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.
Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday September 28, 2009
To say Jimmie Johnson was in a league of his own Sunday was putting it mildly. Leading the final 224 laps, the outcome of the race was never in doubt for most of Dover’s second half, the No. 48 running as much as two miles an hour faster than the rest of the field. It was a setup that defined dominance in this sport.
But it was also one they had a little extra time to perfect. Part of a two-day tire test on August 4th and 5th, the No. 48 was one of eight teams to get a “grip” on the Goodyear tires that were eventually selected for the Fall.
“They had different guys on different schedules, some guys working on compounds and some guys working on construction. I did all the construction stuff,” Johnson said in post-race, referring to the part of the process that’s focused more on how cars will handle around the concrete oval. “I think there were one or two runs we were able to run on the tire that they had hoped [to bring].”
Johnson, Montoya, and even Goodyear itself claimed the compound they eventually selected was significantly different from what was tested. Yet after a frustrating day in which exceptionally loose race cars made passing a near-impossibility, several drivers spoke out against what they felt was an unfair advantage.
“Look at the guys that didn’t tire test,” said Greg Biffle, who went from a winning car last year to a disappointing 13th-place finish this Fall. “We ran terrible. It was a completely different tire, it had us off our game right when we unloaded off the truck. We got going there toward the end, but not like the guys that tested.”
“That’s the whole deal. We had a decent car, but we’re not going to beat guys that came here and tested.”
Biffle’s comments were similar to those echoed Friday, when both he and Denny Hamlin went off about a Chaser being allowed extra track time. Yet while Johnson admitted an edge, he wrote off any such talk as sour grapes from guys who just never were able to get their cars to compete.
“I saw some comments from Montoya saying [tire testing] is not beneficial,” he said. “To be honest with you, it does go ahead and give you a data set, and the driver being in the car helps.”
“[But] Nobody spent a lot of time on the tire we actually came back with, so at the end of the day we’re just doing what we’re supposed to do.”
For Goodyear’s part, a source stressed the need for Johnson’s expertise at this track in developing a tire – after all, he’s won at Dover four times – combined with the fact that again, this compound wasn’t exactly the same as the one from August 4th. How different was anybody’s guess, but the end result was a strange dichotomy of sorts. On the one hand, Goodyear showed the durability needed to last, with Mark Martin and others commending them for tire failures that could be counted on one hand. Instead, it was the handling that was the issue for most teams, who found it difficult if not impossible to compete in conditions that resembled ice skating on wheels.
“The tire was so loose that you had to overcompensate so much with the chassis,” said Hamlin after finishing 22nd, one of several drivers who threw everything but the kitchen sink at their cars only to never see them tighten up. “It just didn’t make for good racing, at least from my standpoint.”
Whether you were in his corner depended on whether you were a fan of single-file, follow-the-leader racing. But as you might expect, all the snoozing of the fans in the stands didn’t exactly bother the crew chief of the team doing the leading.
“The tire Goodyear brought, it was fantastic,” he said succinctly, pointing the success of the No. 48 to Hendrick’s typical M.O. – teamwork. “I think as a group our whole organization gets smarter and learns faster.”
“I think especially in today’s day and age when there is no testing, I think that benefits us.”
Yet there was an extra test for the geniuses to get in a little extra credit. And with handling defined as the central issue, that makes the finishes of the other teams at the test (a mixed bag – see table below) somewhat irrelevant. After all, it was Johnson who was assigned the job of figuring out that handling more than others. And even if the compound comes back a little different, doesn’t that experience give them a leg up?
I’ll leave that a rhetorical question. But know this much: whatever you think – even if you’re his closest competition – Jimmie Johnson could give a rat’s, well, you know.
“If it’s upsetting guys and they’re pissed, so be it,” he said. “I’m glad they’re worried about other things and not their race car. Nobody heard me complain about Indy and not being able to tire test there and it definitely hurt us in qualifying.”
“But we just kept our heads down, moved forward, made the car right and won the race.”
An admirable performance, to be sure; but looking at the big picture, that Indianapolis race had little to no meaning towards this pivotal moment in the Chase. It’s a title race Johnson has dominated in the past and now, with this victory, is in perfect position to take the lead on winning a fourth time. Later on, in his press conference Sunday he was asked about how seizing this type of momentum now changes the game for everybody else.
“As far as sending a message, I hope it does,” he said. “I’m excited to see we’ve got some of the other Chase contenders [behind us]. Like I said earlier, I hope people are worried, I hope people are talking about the fact that we tire tested and it’s wrong. All these people can get wound up about stuff that really doesn’t matter. And we’ll keep our heads down, we’ll keep our blinders on, and we’ll go to work.”
Work Johnson has these last two races, turning a summer slump into a blossoming Fall that already has he and teammate Mark Martin separated from the rest of the field. Suddenly, a Chase field of 12 is in grave danger of being reduced to 2 or 3 should Johnson back up last year’s run at Kansas – where he’s the defending champ.
“It may not be exciting for the fans and everybody else,” he said. “But the bigger gap we can put between us and those guys and single out just a car or two to really have to worry about, the easier my job is, and that’s what I hope we can keep doing.”
Moving forward, it’s impossible to quantify exactly how much of an advantage there was here (if any). Here’s what we know:
One final note in closing; coming off the race’s final two caution flags, Johnson stayed out on old tires while others, including Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and other top contenders pitted for fresh rubber. But ability of those speeds to keep from falling off dramatically never put Johnson’s win in doubt.
“I didn’t think that those guys would be able to work their way back up through the field,” Knaus explained in making the pit call that sealed the win. “I didn’t think those guys were going to be able to get through the traffic and get up there to us.”
The question is whether the crew chief knew those facts from the second he walked in the door on Friday. But even if he did, it’s too late to change it now.
Fair or unfair, the competition needs to dig deep, focus, and work on their race cars. Because when you go inside the minds of several teams, their chance to even catch the No. 48 for number four is already all but over.
Writer Bryan Davis Keith contributed to this story.
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Quote: “Whether you were in his corner depended on whether you were a fan of single-file, follow-the-leader racing. But as you might expect, all the snoozing of the fans in the stands didn’t exactly bother the crew chief of the team doing the leading.”
“SNOOZING FANS IN THE STANDS”?
Nuff said about the current state of “Stock Car Racing”?
And of course the beloved POS?
Dirvers are selected for tire testing all the time and it’s usually different drivers from different teams and manufacturers. This is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say it’s unfair. Didn’t seem to help Kyle Busch.
I’m not a big Jimmie Johnson fan, but I’m glad he’s not minding anyone’s moaning about it.
Whether Johnson’s testing was a specific advantage or not, this is one long-time Nascar fan who is tired of seeing the superfunded teams at HMS constantly make a mockery of the sport. I understand that’s how the game is played these days. It’s all about money, and HMS spends the most and it buys them the championship year after year. Still, I’m just about at the end of caring about this sport.
This sport has gone from the Haves and the Have-nots to the Have-It-Alls and the Begging-For-Crumbs. One thing Nascar did which was supposed to help the smaller teams compete was to ban testing at tracks where Nascar races are held. I guess we can all see what that really means… if you’re a 4-time winner on a track, your “expertise” is needed for tire testing.
I don’t know whether to commend guys like Robby Gordon for their perserverance, or to call them stupid for pissing into the wind year after year.
Kyle tested and look at where he ended up. Biffle and Hamlin are such cry babies. The tire tested wasn’t even what they brought so where was this advantage? Tire test or no tire test Johnson STILL would have dominated.
The way I see it, the tire testing must have hurt the 48. He lead 298 laps in the spring before the test and only 271 laps after the test. His driver rating dropped from 150 to 149.2. It is ludicrous to say he won because of the test after the way he dominated in the spring before the test.
There is no excuse for Goodyear being stupid enough to alter the outcome of races with their tire tests . Goodyear needs to pony up the money to put together its own test team using current cars and retired drivers . Thats the way it was always done in the past .
How sour are those grapes? There have been 14 tire tests this season at 9 different tracks. Johnson is the only participant to win the race after the tire test-and he has four previous wins at Dover, so it’s not like he didn’t know how to get around the place. The numbers just don’t support the griping.
This dominance of the 48 car is hurting Nascar in my opinion. fans want to see different drivers win. These cars are supposed to be equal, I don’t understand how the 48 car can be so strong every week at every track. I don’t think Jimmie is that much better of a driver than the rest, it just can’t be the reason. somewhere they have found an advantage, and with Knaus’s history, I’m not so sure its a legitimate advantage. Either way, I don’t watch much anymore because of the predictability of these races. It’s amazing to me how this 48 team never has equipment failure, they have a ton of luck on their side as well as skill.
I agree with Mark, leave the testing to drivers not cuerrently racing and having no conections to current teams. This is the only FAIR way to do a test, period. If anything, give the advantage to the backmarker teams, they need the info more than the top money teams.
It isn’t just the 48 car dominating. It’s the whole Hendricks-Stewart combo dominating. Fans of other drivers (including me) know our drivers have no chance of winning so why bother to watch. And you wonder why the liquor companies have bailed already along with a ton of other sponsors. Why bother sponsoring a car when your car will not be seen on tv. No bang for your bucks here. With a faltering economy there will be some economic impact felt, but the downward spiraling of tv ratings and attendence figures tells the real story. It’s akin to the lack of revenue sharing in baseball. The teams with the biggest payrolls dominate. nas$car is in trouble. It doesn’t have the storied history of baseball to fall back on. If it doesn’t make some changes, it will lose even more fans.
“[But] Nobody spent a lot of time on the tire we actually came back with”. That sounds to me like Goodyear brought a tire they did test on. With this POS COT it shouldn’t take a lot of data to gain an advantage.
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