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.
Friday night’s Nationwide race at Daytona seemed to have the best of both worlds for restrictor plate fans. Yes, the outcome was ultimately decided by tandem drafting. But in the process, there was more than enough pack racing to whet fans’ appetites, turning the event into a wild competition of record-setting proportions.
How good was it? The race featured a Nationwide Series-record 42 lead changes amongst 16 drivers. That broke the previous mark of 38 changes from the February event, even though the July one is 50 miles shorter. No one driver led more than eight consecutive laps all night.
Early on, during the first stint of tandem drafting, you had some of the big names up there in the mix, like Danica Patrick, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and others. However, underdogs Mike Wallace and Joe Nemechek were once again able to show their might at a plate track. This group of ten drivers drove away from the rest of the field to the tune of an eight-second lead.
However, Sam Hornish, Jr. coming back up to speed after pitting on Lap 41 destabilized the front runners. Wallace had to make an evasive move to avoid Hornish, positioned on the inside lane instead of below the yellow line. That caused a swerve and a spin off the nose of Bryan Silas, who had just been lapped by the leaders.
Following the caution, the top drivers tried to get back into their tandem drafts and draw away again, but they could not do so. The pack of nearly 30 cars stayed compacted together. Wallace, despite sparking heavily at the start of the run after his spin, was still very competitive. He even got back to the lead and was still going to be a factor in the outcome of the race. However, an ill-timed swap resulted in James Buescher running into the back of him and sparking the Big One. According to ESPN, 16 different cars were involved in the crash, including Cup veterans and Nationwide regulars alike. Brian Scott (already laps down due to a fuel pump cable failure), Buescher, Wallace and Brad Keselowski were eliminated.
Tandem drafting in the latter stages of the race took out multiple potential contenders. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. managed to get Brad Sweet loose on Lap 77, spinning the Great Clips Chevrolet hard into the inside wall driver’s side first. Sweet was OK, but it was a nasty, flush hit. Stenhouse then did the same thing to Jeffrey Earnhardt a few laps later off of Turn 2. This hard wreck eliminated Earnhardt and Danica Patrick, while Blake Koch spun as well.
After a tire casing came off of John Wes Townley’s wounded car to bring out a yellow late in the race, the event concluded with a green-white-checkered finish. Logano stamped out his advantage on the actual restart, but got out too far in front, allowing Kurt Busch to overtake him for the win. It was Busch’s second victory of the season and the first for his Cup-based program, Phoenix Racing in NASCAR’s Nationwide division.
Kurt Busch was able to go from zero to hero on Friday night. Yes, he’s a Cup regular, but his performance showed a couple of very important things. First: how determined he is to succeed. For multiple laps, Kurt’s No. 1 was spraying water out of the overflow while pushing Stenhouse. But despite the overheating, he refused to leave the Ford driver’s bumper until a yellow flew for debris off of John Wes Townley’s car with a few laps to go. Secondly, he appeared to be quite humble during the post-race press conference. Busch was quick to say that he didn’t really want the victory for himself, but for his team that works so hard. It’s the continuance of recent form (Ex: Sonoma) for Kurt, and we’ll see if it holds up long-term.
Michael Annett put up a career-best finish for the second week in a row, finishing third. However, it was a trying night. Annett received significant damage in the “Big One” on Lap 66 and made multiple stops to address the situation under that yellow. Towards the end of the race, though he put the No. 43 car in position to battle for the win. Annett hooked up with Austin Dillon to try to get past the duo of Kurt Busch and Stenhouse, making progress over the final two laps but just couldn’t pull it off. The contact that caused Dillon’s crash was unfortunate — the two made contact heading to the start/finish line, sending the No. 3 sideways heading to the checkered — but you didn’t see any anger from Dillon about it. Both drivers did a press conference together afterwards and joked around with each other.
Joey Logano was quite strong as well on Friday night, leading 12 laps and finishing in fifth. In retrospect, he may have made the final move just a little bit too early. He took the lead on the green-white-checkered restart and led at the white flag. However, Kurt Busch’s run with pushing help from Stenhouse was more than enough to push through for the win.
Note: In post-race technical inspection, Logano’s car measured too low in the front end. Penalties are quite likely and will be announced on Tuesday.
Danny Efland managed to lose a lap early in the race, get it back via the Lucky Dog, then get caught up in the Big One. However, the team persevered and repaired the damage, keeping the car competitive enough to hang with the field. Efland then avoided more wrecks and brought the No. 4 TradeBank Chevrolet home in 13th. This ties Efland’s career-best finish, set in February’s DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona in February.
The pack racing segment of the event was fairly beneficial to drivers like John Wes Townley. Long known for an unfortunate propensity to crash, Townley actually has a fairly decent record of being competitive at plate races, either in the Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide, or ARCA. He was beginning to come to the front when Mike Wallace’s swapping error resulted in James Buescher running him over and causing the Big One. Townley had nowhere to go and ended up in the wall, ruining his night. The team did repair the Barberitos Toyota and got Townley back on track, but a 25th-place finish could have been oh-so-much better under the right circumstances.
Jeffrey Earnhardt competed in a one-off for Rick Ware Racing in their No. 15 Mustang. For awhile, it looked as if Dale Earnhardt’s grandson was going to put together an exquisite run for the underdog RWR team. However, a mistimed bump from Stenhouse sent Earnhardt spinning into the backstretch wall from third on Lap 83. Earnhardt was mighty displeased with Stenhouse and greeted him trackside with the universal racing symbol for unhappiness. You know what that is… however, while it’s little consolation Earnhardt did very well up until the crash.
Austin Dillon gets two ugly mentions this week. First, he originally snagged the pole position for the race. However, in post-qualifying technical inspection, an uncapped cooling hose was discovered. According to NASCAR, this “mistake” would create an aerodynamic advantage for Dillon; they disallowed the qualifying time and forced him to start in the rear of the field. Penalties will come early next week. Since this incident marks the second week in a row Dillon’s car has failed an inspection, expect a hefty fine and for crew chief Danny Stockman to be suspended.
Despite this setback, Dillon was clearly in the hunt for the win. However, coming to the line, he was turned by Michael Annett and went through the grass before coming on to the racing surface. There, he was first hit by Kyle Busch and Johanna Long, then went up to the outside wall and got clouted by Robert Richardson, Jr. It was an ugly-looking wreck, even though all drivers ended up OK. For Dillon, he was still credited with a fourth-place finish, but his car clearly paid the price.
Danica Patrick, despite leading 13 laps and running strongly all race long, ultimately had a quite disturbing end to her evening. On Lap 83, Jeffrey Earnhardt spun out exiting Turn 2, the recipient of an inappropriate bump from Stenhouse. Patrick was trying to avoid the incident when she was tapped by Eric McClure. Her car then slid hard into the inside wall on the backstretch, left front first. The crash collapsed the steering column so that the bottom of the wheel was nearly at Patrick’s helmet level. According to tweets during the race, this destruction also happened in McClure’s car when he had his big hit at Talladega. Very scary to watch from the in-car camera; luckily, Patrick walked away uninjured from the crash and simply bummed out with her 31st-place result.
Underdog Performer of the Race: Timmy Hill. Much like in the February race at Daytona, Hill didn’t have a really fast car. However, he was able to keep himself out of trouble for the entire race, avoiding the big wrecks. In a race like this one, that’s really all you need in order to put up a good finish. For Hill, that performance resulted in a ninth-place result and a clean Poynt Chevrolet (yes, they went with the Bowtie instead of the Blue Oval this week) for Rick Ware Racing to take back to their shop.
Underdog Note: Morgan Shepherd was entered in the race, but ultimately withdrew on Thursday morning. This change left the event with only 43 teams attempting to qualify. Shepherd will be back at New Hampshire next weekend, but it just goes to show how much of a shoestring that Shepherd Racing Ventures actually runs on.
Start and park teams comprised five of the 43 starters (Jeff Green, Stephen Leicht, Josh Wise, Chase Miller and Mike Harmon) in Friday’s race. These drivers took home $66,984 in purse money.
Sprint Cup regulars comprised six of the 43 starters in Friday night’s race. Two of them (Kurt Busch and Joey Logano) finished in the top 10 and collected a total of $169,935 in purse money.
192 of 688 starting positions occupied
The Final Word
- Prior to the event, the skies were quite ugly near Daytona. There was a strong thunderstorm hovering over the Pine Barrens roughly ten miles west of the track just dousing parts of Volusia County with heavy rains. However, this cell remained stationary and never affected the race before dissipating.
- Kyle Busch had a pretty bad night in his No. 54. Yes, he led five laps, but the driver was also penalized on pit road for an uncontrolled tire. Then, he got wrapped up in the Big One before getting caught up in Dillon’s crash at the finish. Kyle was seen walking away, a little bit upset after the final wreck but I don’t blame him.
- Friday night’s race was the qualifying event for the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash. Stenhouse, Annett, Dillon and Elliott Sadler will be racing for $100,000 next Saturday at New Hampshire. This year, the competition is being held over consecutive races instead of being spread out over a couple of months. If one eligible driver for the Dash 4 Cash manages to win the next four races in a row, he will take home a $1 million dollar bonus.
- After Friday night’s cavalcade of drafting, the series next heads up to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the F.W. Webb 200. Coverage begins at 2:30pm EDT on ESPN.
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i wish you have watched before you wrote your article.
Larry, I’m at the track. I did watch the race.
How about a SHOUT OUT for Johanna Long, she finished 12th and should have had a top 10 without the last caution.
This is a team and driver whose whole budget is probably smaller then Danica’s NNS paycheck and she can not seem to get mentioned by the media unless she crashes.
Danica is averaging 24.6 pts a race or 18th finish while Johanna is averaging 21.5 pts or 21th finish. Just think what this team and driver could do with more sponsership and MONEY.
Two points about the race. One, Austin Dillon’s car failed post-qualifying inspection. Coupled with the penalty from Iowa over the front nose of his car being illegal, and with failing post-race inspection last week, that is THREE STRIKES! The #3 should have been parked for Friday night. But then, this is a Chevy team after all. Had that been Stenhouse and the 6 team, that is exactly what would have happened.
And two, as already been mentioned, Johanna Long does it again, finishing ahead of the over-exposed (in more ways that one) witch, Danicantdrive Patrick! I had to step out just after the big one, and on the way home, I listened to Danicantdrive being interviewed after being taken out. Gee, Danicantdrive, my heart bleeds. Not! But wait, I watch the ticker, and just as they were coming to take the green for the green-white-checker, Johanna was in 8th place! Oh, how I was wishing that someone hooked up with her and pushed her to the front and to the win! It would have been a great pleasure watching her upstage “The Queen Of Hype”, as “The MadMan” calls her (yes, Mikie, I read your column/blog all the time!). In almost every race the two of them have been in, Johanna has finished ahead of The Hype Queen. Anyway, she did finish 12th, which was still good. I only hope that the damage her car got in that finish line melee won’t keep her from going to New Hampshire. And I hope she does win before Danicantdrive!
This was a very good race
three cheers for johanna!