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.
Phil Allaway · Friday January 21, 2011
Since we’re fully ensconced in the off-season at the present, we here at Frontstretch figured that we’d give you a look back at some nostalgic races. Today is the first in the “Winter Heat” series (brownie points for those who know where we were going with that).
Before the now-Nationwide Series had 27 support races to the Sprint Cup Series all over the country on its schedule, it tended to be more of a regional series, with many events on southeastern short tracks. However, by the early 1990’s, these races were beginning to disappear from the circuit. The last sub-100 mile race was held at then-Pulaski County Speedway (now Motor Mile Speedway) in 1992.
By 1994, only a few of these classic short tracks remained on the calendar, as the short track dates were cut off the schedule or replaced with support events for Winston Cup. One short track that was still on the schedule was Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, North Carolina. Up until 1993, the track hosted two Busch Grand National races. However, for ’94, the track was cut down to just one, a shame for such a competitive track.
Orange County Speedway is a 0.375 mile oval with roughly 14 degrees of banking in the turns and a slight graduation to the banking. As a result, the racing line was in the middle of the track as opposed to the bottom. Side-by-side racing was always the norm.
Before we get into the actual race, something should be stated about the race name. On Racing Reference, the race is referred to as the Pantry Stores 300. However, on the TNN broadcast, it was referred to as The Pantry 400, complete with a race logo. Later in the year, the second race at Hickory Motor Speedway was also referred to as The Pantry 400. Weird.
Of note, The Pantry is a company that runs a chain of gas stations and convenient stores in the Southeast under the Kangaroo brand name. After a quick referral via e-mail with Mike Joy, who provided play-by-play for TNN that day, I have decided to refer to the day of racing as “The Pantry 400 featuring the Pantry Stores 300” and the race as simply the Pantry Stores 300. Convoluted, but it gets the job done. Now, on to the race.
Jason Keller started his family-owned No. 57 Chevrolet on the pole with Kenny Wallace alongside. Keller led the first lap, but Kenny powered by Keller to take the lead in Turn 1 immediately afterwords.
Roughly 10 laps into the race, Chad Chaffin brought the Day Enterprises No. 16 Chevrolet to a near halt on the frontstretch. The caution was not thrown for the young Chaffin, who was able to get his Lumina back underway. However, the problems would not end for the No. 16 team. Chaffin was eventually the first car out of the race with ignition failure after completing 40 laps.
Once out in front, Wallace asserted himself and pulled away from the field. Behind the lead duo, there was a three-way battle for third between David Green, Michael Ritch and Johnny Benson. Hermie Sadler was also running down the triumvirate in the No. 25 Virginia is for Lovers Chevrolet.
Around Lap 20, there was a stack up on the backstretch when the No. 27 of Roy Payne cut a tire, par for the course during his short time in Busch Grand National. Luckily, he was able to get his Chevrolet to pit road without drawing a caution, but he lost multiple laps. Another field stack up occurred a couple of laps later when Mike McLaughlin also cut a tire and cut across the track right in front of the leader to get to pit road.
The long green flag run to start the race saw much of the back of the field get lapped. The constant traffic allowed Wallace to pull away from the rest of the frontrunners even more.
Tire problems continued for Payne, as he managed to blow out another right front tire just 15 laps after the first failure. Payne lost an additional couple of laps riding around in the top lane trying to find a hole to get to pit road before finally pitting. Shortly afterwords, Green pitted his No. 44 Slim Jim Chevrolet out of second with a suspected flat tire. The Labonte Racing team changed right sides and sent Green back out, but neither tire was obviously flat like Payne’s two tires and McLaughlin’s right front from earlier. Robert Pressley in the Budget Gourmet No. 99 and Tommy Houston also had tire issues and pitted under the green.
Meanwhile, Sadler and Jim Bown were able to pass Ritch and Benson to take second and third on Lap 55. However, they were miles behind Wallace until the first caution of the race, which came out on Lap 70 for a crash involving Pressley and Green. No replay was shown of the crash on the TNN broadcast. According to Green, Pressley spun out in front of him and he got run over from behind by the No. 72 of Tracy Leslie. Green spun and backed into the outside wall, while Pressley and Leslie continued on (Leslie without his hood). Green would spend a significant period of time behind the wall for repairs; the Labonte Racing team did eventually get the No. 44 back on track, but Green finished 128 laps down in 26th position.
Due to the tire rule that the teams were forced to operate under by NASCAR (one tire change per corner of the car allowed under caution for the whole race, unlimited under green), only some of the leaders chose to pit, while others stayed out. Wallace once again led the field to the green with Sadler second, Bown third, Doug Heveron in the Food Country USA No. 75 in fourth and Ricky Craven fifth.
While Wallace drove away once again, most of the rest of the field was forced to check up when Bown had contact with then-points leader Randy LaJoie in the No. 20 Fina Chevrolet. LaJoie got loose in front of most of the field, but recovered.
On Lap 87, Kevin Lepage spun his No. 71 Vermont Teddy Bear Company Chevrolet in Turn 2, but quickly continued. No caution was thrown for the incident.
With the quick pace of the race, Wallace was putting cars a lap down at a rapid pace. By Lap 100, only eight of the 33 starters remained on the lead lap.
The second caution flew on Lap 105 for a wreck involving Doug Heveron’s No. 75 Oldsmobile and Hermie Sadler’s Chevrolet, the drivers who just so happened to be running second and third at the time. Replays were unclear, but it appeared that Heveron had a tire go down entering Turn 1, sending him hard into the outside wall.
In an interview with TNN’s Glenn Jarrett, Heveron claimed that it was a right rear that went down. Sadler, who was behind Heveron but not close enough to touch him, appeared to lock up the brakes and also have contact with the outside wall. Replays of the crash can be seen at the beginning of this clip. Heveron was out on the spot due to the crash, while Sadler was able to continue following seven very quick stops on pit road for repairs under yellow.
Wallace led once again on the Lap 117 restart with Bown second and Craven, Dennis Setzer and Ritch rounding out the top 5. Wallace got the jump on Bown, and promptly put the lapped cars of Tommy Ellis and LaJoie between himself and second place. Craven took advantage of Bown’s substandard restart to take second away.
The third caution flew on Lap 130 for a multi-car crash on the frontstretch involving Mike Skinner, Stevie Reeves, Rodney Combs and Lepage. The replay, shown from a trackside camera, showed that Skinner spun his No. 88 exiting Turn 4. Combs was spun out by Payne and Reeves spun to the inside to avoid Skinner, while Lepage hit the No. 88 on the right side near the outside wall, crossed the track, then hit the inside wall. The crash can be seen towards the end of the same clip as the Heveron-Sadler crash mentioned above. Skinner’s part-time No. 88 was out on the spot, while Lepage went behind the wall for extensive repairs, but came back to finish the race. Combs and Reeves lost a bunch of laps on pit road, but continued.
The restart was quirky after Wallace didn’t start well and Tommy Houston went to the outside of Ellis (who started alongside of Wallace) for position. This held up Wallace and allowed Sadler to get inside to take the lead away. Sadler had taken advantage of four fresh tires after his incident with Heveron to move up through the pack (also of note, Sadler was not charged for his tire change due to being involved in an incident).
The fourth caution came out on Lap 147 for a crash in Turn 1 as Bown was attempting an ill-advised three-wide move to the inside of Ellis and Benson. Benson and Ellis had contact, bouncing Ellis into Bown, who spun entering Turn 1. The No. 63 was then hit by Combs after it came to rest. Leslie was spun by the No. 0 LaWarre Motorsports Chevrolet of Mike Garvey and hit by the No. 9 of Nathan Buttke (Buttke was driving the No. 9 in place of Mike Wallace, who was in Talladega for the Winston Select 500). The crash can be viewed at the 2:59 mark of this clip. Combs went behind the wall for extensive repairs, but came back out to finish the race in 28th, 142 laps down. Leslie, Buttke and Bown continued immediately.
Sadler led on the restart with Larry Pearson in second, followed by Benson, Ritch and Wallace. Wallace had stopped under the previous caution to take his one set of fresh tires and was once again the quickest car on the track after the restart. It took all of 14 laps for Wallace to come back up from fifth to retake the lead.
Wallace continued to lead until the fifth caution flew for debris on Lap 228. By that time, he had lapped all the way up to seventh place Pearson. Sadler took advantage of the caution to make his final stop for tires.
Wallace led again on the restart, but like after Sadler’s wreck with Heveron, he came on like his pants were on fire. It took only eight laps for Sadler to get the lead from Wallace. However, the sixth yellow flew right as Sadler took the lead from Wallace.
The yellow flew for a big crash involving LaJoie on the frontstretch. It was very unclear from the replay, but it appeared that LaJoie was hooked in the right rear by Setzer. Randy disagreed with this and claimed in an interview (while holding son Corey) that he was trying too hard and spun himself out. Regardless of who was to blame, LaJoie turned into the outside wall and hit it with the right front. The force lifted the No. 20 off the ground and the right rear corner of the Fina Chevrolet wiped out the speed shot camera just past the start-finish line. LaJoie’s car then spun to the apron. The crash, along with Sadler’s pass for the lead, can be seen starting at the 7:20 mark of this clip.
The green came back out with 50 laps to go and Sadler began to run away from the field. Fresh tires were everything on this day and Sadler fully exploited them. Meanwhile, Wallace and Setzer battled for second place, over three seconds behind. Sadler seemed to have the race won. But, it was only just beginning.
With three laps to go, George Crenshaw blew the engine in his No. 07 Campbell’s Soup Chevrolet, oiling down the track. No yellow was thrown, as NASCAR was looking to see whether Crenshaw could get to pit road. Unfortunately, a multi-car crash broke out in Turn 1 when Craven was spun out by Tim Fedewa, resulting in both cars hitting the outside wall. Reeves spun out and Sadler spun into Reeves (possibly after slight contact from the No. 79 of Dave Rezendes), heavily damaging his rear end. Sadler got going and raced Setzer back to the start-finish line, but Setzer beat him to the line to supposedly clinch victory. Or, he thought he did.
Replays showed that Sadler actually took the caution with three laps to go, right before he spun out. Under NASCAR rules, all Sadler would have had to do to claim victory was maintain a reasonable pace in front of Setzer. He had a huge lead when he spun, but he was maintaining regular pace by the time Setzer caught him, so Sadler was able to claim his second and most recent Busch Grand National victory. The whole mess surrounding the end of the race can be seen starting at the 4:10 mark of this clip.
In Victory Lane, confusion reigned supreme. But Sadler was very pleased at the Beverley Racing team’s effort at Orange County Speedway.
“I have to give all the credit to Bobby Kennedy and this whole Virginia is for Lovers race team,” Sadler told TNN’s Glenn Jarrett in Victory Lane. “They did a super, super job. We ran super all day. Everything went our way. I’ll tell you what, Orange County [Speedway] must be something special. I wish we could run here every week.”
Setzer was forced to settle for second, while Wallace was third, despite leading a race-high 214 laps. With the fast pace and the late crash, they were the only three drivers on the lead lap at the finish. Benson finished fourth, one lap down. Craven was able to limp his damaged No. 2 home in fifth.
Ellis was sixth in the No. 05 Chevrolet, which was owned by an early version of Key Motorsports. Bown faded to seventh after the toe went out on the No. 63. Pearson was eighth. Ritch had to settle for ninth, two laps down in his Oldsmobile. It turned out to be his best career finish in 39 starts. Bobby Dotter, three laps down at the finish, rounded out the top 10.
LaJoie’s crash (and the resulting 24th place finish) cost him his points lead. Wallace’s third-place finish gave him a 27 point lead over Sadler, with LaJoie third, 58 back. Craven and Green rounded out the top 5.
Unfortunately, after continuing schedule changes in the Busch Grand National division in the 1990’s, this was the final race for the series at the three-eighths mile oval. The race recapped here was already in jeopardy due to septic issues with the track. Luckily, the issues were fixed up, guaranteeing the race (and for that matter, the rest of the weekly cards) would go off. Editions of NASCAR Winston Cup Scene from 1995 showed that a race was actually scheduled to be held at Orange County Speedway that season; the event was canceled before it was run. The cancellation dropped the number of races on the schedule to 26. Other races that were dropped from the slate included both Martinsville races, and the fall race at Hickory. Nashville Speedway (now Nashville Fairgrounds Raceway) and Homestead were added in.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at the Pantry Stores 300. Check back soon, when we’ll have another classic race to tide you over before Speedweeks. Have a great week.
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