw a hammer at anybody. Short of a side-by-side race to the checkered flag, this one had it covered. Giving it five frosty Budweisers and counting down the days until we get to Martinsville again.
Next Up — The circuit heads to Texas for another pivotal race in the Chase for the Cup. Johnson and Kenseth waged an epic battle for the win there a couple of years ago. We’ll see what happens this time around on Sunday, 3:00 PM Eastern on ESPN. If you want to hear the race, tune into PRN at the same time.
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I’ve seen those Martinsville hotdogs up close and personal. Not gonna eat one.
Nice to see Jeffy break the winless streak. Nicer still to see Kenseth finish ahead of Johnson. I really thought the pressure was starting to get to Kenseth, but I hope he continues to prove me wrong.
Jeff Gordon raced his way in the “Chase” before Bowyer and the rest of MWR decided that they needed to change fate and Cheat…
this is 2013 and darrell wallace’s race should not be such a big deal with the win. i was happy to see that he won the truck race. he’s a racer and has worked his way through the ranks. i hope he has lots of success.
ok i’ll say it….princess sparkle pony had a top 20 finish at martinsville.
biffle showed that a lot of drivers will be glad to see homestead. i think there’s burned out and some are fed up with the hendrick lovefest. i did enjoy it very much when people wouldn’t let johnson in when he was stuck on the outside lane. he he he he. even cheating chad knew he’d have trouble getting in line when johnson was complaining about a pit stop and knaus came over radio and said he ha was counting restart positions, so you’ve got to restart on the outside…apparently chad wanted johnson to wait a second or two before leaving the pit.
remember, time changes next weekend as well!
Jeff Gordon says he deserves to be in the chase. Twelve drivers raced their way into the chase. Gordon wasn’t one of them, so exactly what does Gordon base this on? Thank you for this, “Some folks are calling Jeff Gordon’s run to his current top three position in points a validation for NASCAR adding him to the Chase this season, following fan uproar over events at Richmond a couple of months ago. Sure, Gordon and the No. 24 team have had a good run, but changing the rules on the fly because of Twitter complaints is a bad precedent to be establishing in a sport that itself admits has an integrity issue.” And this “ They didn’t run well enough to earn a spot in the Chase during the regular season so this run, while impressive, should be for 13th, not 1st.”
NASCAR has less integrity now than it had before Richmond. And Jeff should be ashamed to go around declaring he “deserves” to be in the chase.
How anyone who is a fan of Nascar gave the Martinsville race zero beers is beyond me. Pull your head out of wherever it is, because you need to see the light.
Another great Martinsville race. NASCAR better not EVER think about taking this historic track off the schedule.
Agree with 24crazy…Gordon had raced his way into the Chase before MWR’s lame cheating! Anyone who says otherwise, is just a Gordon hater.
Another excellent race at an excellent track. Martinsville is the only race in the playoff worth watching anyway.
I can’t speak for Gordon but as someone that watched the Richmond race I would base it on the fact that someone purposely spun out to manipulate the ending of that race. You can argue that all you want but if Bowyer hadn’t of spun out on purpose Gordon was in. Now, do you want to start debating whether or not Bowyer spun out on purpose again? DA
I say we go back and forth between Martinsville and Bristol for the chase title.
What a weekend at Martinsville. Between the 24 getting the win and Harvick napalming his bridges at RCR, NASCAR doesn’t get any better than that. It would be kind of fitting for Jeff to steal a championship this season considering the Chase probably cost him two more championships.
Amen on all points, janice. Hendrick first, ask questions later. I guess it’s fine if you’re a fan, but I most certainly am not. Hendrick Fatigue should be recognized by the CDC.
I’d love to see Mark Martin back again next year, but Stewart-Haas Racing has a full plate with 4 cars next year. They cant race a fifth. Martin would have to be with a different team and SHR providing the chassis and engine.
tim s – like that hendrick fatigue! not a fan of hendrick, ever! in my opinion he’ll always be a convicted fellon pardoned by clinton!
You’re wrong Mike. Gordon was in the chase with just a handful of laps remaining at Richmond. The results were determined by other’s actions, not by Gordon’s under performance. He was doing what he had to do that night to gain entrance into the “Chase”. If not for the underhanded actions by others he would have been one of the twelve.
Didn’t Johnson finish fifth, unless he blew by Brad at the finish (which the car is probably capable of without the sandbagging)?
It seems Brian got confused when he heard a Hendrick car was leading and didn’t order the caution to help Johnson at the end. He only got it half right (car numbers). Hendrick will have a talk with him this morning.
Judging by Chad’s comments about double-file restarts, I expect Hendrick will “suggest” a change in the rules to Brian during their talk.
I could go for that chase schedule, as long as we include Darlington and a road course.
Something was up when the people who were bad all year suddenly were the talk of the town qualifying so well at Richmond. Jeffery does not deserve to be in “The Chase”, you do not change rules mid stream because you can. What other sport does that???? No respect. We find it very funny that Jeffery is “racing” like he hasn’t done in years, with all the luck of the Race Gods shining on him this Chase season. It is part of the Nascar script to have Jeffery finish well, he has to, to prove to the doubters that Jeffery should have been in “The Chase” all along..see you dumb, clueless doubters of Brian France, look at Jeffie go isn’t he awesome. Nascar is the WWF. The future wasn’t written at Richmond, last I checked the checkers wasn’t dropped, so Nascar made huge assumptions, Jeff should be ashamed taking a free extra seat. Stuff happens in sports all the time, they call things final for a reason, the fallout from Richmond is still and will evolve and not in a good way.
Ah yes another conspiracy theorist. The world is full of them.
Re: Johnson’s finish
Mike had it correct (fifth) except for one spot, at the top of the column as you pointed out. We missed it … thanks for letting us know, I went ahead and adjusted it.
Appreciate you being such an avid reader and great commenter on our site!
I hate to tell the Martinsville track announcer, but I don’t think Junior Johnson ever won a “Sprint Cup Race” !!!
I hope Hendrick does say something about how ridiculous double file restarts are at that track. They are inherently unfair to anyone on the outside. Something is wrong where it’s better to be 11th than 4th. What’s the point?… to see who can make sure they get out of the pits in an odd spot? Yeah, strategy like that belongs in racing.
I was at the race and had a wonderful time! It was a beautiful day, Gordon had a great car & showed why he’s a damn good driver. He’s had the opportunity to win this race several times in the last couple of years and I was happy to see that NASCAR didn’t decide to throw a bogus yellow to get a GWC. The finish was plenty exciting with Jeff working to get around the 20.
Mike Neff – sorry that you can’t appreciate what a good driver is and feel that you need to disparage his drive to move up in the points & possibly win the championship. Is it a longshot? Sure, but I’ll take it over a runaway. And yes, Gordon & his team does deserve to be in this chase – they had raced their way in until MWR decided to cheat.
I have no idea what the race looked like on TV but it was a lot of fun to watch it in real life. Having been to this track multiple times, I agree that it is one of the best race to attend.
Did Jeff really race his way into the Chase before “Spingate” ? I seem to remember almost all the Hendrick cars finishing behind Jeff the last 4 races before the Chase. Anyone else notice that?
Oh my god… the Gordon “rainbow brigade” of fans have come out of hiding. The only thing manipulated about this season is everything to do with it. Including the phantom 13th Chase position.
Sure, you can complain about Bowyer spinning all you want, but the only proven manipulation was when the rules were changed to accomodate the fourth Hendrickmobile. I’ve seen several 10’s of these rules changes happen over the years to make sure that a Hendrick bowtie got some kind of favored treatment, but this is the first one that was overtly labelled as such. Still shaking my head over this one…
@Bill B, Hopefully my wife won’t bludgeon me with one of those Ty Dillon crew hammers, when I wake up multiple times tonight laughing about your post.
another Andy D,
So, do you personally think it’s fair for the 4th place car to be at a disadvantage to the 11th place car?
So do you personally think it represents the spirit of racing to run slower than you can coming out of the pits to try to get an odd spot?
I gave it zero cause Hendricks won again!
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