NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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
Monday March 3, 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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday July 21, 2008
At the beginning of the year, Frontstretch asked our staff of nearly two dozen writers a handful of questions that we thought would develop into the major storylines within NASCAR in 2008. It was a potpourri of pressing stories, predicting anything from the future of the sport’s Most Popular Driver to the mindset of its most disillusioned fan.
Six months in – during the final off week of what’s shaping up to be a seventeen race stretch to the final checkered flag at Homestead – I thought it’d be as good time as any to revisit those questions and where we stand at this point during the season. So, without further ado … let’s check in on the pulse of the sport:
Question 1: How Has Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Done At Hendrick?
Analysis: Junior’s stint in the No. 88 car got off to a near-perfect start, winning the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona and following it up with a thrilling victory in the Gatorade Duel Qualifying Race. That made NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver the favorite to pull out his second 500 win; but when push came to shove that Sunday, Junior and Co. would make a crucial error that cost them a shot at the Great American Race. Failing to heed a call by Tony Eury, Jr. to come down pit road for fresh rubber, the National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet stayed on track and simply got freight trained as the laps wound down in the Great American Race.
Still, Junior finished 9th that day, beginning a pattern that’s made both himself and his fans reason to be optimistic: a total of 12 Top 10 finishes in nineteen starts equals his total from all of last season driving the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. The best-performing Hendrick car in the point standings, Eury and Earnhardt have taken a team that didn’t make the Chase with Casey Mears and left it 262 behind Kyle Busch for the top spot. And for all their communication faux pas, it was a gutsy call by Eury to leave Junior out on fuel at Michigan that ended his winless streak in points-paying races at a gut-wrenching 76.
But despite all the positives – and Junior’s clearly had an above average transition – there’s still more work to do at the No. 88. For every Michigan, there’s been three Daytonas where miscommunication between driver and crew chief has led to bad adjustments late in races — mistakes that leave Junior dropping from contention for the win a little too often these days. He also needs better support; for despite the team’s surprising consistency, Hendrick Motorsports as a whole seems a step behind Gibbs and perhaps even Roush Fenway when it comes to both Car of Tomorrow development and horsepower. And to top it all off, the man Earnhardt replaced, Kyle Busch, has been running roughshod over the rest of the circuit – including an ugly incident at Richmond in which contact left Junior hard in the wall while Busch chugged towards a second place finish.
So, Junior has plenty of be proud of, but plenty of obstacles still ahead – and he’s still a longshot for the championship, despite a lock for his first Chase bid since 2006.
Question 2: Will Toyota Enter A Sophomore Sensation With Gibbs … Or Enter A Sophomore Slump?
Analysis: To say that Toyota’s rebounded in their second season on the Cup tour would be an understatement. With eight wins in nineteen starts, the manufacturer has a healthy 19-point lead in the manufacturer’s championship, on track to unseat General Motors for the first time since 2002. If that holds, it would be the first time a “foreign” car has won top honors in NASCAR’s 60-year history – and with the economic struggles of Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge, it likely won’t be the last.
Of course, the manufacturer’s rise to prominence has come courtesy of a gifted 23-year-old Rowdy for revenge against his former team. Kyle Busch has turned his pink slip at Hendrick Motorsports into a positive with Joe Gibbs Racing, winning seven times and making a mockery of the current championship standings. Teammate Denny Hamlin has also won once, and he joins Tony Stewart on the fringes of Chase contention. If the playoffs started today, that would make Joe Gibbs Racing the only one of the Big Four superteams to have all their cars in the field — a statement thought all but impossible to make at this time back in January, when the team was still busy turning Chevys into Camrys at breakneck pace.
But along with Toyota’s dominance, there’s cause for concern. The manufacturer’s success in the Nationwide Series – 14 wins in 21 attempts – has left some griping those teams have as much as a 20 horsepower advantage over Ford, Chevy, and Dodge engines. Gibbs’ Nationwide program has certainly been breathtaking, with wins coming from no less than four different drivers – Hamlin, Busch, Stewart, and newcomer Joey Logano. Whether restrictions come from the powers that be to stop their firepower will be something to watch, and could also be an indicator of whether NASCAR will do anything on the Cup side to help the Big Three prior to September’s Chase for the Championship.
Question 3: Is There Another Montoya In This Year’s Rookie Class?
Analysis: Montoya has regressed in his sophomore season on the Cup circuit, but he’s still light years ahead of any of the new open-wheel converts. It took just one race for former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve to lose his ride – he missed the 500 and was promptly dropped by Bill Davis Racing – and none of his compatriots have fared much better. In fact, this rookie class could be the first in the modern era to go without a Top 10 finish from any driver competing for the award.
Of the three remaining open-wheel converts, Patrick Carpentier appears to have shown the most promise. A qualifying ace, he’s made fourteen straight races on time and even captured a pole at New Hampshire the end of June. If GEM could get its race setups better across the board, he might be a longshot to contend with fellow open-wheeler Sam Hornish, Jr. for the rookie title.
But as for Hornish himself, his future on the Cup circuit is in question beyond this season despite his lead in the rookie standings. And Dario Franchitti is even more likely to take off, as he doesn’t even have a Cup ride at this point — his No. 40 team recently closed up shop without a sponsor, and shows no signs of reappearing anytime soon. With neither finishing better than 13th in Cup, the allure of the IRL-Champ Car merger have both considering jumping back towards the other side of the fence; and now, the new question is whether anyone else will even make the jump in the future. With open-wheel stars Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon both turning down stock car deals in recent weeks, it seems the trend to go from Indy Cars to stock cars may be ending as quickly as it began.
Question 4: Who Is This Year’s Chase Surprise?
This season, we’ve certainly had our share of underdogs staking their claim to a spot in the Top 12 – Brian Vickers and David Ragan immediately come to mind. But if the season ended today, neither one would make the playoffs – and the twelve drivers going in their place would be awfully familiar. That’s because every driver on the current playoff list has at least one Chase berth since the 2005 season, with eleven of those drivers employed by the sport’s Big Four teams (Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing).
With those types of statistics, Kahne’s the only one you could call a bit of a surprise. After a disappointing 2007 with Gillett Evernham Motorsports in which he went winless and barely cracked the Top 20 in points, the team caught fire in May once Fan Voting gave Kahne a surprise slot in the All-Star Race. The popular driver used that momentum as a springboard to win the main event, and then followed that up with wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and at Pocono to solidify his claim as a Chase contender. However, inconsistency continues to be a bugaboo for the No. 9 Dodge; and should 13th-place Clint Bowyer make it back around Kahne, there will be no such thing as a Chase “Cinderella” this year.
Question 5: How Can NASCAR Stop The Bleeding?
Back in January, CEO Brian France had a revealing discussion with the media in which he revealed the sport’s making an effort to reconnect with its roots. But the man responsible for leading the sport never revealed an exact method for doing that; and up until this point, that’s led to a mixed bag of results so far this season.
Let’s start with the good. No question about it, there’s been more political “incorrectness” shown in 2008 than at any time in recent history. The Kurt Busch – Tony Stewart fracas at Daytona started the season off with an emotional charge, and the Kyle Busch and Juan Pablo Montoya escapades in various races stand out as a major personality injection. NASCAR’s also been reluctant to penalize for aggressive behavior unless it’s been so egregious they have no choice but to act – Montoya’s spinout of Kyle Busch in New Hampshire has been one such example.
But for every step forward the sport has taken, they’ve also jumped a step back. Criticism of the Car of Tomorrow has been so pointed, the sport held a private meeting with its drivers in Michigan this June in which Big Brother NASCAR told them negativity was no longer acceptable. It was the ultimate contradiction in terms for the sport: they’re willing to let their own drivers risk reputations by losing their “cookie cutter” sponsor-driven personalities, but refuse to let their own image be tarnished by their political incorrectness.
And it’s that type of weird dichotomy that threatens the series moving forward. Television ratings are up – showcasing optimism the sport’s growth rate has returned – but poor attendance at several races seems to leave that a major question mark. Sponsors continue to flock to the multi-car superteams, but the poor economy has shut two full-time Cup operations down and left a handful of others in jeopardy for 2009. And in just the last two months, new African-American owners (Randy Moss, Brad Daugherty) have been overshadowed by a $225 million racial discrimination lawsuit that threatens to rock NASCAR to its core.
And so it goes … perhaps the best answer here is that while NASCAR’s gotten busy addressing some open wounds, new cuts have appeared somewhere else.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Quote: “And so it goes … perhaps the best answer here is that while NASCAR’s gotten busy addressing some open wounds, new cuts have appeared somewhere else.”
You unfortunately do not point out that NA$CAR, being Brian and his band of idiots, have simply NOT addressed any MAJOR issues within the sport!
Such as the CoT!
And the “CHASE”!!
NA$CAR has indicated a “willingness” to address issues, but thus-far they have not made any significant changes to the important things affecting the racing! Err, did I actually say racing? My mistake!
NA$CAR is not about the racing anymore!
Maybe the biggest issue NA$CAR needs to address:
GET RID OF BRIAN, MIKE, ROBIN, and the rest of the NA$CAR idiots that are now in charge! A regime change at International Speedway Blvd. would be a breath of fresh air!
Lets get back to real race cars, and real racing!
I hate to sound like father time, but the racing just seemed to be “better” 10 or so years ago. Safety advances and (at least a start to) a legit diversity program have really been the only changes for the better. Man, I long for the days of the “Underbird!”
I got a kick out of going back and looking at the staff’s predictions from the beginning of the season. When asked about Toyota’s sophmore season, Matt McLaughlin said that “no matter who the jockey is, you can’t win the Kentucky Derby with a mule”. I’m betting Matt would like to take that one back. The #18 jockey is doing just fine and that mule has one hell of a kick.
Tony Lumbis predicted that Bobby Labonte would make the Chase this year. As probably the biggest Bobby Labonte fan around, I hope Tony’s crystal ball isn’t broken, just calibrated for 2009 instead of 2008.
Recent articles from Tom Bowles:
Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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