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 September 16, 2009
Did You Notice? … The philosophy of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” That’s exactly what NASCAR is saying to us with the 2010 Sprint Cup schedule; they don’t think there’s anything wrong with both declining ratings and attendance, so there’s no need to mix up the schedule a bit to address a problem they don’t see.
After all the rumors and speculation, it was very surprising to see absolutely zero change for 2010. And that goes across the board for all three of NASCAR’s top divisions; the only change is the Truck Series coming to Pocono on July 31st, replacing the flop at Auto Club Speedway which about five people came to watch at the end of February. Two words for that move: Thank God.
But other than that, just about everything else remained the same. Here’s a quick recap of the changes:
But in the midst of these minor changes was total ignorance of the big ones for fans and competitors alike:
At the moment, though, it looks like the sport isn’t worried about any or all of those things. So, for right now, what we’re going to get is the status quo … like it or not.
Did You Notice? … With the schedule getting next to no fixes, let’s look at some teams that have some fixing to do over the next ten races. While 12 teams make the Chase, there’s another 30-35 who are still busy finishing out the rest of the year, working hard to get better and actually make the field for 2010. So let’s give them a little press, shall we? Here’s a few Kanye Wests who should steal the spotlight from the Chase’s Taylor Swifts a time or two:
Kyle Busch – Well, duh. I say four wins, three DNFs, two temper tantrums, and a partridge in a pear tree (what the hell is a partridge, anyway?)
Kevin Harvick – Turns out he’s trapped at RCR another year after all, so might as well make the best of it. Happy scored back-to-back top 10s for the first time all year at Atlanta and Richmond, and should have won the former if not for a late caution. If that’s the setup for the No. 29 for all five intermediate tracks … watch out.
Marcos Ambrose – Here’s a tongue twister for you: Awesome Australian absolutely awful on intermediates. But there’s still a short track and Talladega left on the schedule, two good places where you might see this guy finally eke out a win.
Joey Logano – Quietly working on attempting to finish the year in the top 15. Loudon won’t be a repeat, but the rule of thumb is rookies get significantly better when they head back to tracks a second time. And Greg Zipadelli knows how to win under this 10-race format … even though he’s not a part of it for just the second time in his career.
Bill Elliott – That’s right, you heard me! The Wood Brothers are at the top of their game, and the team is almost certain to be the guinea big for Ford’s new engine in October. That should make them faster than ever … as long as it lasts for 500 miles.
On the flip side, expect these five teams to tank even further now that they’re being sent into the land of obscurity:
Matt Kenseth – Should have changed crew chiefs this off week (see below). Big mistake that’ll cost them when they flounder the rest of the year.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Will be changing crew chiefs at the end of the year (you heard it here first!) Does that make the last ten races a “lame lame duck” season?
Michael Waltrip – He announced his retirement in July, but it took until Bristol in August for people to actually realize he was still driving until the end of the year.
Jeff Burton – I know, this one’s the last person you expect to mail it in. But there are problems in RCR-land, and a lame duck crew chief and too many internal changes will not leave him running up front.
Reed Sorenson – He’s hard enough to motivate when he actually has a ride. Now that he’s a “lame duck,” the No. 43 will get none of the resources as that’ll all be directed to the Chase-contending No. 9 team at RPM.
Did You Notice? … The weird strategy in play during Matt Kenseth’s Richmond flop? Under the last caution flag of the night, Kenseth did the wave-around in a desperate effort to get himself back on the lead lap. But why didn’t they try that strategy with 80 laps to go, after the No. 17 finally had the fuel to go the distance? At that point, the team had nothing to lose by staying out; and although hindsight is 20/20, a caution flag almost immediately afterwards would have kept them back on the lead lap, allowed them to pit for fresh tires and perhaps given the momentum boost needed to make at least a semblance of a late-race charge.
Instead, getting that lap back with less than 20 to go was too little, too late for a team increasingly in turmoil. What I glean from sources and simply watching this group in action is there’s exactly zero confidence in their decisions or their race cars right now. I never thought I’d say this after the way their partnership started, but crew chief Drew Blickensderfer looks like a man whose job is in jeopardy. Respect is eroding rapidly between them, highlighted when Kenseth chastised both crew chief and car chief Chip Bolin for their poor pit selection on the radio.
You know who wouldn’t put up with that type of crap on top the pit box? I’ll give you a clue: he works as a Roush Fenway GM, and he’s not all that happy with his job! Could Kenseth convince Robbie Reiser to return for a second go ‘round? If I were him, I’d go knocking on that office door sometime this week…
Did You Notice? … The problem when “start and parkers” don’t start and park? Joe Nemechek’s No. 87 is the latest shining example of why it’s difficult for these teams to kick the habit and get back to the business of racing.
On the surface, Nemechek looks like he had an excellent weekend. When Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center gave him some extra cash, NEMCO Motorsports decided to take the plunge and run the full 400-lap distance – just the second time all year they’ve done that with Nemechek behind the wheel. Coming home in 35th, they finished four laps off the pace but collected plenty of notes and experience to build on for the future.
Sounds like a great idea, right? Well … not exactly.
Turns out Nemechek earned $69,575 for his performance, but he used several sets of tires, put 300 miles on his engine, and put his car through general wear and tear. In the meantime, Dave Blaney at PRISM Motorsports had some dinner plans he just couldn’t miss. Parking his car 36 laps in to run off and grab some Buffalo Wild Wings (hey, the games never end there, do they?) his team earned $68,022 – without undergoing several of the same expenses.
So there you have it … just a $1,553 dollar difference between a team that gave 110 percent and one that was 110 percent committed to going to watch college football. Heck, that difference isn’t even enough to pay for an extra set of tires.
I think you see where I’m going with this one. It’s not like Nemechek signed a million-dollar sponsorship deal, so he’s simply trying to break even while his closest competitors in the garage get busy making money hand over fist. Now, while Nemechek struggles to the next race PRISM can take the money they earned to buy better engines, build better technical alliances, and come up with a top 10 qualifying setup that’ll guarantee them to crack the starting lineup – where they can park it again after just a few laps on track.
No wonder it’s gotten to the point teams will actually collect sponsorship money and still park their cars due to the benefits. Right now, I think it’s gotten to the point the only way NASCAR will buck the trend is to give teams extra incentive for running the whole race. And over on the Sprint Cup side, $1,550 isn’t going to cut it.
So how about basing the purse on laps completed during the race? You run less than 200 laps, well, you get half the purse money. Or perhaps in this day and age where true DNFs are at a premium, teams can get a bonus at the end of the year for races completed?
Something, anything would be better than the current system we have in place. Too many owners are leaving morals at the doorstep because the money’s too good to pass up, and you can’t expect that to change – and if NASCAR doesn’t step up to the plate, things are just going to get worse instead of better.
Did You Notice? … Right now, we’re on the verge of losing one full-time team for 2010? Let’s look at additions and subtractions for the upcoming season:
FULL-TIME SUBTRACTIONS (AS OF NOW)
That puts us in a position where we could have 35 fully-funded teams at best entering 2010. And if we cut ourselves down to 34 … we could have a full-time start and park car guaranteed money each and every race.
Did You Notice? …Roush’s counterattack? Sure, a whole ton of people have talked about the Blue Oval coup in bringing a big talent like Kasey Kahne and a big name like Richard Petty back into their camp. But when you break down this deal, the biggest winner isn’t even anybody directly involved.
His name: Jack Roush.
Roush, of course, has sat through his worst slump in two decades after starting the year going 2-for-2 in both the Daytona 500 and California the following weekend. Matt Kenseth looked like a championship contender, but ever since he’s wilted to his current spot outside the Chase while the rest of his five-car operation went winless. In the meantime, Hendrick reasserted its dominance atop the Sprint Cup ladder, winning eight times and putting three of its four cars inside the Chase.
But that’s not counting the newest contender on the landscape: Stewart-Haas Racing, with engines, chassis, and technical support from Hendrick that make them a “B” team in every sense of the word. Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart’s success gives HMS-supported cars five spots in the 12-car field, while Roush is sitting there with just two: Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.
Hendrick’s success with SHR is what Roush has wanted to do for years with Yates … but the talent and overall support just wasn’t there. Now, with the addition of a talent in Kahne and the funding of a big time sponsor like Budweiser, the pieces are in place for the organization to benefit from a true “B” team just like Hendrick has. It’s a total of eight cars that can share testing information, equipment, engines, chassis … and as we’ve seen in the Cup Series lately, the more people you have working at it the better off you are, especially with the testing ban cutting down on the on-track opportunities to figure things out.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, that puts the 2010 full-time owner lineup like this:
For those of you counting at home, it’s a total of eight owners controlling the majority of operations for 31 cars on the circuit. Might as well start referring to NASCAR as “Formula Lite …”
Did You Notice? … No Chase champion has won at New Hampshire since 2004? Instead, it’s usually the Cinderella who puts on her slipper there instead. Consider the winners over the last three years:
2006 – Kevin Harvick (finished fourth in points)
Three in a row makes it a trend in my book; so with that in mind, if you’re a betting man I’d put your money on Denny Hamlin this Sunday. Hamlin’s charging into the Chase with a whole lot of momentum on his side, and he’s won at this track before (back in June of 2007). I don’t think realistically the team has what it takes to contend over all ten races, but with a relatively small track in Dover up next I can easily see him making a whole lot of noise in the first few weeks.
And as for everyone else? Here’s a quick look before we go …
Can’t Afford A Bad Start: Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin
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Start and Park is a legitimate part of this buisness. If money’s there, someone will make it.
There is a HUGE argument against NASCAR rewarding only teams who run the complete race. Legitimate teams who wreck should not be forced to return damaged or unsafe cars to the track. There is already a problem with “points racing” teams putting their drivers in harms way to earn precious 3 points over another injured car.
Ever play EA Sports NASCAR 2003? The one with Dale Jr. on the Cover. Try Career mode on “Legend” and see if you don’t start and park for a while to raise funds. Its tough.
Wait for the economy to return. When it does, attendance will pick up, ratings will increase, and S&P cars will fade away. [don’t think that ratings aren’t tied to money and the economy… think again!]
Also, I heard Rick Hendrick actually funds all the start and park teams to make his 6 cars look better and illiminate other alliences of other Mega-Teams with S&P’ers.
To help curb the start-and-parkers, maybe nascar could do something along the lines of the ARCA point system (I read an article about that by someone on this website recently). My idea is this: Nascar could give a monetary bonus every 6 races to teams who a) attempt each race and b) earn at least 2 top-30 finishes. Good teams who just have a few rough weeks should still be able to accomplish that, and it would force start-and-park teams to actually run at least some of the time if they want that extra money. Lower the overall purse at each race and build the pool of money from there, distributing it every 6 races.
Here is an idea… make the difference in prize money between each finishing spot great enough to cover 5 sets of tires and gas. That would make it worth running the extra laps in order to get a better finishing position.
One thing that makes me laugh about this whole start and park situation is there are still people complaining about the top 35 rule. I understood that when there were 48 teams showing up and no start and park teams were making it but it baffles me now.
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Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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