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 · Sunday November 4, 2007
As the sun set around the country Sunday, people sat glued to their television sets - sports were on their mind, and boy, were they ingesting a heavyweight prizefight for the ages. As the leaders of two great teams exchanged punch after punch, the crowd galvanized towards a frenzied climax, with the matchup hurtling toward a conclusion that clearly lived up to the hype. In the end, there was only one winner; but fans of both sides - no matter the outcome - had truly won. Left wanting more, they filed out of the stadium with a sense of anticipation, already smiling when looking ahead to the next time the two would do battle once again.
No, it wasn't Jeff Gordon vs Jimmie Johnson I'm talking about; it was New England vs Indianapolis that galvanized many of the NASCAR faithful, turned off long ago by the championship battle between two teammates that has stirred up about as much excitement for them as the checkout line at the local library.
But that's where the experts begin to scratch their heads; based on pure competition alone, the description outlined at the top could have easily applied to the racing, not the football, on this autumn day where stock cars fought hard to take center stage. And the million-dollar question for the failure to do so - as in, the millions of dollars NASCAR is losing to empty seats and sagging TV ratings - is why is this battle not worth watching?
Someone needs to find the answer.
Truth be told, the last few laps at Texas symbolized everything that you pine for as a fan of the sport of auto racing. A scintillating battle for the win between two of the sport's greatest drivers - Matt Kenseth and Johnson - had the crowd on their feet literally every turn. I've been a writer for seven years and a fan for eighteen, and at 26 years old I was about ready to blow out the windows I was shouting so hard over those final ten laps. When done right, the joy of watching stock cars run side-by-side can truly be a thing of beauty.
"We were able to battle for the win and put on a hell of a show for the fans," Johnson said afterwards, showing the title was never on his mind as much taking the checkered flag first. "Just great hard racing."
Finally clearing Kenseth for good with two laps left, Johnson's Lowe's Chevrolet trudged on to Victory Lane for the third straight week, giving him a series-leading ninth victory and, most importantly, a leg up as he looks to repeat as series champion. Behind him, his part-car owner, part-rival Gordon sputtered home seventh, exhausted after a day full of battling through a series of strategies and serious adjustments that never seemed to get his car headed in the right direction.
For a time, though, it was Gordon who seemed to have the cards stacked out right. Early in the race, Steve LeTarte put the No. 24 out front with a two tire stop that got him off sequence with the rest of the pack; while the DuPont Chevrolet inevitably slipped back through the field, a series of yellow flags thrown the right way could have given Gordon a leg up on the rest of the competition.
But it didn't happen that way.
"Yeah, it’s still close, but they’re spanking us (the No. 48)," Gordon said. "They’re putting it to us."
"We’re very competitive and we’re just getting beat. We’ve got to go to work. We’ve got to get it back."
Strong words from a man facing a tougher reality; it appears Johnson has now gained an upper hand in a bid for a repeat not often accomplished, as I outlined in an "article just two weeks ago.":http://www.frontstretch.com/tbowles/12960/ It's the latest twist in what's been a back and forth battle that's shaped up throughout the course of the playoffs; but this three-race win streak comes just after Gordon strung together two straight wins of his own, taking the checkers at Talladega and Lowe's - a track Johnson has dominated these past five years - to reestablish himself atop a points lead he controlled for virtually the entire regular season. No doubt, the outcome is still up for grabs in a Chase dominated by just these two, drivers at the peak of their performance level while trading trophies back and forth on the quest for the biggest one.
Which is why those glum faces and the "I don't care" responses fans have when asked about the title need to be addressed. Looking at stats and stats alone, there's no denying that both Gordon and Johnson are two of the best drivers to put on a uniform in Cup in the last five years. Johnson's 32 wins are easily tops amongst all drivers since 2002; Gordon's total of 23 checkered flags ranks second best, putting him ahead of even two-time champ Tony Stewart. No matter what the point system is, you'd be pressed to put an argument together that would put anyone else in the same stratosphere that both Johnson and Gordon have been driving in throughout all of 2007. So, what's the beef?
The differences between the Chase point system and the "old way of doing things" might lead us to an answer. If this season were played out with the pre-Chase version in place, it would be Gordon celebrating outside Victory Lane on Sunday - not Johnson. A 400-point lead would have allowed the Rainbow Warrior to complete his Drive For Five; but that's no longer the rules under which this Chase game is played, and instead, he'll have to punch his teammate back if he wants to reclaim rights to a trophy that's vacated his household since 2001. It's a different, more contrived title; but then again, it's one with which the current pursuer has no issues.
"There is really no other way to put it other than they’ve been performing excellent," said Gordon of his teammate's recent run of good luck. "And we haven’t stepped up where we need to. If this thing comes down to performance, they’ve out-performed us."
"You’ve got to take your hat off to Jimmie (Johnson) and those guys. They did an excellent job."
Perhaps it's those quotes that are the problem, too. These two men like each other; and why shouldn't they? If it wasn't for Gordon's prodding, there's no telling if Johnson would even be at Hendrick Motorsports, his career given the enviable good luck charm of getting pulled from the Busch Series and plucked into one of the prime rides racing had to offer. Around the same age, the two have similar interests, and were frequently known to hang out away from the race track; during a tumultuous personal struggle for Gordon with ex-wife Brooke in 2002, it was the newfound friendship of Johnson that helped to offer words of support in troubled times. Five years later, Gordon's subsequent remarriage and birth of his daughter have made going out on the town a much less frequent occurrence, but the mutual respect the two have for one another has never wavered.
Therein lies the problem; rivalries work best when both sides spew venom, or at least wouldn't be caught dead in the same room at a party. Yankees - Red Sox, Patriots - Colts, or, in racing terms, Petty - Pearson enveloped those qualities; more recently, Gordon - Earnhardt was a fan-made rivalry of two men who were labeled too different by the fans to have mutual respect for one another â€¦ even though they did. But in this case, there's no hiding similarities that run deep; same team, same mold, same structure. And it's that sameness that has led to indifference. Which, considering the way Hendrick has dominated the sport, may lead to a very big warning sign; NASCAR's Most Popular Driver is heading over to this outfit next year, and guess what? He likes Gordon and Johnson too. There's no evil to be found here â€¦ only good.
Which likely has good people turning off the TV set, booing in unison at the track, and wondering just when a new rivalry will light their passion once again.
Will you never rest
No question about it, these men have earned their keep on the track; but unfortunately, they haven't earned the fans' attention off it. And that's a shame; for what should be one of the most dramatic finishes in recent history is being turned into the most blasÃ©.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Whatever! Just as soon as next season gets here and Jr. and Gordon hit the track it will be like HULK HOGAN -vs ANDRE THE GIANT wrestling for VINCE MCMAHON and no one will care who’s in charge of the two.
The indifference can also be chalked up to the multiple team syndrome. Whichever one of them wins, it’s a Hendrick team. What’s the drama there? Since they exchange virtually every bit of information, does it really matter which one of them wins the champeenship?
For me, several things are contributing to my ‘Who cares attitude.’
And another thing burned me, a Ford fan, up was kennesth saying on the radio would he be better off finishing second. Won’t be rooting for a quitter anymore. Actually I don’t much care about NASCRAP anymore!!
I understood Matt’s comment to question wrecking trying to win or ease up and finish second. Watching how loose he was as Jimmy passed him, I don’t think he let up until Jimmy got by…
If I had been listening to the race on the radio and not watching the first half, I would have thought that JG was the only car on the track!!!
All of the above posts are valid. Dominance by multi-car teams with huge budgets, poor race coverage (and not just by ESPN but all three networks), contrived excitement at the expense of real racing, and absolutely no respect for tradition has helped me learn to enjoy the value of a nice Sunday afternoon nap.
In my opinion, we need more Darlingtons and less Californias. We need more single & 2-car teams and less big-budget super-teams. We need more of Alan Bestwick and less of Rusty Wallace and Darrel Waltrip. Most of all, though, we need more sport and less hype.
Not sure the “racing” at the end was all that good. Or even what it appeared to be!
When all was said and done, I don’t think Jimmie was jeopordizing anything by racing “hard”, but comfortable, for the lead! Only two (2) cars involved, and should there be a spin or such $ASCAR would throw an immediate caution flag and go back to the previous scoring loop placing the 48 car either 1st or 2nd once again!
So yah, on the surface it was ‘exciting”, but in the long run it was just a show!
For whatever reason fans didn’t watch the Texas race, they missed out on a great shootout between two of the best, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. They may be too vanilla for some, but out on the track Sunday they raced hard and clean, two champions out for the win. I don’t think Matt gave up; he was just outraced by Jimmie. Fans who saw it were treated to a great show!
J-Go and J-Jo didn’t create the boredom – NASCAR did. Fines for fighting, fines for rough driving, fines for this and fines for that. NASCAR wants everyone to be equal, which opened the floodgates for mass exodus. Also, I agree, next year will be worse.
Makes me wonder if the boring rivalry between the 24 and 48 would be the same if ya changed them to the 17 and the 99.
When you have drivers that are so similar driving identical cars owned and managed by the same team, who cares who wins. I’ve noticed that Jr. is adjusting his image and by next year, we’ll have three very similar drivers in identical cars managed by the same team and nobody will care who wins.
Hendrick wins in part by having everything standardized with the only real difference being the number and the sponsor on the car.
questions —rants —happy sad don’t frett you ain’t seen nothing yet because here comes fomula nascar sprint champ next year !!! brian has the hammer and theres only one nail missing in nascars coffin
If NA$CAR wants to return to being NASCAR, they need to hire me as the Grand Imperial Poobah of stock car racing. Here’s my plan:
1) Stock sheet metal – Win on Sunday, the fan can buy it on Monday. The only allowable changes are a front blade spoiler and a 6” rear deck blade spoiler.
If you want more of my plan….it’ll cost you!
Speaking of disinterest…I cleaned out my garage yesterday. At 5pm PST I called a friend to see if 48 had won again. I then went over and shut the VCR off, hit rewind and waited to take the tape out, never even turning on the TV. I’ve been a diehard fan since 92’and until last year attended at least 6 races year. Right now, I could care less if Na$car ever fills all the seats again. They finally pushed it over the edge.
All of this is why I watch the truck series. I hardly watch the cup series anymore.
Been a racin’ fan since ’79 and the truck series reminds me of some of the great yrs of cup.
Also, the truck racin’ doesn’t take up 2/3rds of the day. There’s more action in 10 laps by the truckers than in 100 laps by the cupers.
I remember back in the late 90’s, when guys like Roush were expanding to big mult-car teams, I was writing into “The Winston Cup Scene” on the topic of this being the turning point in the sport and damn if it didn’t come true. NASCAR in my opinion shot themselves in the foot by allowing multi-car teams to happen as all its done is kill the smaller teams which for all intensive purposes are spending a boatload of money as well to run 25th. Two cars should’ve been the limit if even that. Listening to the begining of the race in Texas you would’ve thought that not only was Jr. in the chase but he had a shot at taking the title. The over-coverage of Jr. is just getting old..and I actually like the guy..I can only imagine that next year will be twice as bad as now will have to hear minute-by-minute updates as how Jr. is doing with his new team. Personally I’m starting to think that NASCAR is hanging its hat on Jr. to help lift their recent drops in ratings and popularity. Where’s Dick Trickle when you need him…
This chase scenario with JJ and JG has played out as the worst one yet, unless you are one of their diehard fans. NASCAR has effectively ruined the miracle growth enjoyed by the sport in 90’s with bad decision making by NASCAR upper management and letting teams have more than 3 cars. Watch NASCAR degrade to a second tier sport just like the NHL did. Soon all the events will be on Speedvision where no one watches them or worse on OLN like hockey! I am curious to see where the ARCA series goes since all the real NASCAR chassis will be there and the growth of the sport is being led by guys like Andy Hillenburg bringing back cornerstone NASCAR Tracks and innovative ideas like the 50 car field.
Looks like everyone was right all along . Jimmie Johnson has been as fast or faster than Gordon at almost every race for two years . He is the only driver at Hendrick to ever have an equal car to Gordon . So it looks like it was more the car , and less Gordon , just as we thought .
I have to agree with Mike. I was at the Truck Race on Friday night and it was what NASCAR racing was about 15 years ago when it was really great and King Brian was still in diapers.
I would much rather watch an entire truck race that 30 minutes of a Cup Race. The last few laps of Friday night’s race held more action than the entire Cup race on Sunday afternoon.
Ron, you raise a good point..JJ and JG are obviously top-notch drivers with a ton of talent and even_they don’t make the “Chase” exciting. As it stands Chase or no Chase having two drivers being 30 points apart for the title would have you, as a race car fan, on the edge of your seat yet it_doesn’t appear that this is the case. It can’t just be the Chase itself that causes this..what got us to this point? (I agree too that the Truck races are alot more fun to watch..well at least till they roll out the truck-of-tomorrow..;-))
Chris2- that’s the best, most honest commentary Iv’e ever read on this site!
Nascar 2007 = YAWN
I am dumbfounded by the way this year has played out. If you are not a Hendrick fan, then you have been left out in the cold. I quit watching the races for two reasons. 1 is the same drivers winning over and over again.
I’ve followed this sport since i stumbled on it back in the mid 1960’s on ABC’S Wide World of Sports when you would get 25 minutes of a race ran months before at Daytona, Charlotte or Darlington and thought this was the greatest think known to mankind. Living in Northeast Pa. this sport was almost unheard of back then. I was a diehard fan till these last few years. Now i can almost care less. I will catch bits of a race while doing something else, unlike when i was stuck to the tv, not evening getting up for a trip to the can. I was and still am a Mopar fan, when Chrysler left in the late 70’s i was a Ford fan. I am still a Mopar guy, if Dodge can’t win then let it be a Ford. What went wrong with this sport.
It seems to me that many of you are missing the point. If you donâ€™t like the championship/chase, then just watch each race as an individual event.
How can you not pay attention to the campionship? the announcers won’t let you and half of the time the only way you can see where other drivers are on the track is to watch the ticker at the top of the screen. All of the attention of the broadcast was placed on Jimmie and Jeff (mostly).Even when Jeff was a lap down, he got more coverage than the other drivers who were even on the lead lap.
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