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.
Frontstretch Driver Q & A · Phil Allaway · Wednesday March 14, 2012
Last year at this time, Andy Lally was behind the wheel of the No. 71 Eco Fuel Saver Chevrolet for TRG Motorsports and preparing for his first assault on Bristol Motor Speedway as a Sprint Cup rookie. However, the combination of a lack of sponsorship and a team disintegration has forced Lally to move back from NASCAR to his first love: road racing. Luckily, Lally landed on his feet, and he’s already loving life in a different kind of fast lane. Already this year, he has claimed his fourth class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona with a masterful drive in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which he will drive for the full Rolex Sports Car Series season.
This weekend brings a new challenge for Lally as he embarks on the challenge of racing in Saturday’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway, a 3.7-mile road course on the site of a World War II-era Air Force Base. The event serves as the opening round of both of the American Le Mans Series presented by Patron Tequila and the brand-new for 2012 World Endurance Championship. This race, despite being only 12 hours in length, is considered to be the hardest of the three big endurance races (Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans) due to the punishing nature of the circuit.
During a break from practice on Tuesday, Lally talked with Frontstretch’s Phil Allaway about his 2012 thus far, and looked back on his rookie year in the Sprint Cup Series.
Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com: Since it’s freshest on your mind, we’ll start off with Sebring. You’re racing with Flying Lizard Motorsports this weekend in a one-race deal. Can you talk about how this opportunity came together for you?
Andy Lally: I got a call from the Lizards late in 2011 as they were putting this year’s plans together and I was honored. The team has a great history of success and it was a great fit for me. I’m friendly with all the guys on the team and we have meshed well right from the start.
Allaway: The Lizards are debuting the new for 2012 Porsche 911 GT3-RSR. Can you talk about the differences between this 911 and the GT3 Cup car that you race for Magnus Racing in the Rolex Series?
Lally: The RSR is much wider and that gives the car better grip and stability. We also run a completely different tire and that in itself might be the biggest difference. We run a spec [Continental] Tire in the Rolex [Series] and an open tire competition in ALMS, so the manufacturers have very different goals for competition. I’ve never driven an RSR before because the last bunch of years that I’ve come to Sebring have been mainly in prototypes, so this has been a little bit of a learning process to acclimate myself with this car.
Allaway: Since you’ve already been on track today down in Sebring, how is the car holding up so far? Are the times where you want them? Is the car handling well over the infamous bumps?
Lally: The wider track is certainly helping bump management and the car seems to be holding up well. We are working with a couple of little things to get the balance and drivability where we want it to get the most out of it.
Allaway: Also, since we’re a website that mainly covers NASCAR, can you describe the race weekend down in Sebring for our readers that may not be all that well-versed in ALMS and the new WEC (World Endurance Challenge)? It seems to be much longer than something like the Rolex 24 weekend.
Lally: The Sebring week is a bit of a cluster from the racer’s point of view, to be honest. We are here for far too long. I got in on Friday, eight days before the race. We have test days on track for six days before the actual race. From the fan’s point of view, they will roll in Wednesday night. It’s amazing to see the circus come to town, I love it. Some of the things you see here are similar to what you would see in the infield of Talladega, but carried even a bit further. This is Spring Break, but only a few high school and college students are showing up, it’s spring break for adults… that don’t want to act like adults and it is an amazing sight! It’s great to walk around the infield and see the guys down in turn 10 and the rest of the campers, buses, tents and whatever else anyone has set up for a makeshift living area for a few days of partying followed up with a 12-hour race.
Allaway: Can you talk about how your new gig for 2012 with Magnus Racing came together?
Lally: I started talking to the Magnus guys in October of last year about plans for 2012. I knew that the deal I was currently with was not going to be around much longer and although I really love the stock car racing, I just knew that there was not going to be a quality ride available for me full-time. I had been friends with John Potter for a few years already and we had actually raced together a couple of years before and got along really well. This made the choice to head back to sports cars much easier.
I liked John, I liked the rest of the team and knew that 1) The chemistry would be right and 2) John was building a great team and he wanted to win. John has gotten so much faster in the last couple of years that I know we will have a shot. It has started off great so far!
Allaway: In the past, Magnus Racing has fielded an entry in the American Le Mans Series’ GTC-class that you have previously raced against while with TRG. Does Magnus Racing plan on running this entry in 2012, and if so, would you be in the driver’s seat for any events?
Lally: Yes, we plan on running a bunch of races in ALMS. Not sure how many, but I would imagine it will be about half. The same people will be working on this car that work on our Rolex car and I think we have a pretty good piece!
Allaway: Speaking of the Rolex 24, you, along with Rene Rast, Richard Lietz and John Potter won the GT class whilst fending off some tough competition. Can you talk about your weekend back in January and your thoughts about your fourth Rolex 24 class victory (and second in a row)?
Lally: It was one of my most memorable moments in racing. The GT class was the strongest it has ever been this year and we had so many great drivers and teams from around the world come to Daytona. Any year that you win the 24 Hours of Daytona is awesome, but to win on the 50th anniversary, in the most competitive year in the race’s history besting the largest class in the race’s history AND having it be the maiden victory for the team you are a part of is just plain incredible. I was a small part of an amazing effort: great teammates, world class mechanics and management. Daytona win No. 4 is something I will always cherish!
Allaway: How does the program in the No. 44 look for the rest of the season? Has the team done any testing since Daytona, and if so, where?
Lally: The program looks strong. John is committed to doing things right and I am very happy with our direction. We will do some testing just before Barber at the teams’ secret location to try and get a direction with some new things we are trying and I cant wait to unload in ‘Bama and see what we have. The Ferraris and Chevys will be VERY tough to beat there, but we will do our best.
Allaway: You came just a whisker short of getting a two-fer in Daytona when you and Nic Jonsson just missed a Street Tuner class victory in the CTSCC BMW Performance 200 (or as I called it in Daytona, the tandem drafting special). Can you talk about how that program has come along over the past couple of years and how that effort looks for 2012?
Lally: I am one of the most fortunate drivers on the planet. I have been able to come back after taking a year off from sports car racing and hook up with three great teams. Kinetic Motorsports does a fantastic job. They have taken this Kia program and turned a huge challenge into a huge victory. The Kia Forte that we are racing is the first professional racing program that Kia has ever taken part in and we had a big challenge of taking a car that was not designed to race and working with Kia to make it a race winner, and they were successful. The cars are immaculate and the seriousness of Kinetic and Kia is evident in how they run their program. We just missed the win in Daytona at our season opener the day before the Rolex 24, but I’m looking forward to trying to win a bunch of races with them this year.
Allaway: At the Rolex 24, Grand-Am announced the new B-Spec underclass. Kinetic appeared to have a race-spec Rio on display in the CTSCC garage during the weekend. Firstly, is Kinetic planning on campaigning Kia Rios in the new B-Spec category? Secondly, since rules prevent you from actually racing the car, will you, Jonsson and the Pombos end up serving as mentors or driver coaches to the incoming Rio drivers?
Lally: Kia certainly wants to be present in the new B-spec series . Kinetic is working on a car, but I’m not exactly sure what role I will play in this area yet. I have driven it and it is pretty cool. I think the series will take off and I would like to lend a hand with our new young talent coming in and help them get pointed in the right direction.
Allaway: Switching to NASCAR now, how would you characterize your rookie season in the No. 71? Did it end up being tougher than you expected it to be?
Lally: It was almost exactly how I thought it would be, to be honest. I had a pretty good feel for where I thought we were as a team and I knew how awesome these drivers and teams were that we were going up against. I have a huge amount of respect for those drivers and a good understanding of the amount of R&D that goes into making a 3,600 lb car get through a corner. We were a tiny team on a budget and we had a steep hill to climb, especially since I was a rookie driver and we were a single-car team. Our guys worked their tails off and put a lot of hours in. I honestly don’t know how they do it because it was such long hours and such hard work. I was eyes wide open going into this deal and knew that the deck was stacked against me, but to tell you the total truth, I had wanted to do this all of my life and when the chance came around, I had to take it. Even looking back on all the tough times we had last year, I am glad I did it because I would have looked back and regretted it the rest of my life had I not at least tried.
Allaway: You’ve mentioned on Twitter that you’ve been trying to flesh out some deals to try to race a limited NASCAR schedule this season. How has that been going?
Lally: I have a few nibbles here and there. I would love to find a good Cup team to do Watkins Glen with and a good Nationwide team to do the three road courses with. I think I can bring a lot to teams on the road courses and have a very good shot to run up front. I would love to get more oval races in as well for sure and will work towards that, but my focus right now is trying to get in touch with teams for Montreal, Road America and Watkins Glen.
Allaway: You’ve spent time racing in the Camping World Truck and Sprint Cup Series. You may have noticed the general lack of new blood coming into Sprint Cup over the past couple of years. What are your thoughts on the state of driver development in NASCAR? If any, what changes would you make in order to improve things?
Lally: It’s not that there are not good drivers out there, it’s just that there is much less money out there to spend on new drivers. It’s sad that things are like this now, but it’s cyclical and has been for years. There is a ton of talent in ARCA and the K&N [Pro Series], but with costs getting ridiculous in Nationwide and Camping World Trucks over the years and sponsorship getting tighter, this is the obvious result. If I was directing a young kid with a budget right now, I would have him in ARCA for sure. It’s a fun series with similar cars for a fraction of the budget.
Allaway: Finally, even though we’re definitely getting back into the swing of things, how did you spend your offseason? Also, how is your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training progressing?
Lally: My offseason was very short. With the stock car season ending in November and winter testing for Daytona starting in December, I only had a couple of weeks to chill out. My Jiu Jitsu has been so much fun and I really enjoy it. Outside of racing, it takes up the most time in my life. If I am in the state of Georgia where I live, then I have been or will be going to the gym to get some training in that day. I’m completely addicted to it and although 95% of what I do is Jiu Jitsu and the other is MMA, I have plans to expand into additional MMA programs as well with the goal of one day fighting. I have such great instructors where I train and a great attitude that it makes it easy to want to come back. I get an occasional competition in on an off weekend here or there but a cage fight is certainly on my bucket list.
Editor’s Note: We did ask Lally pointed questions about what ultimately happened to cause him to leave TRG Motorsports before the end of last season, and whether he is still on speaking terms with TRG Motorsports owner Kevin Buckler, but he refused to comment.
Lally may eventually be looking for a good fight against another man, but this weekend, he, along with teammates Seth Neiman and Darren Law will be fighting against Sebring’s punishing track for 12 hours. As mentioned above, practice is already underway in Florida. Qualifying is scheduled for Friday afternoon at 3:15 PM and can be seen via internet streaming on ESPN3. The race itself will also be streamed flag-to-flag on ESPN3 live, with coverage starting at 10:15 AM Saturday morning. John Hindhaugh and Jeremy West will provide commentary. Access to ESPN3 is free, but it is password-protected. Check with your cable and/or internet provider for availability. A two-hour highlighted edition of the race will air at 2:00 PM Sunday afternoon on ABC.
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