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.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2007 Stats: 36 Starts, 0 Wins, 7 Top 5s, 12 Top 10s, 16th in points, 433 laps led.
High Point: To borrow a phrase from the old – and lamented – RPM2Night program, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains popular despite a lackluster season that played out in graphic detail. With all the talk about the man, the uninitiated NASCAR fan might think he was contending for race wins and the title every week.
They'd be sadly mistaken.
It's tough to find a bright spot in a season full of difficult headlines; but if there was indeed one for the Budweiser Chevy, it might have been the Pocono race in August. The No. 8 car started the race so bad, Earnhardt literally sounded like he was ready to park it and leave the track early in the event. Given the driver's level of consternation, the team made a bold decision to take extra time to change the rear shocks on the car. The move paid off in spades; with his car no longer "evil," Junior drove to a hard-fought second place finish – proving that given the right equipment, he can still live up to the hype.
Low Point: All of 2007. From the git-go, the storylines surrounding Junior had to do with next year, not this one. Earnhardt made it clear he wasn't happy with his situation back in January; he wanted a controlling interest in DEI, the team his father started to give Junior a chance to shine. At the same time, Earnhardt's stepmother made it clear she had no interest in surrendering control to the team her late husband's will bequeathed her. While Teresa remained largely in seclusion, the whole ugly mess played out on the front pages, with Junior often looking like a deer caught in the headlights of an 18-wheeler. By May, the announcement everyone expected became reality – at the end of ’07, the two were headed towards divorce.
Earnhardt's announcement he'd leave the family team might have been the headline of the year in a moribund season of Cup racing – were it not for where he landed. Against all odds, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wound up signing a contract to drive for none other than Rick Hendrick in 2008. Earnhardt loyalists were dismayed. Hendrick Motorsports was the evil empire: How could Luke Skywalker, the keeper of the Earnhardt flame, wind up driving for Darth Vader and crew? The headlines were kept at a white hot fury, as it was announced Teresa would not relinquish rights to the No. 8, and Budweiser would not be back as Junior's sponsor. Change was in the air, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth; the Earnhardt faithful struggled to come to grips with a new reality.
On the track, things were even uglier. Earnhardt failed to finish nine races, six of those DNFs caused by failed engines after competitive runs. The faithful zealots seemed certain that Teresa her very own self assembled those engines and left bolts loose just to screw with her stepson. Reality might not be so colorful; but at the end of the day, the stats speak for themselves. Earnhardt failed to make the Chase, and then slid from thirteenth in the standings to sixteenth in the final few races – killing any chance of ending his tenure with DEI on a positive note.
Summary: For any driver looking to advance his career, let 2007 serve as a warning: Take care of the off-track wrangling during the off-season. While Dale Earnhardt, Jr. might have dominated the headlines in the paper, his finishes in actual races were barely worth a footnote. It's easy to excuse him by saying he wasn't given the equipment to win; but the fact remains that Martin Truex, Jr. – driving for a lesser-funded team out of the DEI stables – did win a race, running more competitively than Junior did most of the year. To his credit, Earnhardt usually stuck to the high road during a trying season; at one point, he even asked the press to back off Teresa. But at the end of the day, a measure of champions isn't the class you show but the brass you hoist over your head in Victory Lane. It's now been a year and a half since NASCAR's most visible driver actually won a race. In an odd statistic, Junior led just 11 laps less this year than he did in ’06 – but last year he ended up fifth in the points, and this year he wound up sixteenth.
2008 Outlook: There are no more excuses. It's time for Earnhardt to show if he's the new Intimidator – or an Imitator. Starting at Daytona, Earnhardt will be driving for the hottest team on the circuit, a team in Hendrick Motorsports that incidentally won half of the Cup races this season. Given that sort of equipment, it seems likely that Earnhardt will finally live up to the hype and put some checkmarks in the win column. If not, the most diehard Earnhardt loyalists will claim that Gordon and Johnson are getting the good stuff, while the No. 88 team gets leftovers. But the more rational segment of fans will take Earnhardt's failure to perform as evidence that – despite all the hype – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is a journeyman driver, landed in the high profile seat of a well-funded car because of his last name and not his abilities. As desperately as Junior needs to win some races at this juncture in his career, NASCAR needs even more desperately for the son of his famous father – the most recognized name in the sport – to grab some trophies and eliminate the disparity between hype and reality. When Earnhardt runs poorly and misses the Chase, there’s no disputing that across the country, fans leave the grandstands and click the remote to Off. A title battle between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson failed to ignite the public at large's interest – a battle between Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and anyone else would likely be a different story altogether.
As for a prediction, it's my prognosis that the Hendrick-Earnhardt pairing will yield good results; however, I remain concerned that there may be too many roosters in the henhouse at Hendrick Motorsports.
2006 Frontstretch.com Grade: A-.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt as usual you pull no punches. Jr can drive, the fact that Rick hired him is proof of that. Rick isn’t drawn into the hype. Yes Jr had a very bad year. Lets remember Jeff Gordons divorce years. It had a negative effect on Jeff’s driving ability. All this turmoil at DEI has had it’s effect on Jr as well. Martin Truex has had no such turmoil to deal with. Jr will do well at Hendrick, it may not be a magic bullet out of the box type of thing, but by seasons end in 08 people will once again KNOW of Jr’s ability as a great driver. Keep it coming Matt. Take care
Good article, thanks. I think people will always underestimate Junior’s driving ability. I think he’s a good driver who is capable of being a great driver. Most of his problems are mental ( related to, in spite of his comments to the contrary, his own self-doubt). Junior can take the pressure, and now he’ll finally have the owner/mentor he’s so desperately missed over the past 7 years. Time will tell how it all pans out, but I agree that he’ll have good results at HMS.
Junior’s Driving ability? Are you serious?!? the only reason Hendrick wanted him was for $$$ that he would bring in….
If Jr were such a good driver, why did he blow so many engines this year?
I already know everyone’s excuse….“because he was getting the crappy equipment while Truex was getting all the good stuff”
Keep dreaming….he got the same stuff, it was just user error
I/belive dale jr will stepup an show me an the rest of his fans go jr.
William T you are a ass
I’ll give it to Jr. with all the off track distractions , f***ed up engines and drama, homeboy got to the front at times and ran his heart out. One more thing driving the Busch car ,(Kyle) that is , it showed true uninhibited love for racing. Way to go JR. u got balls!
Just to make it clear on my above comment,I was refering to the race that Jr. finished for HMS.
Was never a JR. fan. But when he decided to leave DEI I applauded. To me, it showed he was becoming his own man.
And I really see no reason why Teresa didn’t work out a deal to give him the number 8. It’s just a number right? Can you imagine the good press if she had just GIVEN him the number? But she didn’t, and to me, it appears to be spite.
Question: Was it Jr. who wanted to be a “rock star” or was it that he was being pushed to be a “rock star” who sold LOTS of items for DEI?
Oh, and JR. wasn’t the only DEI driver to lose an engine.
I truly hope Jr. wins the championship next year.
But watch out….
Kyle Bush can DRIVE a damn race car!
Both are gonna be fired up next year but I’d say Kyle will be MORE ticked off about being more or less dumped for the popular Jr.
I’m not sure I worry about too many roosters at the HMS henhouse. Rick Hendricks has emphasized that the team and the big picture is the most important thing. Jr is friends with Casey which is good, and in their most recent testing, they have discovered that Jr has a similar driving style to JJ.
I hope that Jr is not spending too much time in his Nationwide shop and can consentrate on Cup. I read that HMS transferred about 30 employees to Jr’s shop and are working on those cars. I think 08 will be a good year for Jr and I sure wish him well.
First and foremost, I was a #3 fan way before it was cool to watch NASCAR. Naturally, I migrated to the 8 after Daytona, 2001. I think a lot of folks needed a place to go. Junior struggled for a while, then won several races. Now, he has had 2 bad seasons in 3 years. I watch Junior mature as a driver with some reservation. While he at times shows strength and drives up front, he seems at other times to be content to run in the pack. I am not sure I understand all this rim riding he does, it seems like he learned a few bad tricks from Michael Waltrip. I hope that his transition to HMS is smooth and he wins many championships. We do not know. The future will tell. I certainly do not listen to all these Monday Morning quarterbacks who don’t know a carburator from a foul ball.
Good luck, Junior.
First and for most my real name is Derrick a.k.a. , True Fan , Disapointed , Not so disapointed , amongst other aliases Iv’e used to get the attention of the N.A.S.C.A.R community. For the record , I have been intrigued by N.A.S.C.A.R for about 8 seasons now. That being said I must admit I did not approach the sport as a fan but Iv’e become one. I first gained interest in the sport when I moved back down south from D.C. to South Carolina where I and my parents were born in 1990 something, here I would listen to my uncle in-law rant and rave about FORD and CHEVY etc. I found myself learning to appreciate American automobiles more from all those debates. Later I was watching a commercial for a reeses candybar that I enjoyed because it tasted good and I noticed it was for N.A.S.C.A.R Busch driver Kevin Harvick. Although I knew nothing at the time about the sport aside from what I heard my step uncle and his family rant and rave about , I wanted in. Years later after gaining more interest in the sport I heard some guys having a heated debate about their favorite drivers , which included # 24,#20 and of course #3. I’ll never forget how passionate they were , this was in 2001 a day before Daytona. This is where it got interesting. I had never took the time with all my curiosity to watch a race. Sadly; we all know to well what happened that day in february. Not knowing how or what to feel, being a virgin to the sport, I sat up all night trying to sort my feelings. I remember vividly how much this tremendously affected every race fan around me. What I think about most of all is how each mourning fan was able to put rivalry aside and just be racing fans. I thought that I would just throw that out there to say that after all is said and done concearning Gordon,JR.,STEWART etc. Let’s not forget we are racing fans. LOVE YOU ALL (MERRY CHRISTMAS!)
True Fan Said:
Wow, you ARE southern. Your parents are your younger siblings?
Sorry, couldn’t pass that up.
Based on his on-track performance, itâ€™s fair to say that Little E is not a superstar. But â€œjourneyman?â€
Come on, Matt. Thatâ€™s a little harsh.
Look at the all-time win list:
Of the full-time, active drivers, Lilly is tied for fifth with Kurt Busch with 17 wins.
June Bug has won on super-speedways, mile-and-a-half cookie cutters, and short tracks.
So far, heâ€™s no Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson. But a guy with seventeen Cup wins is no journeyman.
Matt, Excellent summation of the saga of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Definitely on target on pretty much all points as I believe Jr will be under a tremendous amount of personal pressure as well as fan and media pressure to perform next year.
Very good read!
Derrick/Truefan said: “Letâ€™s not forget we are racing fans.” That’s it in a nutshell Derrick, at the end of the day each of us, while we may have our personal favorites, are race fans at heart. Happy Holidays to all.
i am a true, blue, fan of jr“s.have been since he started racing in myrtle beach.i am really glad he left, t.e.i, but at first i was so disappointed, he went to a owener and teams, that i do not like!!! but, i am a jr. fan ,so i will change my colors and still be a jr. fan, but, never a hendrick fan!! i thing most of jr“s fans feel the same way. i hope he does great in 08”, but if not i will still be a no.#1 fan, always!!!!