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.
Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday August 3, 2009
While Pocono’s 500-miler was pushed back a day, the rain couldn’t do the same to my deadline. So while I’d love to write on the race itself, instead I started this Sunday night staring at a blank page after “start your engines” became “stop those weepers!” That left us with hours upon hours of driver interviews and waiting for a track that, in the end, would never dry with an eerie water problem that’ll leave me dreaming of nightmares from California’s rain-plagued race in February, 2008.
But sometimes, in the midst of waiting out the rain you can patiently learn quite a few things about the drivers in the interim. I remember as a kid, rain delays used to be one of my favorite things (as long as the race would get started again) because almost all the drivers usually got interviewed … and they weren’t sponsor robots! It’s amazing how much personality and flair you get out of somebody when they’re not worrying so much about someone else paying attention. So, this time I decided to take a trip down Memory Lane, taking a few notes during ESPN’s filler programming to jumpstart a random news and notes piece about the Sunday race that wasn’t …
— I have to say, one of the best segments on the entire show was the Jimmie Johnson / Chad Knaus interview with the “Chad is Rad!” shirts. No matter what you think of this duo – and yes, I know most of you have had about enough – you have to marvel at how well the chemistry extends between them both on and off the track. These two are very different people, but that hasn’t stopped them from not only respecting those differences but forming a close, personal bond with each other that strikes a balance both in friendship and on race day. Perhaps those ten minutes relaxed in front of the camera gave us a glimpse of the true secret to their success; because after all, isn’t it always about the people you work with as well as the passion?
I also wonder what fans would think of Johnson had that segment aired in 2003 and not 2009. Both he and Knaus were looser and funnier than I feel like they typically are on the air; if that were a first impression, maybe fans might have a slightly different view. But first impressions are hard to break, and of course, everyone hates a winner … something the No. 48 team is certainly no stranger to. Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise that during driver introductions nowadays, Johnson’s boos are slowly growing in crescendo to trail only Kyle Busch at this point.
— One more thing … weren’t the rally cars on the X Games really freaking cool? I absolutely love watching those things. Notice those cars look like real race cars … yet you still feel you could drive them down the street or on the highway. For those fans not around in the 1990s, that’s exactly the same impression you got when you turned on NASCAR in the old days … and why the Nationwide CoT is so important. Right now, no one can envision driving the Sprint Cup cars anywhere but the junkyard; and because of that, you don’t get the same connection to the car you own, something which was once a subtle but critical element in the sport’s explosive growth.
— As Scott Speed got interviewed, I couldn’t help but think how much the top 35 rule dooms a guy like him. Sure, Speed’s had an awful rookie season, the type of year where his new best friend comes guised in a package filled with white concrete. But he’s also failed to make the starting lineup twice on days where the No. 82’s main competition – the 35th-place No. 34 car driven this year by John Andretti and Tony Raines – has actually been far slower. Of course, the No. 34 need not worry about its qualifying speed; it’s got itself a locked in spot, while Speed must come every week dreading the fear of the nightmarish DNQ.
During the race, these two often resemble the tortoise and the hare. Andretti (or Raines) plays it safe, working to secure the best finish possible while not putting the car in harm’s way. In contrast, Speed is like a giant wrecking ball, trying to make up the gap in points all in one race before unceremoniously totaling his car in the process. That consistently leaves the No. 34 with a free ride into the field; and while the feel-good story of Front Row Motorsports should be commended, “playing it safe” and racing to stay out of trouble isn’t what the fans come to see. I know it can be a necessary evil when building a race team … but should a racing series be building a system where even cars at the back of the field are encouraged not to take chances? To me, that’s why those rally races and the old school NASCAR was so popular … risk. Speed likes to take risks, and man, he’s been penalized for it more than once this season. For in today’s world, it’s going to be the poor man’s blue chip stocks like Andretti rewarded for their on-track performance instead.
— One other thing from ESPN’s hours upon hours of interviews … I really thought Jamie McMurray handled himself brilliantly in the face of being labeled a “lame duck.” After finding out his team would either cease to exist or be moved to Yates in 2010, the driver was not only gracious but upbeat in explaining things, masking his disappointment in place of confidence he’d finish out the season strong. Of course, it certainly helped he’s gotten married in the last few weeks, but still … rarely do you see a driver that comfortable in his own skin just days after being told he wasn’t good enough to continue on with a top-tier team. McMurray may have failed to live up to expectations, but no one’s ever going to accuse this classy driver of throwing stones on the way out the door.
— But while I have to praise McMurray’s attitude on his long-term future, he’s part of a handful of drivers that wowed me with rain-delay quotes about the weather. As I was browsing through other columnists tonight, preparing to write my column, I caught these two nuggets from Terry Blount’s story on the race being postponed …
“Being around another day won’t be fun for anybody.” Jamie McMurray on racing in Pocono Monday
“What’s tough is, everybody’s got a schedule for the week, and everybody’s got plans…” Bobby Labonte on above-mentioned topic
Hmm … is it just me, or do those comments make it sound like racing tomorrow is going to be a pain in the butt? Can you imagine if you were a race promoter trying to put some fans in the seats for Monday? “Come on down to Pocono, guys … Jamie McMurray says it’s going to be a whole lot of no fun!” Seriously, while I know the rain was frustrating for everyone how can you expect the fans to tune in when the drivers are throwing out quotes that make them seem like they don’t even want to be there?
To be fair, these aren’t the only two drivers irritated over the extra day, caused by NASCAR’s grueling schedule that offers just one more week off (August 29th-30th) over the final 16 races of the season. But at the same time … to draw fans and excitement into a sport, especially one that’s facing a ratings and attendance decline, you’ve got to be on your “A” game at all times. If I’m a casual fan and I’m reading those quotes, I’m wondering why they’re even bothering to race tomorrow; I mean, if it’s rainy and dreary and the drivers are bothered by it, why not call the whole thing off?
It’s harsh … but it’s true.
— One last thing before we call it a rainy night. Many believe that NASCAR should have a traveling medical team attending all the races. Well, I’m going to take it one step further in bizarre fashion … I think they should have themselves a traveling team of parking attendants. Instead of each track paying $5 an hour to point people in the wrong direction and cause general mayhem, why not get experienced personnel to fly to each track, come up with a reasonable traffic flow and then execute to the best of their ability?
As you might imagine, this comes after my latest bout with traffic, taking 90 minutes to merely exit the track onto a one-lane road because the parking volunteers neither had control nor direction over traffic flow. At no other sporting event that I go to (including football games with nearly the same amount of fans) is traffic so horrifically mismanaged each and every week. Once again, this is an area the sport classically underestimates in terms of getting people to make a return trip to speedways. You could have witnessed one of the best races in modern times; but if it’s taking you eight hours to move the equivalent of five miles afterwards, would you be on your way back the following year?
A few years ago, I went to see a concert outside Washington, D.C. with three of my buddies. It’s generally regarded as one of the top 3 concerts all of us have ever been to … but afterwards, we got stuck in mismanaged traffic so bad it took over three hours to move in the right direction. I was in from out of town, so I never had any reason to go back to that venue … but I was curious if my buddy who lived there had. I asked him the other day, and he said in the last few years he’s avoided any and all events that go on there – even if it’s a band he likes. Basically, the experience of one bad night of traffic has soured him from ever going back …
It’s a story that happens more often than we think in NASCAR; and at some point, it’d be great for the sanctioning body to recognize that.
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For me, another highlight of the rain delay was when Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, DJ and Tim brewer talked about the ‘old days’. Totally off the cuff, and some of the most entertaining moments of the day. Hearing first hand about the history of Nascar from those who were there is priceless. The Jr. Johnson story about the jack was priceless, and now we know why the pit reporters wear fire suits. Hard to beat that.
I caught a little of the pre-race just to hear Alan Bestwick and Brad Daughery’s take on the race. Those guys are really good, and they put an exclamation point on why FOX is so damned unbearable. Still, I found something else to do once the race was rain delayed. Today’s Nascar is just not worth waiting for, and this old timer has been around long enough to know not to fall for the old “The rain has ended, the radar looks clear, and we should be racing soon” BS.
I love the intrigue! As regards calling the race early in favor of Monday!!
The announcers of course ALL supported this idea! “Yep, that’s the right thing to do allright, the fans paid to see 500 miles, and they should get to see 500 miles”!
HOWEVER!!! No one, and I mean NO ONE! Mentioned the following:
:is it better to run say 350 miles on Sunday with ALL fans present”?
OR?? “wait until Monday when maybe only HALF the fans will be there to see the entire 500 miles”?!
Satisfy ALL the spectators that bought tickets, although maybe a little shorter race??
Or satisfy those few that can afford another day off work and another night of expenses?
My vote would be run what you can on Sunday, who cares whether 300 miles or 500! If the truth be known, after the first 20 laps the race is a joke and becomes VERY BORING anyway!
And of course we could never ever accuse NA$CRAP, King Brian and company, of doing anything logical to satisfy the majority of fans!
They, NA$CRAP, has ZERO consideration for the paying spectators! JOBS BE DAMNED!
Well, that will teach those folks for buying a ticket to yet another NA$CRAP FIASCO!
My take on things anyway!
Every track should have lights in order to qualify for a race. There are just no excuses. If someone cared enough to attend the Pocono snooze 500, they should have been able to see it under the lights.
I feel your pain about the traffic situations relating to any track. We’ve been to Pocono several times and have learned to just chill after the race. Usually for about an hour – we tailgate, listen to the radio, etc. We do this at every race. It’s so much better for the stress levels. But, nothing compares to the inaugural Las Vegas race. It took us 8 hours to get back to Vegas (which is only about 15 miles from the track). For four of those hours the car was glued in one spot waiting in line to get out of the track. Never went back.
I say make every race variable in length. Hire an independent firm, like the award shows have as vote counters, to randomly select a race length. Obviously the race can’t be shorter or longer than a certain amount. Don’t tell the teams until 10-20 laps before the end that that is it. Keeps them on their toes and has the drivers racing the whole time since they can’t hang around for 90% of the race.
Having the minimum length guarantees a decent afternoon. Who doesn’t like the length of the races at New Hampshire?
You can keep the major races, Daytona 500, Brickyard, Coke 600, and choose one more, at a set length, but the rest are variable.
NASCAR needs to introduce treaded rain tires and windshield wipers to the Cup Series. End of story.
Also, NASCAR needs to get itself a new sanctioning body, since the current one doesn’t work right at all.
Tom, banking plus ovals plus rain tires does not work. Its been tried. That horse is long dead.
Douglas, that’s a complete 180 from what fans said about the Daytona 500. Back then people wanted the race run on Monday. Now people want a shortened Pocono on Sunday. Is that because of each tracks’s reputation or are people just fickle?
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