Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
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2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
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2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Key Moment – On lap 71, the field came to the final restart of the race, and Denny Hamlin was in the seventh position, the last row on the grid, with only four laps until the checkered. In three laps, he swept to the lead and confirmed that he was the best among the 18 cars to take the green for the event.
In a Nutshell – Denny Hamlin won the first two segments of the race and, even though he was at the back of the pack late in the event, was still the car to beat. Hamlin grabbed the lead for good on lap 74 and held off a charge by Brad Keselowski to claim his second Sprint Unlimited victory.
Dramatic Moment – On lap 36, the big one broke out in the tri-oval. Seven of the 18 competitors in the race were eliminated in that one event. Most notable, at least in the Twitterverse, was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. plowing into Danica Patrick to end both of their days.
What They’ll be Talking About Around the Water Cooler
Tony Stewart is coming off of a serious leg injury. Like any athlete, there is always some anxiety for them until they are able to give that part a strenuous test. Stewart’s moment came on lap 36 Saturday night when he was caught up in the big one. Waking up Sunday morning without any appreciable pain has to leave Smoke feeling much more confident about his repaired appendage.
Whether you think the story is old news or new news, the Stenhouse/Patrick attention just won’t go away. There will be a myriad of discussions about Ricky ending Danica’s night and a multitude of jokes about dating strife and Danica’s night ended by a Framily Feud. In the end, drivers are going to wreck into each other and just because it was the two of them it isn’t news. Enjoy the Tweets about it though.
Richard Childress was speaking with media after the pole winner’s press conference and told them that Kevin Harvick will be a title contender this season. After watching the effort that they put in for a top-5 finish on Saturday, there is no doubt that the team has the mettle it will take to make a run at the Cup.
Daytona International Speedway is dumping $400,000,000 into upgrading the front straight seating to expand their capacity to 200,000 people. They better hope that the fans buy a bunch of tickets once the project is finished because, at least on Saturday night, the amount of fans would have barely filled tracks at Volusia County or New Smyrna. The attendance for the Sprint Unlimited looked more like a standalone Truck race than the kick off event for the Cup season. We’ll all just have to wait and see what the attendance looks like the rest of Speedweeks, but the early numbers look like an auspicious start.
Speaking of qualifying for the Great American Race, Austin Dillon has fired the first shot in the return of the No. 3 to the Cup series. He put it on the pole for the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon. Similar to last year when Patrick claimed the top starting spot, there is little doubt that the tin foil hat crowd will be out in force charging that the deal is rigged. Whether it is or isn’t, the fact of the matter is, qualifying for Daytona is second in the pantheon of meaningless events, similar to qualifying at Talladega. It is a great, feel-good story to have the iconic number back in the series and at the front of the starting lineup. Now if he walks away with the race there may be a few more questions raised. The sanctioning body is trying very hard to be as transparent as possible, so let’s hope that there won’t be any cloud hanging over the first win for the No. 3 since 2000.
Next Friday we will see the “knock-out” qualifying procedure for the first time in 2014 when the Trucks and Nationwide cars run their time trial sessions. It’s such a big change that the folks in the Media Center are going to have to follow new procedures due to the fact that they won’t have the access that they are used to having when the cars paraded down the pit lane before single car runs. If the sessions are anything like the Talladega practice for the Cup Series last year, when rain threatened the speedway, it should be some exciting action.
Since this is the first Thinkin’ column of the year, let’s briefly touch on the Chase system. Is it a season long champion? Heck no. Is it an ideal scenario? Hardly. Is it better than what we had before? It would seem that way from this seat. While the “Winner Take All” final race is a sketchy proposition, the bottom line is that the four drivers involved had to earn it. If they didn’t win their way there or accumulate a large point cushion to qualify, they never would have had the shot to begin with. At least in this system, a driver who has a bad race can rebound and stay alive by winning a race. There are going to be four races with Richmond-type attention instead of one, and the scenarios could take some amazing twists and turns as the deal unfolds. While it will never replace a season long championship, the new version seems to be a more exciting alternative than the 10 race arrangement.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Take your pick of the drivers who were caught up in the big one. Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, or Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. All of them were caught up in a wreck far too early in the event.
Jimmie Johnson was coming to the caution for the end of segment one when he ended up BEING the caution. A spin out of turn four and a hard, driver side impact, ended his night far earlier than he had hoped for. Typical for Johnson, it is usually checkers or wreckers at Daytona for him.
Kyle Busch may have been capable of giving Denny Hamlin a run for his money in the Sprint Unlimited but, during a lane change while trying to get to the front, he dropped onto the nose of Brad Keselowski and went for a spin in turn four. He kept it off of the wall and didn’t kill the splitter but it hurt the car enough that he had to settle for a third-place finish.
The “Seven Come for Eleven” Award for Fine Fortune
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. probably belongs in the Hindenburg category after he hooked off of the front bumper of Marcos Ambrose’s car into the wall heading into turn one and ended his night, but his fine fortune allowed him to be in that position to begin with. Earnhardt was deep in the field when the melee on the front straight commenced that took out over a third of the field. Earnhardt went to the apron and avoided the carnage, setting himself up for a run at the win.
Kevin Harvick flattened the side of his car as he worked his way through the big wreck and spent the rest of the night making pit stops and working over the car to keep it in the race and trying to make it competitive. When the final restart happened, Harvick moved forward and was on the verge of grabbing the top spot before ultimately settling for a fifth-place finish.
Jamie McMurray started the race strong and was leading until he had a piece of debris get on his grill. He dropped back to try and get the trash off but, in the end had to come to the pit lane to clear the grill opening. The end result was McMurray lost a lap right before the end of the first segment. He fortunately was the only car a lap down so he received the lucky dog. He went on to miss big wreck and rode that wave of luck to come home in sixth place at the end of the night.
Denny Hamlin’s victory in the Sprint Unlimited was his second of his career. He also won the race, then the Bud Shootout, when he was a rookie in 2006.
Nine drivers now have multiple wins in the various iterations of the Sprint Unlimited.
Austin Dillon’s Daytona 500 pole is his first in his Cup career. He has 12 Cup starts with two of them being at Daytona International Speedway.
This is the fourth time the No. 3 car has started on the pole for the Daytona 500.
Buddy Baker, Ricky Rudd, Dale Earnhardt and Austin Dillon are the four drivers who have put the car up front.
What’s the Points
Nobody cares, yet. The Sprint Unlimited is not a points race so we’re all still even at this point in time. The only point at this juncture is that Denny Hamlin has won the last two races in the Cup series. He is making a statement for sure that he will be a contender in 2014.
Overall rating (On a scale of 1-6, where 1 is a stinker and six is the finest of brews and a instant classic.)
It is hard to give a high number to a race that only had eight cars running at the end of the event. With that said it was great to see both lines moving and drivers being able to move from the back to the front of the pack. They were able to move from one line to the other and didn’t have to be pushed to advance every time. With that said, we’ll give it four frosty Budweisers and hope that we’ll see even more for the 500.
The tradition of Thursday qualifying races has been moved to prime time. The Duels at Daytona will be on Fox Sports 1 on Thursday night followed by the Daytona 500 on Sunday, live on Fox at 1:00 PM and on MRN radio.
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Gotta say, those last 35 laps were the best eight-car race I’ve ever seen.
Dillon got “The Call”, just like Danica last year.
Dillon won me 50 bucks for getting the pole. Brian is so predictable. I can imagine the conversation: “Richard, put Austin Dillon in the 3 and we’ll get you the pole.”
Anyone who didn’t know it was coming forgot last year.
bad wolf – thought the same thing when i saw who won the pole yesterday. nascar needs to keep fans interest level up.
princess sparkle pony already complaining about the rules where she’ll have to start at the rear of the field cause of the engine change. she feels “defeated”. poor princess.
oh well….let’s see what craziness happens thursday.
well, you can say that I’m wearing a tinfoil hat if you like, but yes, I also thought prior to qualifying that it would be the 3 on the pole, so I wasn’t suprised at all to read about it.
I like Dillon and RCR, but NASCAR is somewhat predictable on these things – they need whatever will get them press and attention from people who are not necessarily race fans.
Well a .5 inch of spoiler makes a big difference. Even with 8 cars left they could pass and both lines could move. Looking forward to the Duels and the 500. Maybe for next year they should allow pole winning car owners who lose their drivers to participate to get a bit more of a car count.
NA$CAR collects money for the seats for two races, but counts it as one for engine change rules. What a rip off for the Steward, Patrick and LaBonte fans. Leave it to the Beach Bums to find a way to alienate more fans.
Give me one of those tinfoil hats too. Can anyone think of a better short-term hype boost to create a buzz prior to the 500 than the 3 car being on the pole? I can’t. Just like last year with Danica.
Speaking of Danica, I guess she’ll be on top this week as Ricky tries to make amends.
Jeez, 8 cars left at the end. Kind of funny.
I did notice the lack of fans in the seats. That new chase format is really packing them in and firing up the fanbase.
200,000 seats??? Everything that I had read about the Daytona makeover was that they were shrinking capacity (eliminating SuperStretch seating), larger seats, etc. They may have the capacity to add seats in the future, but the number I was seeing was 105,000.
In other news, the Cowboy hat is ridiculous.
As far as the qualifying is concerned, I too share the belief that something is a bit fishy! There is one way to stop the suspicion. NASCAR should run a contest of sorts, where fans who are attending these restrictor plate races can enter their names in a draw. An independent source would then draw, say, five names, and those people would line up at the spot where the plates are handed out. Person number one would pick the plate for the first car in line, then go to the end of the line. Person number two would pick the plate for the second car in line, then return to the end of the line. They five people would keep rotating until all the plates are handed out. This would do away with the suspicion that the plates are maybe marked so that certain cars, like Danica last year and Dillon this year, get certain plates that might be “slightly different” than the rest of the plates.
Speaking of qualifying, and the fact that Toyotas were so strong the night before, I wonder, with the poor results of the Toyota teams qualifying, if someone at TRD isn’t looking for another job today.
As far as I’m concerned, those races Saturday evening weren’t even worthy of a can of stale, flat New Coke. Remember that garbage? Pack racing with the expected demolition derby, less passing that everyone thinks, and whoever is in front, once they can put some distance on everyone following, they can’t be touched. Add to this, the race was won by one of the biggest whiners in NASCAR! I thought the race stunk! If this is what we have to look forward to on Thursday evening and Sunday, no thanks! See everyone at Phoenix, the first “real” race of the year!
One last point about Saturday night’s “show”. Did anyone else have the uncontrollable urge to yell at Michael Waltrip to SHUT UP!!!
i did find it amusing when the pace car caught fire. they can’t blame this on juan pablo!
ken – AMEN!!!! michael waltrip is like fingernails on a chalk board. one of the reasons i didn’t watch qualifying on sunday was his mouth!
Zetona… Your comment was the first and the best.
Mikey… A cowboy hat at the race track is no more ridiculous than a firesuit at a rodeo.
If the unlimited race gives any indication of how the racing will be this year, then I’ll give the criticism a rest for a few races. In other news!!! Surprise! surprise! First time out the #3 car is on the pole. Could nas$car get any more predictable? I never thought I’d be saying this, but listening to Darrell Waltrip is a pleasure compared compared to Mikey. Listening to Mikey is like having teeth pulled. And I wear dentures.
With DW under repair, I also thought we would get some relief. Yet here comes FOX with DW, Jr. and DW,Jr.II in the Hollywood Hotel.
Ken, LOL, yeah as soon as I heard Mikey yapping away, I muted the tv and turned on the feed for the radio broadcast. I am NOT going to listen to him this year – not at all.
Like you, I wasn’t impressed with the “racing” on Saturday night either. I’m hoping for a sunny day on Sunday – one w/o snow and I’ll find something else to do with my time other than watching a plate race.
Aww, come on Gina, it’s the Daytona 500. Something might happen (cough, big wreck). I hate the RP races too but I’ll watch. If nothing else, The Daytona 500 marks the beginning of spring in my mind.
bill – you’re right. even here in atlanta i’m sick of winter this year. maybe if we’re lucky mikey will make the race and dw won’t be able to get to daytona.
Bill B, I know, I know, it’s the 500, but I really hate RP races and I’ll probably be inside watching because it will probably freakin snow again!
Hmm, yes if Mikey makes the race, I won’t have to listen to him – although his noisy brother will still be there – along with Myers pretending he’s never seen a race car before!
so any bets who the in car reporter will be?
Call me confused on the engine-change rule, as my opinion would be once you qualify, then you are locked into that engine for the rest of the race. Practice is just practice, and it doesnt count. At the very least, those 3 would have to start at the back for the duals, but the 500 too? I dont get it.
Concerning the pole run by the 3.You don’t have to provide a difference plate as the driver could still mess it up.
Just look at the man with his hand on the clock.Who runs the timing anyways,yea that’s what I thought.
Time to put my Tinfoil hat on.
agree with zetona..
but i think the early race single file parade was a prelude of things to come.
was it just me or did the graphic showing the running order bug the crap out of you?
Here’s the info Directly from David Newton’s June of 2013 Article:
“CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Daytona International Speedway will have shrunk by 46,000 seats and eliminated the backstretch grandstands when it completes a three-year, $370 million to $400 million renovation set to begin after the July 6 Sprint Cup race in Daytona Beach, Fla.
It was announced on Tuesday that International Speedway Corporation will undertake the remodel to completely revamp NASCAR’s flagship track.
The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 and Daytona 500.
Seating capacity at DIS, once 162,000 and currently 147,000, will be 101,000 when the project is completed. All of the focus will be on the front grandstands where every seat will be replaced with wider, more comfortable seats.”
Not being overly critical, but there’s a big difference between 200K and 101K, Plus, there’s an even bigger story when ISC is predicting smaller crowds long term!
“We’ll all just have to wait and see what the attendance looks like the rest of Speedweeks, but the early numbers look like an auspicious start.”
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