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.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday August 20, 2008
A lot of shorter observations than usual, so I’m calling this the Odds ‘N’ Ends edition of Did You Notice this week…
Did You Notice? … That California Speedway’s date realignment on the 2009 Sprint Cup schedule did nothing to address the quality of racing at that facility. I will say the Labor Day date was always a horrible weekend for them. Not only did people in L.A. have other things to do, but the heat is pretty unbearable that time of year. I worked the race in 2007, and it was agonizingly hot during the entire four days we were out there. With temperatures reaching upwards of 105-110 degrees, there was little if anything air conditioning could do for fans, media, and drivers alike.
But moving its date from September to October won’t bring people back if the racing remains well, as crappy as it was. I’m really intrigued to see what the attendance in September’s going to be after the “weepers” in February turned a 12-hour rain delay into a debacle of a Sunday half-show. It’s clear the track needs to be torn up and rebuilt, with graduated banking the perfect solution if ISC would only fork out the money to pay for it. For now, Gillian Zucker’s certainly got her work cut out for her, and let’s put it this way: nobody goes to a concert if they don’t like the music – no matter how convenient it is for them or nice a day it is outside.
Did You Notice? … The additional “off week” on the 2009 schedule still doesn’t separate the ten Chase playoff races from the other 26. It’s definitely a help – preparing for 12 straight weeks on the road is certainly better than 17 – but still, why wouldn’t you separate the playoffs to the point you can build up the hype for nearly two straight weeks? It seems the schedule realignment was done more to intensify the participation of Cup drivers during the Nationwide Series race in Montreal; you’ll notice the road course race in Canada now slips right in during the off week on Sunday, August 30th. So much for the Nationwide Series continuing to build its own identity away from the Cup stars – although awarding them a race at Iowa was a great idea, and it’ll definitely be one of the better races of the year for that division.
Did You Notice? … Two more things on the 2009 Cup schedule: no race date for Kentucky Speedway despite rumors to the contrary. What are the chances Bruton Smith still remains in control of that facility? I’d have to say they’re getting lower by the day … and while Martinsville kept its two race dates this year, expect 2009 to be the final season that track will keep its current place on the schedule. With Kansas Speedway on the verge of building an ISC-sponsored casino, the short track’s all but assured to drop from two dates to one in 2010 to compensate for a second date in the Midwest – and with Las Vegas and the aforementioned Kentucky in the mix, there’s no question small town Virginia stands out as the most vulnerable facility right now.
Did You Notice? … Denny Hamlin has a clear pattern of never being afraid to call out his crew – or other drivers — when things aren’t going his way. Sunday’s frustration was just the latest incident in the last eighteen months in which Hamlin’s comments have been directed squarely at the people who prepare his race car. But calling the crew out is always a double-edged sword; if you’re the person preparing that vehicle, how hard would you work if your driver is busy throwing you under the bus on national television? It’s a fine line to follow … and while you love the injection of personality Hamlin brings to the series, you wonder how many more times he can whine to the media before his crew begins to turn against him.
Did You Notice? … That every year, Jamie McMurray goes through a short stretch at Roush where you think he’s on the verge of making some noise with the No. 26 car. Then, just when he’s got you fooled, he turns around and slumps all over again. With three Top 10 finishes in his last four races, McMurray’s up to 18th in points – just one spot below where he finished 2007 with this team. But in his third full season at the helm of that car, you’ve got to wonder if it’s too little, too late …
Did You Notice? … The clear separation between Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, and the rest of the field? Tony Stewart still seems in perfect position to play Chase spoiler, but other than that it’s hard to argue a case for any of the other eight drivers to challenge for the title. Among the ones looking completely lost right now: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Burton, and Jeff Gordon. And doesn’t Gordon’s recent slide eerily represent what happened in 2005, when he fell like a rock during the summer and missed the Chase? It’s hard to imagine it happening three years later with the cushion he’d built up in the standings … entering Indy, Gordon was nearly 200 points ahead of 13th place. But then again, it was hard to imagine Gordon dropping out when he was second in points ten races into the ’05 Cup season… and it happened anyways. I can tell you this much: what’s got to be troubling for Steve LeTarte is that the last collapse coincided with Robbie Loomis getting the ax and him getting the job as crew chief. Could the same thing happen to him three years later?
Did You Notice? … At Michigan, how badly was Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car was handling before it hit the wall? If that team didn’t have the track position, it was hardly a Top 10 car by the ¾ point of the race. You wonder how the relationship with Tony Eury, Jr. is working behind the scenes; and as we mentioned last week, Junior’s already in that phase where he’s acting as depressed as his buddy Matt Kenseth. This is definitely the worst the No. 88 has looked all year.
Did You Notice? … That the U.S. Army – another former full-time sponsor – is likely reduced to part-time status in 2009 due to their inability to keep up with rising costs. What was once a decent sponsorship for a mid-level team – around $8 – $10 million – now isn’t enough to get you through more than a third of a season on Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 99. With organizations like Chip Ganassi Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, and others looking for funding, that inevitable question remains – where are they going to find those companies to sign on the dotted line? And why the heck did AFLAC sign a deal for $26 million if they were going to sell off inventory anyways? That just doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re going to pony up for 18 races, pony up for 18 races … not 36.
Did You Notice? … That with Michael McDowell’s “temporary” removal from the No. 00 Toyota, there’s just one rookie guaranteed to finish out the season – Sam Hornish, Jr. in the No. 77 Dodge. And in February of 2009, he’s looking like the only pledged candidate left who’ll be sitting in the driver’s seat. Patrick Carpentier is still awaiting word on renewal of his contract from Gillett Evernham Motorsports, and there’s no news on sponsorship that’s needed for Regan Smith to continue on with DEI. So, it’s all up to Hornish. If he changes his tune and decides to bolt back to the IRL at the end of this year, that could mean none of the candidates will return for a full-time sophomore season (Aric Almirola is signed to drive the No. 8, but remember, he isn’t competing for the award).
Wondering when the last time was so many rookies’ careers went so far south? You’d have to go back to 1992, when none of the candidates (including ROTY Jimmy Hensley) started the following season with a full-time ride. Only Hensley ended up surviving, taking over the No. 7 car for part of 1993 following the death of Alan Kulwicki.
And even if some of the current rookies survive the cut and make it into 2009, one thing is clear at this point: the open-wheel experiment is officially over.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
If NASCAR is serious about getting back some of the longtime fans they’ve chased away, losing a race at Martinsville for Kansas would not be a great way to do it.
Kansas for Martinsville? Are you kidding? That would be TV suicide! I guess I’ll have another sunday to watch 45 minutes of racing and 3 hours of napping! Dummies
Get rid of the Chase. Get rid of the COT.
Or, basically, undo everything jackass Brian France has done.
You sound as though you think there is the slightest chance NASCAR cares what you think . They don’t . They will turn Martinsville into another North Wilkesboro in the twinkling of an eye if they smell a way to make money ie; a casino . Its easy to see why Bill France shipped his son off to California to keep him away from NASCAR all those years .
The day Martinsville loses a race will be the day I officially dump NASCAR “Winston/Nextel/ Sprint/Whatever” Cup completely. Between the “Chase,” “chasing” out veterans in favor of no-name kids, cookie cutter tracks, and television coverage that only showcases certain drivers, NASCAR has killed my interest. Thank God for the truck series… SERIOUSLY? CUT A MARTINSVILLE DATE FOR KANSAS? YOU WOULD FIGURE THAT IN THE LONG RUN AN ACTUAL GOOD RACE WOULD BRING IN MORE REVENUE FROM VIEWERSHIP AND SPONSORS THAN A @#$% CASINO!!!
Tom, why does your site have a constant stick in its butt regarding California? I dont see any other racetrack constantly being degraded and humiliated like California does on this website. Not even Michigan, which is practically the same track, gets slammed for having bad racing. This track had had a target on its back ever since NASCAR took away Darlington’s and Rockingham’s dates and put California in their place. I dont blame you for hating California based on the number of stupid liberals and stupid laws, but the racetrack bashing is just rediculous. Will we starting seeing Atlanta bashing now that they have the Labor Day weekend? I doubt it, considering Atlanta is a “Southern” track.
Second, regarding the off week before the Chase, how do you propose that happens? If you back up 10 weeks before Thanksgiving, you end up at Labor Day. So you want to have the Labor Day race, and then an off week, and then the Chase? Where are you going to put Richmond? Between Chicago and Indy? Or push every date from Indy to Bristol back a week and put Richmond in before Labor Day?
Losing Martinsville would be a travesty on the level of losing Darlington. There are only six short-track races left on the schedule. We dont need another “cookie-cutter” race on the schedule, we need to keep the short-tracks! I’d be in favor of California giving up a date to Iowa, but remember there are only 6 races here in the West, while there are 15 in the South.
Wny didn’t Darlington get the September race back? Why so many of the newer, BORING, tracks in the Chase? Was Brainless Brian France the only kid to turn NASCAR over to? If this idiot was in charge of a public company, he would have been fired long ago!!! COT, luckydog, Chase, smaller fuel cells, higher ticket/food/collectables prices, young smart mouth punk drivers, boring race tracks and more, Thanks Brainless Brain, job well done, screwing-up NASCAR!!!
We should have known that you would jump in and defend California. No one is “bashing” the speedway. They are just stating facts. No one attends the races and the races are boring boring boring. Are you sure that you don’t work for the track?
If the track in question were any other track, they would have not gotten another chance after all of the problems that they have had.
While I’ve never seen a boring race at any track (how can you call 800+ horsepower roaring passed you at 200 MPH boring?), I am fine with people calling California boring AFTER each race in Feb and Sept. Not every race has a 3-wide race to the finish. But the constant slams and attacks for no good reason are pathetic. What facts are you stating? Atlanta had a bad race earlier this year and didnt sell out, but I didnt hear people saying Atlanta stinks and we need to stop going there. Indy was a debacle this year but I didnt hear people saying the racing there stinks and we need to stop going there. Michigan is almost the same track but the only complaints I hear are how its always a fuel mileage race. Michigan is fast, wide, and has several grooves, the same as California does, but Michigan never gets bashed for slow boring races. I can understand the hostility over losing Darlington at Labor Day, but that’s not the track’s fault, its NASCAR’s fault. The blame is misdirected.
No, I dont work for the track, but I go there quite often to race my car at the 1/4 mile dragstrip. I would love to race my car there on the infield road course too, but its quite a lot more money to do so.
Those tracks that you mention were just problems this year. They have had these problems with California from the year that it opened. Unfortunately, Brian France gets all starry-eyed about hobnobbing with the celebrities and will not consider dropping them from the schedule.
Not only does california SUCK, but it still comes after the Daytona 500 which totally KILLS the momentum of the start of the season.
And if nascar cares so much about “the show” then why did they kill the Southern 500 to go to California?
Certainly nascar showed they don’t care about tradition.
Please explain how California is a momentum killer, but having to change tires every 5 laps at Rockingham was exciting.
Texas had some problems at the beginning of its race in 1997, AND Bruton Smith took one of North Wilkesboro’s dates to give Texas a race. I dont hear any complaints about Texas like I do about California. You guys are just unhappy with California (the state) in general and will never be pleased. I can understand that, but dont take it out on the track. Direct your comments towards NASCAR. We’re just the messenger here, not the sender.
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