Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Tuesday May 4, 2010
Here’s the $5 million dollar question: What’s the track with the fewest lead changes so far this season?
Fontana? Nope. That’s actually sixth on the list (although you may not have been awake to see it).
Atlanta? Nope. That’s number three (although the next version of this race may be run somewhere in Kentucky.)
Hmmm … Las Vegas? Texas? Phoenix?
Wrong. Sorry, folks … your answer is Richmond, with 12. Shocked? Considering most fans, drivers, and media put that place on their “can’t miss” list, I’d say that’s a resounding yes. It just goes to show that until you set the drivers loose, you never know what’s going to happen on the race track; one of the hottest places on the circuit can turn into an iceberg of a snoozer under the right circumstances.
That’s what happened Saturday night, as when Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon left for their own planet, everyone else seemed to circulate at half-speed. Leading 370 of 400 laps, you’d think they’d dominate the HOT part of our Hot / Not category this week. So why is only one above the cutline? Read on to find out, as well as sort through the carnage they lapped (err, left) behind to see who’s hurting just in time to get a fresh hit to the outside wall. ‘Cause remember, drivers, if Richmond’s short track slugfest didn’t punch you in the gut, the Lady In Black has a Mother’s Day present for you.
Kyle Busch – Moves up to the top category this week after breaking his 21-race winless streak at Richmond. But perhaps the more important number is that ugly 0-for-12 with crew chief Dave Rogers, filled with enough “would haves, could haves, should haves” Steve Letarte was jealously taking notes for future ways Jeff Gordon could finish second (we’ll get to that a little later). Now that they’ve both kissed a trophy and made up, attention turns to a surging Joe Gibbs Racing operation that’s won three of five with Busch and Denny Hamlin. But with Busch just 109 points behind Jimmie Johnson in the standings, he’s currently got the edge within that stable right now.
So what’s the next step to get to the top? Silly enough, where he stands with his extracurricular activities. Just 84 points out of the Nationwide Series lead, Busch stands one month away from the standalone races that’ll determine whether he tries to defend that title, giving up his Cup Series focus in the process. And then, there’s his Truck team; at last check, there are also quite a few construction companies standing there holding torches (and lawyers) over $3 million in money they’re owed. Can you say “distraction?” Yeah, I guess you probably can after all the ones Busch has dealt with off the track the last two years. Let’s see if he can nip these in the bud this time.
Carl Edwards – For Carl to be considered a weekly contender again, he needs to do two things: lead laps and run strong at racetracks that typically eat him alive.
That puts Edwards in front of the cameras at a crucial time for his future. Back inside the Chase, all it’ll take is another top 5 at Darlington to ensure Bob Osborne is up on the pit box for the long haul. I’m thinking he’s a little safer, but then again, I thought the Mets were safe pitching a Cy Young award winner Johan Santana against a 47-year-old pitcher for the NL East lead Sunday night.
They lost 11-5. No, I’m not bitter … but I don’t want Edwards fans to be, either. So be prepared for the worst, expect the best, and hope the duck doesn’t drive at Darlington. That might be bad for everyone.
Kevin Harvick – Mentioned prominently in this column last week, so let’s push him into the background despite a third-place finish (he also earned the point lead by ten over Johnson). I guess we’re just honoring his Talladega wish in Victory Lane: giving Shell as little positive PR as possible on their way out the door, right?
Starting and Parking – Just when we thought this practice was close to getting nipped in the bud, a season-high 17 combined cars in both Cup and Nationwide pulled in early. It’s easy to start the season on high hopes and no sponsorship, but once debt piles up parking makes a whole lot more financial sense, doesn’t it? In a failing business model, the risk of running the distance is only good enough until the first call from the bill collector comes.
Ryan Newman – One month after a drought-breaking win, the No. 39 continues to build a foundation towards future Chase success. Runs of 11th and 8th at the unrestricted tracks the last few weeks have him 16th in points and just 71 out of a Chase spot. Heck, if not for that ugly wreck at Talladega he’d be in it; you think we better tell him that? It’s not like he needs any more motivation to sneak into that track in the middle of the night and blow it up.
So let’s leave him with a positive thought. At Darlington last year, Newman led 48 laps and had arguably the best car at times before fading. Repeat that performance, and he’ll likely end the day inside the top 12 and heading to Charlotte breathing easy.
Juan Pablo Montoya – I hate to leave the same driver in the same category two weeks in a row. But Montoya continues to taunt us, delivering the type of top-10 finishes that got him in the Chase last year but without the cushion of no DNFs to let him sneak in. In this case, he needs to be A+ the rest of the way, and B+ is just not good enough. So when’s Brian Pattie going to give the OK for this car to start spinning people? A long line of NASCAR fans (millions) might like to see it.
Martin Truex, Jr. – Quietly racked up finishes of ninth, 12th, and seventh the last three weeks to become Michael Waltrip Racing’s top contender in Waltrip’s old car. Too bad for the team Waltrip thinks he can still drive every once in awhile. The stats say otherwise.
Jeff Gordon – I know, I know. How could a runner-up finisher be banished to the wrong side of the cut line? It’s just that you can only shoot yourself in the foot so many times before you run out of toes. And in the recent Jeff Gordon – Steve Letarte partnership, I don’t know how the heck they’re able to walk anymore. Susan Lucci could learn some lessons on how to lose an Emmy Award from these two; just when it seems they have it in the bag, Victory Lane is donated to the nearest eligible nominee while driver and crew in the No. 24 are left to find the best way to stutter and bow out gracefully.
Sure, 599 laps led (tops in the league) and sixth in points is nothing to sneeze at. But one bad day is all it’ll take to leave Gordon staggering outside the top 12 – he’s just 96 points ahead of teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 13th – and don’t you think he’s due for a car that’ll run 20th, not two-tenths of a second better than the field? Eventually, those clunkers will come (as they do for everyone) and JG might wish he’d picked up a few more points on the table than the 31st, 22nd, and second he’s pulled with winning cars the last three weeks.
Scott Speed – In this category for not one but two reasons this week. Speed has offered to pie Kyle Busch in the face if he gets voted into the All-Star race, a move that might result in both record ratings for SPEED and a television highlight non-NASCAR sports reporters can speak through and smile (seriously, it amazes me how many people I work with in the business who not only report NASCAR with a frown, but never even lift a finger to learn anything about the sport. Another topic for another day).
Sadly for Mr. Speed, after a hot start little gimmicks like that are the only way he’s actually going to make the field. Winning is the furthest thing from his mind, and the top 10 seems a distance blur after six straight finishes of 15th or worse (including a 35th at Richmond Saturday night). With Brian Vickers also dropping like a rock, looks like Red Bull needs a recharge to its formula quickly before it’s too late. Either that, or they could field about four more teams … that seems to work well for Roush and Hendrick!
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Fell from eighth to 13th in points after unscheduled green-flag stop leads to 32nd-place finish. In other news, five NASCAR Vice Presidents are in serious condition tonight after heart attacks triggered shortly after realizing Chase ramifications. Also, fess up now … you’ve Google searched the name Amy Reimann this week. Come on! You may not believe the sleaze … but you fell victim to temptation nonetheless. That’s how the National Enquirer sells its mags …
Sam Hornish, Jr. – Once upon a time, there was a championship Indy Car driver who wanted to try his hand at another sport. So, he decided to ask his car owner if he could go from avoiding walls to trying to hit them … in a stock car!
So far, this new career has been going swimmingly. In fact, Hornish’s latest wall-smack also served as his first DNF of the season! (At Richmond) Sadly, though, for some reason corporate sponsors stopped wanting to back a car that hits the wall every week. Apparently, it’s just too expensive; so sometime in September, everyone stopped the charade, an IndyCar driver announced a glorious return to his other sport and proceeded to win many more races and championships.
Want to learn more? Don’t worry; the book will be out soon. There’s not many more NASCAR chapters left to write.
Terry Cook – Left his ride this week amidst trepidation over Whitney Motorsports’ future direction (as in, there’s not enough money to run the whole race so we won’t). He leaves the Sprint Cup Series with three starts in ten attempts, a best finish of 34th (Phoenix) and paves the way for Kevin Conway to win the Rookie of the Year Award unchallenged.
Sorry to make you choke on your Extenze. I just state facts; and one thing I do know (for a fact) that while Cook flopped in Cup he is one heck of a Truck driver. Here’s to whatever car owner is willing to bite the bullet and pick him up for their growing operation over there; they won’t be sorry!
Richmond – Not exactly the way to follow up a fireworks-style performance last September. What’s worse, the Spring race has averaged just 12 lead changes over the last three years. Perhaps restrictor plates would help?
Bobby Labonte – Has exactly zero top-20 finishes in ten 2010 races thus far. Ten years ago, he was well on his way to his first and only Cup championship. How far one can rise and fall in a decade?
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this is just wrong. how could you put Kyle on the hot list after only 1 win? Jeff has been consistent for the most part this season. his biggest obstacle seems to be Jimmy Johnson. If it wasn’t for Jimmy, he would have had top 10’s in texas and at Talladega. also, how can you call Richmond a snoozer when Talladega and Daytona are the biggest snoozers on the circuit. i don’t care how many lead changes they have, it’s just a product of plate racing, which isn’t racing at all.
There is nobody who would love to see Cousin Carl go for the Sprint Cup Championship than me. However, it won’t happen with him splitting his focus between the Cup series and the Nationwide series. I know Carl is one of those guys who loves to race, but, if I were Mister Roush, I would pull him out of the Number 60 Nationwide car (and put Eric Darnell in there) and have him focus solely on his Cup car. If Edwards did that, watch out!
why is lead-change important, except for the points 5, and 10 for most laps ? the lead matters at the checkered flag… look at the points spread 2nd thru 10th… the winner should get a 25 point bonus, period
PetalToTheMetal, then maybe it’s time to make a slight adjustment to the points system to award, say, 2 points for each lap lead, then say a 5-point bonus for every 10 laps lead, and another 50-points for leading the most laps. That just might get these guys who points-race to get off their behinds and go for it rather than just run at the back, then decide with 10-to-go to get the best finish possible. Awarding points per lap lead might get some of these guys to get a lot more competative sooner than more toward the end! I’d rather watch someone with a checkers-or-wreckers attitude than a points racer.
I don’t think Bobby Labonte’s fall can be 100% attributed to his driving ability. Agreeing to drive for Petty, Hall of Fame, and TRG says a whole lot more about his business smarts than his driving ability. Biggest Bobby Labonte fan in the world here, and it hurts to see that he has thrown his career away with one poor business decision after another.
Ken, I didn’t think anyone would be dumb enough to admit to being a fan of that idiot Edwards! Thank you for proving me wrong! Shows you know nothing about what is going on in the sport today!
And Rufus, under your points system, Kyle Busch would have had something like 600 bonus points for Saturday night. Would you really want to see an undeserving driver get such a big reward? If it were Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, or Tony Stewart, yes, then they would deserve it! But not Kyle! Can you imagine someone like idiot Edwards getting hooked up and dominating a race like Kyle did? God forbid!
Sorry Carl D. but i am the BIGGEST Bobby Labonte fan in the World. I hate to bring contradiction to this but i had to. Anyways, from one Labonte fan to another i have to agree with you are his business decisions. After all those years in the #18 to see him drive the #43, #96, and #71 are really discouraging. But he can still drive and with 100% sponsorship and quality equipment he will be right back on top. Always a fan GO BOBBY!
Whoooo, Mike being a Carl Edwards fan is the right way to be doing things! Ken you are a smart man for picking Edwards! Mike is probably a LOSER Jimmie Johnson fan! Anyway I know I just ranted about Bobby Labonte but when he left JGR I went to a new driver and he was THE MAN Carl Edwards! After all those years in the #18 I couldnt root for the #43, #96 or #71. So to the 2 best drivers in the garage go Carl and Bobby!
an honorable mention for harvick after a 3rd and a first and you cant stop raving about cuz can you? and we will be here to remind you about how harvick was supposed to be leaving rcr when he re ups with them.
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