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.
|Car #||Driver||Free Passes Used||Number Of Races Used|
|88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||6||4|
|77||Sam Hornish, Jr.||2||2|
Note: 17 drivers tied with 1.
Those numbers for Earnhardt are staggering, not just in total number of passes but races used. He has needed help to maintain a lead lap finish in all but one race this season, and that was at California … a track that left his Chevy sitting in the garage with engine failure. At the other four races, Earnhardt has struggled to move up significantly after getting back on the lead lap. Take Atlanta, for example. Two Free Passes kept Earnhardt hanging on as the last lead lap runner in 11th, competing in a car that was running at or near the back of the pack following every restart. Without Earnhardt using the free pass twice that weekend, you’re looking at him dropping another 8-10 spots in the final results.
Both driver and team faced a similar story at Las Vegas and Bristol. Vegas was Junior’s best performance; he charged to 10th after getting his lap back during the fifth caution period on lap 96. At Thunder Valley, he was about a top 15 car the entire race, using the Lucky Dog twice and winding up 14th, ahead of only Carl Edwards and A.J. Allmendinger on the lead lap.
You get the picture by this point; Junior’s needed help to get put in position to finish even as high as he has. And whatever you think the problem is, the facts speak volumes for a four car Hendrick organization that prides itself on a top 5 finish being a disappointment. Junior hasn’t even had one of those since Martinsville last Fall, where he wound up second to Jimmie Johnson; and at this point, it’s been over eight months since he was the top-performing HMS car in a race (Coke Zero 400 – July 2008).
Did You Notice? … Kyle Busch seems to be distancing himself from comparisons to the Intimidator these days? His whole tirade in the Nationwide Series Saturday reminded me of a race in the Fall of 2000 at Talladega, the site of Dale Earnhardt’s last career win. That was one of the most ridiculous finishes to a race I’ve ever seen, one where Earnhardt came from 18th to 1st in just four laps in order to take the checkered flag.
I thought of that because of the circumstances surrounding the win. If Earnhardt didn’t take tires under the race’s final caution on lap 167, he probably would have been up front and needn’t have had to worry about working through the pack. With that in mind, what if Earnhardt’s comeback just didn’t work out? What if he finished 5th and couldn’t make it all the way back to the front (remember, he was also in championship contention at the time, trying to catch Bobby Labonte on top of the Cup Series standings)? Would he have gotten out of his car, screamed at his crew chief, and blamed his team for putting him back in traffic?
Honestly, I just don’t think that would ever happen. For as much of a villain as Earnhardt could be on the race track, I just never remember him publicly chastising the hand that fed him. Sure, NASCAR would get a bunch of expletives every once in awhile if things didn’t go his way … but car owner Richard Childress? Or crew chiefs Larry McReynolds, Andy Petree, Kirk Shelmerdine, and the like? Rare was the day the Intimidator would intimidate the men who helped make his car go fast.
And that’s what I think puts Kyle in a different type of category. Sure, his pit crew messed up in what amounted to a big mistake in Saturday’s race. Without it, Busch would have very well come through with a weekend sweep. But screaming, “YOU SUCK!” to your pit crew on the scanner after that tire penalty? Really?
Rivalries amongst drivers play out really well amongst this fan base. We want to see Montoya and Harvick go at it, Stewart and Kurt Busch trade barbs … it’s what helps humanize the sport in an age of political correctness. Even a driver versus NASCAR feud plays out well, often taking on a good vs. evil mentality. But a driver going against his own team? Fans usually look at that one and scoff in disgust.
Looking up at what I just wrote, there’s a little touch of irony going on in NASCAR right now. Its most popular driver is struggling to remain successful, while its most successful driver also remains one of its least popular. And people say this sport is scripted … NASCAR wishes the whole thing was scripted right about now.
Did You Notice? … That despite a multitude of side-by-side action at Bristol, there were just 13 lead changes, and five under green flag conditions. Since the track was repaved in mid-2007, the track is averaging just 11.5 lead changes per race, down from an average of 15 in the races held earlier this decade (2000-07).
That’s part of the reason a lot of fans just can’t warm up to the new Bristol; there’s a heck of a lot of passing, but none of it ever seems to occur up front. While that was a problem which began here before both the Car of Tomorrow and the repave, the fact remains that it’s harder than ever to pass for the lead at Bristol.
Now, there are plenty of people who defend the new style of racing in Thunder Valley… but the trend seems to steer towards plenty more who dislike it. As for me? I’ve gone from a one-time staunch defender to someone who misses the old racing after all. I think every track has something which defines their character; and for Bristol, it was the beating, the banging, and yes … the wrecks. And that’s not because the fans loved the carnage … they loved the emotion that came with it. Bristol used to be the one place in this politically correct world where true feelings amongst drivers shined through. Now … everyone gets to leave with a smile on their face and a three-sentence sponsor mention for the cameras.
Yeah, I hear those track supporters loud and clear: the side-by-side racing throughout the pack is great. But as I said on a radio show Monday night, the type of action we see now there is the type fans would like to see at a Charlotte, a Michigan … one of these 1.5-mile or 2-mile cookie cutters that often turn into single file parades.
At the old Bristol, it was all about pushing and shoving someone to get your way – the one place where single-file was not only acceptable, it was a necessity in order to get around the track in one piece. Not having a second groove there was a testament to how aggressively you had to drive it just to stay in control. Now… it all just seems so tame.
Did You Notice? … That in the wake of Yates Racing closing the No. 28, the No. 8 car over at DEI could be the next legendary car number to bite the dust? If Aric Almirola doesn’t step it up within the next two weeks, that car will either suspend operations or be turned over to another driver with sponsorship (J.J. Yeley has been rumored, but I have yet to get that confirmed).
That means, in the matter of just six months we’ll have lost the numbers 8, 21, and 28 from full-time competition, along with an ownership change at the 43 which will never leave that car quite the same. Where has all the history gone? It’s a double-edged sword around the sport these days … both NASCAR’s past and future are disappearing at exactly the same time. And that’s one heck of a sucky situation for the present day.
Don’t forget about Tom Bowles and Matt Taliaferro’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! Of course, if all else fails, you can always listen to us on iTunes for FREE! Search for our weekly show under “Athlon.”
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This year I sold both my season tickets to Bristol after 8 years. Last year I left the night race with 100 laps to go. I won’t be renewing them for next year. The reason I loved Bristol was the intensity of the racing there. Now, it’s like a
race at MIS with traffic. What used to be the most intese competition other than the plate tracks has become ordinary. The change began with the ‘playoff’, when drivers got more worried about protecting their place in the top 12 than anything else. What once made racing at Bristol unique is no longer there. I’m tired of being accused of wanting to see wrecks more than racing. I want to see intensity, and that no longer happens at Bristol. Nascar has managed to make even the racing at Bristol cookie cutter and bland.
Kyle tells his crew they suck, which they did, and he’s rude? Jr. drops the f bomb every other word and it’s entertaining? Another comparision of double standards for you. The crew did lose that race for them and they deserved to shove the car off the track. I’ve seen Kyle stomp away when he was the one that screwed up and lost a race too so that’s just his losers mind set. NO ONE will be the Intiminator, but Kyle’s driving style sure does give me some flashbacks to the Days of Dale and I’m enjoying that.
Why do drivers keep their emotions so tightly in check?
Fan and media hypocrisy — as exemplified by your bashing of Kyle Busch for having the audacity to first get mad at having a win taken from him and actually daring to direct his anger at the responsible party then you turn around in the fourth paragraph after that complaining that drivers don’t get mad.
Not to mention that Hendrick’s highly-profitable t-shirt salesman has long been known for the vicious tirades he unleashes against his crew chief and team when the car isn’t to his liking.
But that’s different, right?
Re the Poll: All the people that voted that Kyle is absolutely NOT like Earnhardt must be all the ones that turned Dale into St. Dale after he died because if they knew anything about the young, brash, hungry Dale and were fans of “racing”, they would see the similarities. Sorry guys, but Kyle brings back a lot more memories of Dales driving than anyone else in NASCAR right now. People yell “no emotion!: and they gripe and moan when the one guy in NASCAR does show emotion.
As a 50 year attendee, watcher, fan of what is now nascrap, I can not believe the people who would defend a punk like kyle!! Yes, he is a good, possibly great driver, but he is a sorry excuse for a human being. His father did a sorry job of raising him! His problem? He has no respect for ANYONE! He is a spoiled brat and pouts and screams when he doesn’t get his way! Oh,wait! I guess he reminds you of your kids!! Now I understand.
I have a different spin on the question of “Why do drivers keep their emotions so tightly in check?”
While fans may love controversy and the media may harp on it, as a rule it is a distraction from the business at hand – running well and winning races. I am sure there are a handful of drivers that may be able to use controversy as a positive factor to increase their resolve in any given week but that is the exception not the rule. In the long run controversy is a distraction.
What you did not mention about Dale Jr’s lucky dogs was how hard and well he had to race to stay in position for those lucky dogs!
Sorry guys, but Kyle Busch is nothing like Dale Earnhardt. Dale worked his way up and that is what created his desire. It started as a desire to put food on the table. Kyle Busch came up with a silver spoon in his mouth. There is no comparing them. If you want a driver who is like Dale on the track, Tony Stewart is much more like Dale. He has worked his way up and earned the respect he has.
As one who attended his first NASCAR race in 1957, I qualify as a 50+ year attendee of NASCAR. I am a fan of Kyle Busch. He is the driver that is putting some fire and excitement in NASCAR these days. He does many good charitable works, helps work on his cars on occasion, gave $100,000 to an older driver now in unfortunate circumstances, frequently drops by the raceshop and takes the crew out to eat, and drives the 51 truck for free, just because he enjoys racing.
I also don’t get the accusation that he is where he is because he was born with the proverbial “silver spoon”.
I may now be 72 years young, but I appreciate a really talented driver with a little fire in his belly.
Dale Sr. did NOT race to put food on the table. He raced to pay for his play. If it was the money he was after, the local factory would have paid better earlier.
That was a perfect example of Missu3’ contention that fans turn him into ST. Dale.
And…No Kyle is not like the SR., but the results sure look alike
Judy, that’s classic! What a spin doctor you are. LOL
What the anti-KB people need to realize is that we know Kyle is a spoiled brat when things arent going his way. What the comparisons to Dale Sr. are trying to say is that Kyle drives like Dale ON THE RACETRACK. Not that Kyle acts like Dale. Somebody needs to be compared to Dale Sr, because neither of his sons are doing it.
And I’m not a Kyle Busch fan, I just appreciate his driving style and his checkers or wreckers attitude on the track.
One last thing for the Kyle haters: How did you feel about him BEFORE he spun out your boy Dale Jr at Richmond? All this hate started once he did that and made himself a household name. LOL
Mik, I disagree with you completely. You tell me you would pick factory work over racing? Dale still raced to put food on the table. Kyle never had to. I do not even see why it is needed to compare anyone to Dale Sr. Now Kevin I am not a member of Jr. Nation. I could not stand Kyle Busch when he drove for Hendrick. It has nothing to do with the Richmond wreck, even though it was 100% Busch’s fault. He had the same lousy attitude when he drove for Hendrick. He is not just a spoiled brat when things do not go his way. He is a spoiled brat even when they do. Remember how he complained after he won Bristol 2 years ago when driving for Hendrick? That type of thing is why he does not drive for Hendrick anymore.
Earnhardt Senior fans need to get over themselves. Many of them didn’t know who he was until he unfortunately got killed at Daytona. Only then did he become Saint Dale in their eyes. He did a lot of rough driving in his time, too.
Those folks don’t want to hear it, but Kyle Busch (and I’m not a real fan of either of them but respect them both) is very probably better now—early in his career—than DE was at his best. DE isn’t a Saint and never was. He & KB are a lot alike—drivers getting the job done the best they know how.
Those who canonized DE need to get on with their lives—he isn’t coming back.
I have little interest in any driver’s life once the checkered flag flies.
On the racetrack is where they “talk”; they’re hired guns to win races and championships.
All the rest is secondary.
Kevin, Let the record show that I am NOT a Jr. fan. I feel he is over-rated as a driver, but I would rather have one like him than 20 like kyle!!
Say what you will about KB, the boy can drive the inside lane, the outside lane, pass with a car that can’t pass and can get 3 wide all by himself. He is fun to watch. But I would love to see his pit crew take 2 tires off and walk away with it on the jack just once. As for Jr. He is just a younger Kyle Petty, mid-field filler with a famous name.
jaymat, your an idiot, plain and simple…
DE took below average equipment in his early days, and was sucessful. He played by the rules that applied during his time. Kyle the wonderful has been driving top notch equipment from day one in nascar. What has he had to overcome?
Tell you what people. I was one of the biggest Dale Earnhardt fans of all times. When he died, my love for racing died. But leave the term Saint to those who love the Lord so much they will lay their life down for their fellow man. Not a sports hero. Dale was a man’s man, and probably a womans dream, but not a Saint. He could outdrive anybody, took no prisoners, and gave no quarters. And he would lay it on the line to Bill France. The major difference in Busch and Dale Earnhardt is that no one cares what he has to say. He has not amassed 7 championships. He may one day, but he is not the elder statesman of NASCAR. Period.
When I say “Saint Dale,” I’m referring to all those folks who have those little 3 decals with halos in their windows. They’re the misguided folks who made him into Saint Dale; so, in essence, I agree w/ Marc.
As for my being an idiot (re. Pcarp), two things: First, KB overcomes 42 other drivers with regularlity. Second, at least I know how to spell “you’re” and punctuate and capitalize. Get thee to a dictionary—or a mirror—before you call someone else an idiot, lest there be guilt by association.
I have to laugh when people talk about Kyle Busch only winning because he has top equipment.
No other driver can get any speed out of those chronically underfunded, far-down-the-Toyota-totem-pole, Billy Ballew trucks. On a week that Kyle isn’t in the seat they’re mid-pack trucks. Put Kyle in and the same stuff is up front and hard to beat.
Too bad about that burst bubble there.
Kyle Busch in a truck. Wow-Wee. Out there with a bunch of has beens and never was.
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