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.
Summer Bedgood · Wednesday June 15, 2011
For many, Tuesday’s announcement for the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees was a chance to reminisce on the days of old when names other than Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch were dominating the headlines. It was their era of NASCAR, when a different set of heroes graced NASCAR’s racetracks all across the southeast and beyond. Whether they were wheeling a racecar on the track, cranking a wrench under the car in the garage area, or running the day-to-day operations of the race team, they are names so many are familiar with that brings back fond memories of what they consider to be NASCAR’s best days.
And then, there are those that know the names but maybe not the stories behind them. People like me, who are still relatively new to the sport, who might know the history, the names, and even the faces, but weren’t there to enjoy the moments as they happened. Days like Tuesday were still special for them, but their time will come when they too can sit back, maybe even shed a tear, and say “I was there.”
Even so, several NASCAR personalities today have striking similarities to those who laid the foundation of the sport so many know and love. The drivers, owners, and crew chiefs who are breaking records now will almost certainly have their moment in the spotlight later. And while watching the announcements for each inductee and the statistics and biographies that followed, I couldn’t help but notice similarities between NASCAR’s legends and the current stars of the sport.
While I’m sure you’ll have your own input on the personalities who most resemble each other from different decades, here are the five inductees and the current personalities that I think of when I hear their stories:
Cale Yarborough – Among all of Yarborough’s impressive numbers, he is best remembered for winning three consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) championships from 1976-1978. Yarborough, who was never one to “sit back” and wait for the end of the race to make a move, only ever ran seven full-time seasons in an era where 40+ races filling up an entire season was just the way it was. In those seven seasons, the lowest Yarborough ever finished in points was fourth.
Here are Yarborough’s final points positions at the end of his full-time seasons:
• 1973 (28 races) – 2nd
Even when he wasn’t a threat for the championship, though, Yarborough was always a threat for the victory. Between 1965 and 1985, Yarborough won a staggering 83 races, which is sixth on the all-time win list in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In 560 total starts, Yarborough tallied up 83 wins, 255 top 5s, 319 top 10s, and an overall average finish of 12.6. Hall of Fame numbers if there ever were any.
2011 equivalent? Jimmie Johnson – Make no mistake. Johnson will one day be a member of the prestigious Hall of Fame, presumably after they catch up with all the names that need to be in after 60+ years of racing. But, no matter, one day Johnson will be there.
Chase or no Chase, five consecutive championships is an incredible feat in the competitive world of NASCAR. Besides, if winning under the Chase system is so easy, then how come no one else has been able to do it the past five years? Johnson and his team have this system figured out, and right now it looks like there is no stopping them with number six well within reach after 14 races in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season.
Johnson, who was a diehard Yarborough fan as a child, has undoubtedly shattered Yarborough’s record for consecutive championships. However, he has some catching up to do in the wins department. Johnson currently has 54 wins in 341 starts, but still has plenty of time left to add even more weight to the wins column.
Darrell Waltrip – Known to today’s crop of fans more as a commentator than a driver, Waltrip’s achievements and contributions to this sport are endless. Even if that inane “Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!” grates on your nerves every time a green flag flies under FOX’s broadcast, you can’t deny Waltrip’s passion for a sport that was once his weekly playground.
Waltrip’s 84 career victories are tied for third on the all-time win list with Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison, a talented trio of drivers in its own right. Finishing atop the scoring pylon would eventually lead to Waltrip’s name on top of the standings, winning three championships from 1981 to 1985. That’s three championships in five seasons, if you missed it.
But Waltrip wasn’t just a good driver. He was a personality, known for his loudmouth, fiery personality, and earning himself the nickname “Jaws” from fellow competitor and now Hall of Fame inductee Cale Yarborough. Waltrip was a personality NASCAR had never seen the likes of before and hadn’t since.
2011 equivalent? Kyle Busch – I had some trouble deciding who exactly best fills Waltrip’s shadow, even bouncing a few different names off fellow Frontstretch writer Mike Neff. However, I eventually decided to go with my first instinct of Busch.
Busch just has that racing edge that generates about the same reaction from fans that Waltrip continues to do even outside the car—fans either love him or hate him. Yay or nay. Cheers or jeers. There is literally no middle ground with these two, both running their mouths on a regular basis yet backing it up with their performance on the track. Busch’s 21 career victories may pale in comparison to Waltrip’s 84, but not when you see that he’s only run six full-time seasons and has won as many as eight races in a single calendar year. Give him a few more years, and more than likely he’ll win himself a few Cup titles.
I’m going to cheat a little bit here, though, and say Carl Edwards and Waltrip have some similarities of their own. Edwards is also a proven winner, championship caliber, and a bit of a hot head. Heck, they even have some neat post-race celebrations. Edwards has the backflip and Waltrip the icky shuffle!
Dale Inman – Who says drivers get all the credit? Inman’s illustrious career is full of accomplishments, winning eight championships with two different drivers between 1964 and 1984. A good majority of Inman’s numbers came while working with Petty Enterprises as crew chief for his cousin Richard Petty, where he won seven of his eight championships and 198 races.
Inman was smart, innovative, and had a few tricks up his sleeve when it came to getting those cars to Victory Lane. Sort of like…
2011 equivalent? Chad Knaus – This one is a no-brainer. Five consecutive championships with driver Jimmie Johnson already has Knaus well on his way to securing a Hall of Fame spot of his own, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Knaus had eight or more championships under his belt by the end of his career (not necessarily consecutively).
My biggest question is, will it all be with one driver? Though eight championships are certainly well within reach for Johnson, could Johnson win a championship without Knaus? Or vice-versa?
Both of them certainly have enough talent to win with a different team, assuming the rest of the members have enough skill to keep up. But will Knaus reach Inman’s numbers with a driver other than Johnson?
It’s definitely possible.
Richie Evans – NASCAR’s modified division has featured some incredible talents over the years, but none quite as impressive as Richie Evans. Evans is a nine-time champion of that division, including a breathtaking eight titles in a row from 1978 to 1985 (don’t you be getting any ideas, now, JJ!), the last of which he clinched prior to the end of the season, but did not finish after he was killed in a wreck during a practice session at Martinsville Speedway.
While NASCAR fans of today don’t pay as much attention to the Modified division, a fixture mainly in the Northeast part of the country, it still remains one of NASCAR’s oldest and storied series.
2011 equivalent? Ted Christopher – I’ll be the first to admit I know very little about NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Series, but one look at some recent races in the series and one name stands out: Ted Christopher. Christopher has finished third in points the last three seasons, and won the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.
Not to mention the 39 victories Christopher has snagged since the 1999 season, and it doesn’t take long to figure out he is a force to be reckoned with in that series.
Though he’d probably wind up getting lapped three times over by Richie Evans.
Glen Wood – Wood Brothers Racing wasn’t a name you heard much from recently. That is, until Trevor Bayne won the team their first race since 2001 in this year’s Daytona 500. All of a sudden, the Wood brothers were in headlines all across the world in a historic day most of us will remember for the rest of our lives.
But prior to that drought, the Wood Brothers were weekly contenders, winning 96 total victories with storied drivers such as HOF inductees David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, and Junior Johnson.
Wood has had his own success behind the wheel, winning three times during the 1960 Sprint Cup Series season and once in 1963. Though Wood never ran a full schedule, he still led over 12,000 laps and had an average finish of 12th.
2011 equivalent? Rick Hendrick – Hendrick has nearly 200 victories to his credit in 25+ years of being a car owner, with his current crop of drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. providing more than enough talent behind the wheel for Hendrick to reach that 200 mark before the year is over. And there is no reason to think they will stop there, with Kasey Kahne hopping the No. 5 car once Martin heads out the door at the end of the season.
But before NASCAR’s current lineup, legendary drivers such as Benny Parsons, Ricky Rudd, and Tim Richmond wheeled Hendrick to Victory Lane on several occasions, building the foundation for drivers such as Johnson and Gordon today.
Like Wood, Hendrick also spent some time behind the wheel as a driver, but ultimately found success as an owner. And he’s not done yet.
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I’m personally disappointed that the greatest car owner in the history of NASCAR was snubbed again! Rick Hendrick deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame before any of the other car owners that were nominated. The nominating committee sure dropped the ball this year!
I think they’re 2 years late on Evans, but better late than never. :)
Solid class, I’m glad they got Richie Evans in. It backs up the statement that it’s the NASCAR Hall of Fame and not the Sprint Cup one. Now that the superstar drivers are all in, I think they will be able to devote a full class or two to pioneers and lesser known figures. The only lock I see for next year is Leonard Wood now that Glen is in. If they want driver star power the only real guys I see are Rusty Wallace or Dale Jarrett, but I think they could a wait a year or two to get more pioneers in.
Bah, Ted Christopher wouldn’t be worthy to change Richie Evans’ tires.
If I owned a modified, I’d want Mike Stefanik driving it.
Sorry… Ddub is an ahole!
The Hof is stupid!
If it is not? Then why are not JJ and Jeffy in there already?