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 October 26, 2009
The thought hung over Denny Hamlin like the Balloon Boy story over America before the hoax made us all want the darned thing to fly away on its own. Fresh off his third career victory – setting a new career high – at one of his two hometown tracks, Hamlin’s post-race celebration Sunday should have left him floating on cloud nine, a well-deserved center of attention for a job well done. But in the matter of a moment, his newsworthy balloon got popped with a reality check as to why anyone should care, a reporter sending a tough reminder that a certain second place finisher still has a very big leg up on the No. 11 where it “really” counts.
“Do you sometimes feel that all the attention dedicated to who’s going to win the championship takes away from the individual celebration of winning one of the 36 races?” said Monte Dutton of the Gaston Gazette in the media center, asking as politely as the question was pointed. “It seems like to me that in some ways, the Chase has become so all-powerful that in some ways it diminishes the accomplishment of an individual race win.”
To his credit, Hamlin hit back with a humbling dose of honesty, dealing with an awkward truth that the latest Grandfather Clock to his Martinsville collection brought him nothing more than a way to tell time. For his 15 Minutes of Chase fame ended not when he took the checkered flag at Martinsville, but during two straight DNFs at California and Charlotte that turned an underdog title shot into little more than a pipe dream.
And the culprit at the root of it all? Hamlin’s biggest short track rival, an unassuming man with Lowe’s colors whose monotonous bid for four straight titles has stolen the hearts of few but the resourcefulness of many in a news cycle that seems not to think about anything else.
“Good point,” Hamlin said to the awkward laughter of those who knew full well they’d get busy turning the other cheek as soon as he left. “It really is a good point, without a doubt. I mean, everyone just talks about it.”
“I’m sure on the websites tomorrow there will be 12 stories, and there will be one about how much this guy lost to Jimmie, how much this guy lost to Jimmie, how much Jimmie gained, stretched his point lead — there will be about three or four stories, and then mine will be in that little column, ‘Denny Hamlin wins at Martinsville for the second time.’”
“Y’all do it,” he continued. “You know, write something different.”
How much his audience actually agreed with that assessment, it’s hard to know for sure. But certainly, no one disagreed, at least in public – and that’s telling enough for someone that not only agrees with Monte’s question, but would be inclined take it one step further. For not only has the Chase overshadowed Denny Hamlin’s successful weekend … it’s condensed the final 10 races into a select few, predetermined storylines narrowing the focus on a series that was once about a full field of 43.
Let me explain. Back before the Chase format barged into your living room, a race like Martinsville would be filled with 3, maybe 4 drivers with a realistic shot at a championship. Everyone else would have their own storylines going on, some set of realistic goals to finish the season on a high note. Maybe it was a battle to finish in the top 10 in points and earn a right to be on stage for the season-ending banquet. Or it could be sneaking into the top 5 and the hundreds of thousands more in prize money that comes with it. For drivers further down the list, fighting for 25th in points, a ride for next year, or even to keep their team’s sponsor would play a factor.
That would leave everyone – television, writers, radio – with more than enough to talk about. But now, with 12 drivers automatically assigned a chance at a championship, some of those stories all but disappear. Instead of fighting for a top 5 in points, a very successful season, Hamlin’s year becomes defined by the “championship bid that fell apart.” Instead of using a long list of top 5 finishes in the playoffs to build momentum for 2010, one restart at Lowe’s haunts Juan Pablo Montoya when the Lowe’s car motors further away. Right now, considering Jimmie Johnson’s (I’m hoping not to mention his name much more in this column) 118-point lead on the field, there are 10 other drivers with similar sob stories to share, buried amongst historic hype in a series in which more than one driver used to feel like a winner by the time the checkered flag fell at Homestead.
But it certainly doesn’t feel that way now, does it? With the Chasers comprising over a quarter of the starting field, the title and everything about it seemingly has no choice but to take center stage. So instead of these men celebrating some individual success at the end of the season, they’re all grouped together in the type of playoff where you feel like anything second or worse is a failure. It’s almost like watching the NCAA tournament where it’s the final game and the other 62 teams are in the arena … so people feel compelled to mention it. But by no means does anybody consider their presence; after all, they didn’t end up winning, did they?
In NASCAR, that feeling of failure trickles down to the 31 teams each week who didn’t qualify for the playoffs. Even if they’re not just going through the motions, a full 25 percent of the field “technically” running for the title (even though some are on the verge of being mathematically eliminated) is enough to send their stories to the sidelines. Did you know that Sunday, Jamie McMurray had his best finish of the year in sixth? That Joey Logano quietly tamed a track that’s dismal for rookies and came home 12th? Or that Bobby Labonte pulled the perfect audition for 2010 with a 13th place run – his best result since the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day?
Even amongst the Chasers, there were plenty of exciting plotlines to pursue in their own right. Ryan Newman completed a “short track sweep” – top 10s in all six races at Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond – with a 7th-place finish. Brian Vickers bounced back from a dismal Chase to come home 11th, conquering a track that specializes in chewing up and spitting out the Team Red Bull star. But neither one sits in championship contention, so even though four straight doesn’t attain historical significance for, yes, another four weeks, they’re pushed aside for instant analysis about such a feat right now.
Fans have complained so much this season about boredom to the point of pre-scripted competition. Boring races, mystery debris cautions just to spice things up at the finish, and dominance by four cars within the same organization have been just some of their multiple complaints. But when the Chase controls our stories, keeping us from concentrating on some of the other things that keep this sport exciting, no wonder why everyone’s so upset. I mean, why celebrate history now when we can do it in four weeks? History’s not history until the season’s over … so with the title in the bag sans a Talladega wreck, can’t we take time to talk about something else?
After all, you can’t expect people to get excited about a story they’re not aware of – so why write according to the script? For as Denny Hamlin so aptly proved on Sunday afternoon, just because Jimmie Johnson’s in control of this Chase doesn’t mean everyone else has given up.
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.”
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thank you and Amen! The chase has taken over racing to the point that no one and nothing else even shows up on the radar. For those of us who really don’t care who wins until the season is actually over, we are forced to see and hear nothing that isn’t related to the top 12. Has it occurred to anyone that the narrow focus may be the exact reason that TV ratings are going down?
Thanks for your Bowles Eye View! Now if NASCAR, the print media and the television media would get on the same train for the next few weeks..the season might end on a high note! The racing at Martinsville was pretty good..but the coverage was terrible. I heard and saw every move Jimmie made..whether he was in the pits, in 25th or in first. And then..they had to go back and show us a replay of Jimmie in 25th, the pits and first. We watched Juan..and he was pretty fun .. and we watched Denny. And that..was about it. What was going on with Ryans car? And Tonys? We got a peek here or there of Mark..if he managed to get next to Jimmie..we did get some info on Jeff’s car here and there..Brians’ car? Hey..seems Carl was in there and Greg? But hmmm..don’t know? I saw Matt there..didn’t hear too much..got a word here or there about Jamie.and even poor miserable Junior only got a mention or two (but at this point that might be a blessing)! What about Marcos? When it comes to tv coverage it is turn the tv on and then the radio..that’s the only way you get an idea of what is happening all over the track. I for one turned the tv off right after the race..no postrace coverage of the same 3 for me! I am looking forward to the end of the season..but my problem is Daytona 2010…As usual..are they going to start out the season touting “CHASE” till we are bored to death before the racing season is past the first race?
I agree with most of your assessment…I would only add one big point…that Jimmie could have easily said, ok, second is fine, I’m not gonna risk wrecking or getting more on Denny’s bad side going for the win. You know, that “points racing” that everyone despises.
I have followed NASCAR closely since the early to mid ’80s (~20yrs old). Was a casual fan prior to that (more interested in driving my own car that watching others drive theirs). I have had a “favorite” driver for about 30 years. I know that the intensity of my fanaticism has definitey declined in the last 2-3 years. I can’t pinpoint any one cause, so here are several.
I agree with you whole-heartedly. But I now have an assignment for you and the Frontstretch staff: My wife and I were discussing this very topic during the race (when the coverage stinks, you compromise). The subject was: “If the Chase had never been implemented, HOW CLOSE would the end resulting points tally be for the championship?” My wife is quick to point out that Jeff Gordon would be going after his seventh championship this year, but let’s not even beat that dead horse. The Chase was supposed to “make the title run closer and more exciting”. Can you or one of your cohorts that are statistic-savvy (I resist the descriptor “geek”) calculate just how close all of these championship points standings would have been under the old format, and compare it to the Chase. We are very curious.
That would be fun to see! I’m too lazy to do the math myself so come on Frontstretch, break out the calculator! While we’re wishing we could change history… Would Jeff be going for 7? We’ll never know because there was no Davey, Alan, or Ernie (without the injury) for the majority of Jeff’s career. Lot’s of things “coulda been”.
Lets see if I can kinda summarize the sad state of NA$CRAP and their “points” system(s)!
First, next years starting fields are ALREADY SET, (for the first 5 races of 2010)!
Can one imagine where THIS YEARS POINTS get you an automatic starting spot in 2010?
Only in NA$CRAP!
Second, they count points for everyone for 26 races!
Then they sort out the top 12 and re-shuffle the points!
So they “honor” 12 drivers for the last ten races! BUT, my friends, ONLY 10 spots are on stage at the year end banquet!
12 into 10 does not compute! I thought twelve (12) drivers were so being honored!
And then another column on the Frontstretch, the lead column today, states the it is the “elite” 5 drivers (for some reason, hell, I don’t know!)
So, what do we have here, a points “system”, that honors 35 cars! Whoops, no, a system that honors 12 drivers? Well, no, that’s not right either, a system that honors 10 drivers? Dang, wrong again!
I’ll keep trying this thing, so now we have “the elite 5”, well, no, that is going no-where!
Now I am lost, because on TV they never talk about anyone except 3 drivers, well, four if you include the 88 car, so I guess we also honor 21st place, by some stretch!
Gee, can’t even explain the number of systems and “honorees” in NA$CRAP!
I have a suggestion, how about honoring, 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 4th place, all the way to the end?
Can one say “friggin mess”?
Oh, to the folks who want the old points, just go to Jayski.com.. They track the current Chase points, and the “old” point system.. Just go to that site, click on “Sprint”.. In the pull down menu go to “Race Results”.. Then go to “Driver Results” for the CURRENT RACE.. Old way, Stewart in 1st place; Johnson in 2nd 80pts down; Gordon in 3rd 117pts down.. Much closer then the new crazy “Chase” points system..
SCS – Your point #6 – 1.5 mile tracks. Just enough space for the entire field to be 3 car lengths apart. Not enough side by side racing. – is right on. SMI & ISC built up too many of these boring tracks, took away races from the shorter ‘heritage’ tracks where the sport grew up and where the racing was hard and tight. Now we have a plethora of mile and a half D-shaped or Qual-ovals (plus Michigan & California – 1.5 milers on steroids) where single file are the words of the day. Boring!!!
It was great seeing a short track race yesterday. We need more.
SCS said “1. An independent group should be enforcing rules and throwing the cautions. I simply don’t trust the powers that be.”
Nascar needs to explain to the fans cautions where the caution crews never go on the track!! Also, yesterday at Martinsville, they throw a caution for a piece of rubber, But not for a car on the front stretch untill the cars are on the front stretch?? That’s two times in the last several weeks.. Throw “cautions” for “mystry” debre, but not for cars stalled on the track?? Give me a break.. Oh, if I was not allowed to put another websites address in a comment above, sorry.. Didn’t think about that untill now..
I just read this on another site, ESPN to be specific, so this post might be removed.
“Wins are nice, but the goal is to win a championship.”…..
You fans know something.. Go to ESPN, see for yourself the story written.. It’s clear why the TV coverage SUCKS from ESPN.. There idea is, it’s all the Chase.. However, there are 42 other drivers out there with fans.. How would someone like to watch a football game, and have only one team covered? That’s only 50% of the info available.. Well, when they only cover JJ it’s only 2.33% of the information available.. Yea, I did the math.. 1/43*100=2.33.. I’m a Tony Stewart fan, big time.. They didn’t bairly say anything about him, damn, he’s IN the Chase!! But no info was available.. Why was he in the 20’s ESPN?? Long time Nascar fan wants to know, during the race.. Well, that’s my 2cents.. I’m not up to dollars yet.. Lol.. Just kidden..
Isn’t it ironic that we now have such close competition via the COT, etc, but we don’t use the old points system anymore?
I submit that if we used the old points system with todays close competition, we’d be better off.
But I know it won’t happen and that makes me sad.
How many times in the 5 or 6 years of the Chase would the old points system be better? I remember in 2007 when Jeff Gordon ran away with it and would have clinched the title after Texas with two races remaining. Is that what you want?
I watched very little of the race, but at one point when I switched Over to check on the race, 11 of the first 12 spots were taken by the chase drivers and I kept seeing non-chasers get out of the way of the chasers. I switched back to football and never switched back. It’s sad. It’s rigged. Its over. Usually at this point I can’t wait for Daytona. This year I don’t care and that’s real sad. Thanks Brain Fart.
Post above said:
Yes Sir, that is Sad as can be.
“How many times in the 5 or 6 years of the Chase would the old points system be better? I remember in 2007 when Jeff Gordon ran away with it and would have clinched the title after Texas with two races remaining. Is that what you want?”
Of course a Gordon fan would like that, but would you feel the same if it was a different driver?
Douglas, I like your opinions and reading your comments, but I dont like getting beat over the head with them in every post. Can you pick a different subject for a while?
Also, you mention this years points deciding who starts the first five races next year, and no other sport does that. How about the drafts, where this years finishing order determines the order they pick rookies from the draft next year? Does that count? And, assuming NASCAR is not going to change the top 35 rule, how would you change the rules to determine who gets to start the first 5 races next year and who has to qualify on time?
NA$CAR nowadays is like watching the same re-run over and over again. Chad tests all year, then runs away with it at the end of the year. Blah Blah Blah. He will win it this year and next year and the year after that. The same re-run playing over and over. Ratings, attendance and merchandising will continue to fall because nobody wants to watch the same crap every year. At least with the old system, if someone ran away with the title, it was almost certainly somebody different. No team was ever good enough and lucky enough to easily win the title every year the way Chad does. This in itself always kept each season interesting. All of you ¢hase lovers can continue to watch this bad re-run, but I won’t. (¢hase starts = tune out) Chad is making a mockery of NA$CAR’s crappy points system, and is helping to turn fans away. In your face Brainle$$ Fran¢e. Take this ¢hase crap and your crappy COT and the rest of your garbage and shove it where the sun don’t shine. I for one am PISSED at the current state of NA$CAR and so are most all of the fans (or former fans-except Kevin in SOCAL NA$CRAP employee). The proof is in the pudding. The numbers don’t lie. The ¢hase is a complete failure. NA$CAR is a joke in the eye’s of the sporting world. It is in complete dissarray with no real direction since the Drunk took control. In my 20+ years watching, i’ve never seen things this bad. The future doesn’t look good, i’m sad to say.
I am not a NASCAR employee, nor am I an employee of any race track. I just simply refuse to wallow in the mud and be pessimistic about things. Yes there are lots about NASCAR that I would change, but I’m not running the sport. NASCAR has handed us a lot of lemons in recent years, but there is still some lemonade left.
If nothing else, the Chase has proven that the media is easily distracted and will almost always criticize NASCAR and take the easy way out. There are stories out there, important to many drivers and their fans, but effort is required.
It seems to me that what is happening in the Chase with JJ is the very thing that happened when Kenseth kicked everyone’s butt.Yea, I know, one win. But he did it with the Championship format in place at that time. So what’s the next cure Brian France? You worthless piece of….
Recent articles from Tom Bowles:
Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
If you want to know more about Tom Bowles or to view all of his articles here at the Frontstretch, check out his archive and bio page.
Want even more Tom Bowles? Check out Tom's archive at SI.com.