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.
Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday October 1, 2007
I spent the latter part of Sunday night trying to come up with better words to describe the most recent 400-mile race at Kansas Speedway; however, no amount of journalistic prose could excuse the feelings that - well, something strange just happened to the Nextel Cup Series this weekend.
Something I fear proved to be NASCAR's latest mistake.
At first glance, it would seem that the sport was simply Mother Nature's victim once again, especially on a Kansas prairie known for ferocious thunderstorms. As the race began under threatening skies, the first bout with weather wasn't so bad - just 12 laps in, a small shower pushed through that caused the race to be red flagged for just over 45 minutes Sunday. But the second, expanded weather delay that put a black cloud over several aspects of the race itself. A severe rainstorm, weather hit with such ferocity around lap 145 that the stands emptied completely, water was flying through the air sideways, and even cameramen were being pulled off the roof for fear of being struck by lightning.
As disastrous weather proved imminent, pit strategy was pushed to the forefront, eerily similar to a Pocono race in June that saw Jeff Gordon roll the dice on a gas mileage gamble en route to his fourth victory of the season. Stewart's crew chief Greg Zipadelli proved he sat back and learned from that, setting up a situation this Sunday that could have easily worked out the same way. By copycatting Gordon's old strategy - staying out on track while all other leaders pitted - the No. 20 team had the car out front when the rains came in earnest, forcing the event to be stopped. Once the skies started opening, the window of opportunity to run the full race started closing, creating a scenario that could have easily handed Stewart the winning trophy for the second straight year.
Sadly, that's where the 2005 Cup champ's luck ran out – and the Twilight Zone began. After nearly three hours of red flag activity on the day, NASCAR decided to force the race to go back green at about 7:00 ESTâ€¦even though they knew there wasn't sufficient time left to complete all 400 miles. Standing firm on their pledge to deliver the fans as much of the race as possible when circumstances permit, it was an intriguing decision by the powers that be that offered up a variety of opinionsâ€¦depending on whom you asked.
“I think that was an awesome call," said Jeff Gordon as the sun set behind him. Of course, he had little reason to complain; the extra laps gave him a chance to rally from 30th all the way to 5th. "I think NASCAR recognized what is going on in the Chase and what a disaster that was going to be (to not finish). I think that as long as there is daylight, they are going to race. I am sure there are some guys that disagree with that, but because of the wreck and some of the things that happened, from hey, from where I was sitting, there was only one call and that was to go back racing. Certainly, we are glad that they did."
Let's just say not everyone agreed with that assessment. The biggest problem with the "restarted race" appeared to be the confusion over the final distance. Instead of running a timed affair, the sanctioning body chose to try and work with an ending lap number, giving teams an adequate assessment of exactly how much racing would be left.
Turns out that number was a continual work in progress. It changed three timesâ€¦from lap 225, to lap 210â€¦to lap 210 with no green-white-checkered finish, leaving crew chiefs frustrated and unsure exactly how the race would play out. To be honest, the whole thing reminded me of when I would play video games with my younger brother when I was a kid. Whenever I lost, I couldn't swallow my pride and just admit defeatâ€¦instead, I just kept making up loopholes in the rules so I could say I won.
That same type of behavior seemed to emanate right from the NASCAR tower, as the decision-making brass appeared to make rules as they went along, mistake after mistake piling up as both darkness and on-track incidents caused gross misjudgments of time.
"Well, it's hard because you don't know (certain things)," NASCAR Vice President Robin Pemberton spouted out during an interview from the ESPN TV booth during the rain delay.
Except NASCAR did. They knew the time the sun set in the west at Kansas, and they also knew that track drying left them with less than an hour of green flag racing - not nearly enough to finish the final 120 laps or so of the scheduled racing distance. That seems to me the situation left them with two options: recognizing the importance of a playoff race and pledging to finish the full distance on Monday, or remaining consistent and calling the race due to weather, similar to what they do during the regular season.
In what's been a tough season for the officiating body, they did neitherâ€¦and no one understood why. To make matters worse, a nasty wreck as the race restarted - again, no fault of NASCAR officials but ugly nonetheless – claimed three Chase contenders and ruined Stewart's day. A fender rub caused while attempting to miss that wreck led to a flat tire after a poor decision by Zipadelli to keep the car out on the track; the No. 20 wound up in the wall shortly thereafter, leaving a frustrated Stewart leaving the track without comment.
“I think whenever the rain ran its course, it really had things jumbled up for awhile there," explained Johnson afterwards. "But I think the craziness on track came when we went back to green and you had a lot of guys on the tail end of the lead lap. And then we had such a small window of time that everybody just started driving really aggressively."
That theory holds water; at the time of the major storm, Stewart, Bowyer, and Kevin Harvick were the only Chasers remaining in the Top 10. Others who had dominated the race - Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch among them - were trapped a lap down, standing to lose everything on the heels of pit stops made before the rain. Such a jumbled finishing order as a possible outcome likely forced NASCAR's hand to try and rectify things.
It's just too bad they didn't know how to do so. But alas, the Twilight Zone performance showed no signs of stopping anytime soon.
The race continued on, with a revitalized Greg Biffle establishing himself as a surprise contender up front. With the lap count dwindling, so was the fuel in Biffle's tank, and he stood to be the biggest loser once the caution came out for Juan Pablo Montoya's scrape with the outside wall on lap 206. Surely, a green-white-checkered finish would force Biffle to run out of gas; he was already projected to run out around lap 210.
Right behind him, hometown boy Clint Bowyer prepped for a high-energy finish. Up to second, he felt assured of a shot at a win; except, lo and behold, the Twilight Zone came up again. Apparently, darkness "prevented" a green-white-checker finish, causing the powers that be to run the advertised distance - and nothing more.
A few drivers defended NASCAR's call.
“I had to run with my visor up those last few laps," said fourth-place finisher Casey Mears. "I had a tinted visor on. I couldn’t see at all that last five ten laps, I just had to turn my visor up and then I could see pretty good. Obviously, it got dark quick, so it definitely was the way to call the race."
"When they said they were going to call it, I thought, wow," added Biffle in the post-race press conference. "But after I drove back by there (the back straightaway), there's all that stuff (left from Montoya's car) and we're still five, 10 minutes away from being able to go green again."
Of course, that's the type of situation that reinforces the idea of why time worked so much better than distance. You can't stop that type of yellow flag stuff from happening any more than you can the sun from setting in the West - and if teams had a time to adhere to, they'd actually have a way to strategize instead of focusing on a lap count that changed more often than the stock market fluctuates between 9:00 and 9:01.
Of course, as if all that weren't enough, Biffle clearly ran out of gas heading to the finish line. Slowing under the yellow, he crossed at virtually a crawl - causing the cars of Bowyer and Johnson to go by him, a move that actually led to the unprecedented announcement of Biffle declared the winner even though Bowyer's car had crossed the line far ahead of him.
"I was trying to save enough fuel to do burnouts and drive it to Victory Lane," began an explanation by The Biff that seemed as nonsensical as it was implausible. "So, I was steering with my knee and undoing my helmet, taking my seatbelts off and all of that and coasting down on the apron, and figured I was far enough along that I didn't have to - I had to grab ahold of the steering wheel and had all of my stuff unbuttoned, start back up or let the clutch out, drive another 50 feet and then shut it all back of again."
"So, I didn't really feel like it was necessary (crossing the finish line first). The race was over, the caution was out, we were declared the winner, all we had to do was come back around and cross the stripe. So, that's that. I could've passed the pace car, if you want. I can go start the car up and do some burnouts in the garage over here, do some doughnuts if that'll make everybody feel better about it. I don't know what to say."
The rest of his opposition felt a little differently; after all, they knew that the number one rule of racing since the dawn of time was that he who takes the checkered flag first is the race winner - as long as he didn't cheat. But in this case, there was the rare circumstance that the guy behind the one who crossed the line first broke the rules - yet, he's still going to make out with a win anyway.
"I feel terrible for Greg (Biffle)," He’s been working so hard to win a race and he was up there in position to win it," said Johnson of the strange ending. "But if you don’t maintain pace car speed, you don’t hold your position."
"It was clear to everyone that he couldn’t do it. If he could have, he would have stayed on the bumper of the pace car to the finish line."
Surprisingly, NASCAR chose to immediately reaffirm Biffle as the winner, giving hometown boy Bowyer the short end of the stick. To his credit, the New Hampshire winner took his defeat in stride; after all, there was so much weirdness going on it was impossible to pin defeat on one shining moment.
“I don’t know, but it didn’t look right," questioned Bowyer. "I don’t know what the rule is."
"It is just weird, very weird."
You're preaching to the choir, Clint.
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This is just the next play in a series of NA$CAR blunders. Nobody outside the fan base they have now are ever going to take this “sport” seriously with crap like this being presented every week. The failure that is the COT was highlighted again during the times there was racing between the clouds and between the commercials. NA$CAR’s TV ratings will continue to drop with crap coverage like this. 3 wide racing for the lead interrupted by a commercial??? Maybe NA$CAR demanded it since it is a near impossible feat to pass in the COT. Football does not break to commercial at the snap. Baseball does not as a player is rounding third. NA$CAR has nobody to blame but themselves for the rotten coverage. Want to broadcast exciting racing? Fire half the talking heads, tell the others to shut up, show more in-car views, track side views, the roar of the engines, not the bore of the broadcaster. Most of all put the rule book and the Officials under an independent body like the WUA. What we have now is a joke. Run by an idiot who can not admit his failures and correct them.
After reading the recaps that you and Matt wrote, I have a word to describe yesterday’s race:
Clusterf . . . Oh, wait a minute, if I use that word NASCAR will dock me 25 points and fine me $25K. :^)
I just need to vent a little! I was so disappointed with NASCAR’s many bad calls Sunday, that I have no intention to ever purchase another race ticket or any merchandise with an affiliation to NASCAR! I have had it with their “new rules as you play” format. I have been a fan for over 25 years, but no more! I will still be a fan of some of my favorite drivers, but wont support NASCAR in any form or fashion from now on. And they have the stupidity to wonder why their ratings are dropping off. I will be a local dirt track supporter and sponsor from here on out! Maybe we could get a rich backer to start a competitor to NASCAR series? If it we had a series with consistent rules and provide some real door-to-door racing they would sell me tickets and merchandise. Any billionaires interested? firstname.lastname@example.org
Iâ€™ll try to make these comments as brief as I can: As a fan in the stands, I, along with the thousands of other fans who stood through the 2+ hour soaking rain delay, greatly appreciate NASCAR running as much of the race as possible. These drivers get paid to race and we pay to see them race. How many times do we hear the drivers say â€œWe do this for the fansâ€? If this is true, then NASCAR made the right decision.
Ending under yellow flag: The right decision. It was getting dark very quickly. The cleanup and a green-white-checkered finish would have taken too long. The way it was, it was already too late. Much like the track, the parking areas have no lights except for the lights on the streets nearby, which were hardly enough to light the entire parking area. We left as soon as NASCAR declared Biffle the winner, before the whole â€œcontroversyâ€, and by the time we got to our car it was pretty much pitch black. Had they waited it out and the thousand of fans who stayed waited it out too, it would have wreaked HAVOC on the parking lots. The way it was, Iâ€™m sure there several hundreds who stumbled around in the dark trying to find their cars.
Several crews/drivers were commenting that it was just too dark and even someone on Bowyerâ€™s frequency commented that they either shouldnâ€™t or probably wouldnâ€™t go back to green. Bowyer himself even said he couldnâ€™t see the debris on the backstretch because of the darkness. For the safety of the competitors and the fans, it was probably best that it ended as it did.
As for Biffleâ€™s â€œcontroversialâ€ win, I think people need to get over it. I thought as long as the car crosses the start/finish line under its own power, that driver is still considered the winner â€“ and his car was not pushed.
While it wasnâ€™t an ideal situation, I think NASCAR made the right decisions.
I realize that you must get your boilerplate complaining out of the way but they weren’t even driving the COT. Did you even watch the race?
No one could put the Kansas race into better perspective than Jeff Gordon . “ i think that was an awesome call . Nascar recognized what was going on in the Chase and knew what a disaster it would be not to restart the race “ . Gordon believes the restart was to benefit the drivers who were caught a lap down and once again give us a phony finish . I’ll take Jeffs’ word for it .
For those who buy the “pace car speed” theory by Johnson/Gordon/Bower, doe that mean in any caution if you slow down to scrub your tires you can be passed even with the yellow out? If the leader lays back on the restart can you pass before the green since the leader isn’t maintaining speed? I believe the rule is leader sets the pace speed.
Last year they called a race, Michigan IIRC (Kasey won), for rain and people complained bitterly when the sun came out before Victory Lane had even finished taping.
Today people are complaining that the race was restarted.
A couple years ago they tried desperately to run a Loudon truck race to the end as darkness fell. No one was happy about that either.
1. People like to complain regardless of what Nascar does.
2. Nascar should require that no track wishing to be granted a Cup race may be without lights. Period.
Jeff, duh. Let me explain it again. Of course I watched the race, that is my point Skippy. This race highlights how much those slot car like COTs are inferior to the older style. The same facts remain week in and week out. Unless they address them the ratings and interest will plummet. Maybe your the type that can enjoy the presentation of a meal of dung without bringing up the fact your eating crap. You must be a sycophant NA$CAR apologist what with all your ad hominem Boilerplate attacks on divergent opinions.
M.B.: You hit the nail on the head with your first point.
They should have announce up front at all races without lights that the race will be over at completion of the race or precisely at sundown and the winner will be the leading car at that point. Doesn’t matter if it yellow, green or red flag. There will be no questions if the rules are spelled out up front.
maybe if nascar went back to 1:00 starts, alot of this crap wouldn’t happen, also if nascar would stop making the rules as they go along, we wouldn’t have all of this confusion.
The day was screwed up from the beginning. They knew it was going to rain and should have started the race earlier. They have done this many times before. Then after they got 1/2 way and the monsoon hit they should have called the race. Guess they’re not Stewart fans. Then when they restarted it again they knew they didn’t have very much time before it was going to be dark. “Being too dark to drive” is a matter of opinion. I’m sure there were some who didn’t think it was dark enough to call it. Bonehead move at the end. Biffle clearly ran out of gas and Bowyer absolutely won the race. Montoya’s wreck was nowhere near the finish line so what they did at the end should not have happened. And you have to give the teams a specific amount of laps to run and can’t change it on a whim. I’m about disgusted with the way they dictate the winner of each race. They definitely don’t have their *#@& (25 points or 50 or 100 or whatever the hell they decide today) together.
I agree with Richard. Biffle would have crossed the finish line first if the guys behind him would have followed the rules. There is an actual rule that says “no passing” during a caution. If Greg would have come to a complete stop, then yes, they would have to pass him. However, he kept up a “reasonable” pace. He was moving.
Still, That was an odd race.
The missing Headline here is: NA$CAR morons chose to run Chase race at venue w/ no lights! And just when you thought the Daytona 500, Pocono, and Montreal were as bizarre as it could get, NA$CAR pulls a call out of their a$$es and gives Biffle the win after he couldn’t keep up w/ the pace car. Do these guys ever rule on anything consistently ? If there were lights, then there would be no problem. All races that are as important as Chase races need to be run at venues that have lights. Hey wait a second, Kentucky Speedway has lights, and also better racing than Kansas, which has no lights. But wait, isn’t Kansas a NA$CAR.. oops, an I$C track? Thought so.
Biffle DID NOT MAINTAIN PACE CAR SPEED!
PERIOD! CASE CLOSED!
If the other drivers would have followed the lead car, in this case Biffle, they ALL would have parked on the grass!
There is no rule about maintaining “pace car speed”. Under caution and up to taking the green, the leader sets the pace. Biff did, Biff won.
If NA$CAR now says that there is no rule about maintaining speed under caution, why did they want to put Robby Gordon back in 13th spot after he was leading and got spun by Ambrose AFTER the caution came out during the Mexico road race. NA$CAR making up rules as they go along is a HUGE reason why they are losing their fan base on a weekly basis. This latest ‘ruling’ opens up a Pandora’s box the next time a race comes down to fuel mileage. Let’s say the leader’s car run out of gas right after getting the white flag at the next road race or a bigger track like Pocono and the caution comes out soon after. Is he still going to be the winner if he stops with a 1/2 lap to go to the checkers? No way – the winner has to be the one that completes all the laps first. By the way – Biffle saying he undid his safety belts and helmet before the end of the race should get him a fine.
Nascar’s latest and ongoing mistake in the last 8 seasons has been commited by the fans of Nascar who are not purist of the sport and only wish to see popularity;not performance rewarded.
Dot Jones: I dont know the reason why ISC, who owns the speedway, wont give them lights…money, I suppose. The last time I remember them really talking about it, they decided to give them more seats instead. The biggest problem with no lights before was that the truck and IRL races were run July 4th weekend with sometimes 100+ temps. I guess they figured by getting IRL and CTS to move their race to April, there was no reason for lights. Good plan.
A track with lights isn’t always the answer either. I was at Vegas in 2000 and Atlanta in the fall of 2002 when each race was stopped by rain. I remember thinking, “cool, I’ll get to see a night race…” NOT! NASCAR called the races and both times it was dry as we walked to the parking lot in the early evening. They used the lame excuse that it was a long day for the crews and it was time to go home. What about the people that PAID to see the race? We spend a lot of money on travel and overpriced motel & race tickets to have a race called that could have been run under the lights. Don’t we figure in to the equation somewhere? You can bet that everyone in the stands that stuck it out at Kansas on Sunday were glad they restarted and got to see a race for the win, not pit strategy and a red flag winner. They did blow the call with Biffle, though. Ask a guy that has been spun out after the caution flew about the “maintain pace car speed” rule. The pace car pulled away as Biffle slowed down. Clint Bowyer should have been in victory lane.
At the truck race in Indy in July, the start time was supposed to be 8pm, but due to rain off and on all day, the race didn’t start until 10. But they made the effort to run the race and the fans that stayed were rewarded with an incredible race. Sometimes (and ONLY sometimes) NA$CAR gets it right.
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