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.
Frontstretch Driver Q & A · Thomas Bowles · Thursday November 8, 2007
This time last season, Danny O’Quinn was Roush Racing’s star on the rise. En route to winning Busch Series Rookie Of The Year, the 22-year-old Virginian had racked up a total of five Top 10 finishes to establish himself as a driver to watch.
Unfortunately, one year later watching instead of racing has become the norm for a driver often labeled the “poster boy” for what’s wrong with the series he once seemed ready to conquer. Sponsorship issues kept his Roush Racing team from putting together a full-time effort for his sophomore season, and as the year began O’Quinn sat helplessly, without the resources he needed to keep his career on track. Eventually choosing to play the role of underdog at single-car team Mac Hill Motorsports, O’Quinn is still affiliated with Roush, but making the best of any opportunity he has to get himself back on the map – and away from racing oblivion.
Frontstretch talked with O’Quinn about the difficulties involved with a small-budget operation, the frustrations of running a part-time schedule, and the overwhelming amount of fan support he’s received during a trying time in his career.
Tom Bowles, FS: You’ve obviously been put through a difficult year. Can you explain the roller coaster of emotions you’ve been on, going from Rookie Of The Year to part-time Busch Series participant?
Danny O’Quinn: It's definitely been frustrating. At the end of the year last year, everything was going really well, getting the Rookie Of The Year award – and two or three weeks later, you find out you're not going to be running (maybe at all). So, it's kind of frustrating from that standpoint. But I was fortunate enough that Roush let me talk with some other teams, and see if I could get some other races. And I know Jack MacNelly and everybody over here at Mac Hill Motorsports – Tony Lambert, the crew chief, he used to crew chief for me. They were nice enough to give me an opportunity to race 7-8 races this year. Keep my feet wet, keep them in the door, and help out the team and myself both.
Bowles: How did you know Mac Hill so well?
O’Quinn: Actually, the crew chief over here was working for me at the time he got the job at Mac Hill, and I kind of got to know (owner) Jack (MacNelly) and everybody over the past couple of years, since '05. I always kept in touch with Tony, and things kind of opened up this year – they didn't have anything going on, and neither did I. So we put together some racing with Power Equipment as a sponsor, and I came over here and did some racing for them.
Bowles: Of course, when you make that type of change – going from a team that has everything to one that doesn’t have nearly the same amount of resources and sponsorship money – it can be a big adjustment. How has racing for the underdog this year changed your perspective?
O’Quinn: You know, it's definitely different. When you're over there (at Roush), money is not an object. But at the same time, I grew up racing â€¦ my father owned our team, and we didn't have necessarily the money to do everything quite the way it needed to be done. I grew up with that, and honestly, it makes you appreciate what you're doing more, and the people around you; they put more effort into what they're doing. It's not just another job; they know that in order to keep things running, we have to put 110% into what we're doing.
But it's tough, no doubt. That's pretty obvious when you look at what these guys have got to spend and work with. When (the Cup-owned Busch teams have) four or five cars on the track, it takes four or five runs for us to learn what they're doing in one run. Things like that definitely hurt us. Not having the Cup engine programs, or the time at the wind tunnels, or pulldown rigs or things like that, that's the stuff that can really bite you. But I think we do well with what we've got right now. We're looking into the future, and hopefully he can pull sponsorship over here. Jack and everybody here know what we need to do it correctly, and I feel like if we can pull the right financial backing, we can go out there and be as successful as everyone else. But it's all about money, and it takes money to get the resources you need to run well.
We're moving to a new shop this year, we've really got some things that are looking up; if anybody came over and took a look and what we're doing here, they'd be pretty impressed. Jack and everybody are willing to do what it takes to be successful; we've just got to get that someone (with money to) give us that opportunity.
Bowles: Having been in both scenarios, now, what's been more gratifying for you as a driver? Coming home 15th in a car that you knew just struggled to get to the track, or finishing 5th with a car that had everything in it you could have possibly wanted?
There's a couple of different ways of looking at that. As a driver, you're trying to finish the best you can every week. So that part of you says, well it's nice to finish 5th or 4th or something or have a chance of winning; but once you've been on the other side of the spectrum, you say hey, you really made the most of what we had. When you finish 5th, you may have had a 4th place car and finished 5th; but another time, we may have had a 25th place car and finished 15th. (In that situation) we really made the most of what we had.
Look, I'm used to winning races in everything I've been in, so it's been a little frustrating in the last year or two not having a chance to maybe win one of these things yet. And deep down, that's really what I want to do. I'm not going to sit there and say I'm the happiest person on the face of this earth (when I don’t finish 1st) – winning makes me happy. That's what I strive for.
Bowles: How has being in this position changed the way you drive on the track? Do you find you’re digging that much deeper?
O’Quinn: Yeah, I think so. When we go to the track, we know what we're up against every week. You know, the frustrating point of this year has just been not racing every week; so when I do get in the car, it's been a month or so since I've ran, and I have to take time to get affiliated back to driving. Only running part-time has been kind of tough on me, but at the same time, I feel like I put 110% into everything I did on the track driving, and we've finished all the races. We've had some problems, we've had some things come loose, but we've finished, haven't torn anything up in the races, and that's all we can do right now. We need to go out there and make the most out of each run we've got, try to keep the sponsors we've got happy, and try to attract more over to this team. And that's what makes me feel good about what we're doing here. I've got people here that believe in me … and I believe in them. And that makes a big difference.
Bowles: You seem to be indicating patience is key, that by finishing races you build experience as a driver. Is that the hardest thing, scaling back at the right times when you know you only have a couple of opportunities to prove yourself to potential sponsors? We saw at Memphis, there were a couple of kids that had one-off deals where it seemed like they felt they had to be the next Jeff Gordon … like that was their only shot.
O’Quinn: I think so. Different owners see it different ways. Some people feel like you have to go out there and run in the Top 10 your very first race, some don't. But I think that puts a lot of pressure on you sometimes, and can create mistakes. Honestly, I ran a couple of Roush races this year, and if I look back at Kentucky, there was a lot of pressure on me to go out there and perform really well, because I didn't know what the future held at Roush really early in the year. I think that (type of pressure) could have led to some of the issues at Memphis, too. It was definitely a crazy race down there, and we've all been there; this is a big jump from whatever you may have been running before the Busch Series. There's a lot of great race drivers here, and nobody gives an inch on the track.
Bowles: Of course, it’s been a struggle for some of these Busch guys all season long. Having been in the position of some of these younger guys, do you feel like the push is on now especially because the Buschwackers take away so many spots at times, too?
O’Quinn: Well, when you go to a lot of these race tracks, and there are 20 Cup guys in the race, you've got to really be spot on to run 10th to 15th. So, you've really got to push hard to be up there racing with those guys. They've got so much experience.
A lot of people like to see them there, a lot of people don't. From a driver's standpoint, there's times where sometimes I wish that there weren't so many. But at the same time, I understand that it's good for the series and good for us drivers to go out there and race with those guys. It teaches you a lot, when you need to be racing and when you need to be conservative. So, a lot of times, it's good to have them out there â€¦ it pushes you as a rookie driver to really stand on it and be competitive.
Bowles: In terms of being able to develop your career, Danny, what things do you do to try and keep yourself fresh when you can only run a handful of races per year?
O’Quinn: Well, just being at the track. Trying to do everything you can to get a little exposure. Whether it be doing an interview with you, or trying to get on TV, that's the only way you can really brand yourself right now is try to get every little bit of exposure you can.
Whether it be trying to go to the track every week, just walking through the garage area – if you're not out there doing something, you'll get forgotten real quick in this business. There's so many people coming through the doors every day that you really have to keep yourself visible.
Bowles: Danny, this is the first time no full-time Busch Series driver is moving up to Cup next year. Now, owners seem to be grabbing from the open wheel series instead; is that discouraging to know you've come up through the system naturally, and all these other guys that haven't even raced stock cars once are getting the prime opportunities?
O’Quinn: That's definitely frustrating. And I don't have anything against anybody coming over and trying to race. But the fact they're going straight to Cup, with no experience with Busch or Truck, is kind of shocking to me. I think it's kind of shocking to most people. In my opinion, someone like Sam Hornish – he’s a great race car driver, and there's no doubt in my mind that eventually he'll be a force to be reckoned with in the Cup series. But I think it's obvious he would really benefit – those guys would benefit from running more Truck and Busch races. I know they're great race car drivers, but I've drove stock cars all my life, and these things are not easy to drive by any means. I think even for some of them, most would probably say the same thing a year from now (that are coming into the sport today). It's definitely frustrating to look at them getting the opportunity to just go straight to Cup on their open wheel background, but that's part of it.
Bowles: What does that do for morale, though, for all these guys who have come up through the stock car ranks only to have no owners take a chance on them. Is going away from some of the homegrown talent threatening the sport's future?
O’Quinn: It's definitely discouraging, but that's where the people who are going to prevail are not going to let that happen. You've got to keep doing your thing, and it's either going to happen or it doesn't. You can't let it beat you down; there's a lot of things in life that don't go your way, and that's just a fact of the matter. There's nothing you can do about that.
As frustrating as that may be, that's where (the trend is) going, and we've just got to deal with it and figure out ways to work around it right now. And that's where someone like myself, that's where I've got to work hard and keep myself a fixture in the NASCAR ranks.
Bowles: There's been so much in NASCAR about friendship and how that's helped within teams, like in the case of Hendrick Motorsports. So, who are the people you've become closest with in your time at the garage?
O’Quinn: I've gotten to know quite a few people through working at Roush. I'm really good friends with David Ragan. It seems like I could always go to him and talk to him about stuff. Sometimes, just having guys like that, him and Erik Darnell, we all come in here together and we're all experiencing similar things, and it's good to be able to talk to guys like that.
I (also) know Johnny Sauter really well. When they pulled me out of the car at California to let David run it (last year), Johnny came up and said, "Don't worry about it." He just came up and talked to me; I didn't really know him at that point, but I thought that was pretty cool of him to do. And last year, when I was running at Roush, Carl (Edwards) was very willing to come up and talk to me and help me with things also.
Bowles: You mention how close you and Ragan have been; have things changed at all now that he’s running the Cup series full-time?
O’Quinn: Same old guy. Me and him are really good friends. He's busy now, he don't get to do too much anymore, but if you ever need anything, all you gotta do is ask him. He's a great guy. I haven't seen him change very much; I think a lot of those guys, when they get to Cup, they do change a good bit – but I don't think David has.
Bowles: Speaking of Roush, you’ve gotten to know both Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. What was your opinion on how their incident unfolded, and was it handled correctly?
I think that a lot of times - we're all out there racing, and there's certain times where you get frustrated. You get frustrated in the car, and it doesn't matter if it's your teammate or not. (What happened) just shows how much they care about what they're doing, that they get frustrated about what's going on. They just don't let things build up in their head; I don't think Matt does, I don't think Carl does, either one.
It may have been the wrong thing to do, it may not have been (to have a public confrontation). But I think that a little frustration amongst the teams isn't the worst thing that ever happened. Obviously, that gives them an opportunity to iron out their differences they might have had. It may end up working out best for both of them.
Bowles: Final question; your fans, they have been incredibly supportive of you in particular throughout the course of the season; those who cover the sport have seen how many you have and how dedicated they are. What do you have to say to them?
O’Quinn: That I really appreciate what everyone's sent me. I've got just as much fan mail this year not racing as I had last year. And it makes me feel good that people believe in me still - and I promise I'm not going to give up on this thing. Every time I open up a piece of fan mail and I read that, it gives me that much more motivation to go out there and make things happen.
That's probably the best feeling in this whole job, is having a little kid walk up to you and ask you to sign something for you, or anyone for that matter. It really makes you feel good … and to all the people that are out there backing me, we will be back. It may take us a little longer that we want to get everything secured that we need, but we'll be back - and they'll have someone to root for once again.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Danny, Hang in there buddy!! You have everything a team needs and your time will come!
Weve been fans since “Driver X” so we’ll always be there, and I truly believe your day will come for a full time Cup ride.
BOL and keep on keepin on Bud!
Your #1 fans in IN.
I agree. Hang in there Danny. I became a fan of yours during the Driver X show also, and as a former short track racer/team owner, I feel your pain.
I CANNOT understand why Roush can’t find a sponsor for Danny. His time on Driver X and NBS 24/7 impressed me very much with his easy-going temperment and his poise in relating to fans.
Yet it seems that being a big guy with a southern accent has become the kiss of death when it comes to sponsorships. :-(
>>I CANNOT understand why Roush canâ€™t find a sponsor for Danny.<<
>>Yet it seems that being a big guy with a southern accent has become the kiss of death when it comes to sponsorships.<<
Good points, Mary. remember when Rousch couldn’t find a sponsor for Jeff Burton after Exide left?
I can’t understand why Roush can’t find a sponsor either. As popular a driver that Danny seems to be, it seems to me he would be a sponsor’s dream. Makes you wonder if Roush is really trying to find sponsorship. Hope something opens up for you soon, Danny.
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