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 June 3, 2009
Did You Notice? … That at the end of a provocative, fantastic
The decision amounted to a brow-raising move from the NSCRC, especially considering the difficulties small teams are having even staying in business to begin with. But when Smith asked Long about the future of blue-collar, independent organizations like him, he got bluntly honest:
“They want somebody to come and start four teams,” Long theorized. “Or, maybe they’re just trying to weasel all of us out so they can franchise. I don’t know. I’m not a part of their kings of the round table.”
Ah, the “F” word. Not much has been written about franchising over the last 12 to 18 months, even though it’s been a hot topic since mid-2007 and continues to be heavily rumored throughout the Sprint Cup garage. And interestingly enough, from the very first time I’ve heard the franchising rumor, the key date NASCAR was targeting for making that move was at the end of the 2009 season.
Guess what year we’re in right now.
Of course, the merits of franchising have been hotly debated. For years, NASCAR has been the type of sport where any Joe Schmo with a dollar, a dream, and a driving background can get out on the track and make a name for himself. I think that’s why fans identify so strongly with Long’s story, because they feel like he’s one of them. For so long, that’s how NASCAR built its popularity, with people in the stands able to relate to men coming from their own blue-collar, hard-working roots.
But with franchising, that dream dies on the vine. Instead, the sport is taking a big risk in hoping the common fan continues to identify with the superteams led by Childress, Gibbs, Penske, and others who would buy into a system making them the equivalent of owners in the major stick ‘n’ ball sports – with guaranteed participation in the starting lineup. It’d be a collection of multi-car giants not unlike the system in Formula One, where millions in engineering, research, and personnel make the difference in who finishes of front just as much as the talent of the driver behind the wheel. Blue-collar underdogs would be replaced by white-collar privilege, million-dollar machines backing big-money drivers who’d always have all the tools they needed to be successful.
It’s a touch of irony, the concept of franchising, isn’t it? NASCAR, the sport’s world’s underdog story, would cleanse itself of any concept of underdog. To me, it’s the equivalent to competitive suicide; but more than ever, it looks inevitable. For if the powers that be wanted to implement such a system, there’s no better opportunity than right now. At the moment, the top 33 cars in the owner points are owned by just eleven men, with two of those programs “satellite” operations of super-owners Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush. In theory, at least two of those teams are planning to add another car for 2010 (Gibbs and Stewart-Haas), bringing the number of full-time cars owned by those eleven people to 36 (Scott Speed needs to be included here, as his Team Red Bull Toyota sits outside the top 35 in owner points).
That number’s just seven short of the 43 currently needed to fill the field each week. But who says NASCAR needs to stick with that number? If they could get 40 cars or even 38, that’d be plenty to set up a franchising system exclusive to the country club of owners we currently have. And for all the sport’s talk about parity, the CoT, and the rough economy leading to opportunities for others to launch into this business, 2009 has been an unmitigated disaster for any owner fielding less than two cars. None of the single-car operations are fully funded for all 36 events, and the dozen owners that started the season hoping to run full-time have been dwindled to less than half that amount. Those that remain are merely filling out the field, starting and parking for cash while giving NASCAR the opportunity to play good cop and franchise in order to “save the system from these freeloaders.”
Again, there’s no definitive word from anyone that franchising is on the horizon… yet. But Long has a very serious, provocative point; the way NASCAR’s setting up its method of doing business, the only way a new owner is going to be successful right now is to come in and start four teams. And if you’re a small-time guy looking to get your feet wet, why in the hell would you even attempt it if you knew one mistake could lead to a fine like this one? Of course, if NASCAR is heading in that direction it makes it easy to snuff out any and all underdogs and draw a clear delineation between who’s awarded a “franchise” and who is not.
And as we’ve all just discovered, it’s readily apparent Carl Long falls on the wrong side of that line.
In the meantime, for those interested in protesting the decision, there’s a petition circulating here. 50,000 signatures is the goal … last I checked, it already had almost 1,000 and the penalty is just hours old.
Did You Notice? … Who’s the winningest driver of the decade? Jimmie Johnson’s under-the-radar pursuit for four straight championships got me thinking about that on Monday, as his second win of the season had me wondering where the three-time champ stood overall on that list.
Well, turns out in a bit of a surprise it’s not Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart that’s leads in that category … it’s Johnson himself.
Check it out:
NASCAR Cup Series Wins Since 2000
Those stats tell us a couple of things. I think if there’s any doubt as to whether Johnson has surpassed Gordon as the No. 1 driver at Hendrick Motorsports, that list all but erases it. In a head-to-head breakdown, Johnson beats Gordon in wins, championships (three to one), and average points finish (2.5 to 5.2) this decade, leaving little for Gordon to fire back with as to who’s actually been the better driver. And when you look at the hard numbers in the win column — 42 to 33 — to me, that’s not even close. In fact, Johnson has at least twice as many wins as everyone else except for Gordon and Tony Stewart, making it even more amazing that the most dominant driver of the decade continues to be a shell of a marketing tool compared to the other two.
Another interesting comparison is the Busch brothers, both young and old. Yes, Kyle Busch has exploded onto the Sprint Cup scene as of late. But just because he’s a brasher, bolder version of his older brother doesn’t mean he’s that much better. Not only does Kurt have more wins than “Shrub,” he’s also got that 2004 Chase for the Championship trophy sitting on his mantle. And had Kurt chosen to stay with Roush Fenway Racing rather than drive the last four seasons in Penske equipment – admittedly a small step down – his victory total might be bumped up to 20 or 25. Yes, it’s true the younger brother will inevitably pass the old, but it’s not inconceivable to predict that Kurt will win another championship before his far more inconsistent brother wins his first.
And then … there’s the matter of one Dale Earnhardt, Jr. With 18 series wins, only four drivers have won more this decade than the beleaguered wheelman of the No. 88. It’s one of those brow-raising stat lines that show Earnhardt once did more than cling on to his famous name. In fact, as little as five years ago, he challenged for the season championship, won the Daytona 500, and rose to an almost God-like level in popularity. You may not like the fact NASCAR continues to kow-tow to Junior as its most marketable tool; but lists like this one remind you why they at least have a reason to try.
However, this note both starts and ends with the man who always wins on the race track but not with the hearts of the fans. With Johnson creating a dominating lead in this category, it’s hard to argue with an assessment that labels him the driver of the decade by a longshot – which makes it the biggest shame of all that he continues to draw only lukewarm interest. Successes like these should be a good thing, not a bad thing for any sport; instead, Johnson’s been lumped with the type of growth and progress hardcore fans love to hate.
And at this point, that’s never going to change.
Did You Notice? … For fans wondering about why Dover attendance was declining, I’ve got another iron to throw onto the fire: Security. For years, the track has had a reputation of having some of the most stingy, argumentative parking attendants with cops and others so bent on enforcing the rules they’ll go out of their way to make fan’s lives a living hell.
Let me share my own personal common sense experience as an example. On Sunday morning, I needed to get through the back entrance of the speedway in order to access the parking lot for the media. Considering the logjam that is Dover traffic – cars often sit for hours to get into the front entrance – fans that access the back roads to enter the speedway from behind the track often do themselves a huge favor. They’ll either park inside the speedway or in a lot adjacent to the track, paying a small fee but saving them a huge headache once the Cup race is over.
For me, I’ve always gone over the bridge and parked behind the speedway, as the media lot is always right next to the track. But as I prepared to make my turn, much to my chagrin … that back entrance was closed. I stopped and tried to talk to the police, who rudely told me I’d have to go around the front entrance of the speedway in order to access my lot. While they were doing so, cops were pulling cones out of the way for other, track-related vehicles to cross the bridge and get to where they needed to go. It would have been easy for me to make my turn – but the cops stood their ground.
In the end, I and several others in the same boat were left with only two options. We could A) Pay for parking and walk the mile to the track or B) Turn around and go to the front entrance, where the wait to enter and get to the lot would be between an hour to an hour and a half. Since B wasn’t a viable option – after all, there’s a job to do and you can’t waste time – I was forced to pay for parking and walk.
Now, that’s not a big deal – heck, I needed the exercise – but it’s the principle of the thing that bothered me. The traffic flow made no sense, as you’re forcing all the cars to siphon through just one small entrance when you’ve got several different ways to enter the speedway. That causes fans to be further inconvenienced; and no matter how good or bad the racing is, if you wait in line for hours to simply park your car you’re not going to go back to Dover, are you?
If anyone else had some horrific experiences from Dover, please share them below. I hear from fans a lot, and the more you get those comments out in public the more the track is likely to listen up and make the changes they need. Because after all, if you don’t pay, then those mighty CEOs can’t play… and judging by the crowd this weekend, there’s plenty of folks who have simply had enough.
Did You Notice? … In the wake of GM’s bankruptcy filing — in which the manufacturer reaffirmed its support of NASCAR — we heard the same types of comments from Dodge, almost to a T. Rewind to the end of April, and you get the following statement from Chrysler’s Director of Brand Marketing:
“NASCAR is a strategic part of our marketing plan and the Dodge brand. We plan to continue our Dodge sponsorship and relationship into the foreseeable future.”
Now, two months later we hear a federal court is both restricting the amount of money Chrysler can use to market, as well as team owners complaining they’re no longer being paid support money due from the manufacturer for about the last two months.
So with that pattern already established, tell me, please … why would GM be any different? How is it going to avoid this same type of scenario? Especially with the government – directing their attention towards more modern, fuel efficient cars that are exactly the opposite of what NASCAR represents – owning 60 percent of the company?
Houston, Houston, Houston! We’ve got some serious, serious problems … and not even Danica and double-file restarts can solve them.
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In my opinion, Nascar is 99.9% franchised already, at least in practice. Take out Keselowski’s win for James Finch at the restrictor-plate crapshoot in Talledega, and Reutimann’s pit-strategy win at Charlotte for Michael Waltrip, and the only other wins over the last two seasons by teams not affiliated with Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, and Penske are two by Kasey Kahne last year. I certainly don’t endorsing franchising, I’m just being realistic. Franschising is coming. Besides, huge franchise fees means more money for Nascar, and we all know how giddy that makes Brian France.
I accidently left Childress out in my above comment about wins by drivers for major teams. Should read “…by teams not affiliated with Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, Childress, and Penske…”
Oh Tom , how can such a tragedy ever be made up to you . To think that a superstar media person like yourself should be forced to endure what every single fan always has to endure , well… its just unthinkable . I’m still sobbing over the injustice of it . How can Carl Long have the nerve to complain about his tiny problem when you are the one who had to cope singlhandedly with a true travesty of justice .
You know i’m curious about the constant shilling you do for Johnson . What are you trying to tell us . That because Johnson isn’t very popular the majority of fans are just stupid ? My take on the Johnson story is that the car has far more to do with his wins than he does . And the same case could easily be made for Jeff Gordon’s wins .
I had hoped that somewhere in NA$CAR officialdom there was a shred of sanity. Alas, that seems not to be. NA$CAR worships money. They won’t come down very hard on the stars, from the mega buck teams. After all they put butts in the seats, albeit not as many as previously. They won’t risk alienating a major sponsor. Just how to get their message across. Stomp on the little guys. They don’t have a herd of Cash Cows, following them, no sponsors big enough to matter. NA$CAR seems to be operating just like the school yard bully. Damn, I so want Jeremy to win his suit, take enough of their $$, so he can set up a nice ARCA, or ASA,(does ASA, even exist anymore?) operation, for as long as he wants to be in racing.
Wow want to talk about a parking mess and traffic try to go to Pocono sometime and get in and out of there!!!
Don’t ever park by the Drag strip when going to a cup race at Bristol. 3 Hour Wait to get to US 11
6hrs to get from MIS to my home which is an 1 1\2 away. What a mess. I will allways camp from now on.
Nas$car seems to be dead set on alienating their core fan base. The empty seats at Dover spoke volumes. The shoddy way they treated Carl Long was insidious. As far as franchising goes, it’s already there. I used to love this sport. It really hurts me to watch it self destruct. I read where more than a few fans were so disgusted with the Carl Long fianco that were finally at the pint where they were washing their hands of nas$car. All I can say is, what a shame.
I love this ship. What a beautiful, unsinkable, piece of work this Titanic is. But wait, why am I standing in water while I’m trying to listen to the wonderful music?
I went to many races during the eighties and nineties but I will never spend another dime on anything NA$CRAP related as long as that little drunk Brian is running the show (into the ground).
I appreciated the section about Jimmie. It’s not like this was simply your opinion. Facts are facts and statistics tell the truth of your piece even if some don’t want to admit it.
DOVER SUCKS! They have been treating fans like crap since the early 80’s. One time a friend of mine was standing off the first turn and the security told us to move behind the line, we complied and then they kept telling us to keep moving back until we were under the stands and couldn’t see the race anymore. when we protested how they were treating us they kicked us out of the race. we were so pissed we didn’t care. Then as we’re walking back to the van a guy starts following us. We can hear him radio about a possible auto break in. He asks us for proof that it“s our van. My friend gets his keys out and opens the door. HOW’S THAT ASSHOLE! then he left with his gay vest between his legs. As I said Dover Sucks!
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Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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