Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 "Sold" Off
posted by Thomas Bowles
Wednesday April 23, 2014
After a week of uncertainty, Swan Racing’s two teams will show up at Richmond Friday night after a combination of mergers and acquisitions have kept the two teams up and running. The moves, announced in a press release Wednesday will keep rookie Cole Whitt behind the wheel of the No. 26 while J.J. Yeley moves into the No. 30, replacing Parker Kligerman effective immediately.
The solution for Whitt was rather simple: Swan co-owner Anthony Marlowe merged his portion of ownership into a deal with BK Racing. That team will now expand to three cars, with Whitt running full-time (for now) alongside fellow rookies Alex Bowman (No. 23) and Ryan Truex (No. 83). The move will also keep former Swan employees working full-time, rehired by BK as enough money was gathered up to keep the No. 26 up and running. Whitt, who has a best run of 18th this season (Fontana) will remain competing with his crew essentially intact.
“I respect Brandon Davis and everything he has done for the Swan Racing Company,” said Marlowe in the release. “Looking forward, my mission is to ensure Cole Whitt races in every NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season. My friend Ron Devine and the BK Ownership group really stepped up to enable me to keep the No. 26 on the track. Cole and Randy [Cox, crew chief] are off to an auspicious start in 2014 for a new Cup Team and we are gearing up for Richmond. In addition to the No. 26 team’s performance so far this year, the new ‘win and you’re in’ system and qualifying rules were motivating and positive factors in my continued investment in NASCAR.”
As for Swan’s No. 30, the equipment has been sold to Johnathan Cohen and his Xxxtreme Motorsports operation. That team, which has yet to make a race this season with J.J. Yeley will now run that No. 30 with their own Chevys before switching to the new Swan equipment (plus their old number, 44) beginning at Talladega. It’s an opportunity for them to gain speed and perhaps run a full race. Xxxtreme, with patchwork funding has yet to run more than 66 laps in any Cup event, start-and-parking in every race it’s made since making a go at NASCAR’s top level in mid-2012.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity in our organization,” Cohen tweeted after the purchase. “But today, made a big step in the right direction.”
Co-owner Brandon Davis, who had been MIA before Tuesday’s public announcement praised both Marlowe and Cohen in helping keep the equipment, former employees, and one of his two drivers afloat while Swan searches for funding to keep racing.
“Anthony and Jonathan are both young and ambitious NASCAR enthusiasts,” he said in a statement, later reiterating those points on SIRIUS XM Radio. “It is important to keep them in the sport for the long term. I am very relieved to know that the Nos. 26 and 30 teams will be in good hands and will continue to compete the remainder of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Most importantly, most of the team members have the opportunity to continue their employment in the sport and to support their families. This was critically important to me.”
So what happens to Swan’s other rookie, Parker Kligerman? Davis has retained Kligerman’s contract, and while the team has officially suspended operations he’s actively searching for funding to get the No. 30 back on track. Should it happen, it’ll be a one-car program with Kligerman at the wheel despite an ugly start that left the first-year driver 38th in series points.
“We are encouraged by the response we have received from interested parties,” Davis said of Kligerman. “Parker continues to be one of the most talented young drivers in NASCAR. He brought this racing team one of its strongest results in his first race with us [18th at Texas], and we are certain of his success in the future.”
The driver, in his response left the door open to run for other programs. Swan, which has partnered with celebrities like the NFL’s Bill Romanowski and rapper 50 Cent may be able to parlay those connections into funding that gets Kligerman into another car in the meantime.
“Although it’s unfortunate we are having to scale back, I look forward to the future and the exciting things that I’m confident we will accomplish at Swan Racing or with another team,” said Kligerman. “I value the relationship that I’ve had with Brandon Davis and am very grateful for him giving me an opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Whether I continue to race with Brandon and Swan Racing or end up with another team, I will always give it my all on and off track to be the best I can be.”
Connect with Tom!
Daniel Suarez to Make Nationwide Debut for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday April 22, 2014
Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday morning that NASCAR Toyota Series and K&N Pro Series East driver Daniel Suarez will make his Nationwide Series debut in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Sponsorship will be provided by Silent Circle, a global service that allows for the sending of encrypted communications and Telcel, a Mexican telecommunications company.
Suarez is thrilled to have the opportunity to race for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to make my NASCAR Nationwide Series debut,” Suarez said in a press release. “I want to thank Telcel and Silent Circle for believing in me and making this a reality. I can’t wait for Friday night in Richmond.”
JGR President J.D. Gibbs is very excited to have an up and coming talent such as Suarez in the fold.
“Daniel is certainly someone that has proven to have a lot of talent and we are thrilled this was able to come together and allow him to make his debut at Richmond,” Gibbs said. “I think it’s exciting when you look at the young talent our sport has right now and we certainly feel that Daniel is going to be part of the future for NASCAR.”
For Suarez, the 2014 season has been very successful so far. He started tke K&N Pro Series East season with two wins in three days in New Smyrna Beach, FL and Daytona Beach, FL (as part of the UNOH Battle at the Beach). Despite a crash at Bristol, Suarez still ranks second in points behind Ben Rhodes. In the Toyota Series, Suarez came from behind to win the season opening Toyota 120 at Phoenix International Raceway in front of all the Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams. Another win in Chiapas and a second-place finish at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’s oval gives him a nine point lead over Antonio Perez.
This will be a very busy weekend for Suarez. With the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown moving to South Boston Speedway this year, the K&N Pro Series East Blue Ox 100 will be held immediately after the conclusion of the Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250. In addition, the Toyota Series will have their fourth race of the season at the Autodromo de Monterrey in Suarez’s hometown on Sunday.
Gene Haas' Formula One License Application Accepted By FIA
posted by Phil Allaway
Friday April 11, 2014
This morning, the FIA announced that the license application submitted by Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas had officially been accepted. As a result, provided that everything comes together financially and technically, Haas’ new Formula One team will have a spot on the grid at the start of the 2015 season.
Upon receiving the news this morning, Haas released the following statement.
“Obviously, we’re extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA,” Haas wrote. “It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One.”
“Now, the really hard work begins. It’s a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid. I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition.”
Haas’ team would be the 12th team on the Formula One grid for the 2015 season if all the current teams return. Much like the failed USF1 team that Peter Windsor was involved with, the team would partially be based in North Carolina with an additional European base.
Stewart-Haas Racing is setting up a press conference for Monday to further discuss the move. We’ll have more information here at Frontstretch as soon as it becomes available.
Speeds Approach 220 MPH At Michigan Test
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, Goodyear held the second and final day of their tire test at Michigan International Speedway. The overall goal of the test was so teams could come up with a solution that would encourage better racing on the two-mile, D-shaped oval, while at the same time allowing for a compound that would not blister.
Much of the headlines from the test seemed to stem from high speeds reported. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tweeted a computer readout that stated he reached 215.2 mph. Clint Bowyer went a little bit faster at 217 mph, which Bowyer later described as “whites-in-your-eyes fast.” Greg Biffle told ESPN’s Shannon Spake on NASCAR Now that he reached 220 mph and a 204 mph average.
Despite the high speeds, the drivers who tested Tuesday and Wednesday believe that there will be better racing this year in the Irish Hills. Michigan winters are a bit harsher than in most locales on the Sprint Cup calendar. As a result, there is more weathering from year to year.
Earnhardt Jr. appeared to be quite happy with the track.
“I enjoy racing here,” the two-time Michigan winner said. “It’s a fun track. The asphalt is really aging well and it’s just going to keep getting better and better over the next couple of years.”
As is the norm for Goodyear tire tests, no official speeds were announced. However, Earnhardt Jr. stated in the Media Center that while he was going anywhere from 212-215 mph at the end of the frontstretch, he was only dropping down to 180 or so in the turns.
Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman echoed Earnhardt Jr.’s sentiment when asked about the track surface. They expect the track to support multiple grooves for racing when the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return in June.
As for track management, they definitely appear to like the high speeds. Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis spent part of Wednesday retweeting top speed posts. However, Curtis understands that going fast is not the only thing that matters.
“The drivers are posting 200 mph. That’s awesome,” Curtis said. “The fans get very, very excited about that. But at the end of the day, on Sunday when the green flag drops, the numbers ‘two zero zero’ they’re not anywhere in the fans’ minds. It’s lead changes, it’s the competition…”
Since the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season, the number of lead changes at Michigan International Speedway has been relatively flat with the years before the repave. However, the number of cautions are up as well, which can skew the lead change numbers a little. Complaints have come more from a rock hard tire compound, made by Goodyear for safety reasons which has made passing more difficult and actual “wear” (which leads to speed dropoff) hard to come by.
Sherwin-Williams To Sponsor No. 51 Cup Car At Darlington
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, HScott Motorsports announced that Sherwin-Williams will serve as the primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier’s No. 51 Chevrolet this weekend at Darlington Raceway. The No. 51 will primarily be advertising the automotive finishes division, in addition to the AWX Performance Plus Waterborne Refinish System the company makes.
Allgaier is very happy to have Sherwin-Williams onboard.
“I’m thrilled to have Sherwin-Williams on the car at Darlington,” Allgaier said in the press release. “They are a big supporter of HScott Motorsports and NASCAR. I can’t wait drive the No. 51 with the Sherwin-Williams colors on it at one of my favorite tracks.”
Sherwin-Williams has a fairly extensive history in NASCAR. They currently serve as the “Official Automotive Paint of NASCAR.” Prior to that, the company served as a primary sponsor for a number of cars in what is now the Nationwide Series.
As for Allgaier, Saturday will more than likely be his first career Sprint Cup start at the historic oval. However, in five Nationwide Series starts, Allgaier already has two top-5 and three top-10 finishes. His average result is an excellent 9.8.
Bass Pro Shops Primary Sponsor For Austin Dillon In Two Cup Races
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
Announced Tuesday in a ceremony and car unveiling at their Concord, NC location, Bass Pro Shops and Richard Childress Racing made it official that the national outdoor sports retail giant will be the primary sponsor of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet SS for two races during the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Talladega (May 4th) and Daytona (July 5th).
Bass Pro Shops has been associated with Dillon’s career dating back to 2010, when they sponsored his No. 3 Chevy Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and also followed Dillon to the Nationwide Series as a sponsor for his No. 3 Chevy Camaro for RCR. The two won a pair of NASCAR championships together, and the retailer has also served as an associate sponsor for Dillon’s car in the NSCS this season.
During the announcement, Bass Pro Shops noted that the retailer has been involved in the sport of NASCAR since 1998, when they became an associate sponsor of RCR’s No. 3 Chevy Monte Carlo driven by legend Dale Earnhardt.
Now, the sponsor is back on the Cup level, paired with the No. 3 once again and hoping to elevate the program to Victory Lane. Already, Dillon has one pole to start the season at Daytona, where he posted a ninth-place finish, his best result to date during this rookie campaign. 21st at Texas last weekend, he’s currently 11th in the Sprint Cup championship standings.
For the Bojangles’ Southern 500 this weekend at Darlington, Dillon will have Dow Chemical on board as the primary sponsor for the No. 3 car.
Ruud To Sponsor Buescher, No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
RAB Racing announced that Ruud, heating and cooling brand, will be on board the No. 99 Toyota Camry as primary sponsor this weekend at Darlington for the VFW Sport Clips Help-A-Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The brand joins Rheem as a primary sponsor of the car during the 2014 Nationwide Series campaign. Ruud will also sponsor the No. 99 of James Buescher in several other races this season, according to a team statement.
Buescher, the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, is driving full-time for RAB Racing and making the transition from the Truck Series to the NNS this year. The No. 99 team was recently penalized by NASCAR at Bristol for a P3 penalty (illegal weight added to the car improperly, which was lost during the race), which led to crew chief Chris Rice being fined $10,000 and placed on probation until December 31st. Car chief John Guerra was also placed on probation by the sanctioning body for the incident.
Sitting ninth in points thus far in 2014, Buescher’s best finish this season has been 12th at Phoenix. The 24-year-old, Plano, Texas native has one career win and 14 top-10 finishes in the NNS since his first start in 2008.
Five Sprint Cup Teams Test At MIS For Goodyear
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
After a long winter in Michigan, five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams visited Michigan International Speedway for a Goodyear Tire Test taking place both Tuesday and Wednesday this week. To prepare for the test, MIS reported having to use the track’s jet dryers to clear and melt snow and ice from the two-mile track.
Due to the snow melt, frost, and rain on Monday night, MIS had to delay the tire test for most of the day because of weepers around the track’s surface. The track crew worked throughout the afternoon to dry up the moisture so that testing could get safely underway. Finally, Greg Biffle took his No. 16 3M Ford Fusion to the asphalt at MIS around 4:00 PM ET as the first driver on track.
In addition to Biffle, Goodyear has scheduled drivers Clint Bowyer; Trevor Bayne; Ryan Newman; and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to take part in the tire test, which is open to fans from 9 AM to 5 PM today.
Michigan International Speedway is in for a busy summer in the Irish Hills as the track plays host to the Quicken Loans 400 on June 15th, then the Pure Michigan 400 on August 17th.
Logano's Four Tires Triumph Over Jeff Gordon's Two At Texas
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday April 8, 2014
Joey Logano would overcome Mother Nature and a green-white-checkered restart with four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon to win the rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano, with his trip to Victory Lane Monday afternoon also became the seventh different Sprint Cup driver to win in 2014 in as many races.
Logano, who led a race-high 108 laps on the afternoon, appeared to be on his way to a dominating victory until two laps to go. That’s when Kurt Busch blew a left-rear tire on his No. 41 Chevrolet, spraying debris all over the track.
“When you got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop, you got a pretty sizable lead, really all you’re thinking is, ‘Where is the white flag? Where is the white flag?’” Logano said after the race. “Then, you go into turn one, you see the [No.] 41 up against the wall. You’re like, Please no caution, please no caution. Boom, it comes out. You got to be kidding me. You get so mad you can barely control yourself.”
This incident, the third for Busch on the day would set up a decisive yellow-flag pit stop before the final restart. Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team then rolled the dice, jumping from sixth to first with only two tires while Logano and his Penske teammate Brad Keselowski would take four. Keselowski, who was second coming in would then get caught speeding while exiting pit road, eliminating him from contention. The Penske Racing driver, after leading 85 laps in his own right dropped to a disappointing 15th on the afternoon.
“That last caution was a shame,” Keselowski said, who lost a chance to become the series’ first two-time winner. “I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road, wanted to get us out front to be able to win the race and tried a little too hard.”
That left Logano dealing with Gordon and Brian Vickers directly in front on the restart. As the cars accelerated, he wasted no time dispatching Vickers for second and set his sights on the bumper of Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet. On the white-flag lap, Logano was able to take advantage of his four fresh tires to get underneath Gordon, clearing him by the exit of Turn 1.
“I mean, coming in sixth, you’re in that position that you can gamble,” said Gordon, who did earn a consolation prize — becoming the Sprint Cup points leader for the first time since the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 (see below). “You’re not going to win it with four tires, you’re not going to win it with none. I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off.”
After clearing Gordon, Logano was able to cruise to his fourth career Sprint Cup Series win, his second with Penske in a little over a season with the team. The driver’s confidence is high, stemming from crew chief Todd Gordon whom the 23-year-old was quick to praise after the race.
“He (Todd Gordon) made a last-minute decision to put fuel in it, gave me better balance for what I needed and the guys made the ‘money stop,’” Logano said of the ending. “I was the first guy out with four tires on.”
Behind Logano and Gordon in the top 5 were Kyle Busch in third, followed by Vickers fourth and rookie sensation Kyle Larson in fifth, the only rookie to run inside the top 20. Greg Biffle was sixth, Matt Kenseth seventh, while Clint Bowyer earned his second top-10 result in eighth. Paul Menard earned his fourth top 10 in five races, running ninth while pole sitter Tony Stewart rounded out the top 10.
Monday’s race started in bizarre fashion, under a rare, green-yellow flag condition for ten laps to ensure that the 1.5-mile quad-oval was dry and fit for racing. Jet dryers were still on the track during this period to help the process. Unfortunately, the air from the dryers managed to get inside the wheel wells and affect the hood and roof flaps of several cars. Keselowski’s Ford actually ended up with a damaged hood hinge, resulting in four pit stops during this period for repairs. Many additional cars came down pit road to fix the flaps as well. NASCAR allowed the cars affected to make their stops without penalty, provided that they not add fuel or change tires in the process.
Then, shortly after going green Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s day ended prematurely after just 14 laps when he misjudged his positioning and clipped the grass in Texas’ quad-oval. The miscue resulted in the car digging in, popping a wheelie and shooting the No. 88 Chevrolet straight into a SAFER-less wall, resulting in a fiery crash. Not only did that ruin Earnhardt’s day, but it also impacted the race of Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson. Johnson wound up with windshield damage and a bent left-front corner of his No. 48 Chevrolet. Losing multiple laps for repairs, Johnson ended up 25th on the day while Earnhardt Jr. was scored dead last (43rd).
“You can’t run through there they way they have these cars on the ground,” Earnhardt said of the incident. “Just a mistake on my part. I just didn’t know I was that close to the grass, and made a mistake.”
Kevin Harvick had another fast race car, one capable of going up and taking the lead away from teammate Stewart on Lap 25. However, Harvick’s run of bad luck continued after blowing an engine just a couple of laps later. Harvick ended up 42nd, sitting just 31 points inside the top 30 needed to make the Chase after his win at Phoenix.
A look at the Duck Commander 500 by the numbers. There were 18 lead changes among nine drivers, while seven cautions for 49 laps slowed the pace to 134.191 MPH.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to legendary Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. The Green flag is scheduled for 6:45 PM ET on Saturday night.
Keselowski - Busch Feud And Other Martinsville Sidebars To Follow
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Monday March 31, 2014
Keselowski, Busch Feud
Two former Penske Racing teammates didn’t play the part Sunday, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch starting a feud that almost kept the latter from Victory Lane. It all started during the competition caution, on Lap 43 when the two cars made contact on pit road. Keselowski claims Busch turned into him, breaking the front suspension on the Miller Lite Ford in an accident that also included Kasey Kahne.
“I started to check up and I just barely got in the back of him and Kurt (Busch) just accelerated and drove through us, absolutely drove through us,” Keselowski said inside the garage. “I tell you what, I’m about tired of his recklessness.”
So Keselowski went back on-track, found Busch’s No. 41 car and promptly slammed into its right side. Trying to flatten tires, it seemed the endeavor ultimately failed but still fired up Busch to the point he started ranting inside the car.
“Welp, guess we’re going to get in a fight afterwards,” Busch said. “I’m going to **** that dude’s ****ing face!”
After that, Busch got focused, starting a drive that would end with him in Victory Lane. Keselowski, meanwhile ran 38th and still remained frustrated after the race.
“Tell him come here. I’m right here,” he said when told Busch was OK with fighting. “He knows where I’m at. Leave Victory Lane and we’ll go.”
“He does awesome things for charity and he’s probably the most talented race car driver, but he’s also one of the dumbest, so put those three together.”
Busch’s response, initially was to downplay the incident. But when pressed in the media center, post-race he finally broke down a bit. Calling the contact by a damaged Keselowski a “punk-ass move,” Busch said he’d be enacting revenge at a time of his choosing.
At press time, Keselowski had calmed down a bit, claiming he wasn’t trying to wreck Busch on Twitter and that the rivalry would not continue into Texas. No penalties from NASCAR, by the way occurred during the race or are expected for either side.
Crafton Claims Rain-Delayed Kroger 250 Victory
Due to Saturday’s complete washout, the Camping World Truck Series held their second race of the season immediately after the Sprint Cup Series’ STP 500 wrapped up. With a 5:30 PM start time, some feared the race would be called early due to darkness. Ultimately, that was not a concern.
In a quick event, Matt Crafton took the lead from local favorite Timothy Peters on Lap 209. From there, Crafton held off the rest of the pack through two green-white-checkered restarts to claim his first career Martinsville grandfather clock.
In the scrum on the final restart, Darrell Wallace, Jr. rose up to second, while rookie Ben Kennedy was third. Johnny Sauter finished fourth while using the front end of his Toyota Tundra in a manner similar to a battering ram. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-5 finishers.
For more on Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race, please check out Kelly Crandall’s Tracking the Trucks race recap at Frontstretch.
Tires Fail To Adhere to Track
Goodyear tire engineers stated Sunday that it takes a track temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order for their tires to lay down a proper groove in the turns. On Sunday, the track temperature never reached that point during the race. As a result, tire wear was very high on Sunday. Rubber chunks would shear off, early during green-flag runs and gather just outside the racing groove.
Drivers would ask for new tires every 20 laps or so. If there was a caution, nearly the entire field would come in for fresh rubber. There were examples of
“The track conditions today were extremely challenging with the marbles,” said Kenseth, who recovered to run sixth while Stewart wasn’t so lucky (17th). “They just wouldn’t clean them up — I don’t know why. If you had warm tires and you got pushed up in there then you were going to lose 15 spots sometimes — it was that bad.”
If the story sounds familiar to readers, it should. Last Fall, track temperatures struggled to reach 80 degrees through much of the race. However, the tire issues that resulted were not quite as severe.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
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NASCAR Fan Q & A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday September 18, 2008
For those of you that did not catch last week’s Fanning the Flames, I have to share one of the funnier post-article comments I’ve seen in a year and a half of writing for the Frontstretch. In response to a question and subsequent answer by yours truly concerning the Tony Stewart Rolling Stone article, a poster known simply as “Michael” had this to say:
Y’know, if there’s a way to get the casual fan to question the legitimacy of racing’s athletes and the ability it takes, it’s probably showing them a picture of a fat race car driver in his undies eating ravioli and then saying, “This guy is one of the best ones.”
Talk about your observational comedy … did you mug Jerry Seinfeld on the way to the keyboard, Mike? Bravo, my man. Bravo. And so damn true.
OK, now that we’ve dispersed with the sharing portion of the column, let’s hit the questions. As always, you guys stepped up this week after a one-off dud. Thanks for the pick-me-up — and keep ‘em coming. Here’s your link.
Q: Richmond was one of the few races this year that actually lived up to the hype. It’s what we should have seen at Bristol and didn’t. So, is the crapshoot [of short track racing] the CoT, or is the “new” track at Bristol more to blame for the lack of intensity and excitement?
A: I’ll take “None of the Above” for 100, Sally. You know, I still really like Bristol — I don’t mind seeing the boys run on two separate, safe and well-defined grooves — but that’s not the question. Your question is, in essence, what’s changed? I believe the reason you don’t see the heart-stopping, non-stop, edge-of-the-seat drama (read: rubbin’, bumpin’, & bangin’ … which, don’t get me wrong, are all beautiful pieces that make up the quantum of short track racin’) is The Bristol Night Race’s location on the schedule since the introduction of the Chase.
Think about it; the season’s second Bristol date has been in August every season since 1976. Of those pre-Chase seasons, only twice in those 28 races has the championship battle involved more than three drivers with a realistic shot at winning the Cup. Since the advent of Brian’s Chase, however, there are upwards of five or six drivers just trying not to fall out of the Top 12 — nevermind the ones with a prayer of getting in that are trying not to fall any further back and just trying to get out of Bristol intact.
That, and we all remember Bristol for the Earnhardt vs. Labonte and Rusty vs. Gordon finishes. Lest we forget that Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch ran away with a few … and don’t even get me started on DW’s run in the ‘80s. My point: Yes, Bristol may be different with a CoT, new banking, and a new surface, but good racing still abounds. Just ask Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick: all the participants in thrilling Bristol finishes since the ’07 Spring race.
Q: Matt, back to JPM and Ganassi…what is going on there? He has no teammates and only half a sponsor. Will he still be in Cup next year? Or should I just throw this year and next out and hope for better in 2010? I read on Yahoo that JPM is happy with Ganassi and that he believes it will turn around, but I don’t see it. Do you know of anything happening behind closed doors that may shed some light on this?
— Ben Pierce
A: I don’t see it either, Ben, and I’ve been told there are not many owners or drivers that want to deal with Chip Ganassi. I believe the quote I was given went something like, “Personality-wise, he is 12 laps down.”
Juan Pablo Montoya is saying the right things in the media and sticking up for a man that’s been loyal to him. Fine — you can’t fault “John Paul” for that. But, as you’ve stated, the future doesn’t look bright at the moment. Wrigley is only on for a partial primary, and Target re-upped for ’09. Montoya is on board, but past that things appear pretty murky. From the info I’ve gathered, Ganassi is looking for a merger, but whether that happens with Michael Waltrip Racing (as has been speculated) is still very much up in the air.
My advice, Ben: Buckle up the safety harness and hope that Chip Ganassi Racing even makes it to 2010.
Q: Why did Gibbs put Joey Logano in the 96 Hall of Fame car? I know HoF is a satellite team [to Joe Gibbs Racing] but haven’t enough drivers over the last few years proven that car is junk? They should have kept him in the JGR car and hoped for the best. What a confidence hit!
A: Weather, Paul. It was widely known that rain was in the forecast for Loudon on Friday, and JGR wanted seat time in a Cup race for Logano. He wouldn’t get it in the No. 02, which isn’t even a blip on the Top 35 radar when — not if — qualifying was rained out. And don’t kid yourself, that was a JGR Toyota. It was just one with a skeleton crew and a driver thrown into a car and an event that was a little more daunting than he could handle.
He’ll get better, but I told you guys last week that this is a whole new stratosphere he’s blazing into here.
Q: Who blocked [Jeff] Gordon in his stall at NHMS?
— Gilbert Daniel
A: Well, they were at New Hampshire, the car in question was a lap down, and getting in the way of those running on the lead lap. Sounds like Robby Gordon to me… twice.
And on a personal note before I leave, let me use my pixilated megaphone to say congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law, Kara and Chris, on the birth of their beautiful new baby girl, Molly Beth. Like most newborns, she looks kind of like a raisin right now… but she’ll be pretty in no time!
I gotta run to the ER, now — the girlfriend just mistook her finger for a sirloin with a steak knife. It’s gonna be a long night …
©2000 - 2008 Matt Taliaferro and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Boy , how many years have we been subjected to this guy bursting into tears over all of the other drivers being mean to him .Yes, its always everyone elses fault but Jeffs .The only person getting in Jeff Gordons way was Jeff Gordon . Are we supposed to believe that Jeff was the only driver who had to deal with other cars being close in the pits . Virtually every other driver in the race was faced with the same problem on every pitstop . Yet they all dealt with it instead of whining . Jeff Gordon needs to at least pretend to be mature .
So, are you saying that cars in the chase should have exclusive access to the pits? Or are you implying that Robby was not legally within his pit stall?
I was there, and had a pretty good view. Robby was in the front right corner of his stall in both occasions. Jeff was at the front of his stall, but close to the pit wall. (I have pictures I can send you, if you don’t beleive me.) Jeff and his crew knew there was a car in the stall in front of them. Why didn’t they adjust their position to make it easier?
I frist saw and herad Jeff Gordon at the famed Rock. During a pit stop we always scanned the radio to hear what the drivers were saying and planning and so on. We actually heard Jeffie tell his team he thought the tires were – are you ready for this – “TOO ROUND” perhaps that was code-talk for something else, but it sure sounded damn funny on the radio… “sorry ‘bout that buddy, we’ll see if we can square them up for you on the next stop”
From that day forward I always kind of thought of him a a whinner…. well… I guess I still do…..
Quote: “and getting in the way of those running on the lead lap. Sounds like Robby Gordon to me… twice.”
I repeat, “and getting in the way of those running on the lead lap”?
Hey, with your silly thinking, maybe NA$CAR needs to implement the “AUSTRALIAN PURSUIT” rule in their cup series, once you get passed, your simply out!
Then a candy as* like Jeff can’t complain about someone “getting in his way”! Imagine that, 43 cars racing, and someone gets in someones way? How delirious!
But! Lets now get back to the “CHASE” itself, or chumpionship! Why in the world do only 12 cars run for a chumpionship, and/but those 31 cars that have been totally eliminated and forgotten are still allowed on the hollowed ground at the same time?
HUH? How stupid is that?
(gee, I don’t know, lets ask Brian!
Hey Brian? Where in the hel* did you ever come up with “THE CHASE”?
Was it after a bout with Jack Daniels, Jim Beam (no probably not, they sponsor your favorite driver Robby), or Budweiser?
It sure wasn’t after a bout with Pepsi!
I call Robby out this week because he has a history of being a rolling road block at NHMS. Robby vs. Biffle in ’04 that eliminated two Chasers immediately, Robby vs. Mikey in ’05 (yes, Mikey was on the lead lap — finished 15th). I could go on …
I like what Robby’s doing with the single-car team and that he’s a racer to the core, but the boy just doesn’t use his head sometimes. I read a poll taken anonymously of drivers this past week in SI that had Robby as one of the toughest guys on the circuit to pass — and hey, that’s great and all, but when you’re five laps down and racing the third-place car on the track for everything you got, you need to accept the fact that you’re driving junk and not adversely effect the outcome of a race. If you have no shot, let the guys who do duke it out amongst one another. Robby has never gotten that and that’s why he often finds himelf pointed in the wrong direction on the racetrack.
I beg to disagree!
43 cars are a a’ racing!
And Robby’s 35th place (or so) is as important as Jeffie’s 5th or 6th is to him!
NA$CAR made the rules!
And, if “getting in the way” of a chase car is so dastardly, then why does NA$CAR in all it’s wisdom, gee? did I say “wisdom”, so sorry, make the “chasers” race on a track with 31 other cars, some of which will actually be a lap down?
As proven time and time again!
So? ANY? And I ask “ANY” car not in the “chase”, should just give way to a chase car! Whenever? Whomever?
And that’s called “racing”?
A bad format for the “chase”, is still a bad format for the chase, lets not blame drivers who have their own goals!
My argument does not center on non-Chasers racing against Chasers (or not racing against Chasers, whatever). You can ask any driver on the circuit and he’ll tell you that a car running four, five … 10 laps down has no business racing the leaders like hell. Why? Because he’s done! If you’re Robby, then race Dave Blaney and Scott Riggs hard, but the leaders who are multiple laps up should be allowed to race.
Did you agree with the way Mikey raced Carl at Bristol in ’07? Mikey was two laps down, obviously much lower, and had NO SHOT at winning (it is the 55, after all). He blocked race leader Edwards for 10 or 15 laps just to get his NAPA logo on TV for a few minutes!!! That, my friend, ain’t racing.
Now I’m not saying Robby races the way he does for the same reason Waltrip does, but the fact a slower, multiple-lap down car can effect the outcome of a race goes against how 99 percent of the guys out there race.
And a quick note on “Jeffie”: I wrote what I wrote not in defense of Jeff or with sympathy in mind … it had more to do with Robby once again causing trouble at NHMS. And with a grain of tongue-in-cheek thrown in for good measure…!
Jeffs problem that race was not robbie blocking him in, it was steve letart not taking a chance and pitting like tony steward did and trying to win the race. For gordon to win the chase he needs to take the chances that chad and jimmy did last year and stop trying to just get top 10 finishes.
Actually, and the truth of today’s “racing” as some call it, is: “just to get his NAPA logo on TV for a few minutes!!!”
Still not sure what “your” rules are for “get the hell out of my way”?
Is it down one lap? Two laps, running 13th?
Or? Is it a “popularuty contest”, where the driver radios in to his crew “is the driver behind me more poplular than I am”?, I need to know when to move over!
And all along I thought EVERY position was valuable to EVERY driver!
Isn’t that how drivers get graded?
“SPONSOR”: “gee, I don’t want to sign that driver, he moves over too easy and lets cars by him”!
And the NA$CAR saga of the chase goes on!
Funnier than SNL!
(OH, almost forgot, wasn’t Robby “only” a lap down? Have you ever heard of that other silly NA$CAR rule: THE LUCKY DOG”? Sounds like that’s worth fighting for!)
Was Gilbert Daniel watching the same race I was? Even ESPN’s putrid coverage of the race mentioned Robby Gordon in front of Jeff Gordon in the pits, both times.
C’mon Matt, look at reality. Robby had dropped out of the all-important top 35. Sunday he was racing his butt of to get back into the top 35. He’s not going to screw up his own pit stop to let Jeffy have an easier time getting out. He’s not going to move over to let Jeff by – at the risk of losing important track position. He fought hard to get the finish he did, and put himself back into the top 35 – incredibly important for any single car team.
If Jeff isn’t able to pass a slower car, and is not able to get in and out of his pits, then maybe he’s the one who should get out of everyone elses way.
A true race car driver will always be racing , on the lead lap or five laps down . The alternative is giving up and i can’t imagine a real driver doing that . And if the drivers who felt they weren’t competitive were required to pull off the track and went to the garage ,the field would be pretty small at the wave of the checkers .
Thats an interesting idea about Michael Waltrip blocking your favorite driver Carl ( apparently ) on two separate occaisions . If you really believe that Michael Waltrip has the driving ability or the car to stay in front of the leader at will so he can get on tv , you have a vivid imagination indeed .
I’m from Owensboro, KY, Mikey’s hometown — not saying I pledge any allegiance, but I can tell you I’d be more apt to root for Mikey than Carl. Get hold of a tape of that race and you’ll see what I’m talking about — it was pretty obvious.
Guys, I’m all about everyone racing hard ever lap, but face it, there are times when it’s prudent for a slower, non-competitive car to move aside to let a second, third or fourth place guy go if he is tracking down the leader. I’ve never been one to buy into the idea of a “gentleman’s agreement” but that’s as close as it comes.
The next time you see a guy like Blaney, Nemechek or Schrader holding up a much faster car just for the sake of holding him up — because it’s “my real estate” — it’ll be the first.
And Douglas: No, of course I don’t think it’s a popularity contest … c’mon, man.
While I got ya’lls attention .. how ‘bout a shout out to the new kid … Kara’s reading this, ya know!
Ain’t this fun?
The bantering back and forth about various race drivers and their approach to the “sport”, ( as NA$CAR wants to call it anyway).
Matt, you missed the most important part of Douglas’ point. The lucky dog. Robby was racing to get the lucky dog. You may not like it but it is a reality of racing. I read an article someplace else today that quoted Jeff Burton about the chase drivers thinking they deserve special treatment. His take: the other 31 drivers deserve to be there as much as the chase drivers and they shouldn’t be expected to just give way to them. I guess his wise insight comes from having been on both sides of the chase.
Damn, Douglas. I think it’s time you heed your past advise to us and, QUIT WATCHING! If I hated a sport half as much as you appear to, I’d mow my lawn on Sunday. And I live in a Condo. I hate all that BF and the court jesters have done with the sport too. But jeez, take a Prozac.
I agree with Matt simply because a car multiple laps down has nothing to gain by holding a leader up. Nothing. It doesn’t matter if you can cost a lead car 2 seconds on the track if you’re never going to battle him for position anyway. You ARE, however, impeding on a battle between drivers that you have cost yourself a part in by getting lapped multiple times. It’s simply a respectable and honorable move. If there’s nothing to gain, why cost other drivers anything?
In fact, there is something to gain, and that is respect from the front runners. If Robby ever ends up out front, he needs to make the best of it. I think gaining respect from the likes of Jeff Gordon and other front runners would enhance his chances at making the most of a good opportunity if it comes his way.
ok! ok! This was started because of a Jeff Gordon issue, making yet more excuses for a bad run!
It involves a car a SINGLE LAP DOWN! Now all of a sudden we are bringing the history of NA$CAR into play and talking about cars “multiple” laps down, DIFFERENT SCENARIO FOLKS!
How easily, and convenient, we contaminate the scene!
And, now that I think about it, if Jeffie boy was that good, he would have had FIRST CHOICE on his pit selection! So in my estimation, because he was not “on the pole”, he in fact had to take whatever pit was available when his turn came! So, why pick the pit stall that he did?
Does not make sense to me! And that’s a Jeff selection, no one else’s!
Hey Jeff baby! “QUALIFY FIRST”, case closed! Qualify in the pack, you are then part of the pack!
And the way your running, might as well get used to that fact!
Oh, and in closing, I really do get a kick out of those folks that say if you don’t like it, just leave!
WHY? should I stop complaining and just slink away while the sport is being ruined, day in, day out, by Brian France and his cohorts!
Spineless, gutless people walk away and turn their backs!
ME? I choose to FIGHT!
Wrong is wrong!
Just watch a “race” on Sunday!
You cannot possibly tell me that is “good”! And worth the big buck admissions to watch!
P.S., thanks “cons1”, you get the picture!
It would be a lot better racing if there were 43 Robbie Gordons racing.
Point taken, Douglas. So let’s start over:
Q: Who blocked [Jeff] Gordon in his stall at NHMS?
A: Well, they were at New Hampshire, the car in question was a lap down, and getting in the way of those running on the lead lap. Sounds like Robby Gordon to me… twice.
Really, this was a response that, as stated earlier, was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I like Robby because he is a true racer, but honestly he seems to find himself in the middle of a lot of dust-ups. Does that make for more entertainment for us? Of course, and I’m glad we have him around to keep us on our toes and spur along conversations such as these.
As for Jeff, I really think he got a little upset because of who was in front of him on pit road (past history with the driver). Was Robby to blame here? Not really, but because of the two drivers in question it became an issue.
Thanks for the good dialogue, folks.
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