NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
With the 2009 Silly Season circus coming to a close, there’s more drivers left than rides to fill in the Cup Series these days. Once Jamie McMurray signs with the No. 1 of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (expected to happen this week), the only car available with primary sponsorship money secured, in fact, is the No. 09 car owned by James Finch. No less than four experienced drivers are competing for that seat as finalists, a sign of how the tough economy will easily leave more than a few on the outside looking in.
So as the free agent pool begins to deplete itself, who’s the best guy left without a 2010 contract? Let’s examine the pluses and minuses of each one to see who has a good chance to stay afloat on the Cup side next season — and who might be better off flipping burgers:
Credentials: 2000 Cup Series Champion, 21 wins and 199 top 10s in 580 Sprint Cup starts
Pluses: Labonte comes packaged with the most recent Past Champion’s Provisional, meaning he gives any team outside the top 35 six “free passes” into any race should the car be too slow to qualify on speed. He’s also got the most experience of any driver still standing, having driven a Ford, Chevy, and Dodge under the Car of Tomorrow banner in just the last two years.
Minuses: Age and pride. At 45, Labonte’s not getting any younger in a sport where 40 is suddenly a midlife crisis point for sponsors unwilling to commit. And after four dismal years on the circuit after leaving a cushy gig at Joe Gibbs Racing, this former champ’s not exactly enthused about putting together a half-hearted effort. If he’s a part of a building process like at TRG Motorsports, that’s one thing. But pulling the equivalent of a start-and-park with a team that has no direction? He’d rather just go retire and join his older brother on the sidelines.
Chances of a ride in 2010: Highest of all the candidates. Even though sponsorship is still pending, owner Kevin Buckler has made it clear he wants Labonte back in his No. 71 car for TRG next season.
Credentials: One win, 46 top 10s in 250 Sprint Cup starts
Pluses: The knock on Mears is he doesn’t get the car to Victory Lane … but he sure brings it home in one piece. He’s averaged just two DNF’s over the past four seasons and has finished each of his 34 races in Richard Childress’ No. 07 Chevy in 2009. That’s put him in position to finish in the top 20 in points for a fourth straight season. Is that as good as making the Chase? Of course not … but it’s not too shabby to put on a resume, either.
Minuses: For the past four seasons, Mears has also had the benefit of top-level equipment: from Chip Ganassi’s No. 42 in 2006, to Rick Hendrick’s team in 2007-’08, to an RCR car in ’09 that had finished in the top 5 in points two straight years with Clint Bowyer. Yet all Mears has to show for it is one fuel mileage win at Charlotte, just eight top 5 finishes in 142 starts, and a boatload of unfulfilled potential. Sure, he’s got a famous name, and he’s one heck of a nice guy. But when the economy’s tanking, that ain’t enough to earn you a paycheck.
Chances of a ride in 2010: Let’s just say RCR better get sponsorship for his ride. Otherwise … looks like he’s finally the odd man out.
Credentials: One Nationwide Series win, two poles and four top 10s in 116 Cup starts
Pluses: The lone success story out of the back of the garage this season, Gilliland ran hard for the underfunded TRG Motorsports camp, qualifying for every race he attempted in the No. 71 with a best finish of 15th at Las Vegas in March. With the type of rides left available, qualifying will weigh heavily in the selection process, and there’s no doubt this guy can get any type of car in the show. And as for his talent? It was enough to impress Joe Gibbs, who set him up with a partial schedule in a fourth car in the latter half of 2009.
Minuses: At 33, Gilliland’s not exactly a “young gun,” and hasn’t lived up to potential displayed by his miraculous 2006 Nationwide Series win at Kentucky. With just 24 lead lap finishes in 116 Cup starts, he has yet to show the in-race consistency teams are looking for to replicate that Friday success two days later. Will the right team have the patience to wait for that to develop?
Chances of a ride in 2010: If Buckler had his way, he’d have both Gilliland and Labonte in his stable. But sponsorship will likely leave an opening for only one … which means Gilliland may be far better off begging JGR for another partial schedule in 2010, riding out the economy and waiting for one more full-time chance in ’11.
Credentials: 2003 Truck Series champion, 6 top 10 finishes, and 1 pole in 111 Sprint Cup starts
Pluses: Kvapil was arguably one of the most improved drivers on the Cup circuit last year, scoring four top 10 finishes and a pole for a Yates Racing team that could never even put together full sponsorship for him. Finishing a career high 23rd in points, the 33-year-old showed he has what it takes to compete at the sport’s top level after a one-year hiatus.
Minuses: As good as 2008 was, ’09 was a serious regression. Yes, his team was pulled out from under him, but an embarrassing DNQ in the first five races helped seal the deal on his ouster from Yates due to sponsorship woes. Kvapil’s then spent most of the rest of the year on the sidelines, with his quiet, unassuming personality great for team chemistry but awful for marketing execs looking to put a sponsorship package together. In this age where you have to bring money to the table more than ever, can a humble guy from Nowhereville, WI attach himself to the right company?
Chances of a ride in 2010: He may not like to hear it, but right now someplace in the Nationwide or Trucks is probably a better fit. For the start-and-park equipment Kvapil will likely be offered, wouldn’t you rather go find a home someplace where you can compete for a title?
Credentials: Three Nationwide wins, 14 top 10s in 143 Sprint Cup starts
Pluses: Just 23, you’d think Sorenson still has a whole career ahead of him at this level. And while he’s gone 33 straight races without a top 10 finish, just one DNF has him 28th in the standings. His whole “racing for free” scenario (it was either that or be fired from RPM) also has erased some of the negative vibes from a guy labeled a problem child by former car owner Felix Sabates.
Minuses: For years, the knock on Sorenson has been he doesn’t put the effort in to succeed in a Cup ride, that he’s a victim of too much success too soon. Right now, there’s no evidence out there to contradict that assessment. Described in inner circles as one of the most laid back guys on the circuit, the line between “laid back” and “lazy” appears to be blurred here. One year after being given a chance to drive the famed No. 43, Sorenson lost out on a chance to stay with the team due to the effort and determination of late addition A.J. Allmendinger. And considering the dedication you’ll need to simply survive in one of these small-time rides still available… would Sorenson be able to step up to the plate?
Chances of a ride in 2010: Todd Braun has a soft spot for Sorenson, and some races are available in the No. 32 car the two paired up with to drive to victory at Gateway two years ago. Sorenson has his hopes up for Cup, but I have him a longshot at best for every ride still available – meaning a limited Nationwide Series ride might be good to help him grow up.
Credentials: Three top 10s in 108 Cup starts
Pluses: Hard to find them in a difficult year with Penske, but hey, at least Roger thought he was talented enough for the No. 12 ride! Over on the Nationwide side, it’s a different story, but the consistency of 49 top 10s in 133 starts just hasn’t ever translated over to the next level.
Minuses: No top 10s in 33 starts in top-level equipment? Ouch. That’s kind of tough to rebound from considering Penske was not Stremme’s first but second go-round in this series. With six DNFs and a history of wrecking, there’s not much to elevate him past more successful drivers like Mears who have yet to be picked up.
Chances of a ride in 2010: Believe it or not, Stremme might get lucky, as James Finch and Stremme used to work together over in Nationwide (Stremme drove his car to Rookie of the Year in 2003). But if he blows his chance at Homestead with the No. 09, Nationwide is the likely solution for him … and this time, expect him to be more like Jason Leffler as there will be no third chance at Cup glory.
Credentials: 4 Nationwide Series wins, 16 Top 10s in 175 Cup starts
Pluses: Riggs was once looked at as an up and coming star, and has six years of Cup experience under his belt. Having worked for the rich (RPM), the middle class (the former MB2 Motorsports), and the poor (Tommy Baldwin Racing), he knows how to get the most out of the car in each situation.
Minuses: After leaving TBR in May when the team changed its strategy to starting and parking, Riggs hates the concept. But you wonder if his Sprint Cup disappearing act has left him off the radar screen for car owners with half-a-dozen drivers coming up to them asking for work each weekend inside the garage. At 39, Riggs is no Spring chicken either, and has needed some serious adjustment time for every Cup ride he’s taken. In this era of no patience, you wonder if that’s going to be acceptable.
Chances of a ride in 2010: Out of sight, out of mind. There was a great NASCAR Illustrated piece that talked about what might have been with Scott Riggs. And come February 2010, that’s exactly what he’ll be wondering when sitting on the sidelines…
Who I Would Hire – In Order, As Of 11/10/09
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Another good blog keep it up! It is interesting how few full time rides are available after the switches of the past couple seasons. Looking forward to see what happens, thanks for the insight!
How quickly things can change. Just 2 or 3 years ago when 49 fully-funded cars were attempting each race, who would’ve thought that several good drivers would be desperately trying to get a ride in the 09?
I pretty much agree with your list at the end, though I might move Riggs up a bit. I’ve always felt like he was a really talented driver who just never got put in a good situation.
On the plus side, if a lot of these drivers can find solid Nationwide rides next season, that could begin to spark more interest in that series once again!
If I were them, I would focus on getting a good ride in the Nationwide or Truck Series. At least then they could get a decent ride that could compete for good finishes, as opposed to a start-and-park ride.
Bobby Labonte could certainly get a great Truck ride, at the very least.
Good list, but Id move Sorenson above Gilliland and Stremme, with Stremme being last.
I think that I’d have David Gilliland higher. Maybe as high as third. What he and Kvapil did at Yates was not appreciated. Also he has done a fine job with TRG this year. Gibbs definitely noticed. On the over-rated side, Casey Mears has done less with more than any driver currently racing.
I saw that one of the blog writers said that she had heard rumors that Jr. will not be driving for HMS next year. I sure hope that that is right. I would love to see him at anyone else…even Toyota. Marybeth
For those who have really been paying attention, it’s David Gilliland hands down!
If he ever gets the right equipment and sponsorship — Watch Out!
With the exception of Kvapil and Gilliland, this list is full of guys that have had quality rides and just squandered them. Gilliland is the best of the bunch. The whole package. The all around best choice for a team owner.
Hands downGilliland,all he needs is quality equipment for a change
I wish there were rides for all of them,because the truth is they’re all good guys with a lot of talent.Have to agree with others that have posted here that you could argue that Gilliland and Kvapil did more with less in 2008(the last time they both had full season contracts)than any of the others have done recently,and still believe that they both have upside,especially in that beast they call the COT.
MY order of preference if he were hiring a FA driver:
1) Bobby Labonte – still talented enough for top 15 finishes in good equipment. Probably would be the top choice by sponsors out of this group
I think David Gilliland is the front runner. He not only can get the car in the show, when given equipment that is decent, he can run competitively. His sponsors love him, as shown by M&Ms opening the door to DG getting in the JGR car. And he has a strong fan base.
Travis is my pick after David. Both Kvapil and Gilliland ran quite well in Yates equipment with little sponsorship, and certainly were better than Menard and Labonte in those same cars. Mears has had great equipment, but seems to step up his performance only when he is just about to lose his ride. Stremme just hasn’t gotten it done at all.
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