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.
The Yellow Stripe · Thomas Bowles · Tuesday October 20, 2009
As an editor, you’ve got to have all sorts of column ideas in your back pocket in case someone calls out sick. And sure enough, Danny Peters (who usually fills this space on Tuesdays) got a little case of the flu before he could scribble down his thoughts by deadline.
So that leaves me with a nice idea that I get to knock off my list now before it’s too late. You see, what I was thinking was that with five races left, the championship’s a non-issue while plenty of fans are looking at a certain organization 1-2-3 in points and going, “Why should we watch? That’s not my favorite team.” But there’s still plenty of other things to focus on before this year is out — yes, even ones that have nothing to do with the championship. (Promise!) Here are five big reasons to stay tuned over the final five races (assuming you’re not a Hendrick fan):
1. Can last year’s win leader keep from getting shut out in 2009?
It’s hard to believe Carl Edwards went from nine victories just one year ago, including wins in two of the last three races, to a goose egg in that column in 2009. Last weekend was the low point for the No. 99 team this year, with a car so ill-handling it was three laps down before the engine blew to give them a “mercy killing” (as Edwards called it) en route to a 39th place finish. That leaves him 336 points out with five races left, the second straight year this race has officially killed his title hopes (remember the mechanical failure last Fall?) as the AFLAC team is now forced to focus on 2010.
But despite falling short on the biggest goal, no one wants to end a season winless – which gives Ford’s number one driver something to race for. And now that the pressure’s off, the preseason favorite to challenge Jimmie Johnson will likely go for a more aggressive strategy on the track in taking his chances to get to Victory Lane. With nothing to lose and a decent package for both Texas and Homestead, two races where he’s the defending champ, don’t be surprised if Edwards puts his car in precarious situations (see: 2008 Kansas, last lap) in order to pull a repeat.
While we’re on this topic, there’s a handful of other great drivers who have failed to win a race this year: Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., along with Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya (each of whom haven’t won since ’07). Pulling one off this late could help salvage seasons that, in many cases, fell well below expectations. Expect some aggressiveness by these drivers combined with interesting strategy to try and steal one before the year is out.
2. Will Kyle Busch “settle a few scores” with no titles on the line?
With a serious bout of pneumonia the past two weeks combined with trying to seal up the Nationwide Series title, Kyle Busch’s push to play spoiler in this Chase has taken a back seat. But let’s not forget last month’s quote by Denny Hamlin when asked how his teammate was expected to handle the last ten races of the season:
“I think he has some scores to settle with some guys – that I don’t think he’ll be too shy about doing now.”
Many fans passed that off as manufactured drama, especially when Busch has barely made a peep in Cup since the playoffs began in New Hampshire (one top 5, no laps led in five starts).
But the second half of the Chase should prove a different story. We’re coming up on two “short” tracks in Phoenix and Martinsville this weekend where drivers can pull the payback card, all the while knowing they’re not causing serious injury or a ten-car wreck in the process. Busch is also no longer in the position of helping Hamlin win the title, with his teammate 11th in points and now only focused on Victory Lane the rest of the way. Add in the usual Kyle temper (if you washed his mouth out with soap every time he swore on the radio at Charlotte, you’d need about 10 bars) and we’re clearly setting up for some late-race excitement down the stretch.
3. Is Talladega primed for another gargantuan upset?
Lost in the midst of Carl Edwards’ last lap flip at Talladega was the car that actually drove by him to Victory Lane. James Finch’s No. 09 car, driven by Brad Keselowski, ended a two-decade long odyssey of being a Cup Series underdog with its first ever victory on the sport’s top level. Considering the team has so little funding, it’s start-and-parked for half the races this season, it proved an incredible upset along with the first win by a single-car team since Darlington in March, 2003.
That race had more than its fair share of underdog performances, with Scott Speed (5th), Paul Menard (13th), and Joe Nemechek (14th) among those scoring their season-best finishes in that race. All of them will be back for a second go-round along with Keselowski, each with a chance to finish up front as restrictor plates help even out the haves from the have nots. That’s why the Spring race was also the last time we saw all 43 cars who qualified attempt to run the distance, a welcome change in the start and park era we’ll likely see again this November. Add in the potential for the big wreck that knocks Johnson back towards his closest championship challengers, and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for an unpredictable race worth watching.
4. Will the Richard Petty Motorsports team switch to Ford? And if so, will that be enough of a boost to give the Blue Oval their first win since February if Edwards doesn’t pull through?
As I said yesterday, trying to find out what’s going on with the RPM-Yates merger is like trying to find a needle in a haystack blindfolded. Nobody knows what the heck is happening, with people fearful they’ll get anything from a pink slip to an order to switch shops at any moment.
So for that type of drama to surround the No. 9 team and Kasey Kahne to still pull through (with three top 10 finishes in the Chase) is nothing short of amazing. But now, things are about to get about ten times more confusing, with the entire team rumored to be running Fords as soon as Talladega in November.
Can this organization keep things together in the face of such utter confusion? If they do, it might be the key to ending one of the biggest Blue Oval slumps in history should Edwards, Greg Biffle, or Matt Kenseth fall short over the last five races. With Ford in their worst slump since a 34-race winless streak in 1982-83 (they would match that record if they finish the season without a victory) it’s gotten to the point they’ll take any type of help they can get — and with Kahne being an intermediate specialist, he’s a talent that could pay immediate dividends for races like Texas and Homestead this November. Adding him to the roster (someone they sued for breach of contract five years ago, by the way) is a dramatic play to pull out all the stops before the season is out.
5. Will last-minute drives by those desperate for rides in 2010 be enough to get them one over Bobby Labonte?
With the type of season Labonte’s had (one top 5 finish in 31 races) it’s no surprise he needed a little vacation to get away from it all. But what raises your eyebrows is the company he’s with while hunting in New Mexico this week: Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.
Considering the availability of the No. 07 car for next season, it’s not hard to put the pieces together that Labonte could be negotiating for a ride at Richard Childress Racing. But that’s not the only team after his services, as both TRG Motorsports and Earnhardt Ganassi (late entry) are trying to get the 2000 champ on their roster despite just six top 10s in the last three years of Cup competition.
But with only a handful of rides available and sponsorship to go around for maybe two of those cars, that means these final few races are even more critical for free agents David Stremme, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, and Reed Sorenson. Making a name for themselves with a top 5 finish or even an upset win is the only way they’re going to make a splash and have owners turn in their direction over the former champ. So far, Mears is the only one making a serious splash, with five straight finishes of 17th or better to push him up to 18th in points. Can the other drivers follow suit? As the season winds down, they’ll have no choice … and you know what they say about desperate drivers doing desperate things.
Tom Bowles is now on Twitter! Click HERE to become a follower… even though he’s still learning how to use it (be patient on that one!)
Don’t forget about Tom Bowles and Matt Taliaferro’s Athlon / Frontstretch Podcast, sponsored this season by Wrigley’s! Check out the archive by clicking here, and look for the newest edition to head your way sometime later this week! Of course, if all else fails, you can always listen to us on iTunes for FREE! Search for our weekly show under “Athlon.”
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Hopefully, Edwards will never win another race and we won’t have to put up with another stupid back flip. And when his sponsor finally realises that he’s nothing but a total jerk, as Brad Keseloski proved at Talladega, they will bail. Looks good, not only on his no-talent self, but also on his jerk-head car owner. Maybe by the end of next year, Edwards, and hopefully the entire Roush camp, will be gone from NASCAR for good!
Well Tom, one thing you can’t do!
And that’s make lemonade out of a lemon!
There’s not enough sweetener in the world to make this lemon taste good!
And since you have my attention, once again I must state this whole “chase” thing is so STUPID!
How can you have twelve (12) drivers “make the playoff’s”, but then race in a pack of 43 cars?
How can a “chumpionship contender”, in position #1 thru #12, end up in 33rd place? Or 43rd, or 23rd, or 15th?
I guess I am stupid!
ALA! THE TURNIP!
Isn’t Brain Farce really the STUPID one?
And not us “EX-FANS”?
Not quite sure how Edwards became Ford’s # 1 driver. When you have Kenseth and Biffle in Fords, and Kasey Kahne soon to be in one (or so we’ve been told), putting Edwards as # 1 might be a little premature. I don’t dislike Edwards, although his roid rage incidents make liking him difficult, but I wouldn’t annoint him the patron saint of Ford yet. Sure, he won 9 races last year, but that was then and this is now.
Hey Michael in SoCal, I don’t see it either. Even though they are both as big losers as idiot Carl, how can Ford be so dumb putting any faith in Roush, let alone that moron Edwards! As for your comment about Edwards and his constant Roid-Rage, how in this world could he have passed NASCAR’s drug test, unless Roush paid off the people doing the test, which I wouldn’t put past the jerk! And yes, I hate Edwards! I hate his guts! Please! Please! Please, NASCAR! Lie if you have to, but ban Edwards from the sport for drug use! Please!
Ironic, isn’t it, that the one car company who thought they were so good not taking any bail-out from the Government, and they can’t do anything in NASCAR. G.M. gets the bail-out and dominates! That was money well spent on Hendrick Motorsports by G.M.!!
The way teams are merging, how many teams will be left next year? What next? Hendricks-Stewart. Oh, I forgot. That’s a team already. I still comment, but only as a venting place to state why I no longer watch races. Seems like nas$car would be worrying about how fast long time fans are leaving. But Brain Fart and the elite team (no s here) don’t seem to get the fact that competetive balance actually helps the sport. Geeeez!!
Mike, you sound more ignorant with each comment.
Mike, you are an idiot!!!!!!!!!!!!! How did Kesolowski wrecking Carl prove that Carl is a jerk? He handled that situation well. All you Kyle Busch lovers think it is great when that whinney little punk gets mad,(Look in the article above for proof), but if Carl gets mad he is on steroids just because he happens to be in shape? You people are so ignorant sometimes. Jack Roush has not paid anyone off, if he had Mark Martin would have won two or three championships while with Roush. You really don’t think before you type, do you? I get sick of the constant bashing of Roush and Ford by the same people who bitched about the government bailouts in the 1st place! So now Ford sucks because they didn’t take government money?! Damn you guys talk out of both sides of your mouth. You should be in politics! Good Day.
If Ford is counting on Richard Petty Motorsports to get themselves in the win column , its gonna be a long season . Thats got to one of the worst teams in the garage area . And i don’t see any improvement coming soon .
Just to clarify my comment – the roidrage incident I was referring to was Carl’s fake punch on Kenseth last season. And he probably wasn’t on steroids, but he did need to control his emotions better in that specific incident, in my opinion. But there is no doubting that Edwards is in top shape. Isn’t there one race a year he rides his bicycle to? That’s impressive. He’s a good driver no doubt, but I think Kenseth & Biffle were getting the short end of the stick by calling Edwards “Ford’s number one driver”.
Micheal in SoCal, I understand your point about Kenseth and Biffle. I respect them a great deal. I was not really calling you out. It is Mike and his constant bashing that I have a problem with. I enjoy your insight and posts on here most of the time. At times you are a voice of reason in the insanity that is Mike and Turnip/Douglas.
Jeez, got to take another swipe at Kyle do we?
Who the hell is he gonna take out? It should be Denny and Kurt who should pay back Jimmie. It was at the last martinsville race where Jimmie put the bumper to Denny.
I trust Kurt for paybacks but Denny is a wimp and a diva. But I sure would like to see Jimmie go into the wall at about 25 laps in. HARD.
Mike, your hatred toward Jack Roush and Carl Edwards is way over the top. Your comment about Brad Keselowski showing what a jerk Edwards is, is out of line. If that race had of been 10 years ago, and the car in front was black with the number 3 on it, keselowski would have been shoved right off the track, yellow line rule or no yellow line rule. Carl is having an off year, no doubt. What the problem is is anyone’s guess. Every driver can have an off season, even a Hendrick driver. Look at Junior, who seems to be getting the short end of the stick! What will you do when Carl wins his next race? As for your comment about G.M. vs Ford and the bail-out, if one cent of what G.M. was given went to Hendrick, then I would be screaming at my Member of Parliament (Opps! Wrong country!), I mean my Congressman/Congresswoman) to demand every cent back NOW! And about the roidrage, if you think NASCAR hasn’t tested Edwards, you are wrong! Being a driver for jack Roush would instantly put Edwards under the microscope. And if anyone would be guilty of paying off NASCAR, it certainly isn’t Jack Roush! But I wouldn’t put such a move passed your favorite team owner! I’m willing to bet they test Edwards regularly, just to appease people like you. Thinking of expressing rage, how often does Kyle get tested? And about Kasey and Richard Petty, I personally would love to see a Petty Ford in Victory Lane with either Kasey or A.J. behind the wheel. You know, it’s people like you that have turned me off this sport. And by the way Mike, I’m a Carl Edwards fan! Get a life!
Joe W – no worries.
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