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!
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 February 25, 2009
Did You Notice?… The latest way in which NASCAR’s “locked in” qualifying rule has spiraled out of control? For the past year plus, MSRP Motorsports has existed in the Nationwide Series for seemingly one goal – to make money. Each week, the team owned by Phil Parsons’ wife, Marcia, and Randy Humphrey trots out two unsponsored Chevrolets, hoping to simply qualify within the field of 43. It’s their only big hurdle to clear each weekend – not so they can compete, but so they can gain the opportunity to park their cars before they’d need to make an actual pit stop. Doing that pockets them as much cash as possible while avoiding costs like a real pit crew, extra sets of tires, etc. In 63 career starts in the series, the team’s No. 90 and No. 91 cars have been running at the finish a total of zero times. That’s right … zero. I don’t care how many times you tell me just qualifying is enough to court sponsors; a record of 0-for-63 isn’t going to get anyone to sign on the dotted line. That’s the biggest bunch of baloney I’ve ever heard.
So, what’s the reward for this team’s open admission they don’t come to the track to compete? Why, a free starting spot in every race for the next few weeks! With JR Motorsports’ No. 5 car running a limited schedule this year, beginning at California a “locked in” position in the starting lineup was transferred over to the No. 90 of MSRP. Johnny Chapman promptly used that provisional to make the field – knocking out a guy in Scott Wimmer who would have run the full race – then promptly parked the MSRP car after 10 laps due to “ignition” problems. At stake was a total of $28,808 in prize money, very important to a car owner in Humphrey, who – as we’ve previously documented in past columns – publicly acknowledges his desire to keep from racing if at all possible.
There’s so much wrong with this picture, I don’t even know where to begin. First off, allowing these shenanigans cancels out NASCAR’s initial claim for using the top 30/35 rule in the first place – that the old provisional system would allow cars to make the field that never intended to run a full race. Secondly, the fact that one of the sport’s most beloved public figures – Truck Series announcer Phil Parsons – is openly involved with an organization mocking the basic principles of competition comes out as nothing short of embarrassing for the sport.
But here’s the best part of it all — the two have started a Cup team, the No. 66 Prism Motorsports Toyota. Yep, that’s the same car which “earned” the champion’s provisional at Daytona through Terry Labonte (despite being slow all during Speedweeks), then turned a total of one lap of practice from the Duels to the race before finishing on the lead lap in 24th. Last weekend, this team was up to its old tricks, pulling an early exit into the Cup garage with an unsponsored car and driver Dave Blaney. The reason for quitting the race after just lap 50? “Fuel pump” issues. But I’m sure Mr. Humphrey had no such concerns pumping gas into his own car after a 42nd place check for $82,335 landed on his doorstep.
Darrell Waltrip said recently that if a team qualifies for every race in Cup and collects last place purse money, that’s a tidy $3.4 million sum. With that amount of cash to play with, I can see why greed could trump honor in more than a few cases. There’s just only one problem with this whole picture … isn’t racing supposed to be a sport, not a business? I’m sure 80,000 fans don’t come to the track each weekend to see a car run in circles real slow and park it after just five laps. The tickets are expensive enough – let’s spare them the travesty and find some type of solution so this ridiculous behavior gets stopped.
Did You Notice?… This year at California, there were 19 lead changes amongst 11 drivers … a total nearly double the 9 lead changes we experienced in the Great American Race?
Do you realize that if you didn’t see both events, you’d actually believe the racing out in California was better than 500 miles of restrictor plate competition at one of NASCAR’s most legendary tracks? I initially thought this year’s edition of Daytona just wasn’t as bad as people were making it out to be … but the more I distance myself from it, the more I comprehend just what was making people upset after all.
Did You Notice?… One of the “Big Four” giants has gotten off to a terrible start following Kevin Harvick’s win in the Bud Shootout? For years, the weakness of Richard Childress Racing has been intermediate tracks 1.5 to 2 miles in length. But Sunday’s sorry performances were well below the norm … even for them. Kevin Harvick was the only one of RCR’s four drivers consistently running in the top 15, and his night went up in smoke after his car blew its engine – marking the No. 29 car’s first DNF since Dover in September, 2006.
Two races in, it’s always hard to draw any type of serious conclusions; but in particular, the performances of both Jeff Burton and Casey Mears are particularly troubling for this group. Burton looked like his car had the speed of the bulldozer painted on the side of its No. 31 at California, finishing a disastrous three laps down in 32nd place. Among those cars finishing in front of him: the underfunded No. 34 of John Andretti, whose Front Row Motorsports car didn’t even qualify for but a handful of races during 2008. Add in a hard crash at Daytona to the mix, and Burton finds himself just 31st in the season standings – second-lowest of any team that made the Chase last year (Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is 35th). His new teammate hasn’t done much better, with Mears 21st in points and without anything substantial yet to justify being signed off the scrap heap of Hendrick Motorsports.
Who’s the lone exception to RCR’s slow start? Clint Bowyer – the man moved unceremoniously to a new fourth team in the stable – is sitting a solid seventh in the standings. Interesting how the man who was seemingly pushed aside is overachieving with a car that didn’t exist twelve months ago.
Did You Notice?… That California has become so sick and tiring to talk about, I think we need to forget about this place for a few months and just move on. A few odds ‘n’ ends to clean up, though:
Did You Notice?… How much difference a pit crew makes to the success or failure of a race team? With Drew Blickensderfer taking the helm of the No. 17, the “Killer B’s” have been at the top of their game — yet another reason why their talented crew chief is the hottest head wrench on the circuit. At California, the B’s produced a net gain of 10 spots for their driver on pit road, including putting him out front when it counted the most – following the race’s final caution on Lap 213.
Now, compare that with Kenseth’s teammate, Greg Biffle, who had perhaps the fastest car but a crew that lost him a total of 13 spots on pit road. Of course, their biggest mistake was nothing but the driver’s fault, with Biffle coming in too hot and sliding over the air hose as he made his final stop. Had the team at least held serve on their final stop, it could have very well been the No. 16 in Victory Lane instead on Sunday night.
Just goes to show you how this is a team sport more than ever before these days.
Don’t forget about Tom and Matt’s Athlon / Frontstretch Podcast, sponsored this season by Wrigley’s! Check out the archive by clicking here and look for the newest edition to head your way sometime later this week! And if all else fails, you can always listen to us on iTunes for FREE! Search for us under “Athlon”.
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I totally agree with you on MSRP. Those guys, and all the the other start-and-parkers are nothing but a bunch of lowlifes who steal starting spots from teams who legitimately want to compete. I can’t believe NASCAR still has not seen through the deceit and do the right thing of banning them from entering any more races.
Remember, this is America, supposedly the land of the free. There’s nothing in the rules that says a race car must run all the laps. Yes they’re taking advantage of the rules, and it stinks, but its still their priviledge to do so until NASCAR changes the rules. If Scott Wimmer wants to run the race, he needs to be faster than the guys he is qualifying against.
Tom , you might want to check the RCR teams . Maybe they are using the “ start and park “ . Your feigned outrage over something you know very little about brings up an obvious question . I noticed you think the reasons for the Parsons team falling out of races were bogus . Then tell us please what reasons are going to be allowed in your NASCAR utopia . And who shall we choose to police the garage area and investigate to see if these cars really do have the problems they claim to have .
All they need to do to stop start and park opportunists is to prorate the prize money. If you make it to the halfway point then you get the full prize, if not your money is prorated based on the number of laps you’ve run. That would solve this problem.
While I think that the Top 35 nonsense is completely bogus — a drastic over-reaction to an incident where a couple sponsored-but-lousy teams who deserved to miss the field <gasp> missed the field — I have little sympathy for the teams who are knocked out by the start and parkers.
If you can’t outrun a start and park team you don’t deserve to be in the race because you’ll be nothing but a moving chicane multiple laps down.
Anyone want to pool their cash with me and start a NASCAR team? I mean, for a half mill or so we could buy a car and get it to run just fast enough to pocket 3.4 Mill, that’s a hefty return on investment! But I’m guessing we won’t get to put Frontstrech.com on the hood ;)
I agree that start and park teams are a disgrace to the sport, but there isn’t a whole lot that can be done under the current system. I feel bad for Wimmer not making the race last week, but under Nascar’s top 30/35 rules someone is always bound to get screwed.
As long as Nascar keeps the status quo, teams will abuse the system, and honestly they are only doing what is allowed.
Is it bad for the sport to start and park, yes; was it bad for the sport to prop up fading past champions with unlimited provisionals, yes; and is it bad to allow owners point transfers, yes.
I think Nascar has to revisit their qualifying and point systems. Obviously nascar has done something right to last for 60 plus years, but at the time I think a big reason for declining ratings and the growth of the sport plateuing is the perceived notion that so much of this sport can be manipulated and rules were made to be bent, it not broken.
I wish nascar would just franchise teams already. If that means there would only be 11-12 owners and prevent new blood coming into the sport, then so be it. We are heading to there being only 10-12 teams left anyway, and who was the last competitive start up? Granted MWR and Red Bull are new to the sport and to differing degrees successful, I think they would have bought exisiting teams to come in anyway if there had been a franchising system in place already. Red Bull’s deep pockets could have afforded it.
While it is nice to see guys like Mayfield, Nemecheck, and Baldwin back at the track will they ever realistically field a competitive team? Probabaly not.
You would think guys like Phil Parsons would have more respect for the sport than running a start and park.
Thats all I have to say about that
Ethics in any organization starts at the top. If it ain’t there, the minions run amok.
Put your money where your mouth is… field a team or two and knock the start and parkers out of the game!
Bowles… you’re a whiner without the essence… get lost! It takes absolutely zero courage to complain; that leaves you… where?
There’re two kinds of people in this world… those that appreciate what’s in front of them, and those that always find something to gripe about.
So, Bowles… step up to the plate, man up, and solve the problem!
The last time I checked, the “we need” list didn’t include whiney brats like you!
The competition is sport, but the fielding of a team is business, and the higher up in the big leagues you are, it is all business. Even high level short track racing has been a business for many teams for years! Kyle Petty stated not long ago that the ONLY reason Cup Owners have Nationwide Teams is for the MONEY.
Nobody likes the start and park teams, but I do like the idea that anyone who shows up to race has the opportunity to make the show. The top 35 rule obviously restricts that idea and I have a bigger problem with that than I do with the start and park teams. Of course when one of the start and park teams takes out an actual driver ala Gunselman it shows that maybe Nascar should be a little more strict in which drivers are allowed to race in their races, but ultimately if their car is fast enough to qualify for the show then they make the race regardless of their intention for the race. I tend to doubt that Dave Blaney is purposely starting and parking. Sometimes the lesser teams have lesser equipment.
It is both a sport and a business and like in any business there will be people who take advantage of loopholes in the system. Of course they should get rid of the top 35 rule, but they won’t. Can you imagine if Dale Jr is somehow outside of the top 35 after 5 races. Sure Hendrick is more than capable of providing him a car capable of qualifying and if anything it would probably make Nascar come up with an even more contrived format for qualifying in order to make sure the stars continue to have no fear of not making races.
Hugh Laurie is English!
That was Hugh Laurie’s natural speaking voice. He was a fixture in British TV and films for years. His fake accent shows up when he is seen on House.
I remember reading an interview from ways back with one of the earlier NASCAR drivers. He was talking about the pride and honor, mostly pride, involved while one races. He talked about how battles were not just battles between cars, but between the drivers. No one “pulled over” for anyone and battling on lap 1 meant as much as battling on lap 100. You beat the other guy to show you’re better. Strong characters and strong wills made stock car racing the dirty, hard-nosed competition we all love. Granted this person was talking about “letting people by”, but if you’re gonna park anyway, you’re essentially letting everyone by…for good.
I think people nowadays are cut from something softer than my parents’, or especially my grandparents’ generation. I’ll admit I’m only 22 and am going off speculation and conversations with my grandparents, but it seems now if there’s an opportunity or a loophole in anything it gets abused. There’s no room for class or character.
I bet if you put someone like Cale Yarborough in a “start and park” car and it was “time to come in”, he’d probably stick around and see what he could get out of it. Either that or he wouldn’t hop in the car to begin with. I don’t know, I think it’s a bigger problem than a set of exploitable rules; It’s just how people are now. Granted, making a quick buck isn’t anything new, but doing it honorably doesn’t seem to matter.
I have to say that this start and park thing is a joke, The fastest 43 cars should race everyweek, I would like to see Gordon or Stewart or even JR go to there sponsors and tell them why they didn’t make it. The sport is called RACING not PARKING
I am an ex- racing employee and in my opinion the sport is messed up. There are over 700 people out of work because of Nascar, controlling what sponsors can and can’t come in the sport is a bunch of BS. There would be more sponsors and real teams in the garage that want to RACE if Nascar would allow them into the sport. They are doing what is best for them and there pockets and not what is best for the sport. This no testing crap just put more out of work and more money in the owners pocket. It really hurts the little teams. The new teams that are coming in do not do anything for the unemployed as they don’t have money to pay anyone except Nascar so they can can a few laps and then park it. So next time you watch a race look and see how many are out early mainly in Trucks and Nationwide Series the trucks are the worst over ten start and parks at Cali. they might as well start 26 trucks and 35 Nationwide cars. This is my opinion and my experience only.
It seems to me that honest folks just don’t get to run businesses.
Or is it that honest folks start businesses, but get a taste of the $$ and become dishonest because greed takes over?
How come you never hear of honest business owners, CEO’s etc. who are applauded for their sense of fairness and honesty…
Are there any like that out there somewhere?
Because whether it be Nascar, other corporations or the governments, I don’t think there is an honest man out there running any of them.
If Nascar got smart they
1st Offense-Fine against
2nd offense-same as 1st
3rd offense-no rights
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