Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday July 1, 2009
Did You Notice? … That for all the Joey Logano hype, not everyone is jumping on the bandwagon quite yet? Certainly, Sunday’s race was a bonified step in the right direction for establishing the 19-year-old as a national superstar. But while Logano shattered the record for being the youngest race winner in NASCAR history, what we’ve yet to see from him – and what I’m excited to see develop – is his personality. What we’re witnessing, folks, for better or for worse is a driver who could very well turn out to be the dominant Sprint Cup force over the next decade. And because of that, it’s critically important that a sport more and more people are referring to as “vanilla” gets its next superstar packaged with a little extra spice of personality.
That’s not to say Logano’s a bad kid, by any means. Eevrything that we’ve seen so far has been positive, from his refusal to get caught up completely in Kyle Busch’s “Bad Boy” antics to his heartfelt emotion towards his parents in Victory Lane Sunday night. But for this kid to really shine over the long-term, he needs to differentiate himself from the cookie-cutter, sponsor-spouting generic driver cutouts we’ve seen develop into superstars as of late. Instead, he’s got to have that little extra “something” people latch onto, a personality unique enough that fans gravitate to him the way they do the sport’s other superstars. That niceness needs to come complete with a full slate of emotional characteristics: frustration, excitement, charisma, aggression (at the right times, of course) … traits that will help him relate to people that may not even know what NASCAR is yet. If Logano is the future, he needs to be able to make those connections; those empty seats in the stands depend on it.
Of course, as an optimist I have faith that personality growth will come … although right now, I just don’t see it yet. Instead, I see a 19-year-old still adjusting to his surroundings, in shock he already has victory in the Cup Series and not quite at the confidence level yet where he’ll come out of his shell and be Joey Logano, not the Joey Logano he was programmed to be from an early age. There’s too much “say what I think I should say” and not “say what I really mean…” but maybe it’s just me. And hopefully, a year from now we’re talking about how he’s becoming one of the most popular drivers in the garage, with a marketability and talent level that’s capable of reaching heights seen only by the best of the best. Because after seeing the same ten drivers week in, week out, dominate the top of the standings for several years, it’s clear this sport is ready for a new contender to enter the fold.
Did You Notice? … Money can’t always buy you success? Paul Menard is in his third year in the Cup Series, on the strength of a multi-million dollar sponsorship that just happens to be connected to his dad. But as this season has painfully shown, he just doesn’t seem to have the basic talent capable of keeping him racing at NASCAR’s top level. Menard’s one of just two drivers (David Stremme is the other) to qualify for every race without scoring a top 10 finish this season – in his 17 starts, the best he could come up with is a pair of 13th place performances at Texas and Talladega. Rookies Max Papis, Scott Speed, and the perpetually underfunded Robby Gordon all have better top finishes so far this season.
However, the real disappointment in Menard’s case is that the much-needed cash infusion his sponsor was supposed to give Yates Racing hasn’t resulted in a competitive boost. At the moment, the team has neither of its two vehicles in the top 25 in owner points (Bobby Labonte sits 28th) and has led a grand total of 17 laps all year. Compare that with this point a year ago, when Travis Kvapil already had three top 10 finishes in Yates’ primary car and was sitting 19th in the standings, and you’ll see why Menard’s move proved to be such a downer.
With that type of track record, you’d expect at the end of this year Menard would be thinking retirement ala Michael Waltrip or at least stepping back into the Nationwide Series – a place he was far more competitive. But in this dog-eat-dog world, there are teams right now that would kill for the kind of cash he brings to the table. Money talks these days, and the men who produce lifelines of cash are going to be the ones sitting in the driver’s seat. It was a Catch-22 for Yates Racing to pick up Menard during the offseason, knowing his talent level was below that of both drivers already in the fold. But it was a choice teams hope they’ll never have to make: take the cash and ensure their survival, regardless of the finishes, or build on their recent improvement while taking a gigantic risk both Kvapil and David Gilliland would be able to bring in sponsorship to keep them from going broke.
Five months later, it does appear Yates made the right move on that front as Kvapil sits on the sidelines without sponsorship at the same time Gilliland is driving the near-equivalent of a start and park. But don’t you wish their hard work actually paid off? Instead, Yates Racing took the survivor’s way out … in the end, they just wanted to get paid. And as long as Menard gets to keep racing, everyone on the team will be assured of that … it’s just an ominous look into the sport’s future should sponsorship money and cost of competition continue to keep going up.
Did You Notice? … The nickname “double-file restarts, SHOOTOUT STYLE!” seems to be dying a slow, painful death? It’s taken a couple of weeks to start fading a bit, and I think if we cross our fingers and don’t mention it anymore beyond this column… maybe it will actually disappear for good. And thank God, because I think that replaced “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity!” as the most annoying NASCAR catch phrase for both fans and garage members alike. Whenever I heard it, it made me think of a wrestling ring, not a race track…
“DOUBLE FILE RESTARTS, SHOOTOUT STYLE!! HERE COMES GORDON, TAKING THE CHAIR AND SMASHING IT OVER DALE JUNIOR’S HEAD! BUT HOLD ON, FOLKS… OH MY, IT’S BRIAN VICKERS WITH THE BODYSLAM!! CAN YOU SMELL … WHAT THE BUSCH IS COOKING!”
Seriously, all we needed was Ric Flair going “WOOOO!” and the transition from NASCAR to wrestling would have been complete.
Did You Notice? … Earnhardt Ganassi Racing kept the wrong guy? Let me explain: after seven races, their struggling No. 8 car driven by Aric Almirola was shut down due to a combination of poor performance and a lack of sponsorship money. Almirola was initially supposed to return to the Cup Series this weekend at Daytona, as well as the rest of the 2009 season. Now, EGR President Steve Lauletta says the earliest he expects to bring back the team would be mid-August … pending sponsorship (there’s that ugly word again).
Sounds more and more to me like a whole lot of hype with no substance behind it. The problem with Almirola is, although he’s such a great guy off the track the results just don’t back him up to potential sponsors. In just 25 career starts, he’s got just one top 10 to go along with 6 DNFs and a pitiful average finish of 29.4. Considering the performances of some of the rookies or “almost” rookies this season, Almirola’s lackluster results clearly indicate he needs about a year to two years of time in a development series before moving up.
Here’s the issue for EGR, though; they already had a proven driver that could have stepped behind the No. 8 car this season, and that man was Regan Smith. Let’s take a look at the results of second-year driver Smith, who EGR promptly let go at the end of last season in favor of keeping Almirola. As a result, he ended up landing with the small, single-car outfit of Furniture Row Racing, a team with maybe a third of the budget big time organizations like EGR, Roush, Hendrick, and others have in their arsenal. But not only has Smith finished each and every one of the races he’s run all year, but collected five finishes of 22nd or better in nine starts. In fact, Smith has finished all 50 races he started – remember, 41 of those were for DEI – and shown a remarkable knack for keeping his car out of trouble.
At the moment, Smith and FRR look to be in serious talks to gain sponsorship to run a full season in 2010. But with a ride open at EGR and Bass Pro Shops available to team up with somebody, EGR would be prudent to take a good look at Smith – especially considering the small number of actual free agents available. Giving the kid a second chance might not be a bad thing.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Now do i have this right , you’re saying that to succeed , Lagano needs to stop being who he is and become someone he isn’t . Because being a nice , polite , quiet young man won’t allow him to become a superstar . And here we all assumed driving ability was the key .
Now on the subject of Regan Smith being overlooked in favor of Almirola , please explain to us how a potential sponsor will be inclined to spend millions on a driver who has finished better than 22nd on five occaisions .
I don’t count myself as a Joey fan just yet, but I really like how the kid handles himself. He seems like a really nice young man and I think that NASCAR is lucky to have him and Brad Keselowski as the rising stars in the sport. What a nice counterpoint to that twit in the 18. I think over the next few years both of them will contend for championships and be really successful in the sport.
As i usually rate your columns among the Start and Park writers ( yes , that handle fits more than just race teams ) i will certainly have to agree with you on one point . That stupid Shootout Style blurb has to go .
For God sakes, you really are a boob! Exactly what level of sophistication had you reached when you were 19? I dont care how good a driver the young man is, he is barely out of high school. Cut him some slack, please!!
My question is: What are you going to write about him when he finally does show some sort of emotion other then genuine kindness and being well-mannered? Look what the media did to Carl Edwards; you dubbed him Cousin Carl and the first time he shows some real emotion on, or off, the track, the media slams him for being a bully to poor Matt Kenseth. Carl doesn’t drive a Chevy so he’s not my driver, but I respect the man. Joey doesn’t even drive an American made car, but I respect the fact that, thus far, the lime-light, money and the media haven’t changed him ‘yet’. The media all loves Mark Martin, yet after all these years he’s still saying the same thing everytime he’s interviewed; “This is the best car, best crew, best race…yada, yada, yada, thanking every sponsor”. Joey is doing exactly what MM does with one exception; he at least seems to be genuine when speaking to the media. Cut the boy a break and be thankful that he’s not another Shrub in the making.
Isn’t Almarola (sp?) one of NASCAR’s minority drivers?
As far as Lagono showing any personality, it ain’t ging to happen if nas$car has it’s way. In the last few years it has discouraged it’s drivers to be nothing but vanilla personalities. So don’t hold your breath as far as Lagono goes. This is just one of the maladies contributing to nas$car’s demise as us core fans are concerned.
When you managed to point out that Yates’ second car is 28th in points, did it ever cross your mind that maybe… it isn’t Menard’s fault that his team isn’t running well? I guess that deduction was a little beyond your reach. And before anyone says that Labonte just isn’t that good anymore, remember that he did better at Petty than he is doing now.
Give Logano a break. He’s just starting out, and he’s kinda on a budget…
Yates teams suck. That includes HOF. It has nothing to do with the drivers and everything to do with the cars. The best jockey in the world won’t win the Kentucky Derby on a jackass.
What if…the culture of this country has changed a little over the past decade and Joey is a big boost, just as he is…? Vanilla is the most purchased ice cream. :) It is easy to live with, not upsetting. Marybeth
Another quiet guy Bill Elliott has many fans Most popular driver could be ahead for Joey. Some people like honest down to earth
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