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 · Wednesday May 5, 2010
Did You Notice? … That with so much focus surrounding Jeff Gordon’s 38-race winless streak, we’ve forgotten about a lot of big-name drivers riding even larger droughts? We’ve knocked off two big ones (Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick) in the month of April, both of whom hadn’t won since the 2008 and 2007 Daytona 500s, respectively (and you think there’s no curse… yeah, and Miss Cleo can actually see the future).
But in a world where only a select few have been visiting Victory Lane as of late, there’s still plenty with droughts that have lasted more than one year. Here’s a look at some top-level veterans dying in a desert filled with no winning hardware:
Matt Kenseth. Current Streak: 44 Races. With all the Daytona 500 winners getting back on track, you’d think it’s only natural for Kenseth to be next on the list. He’s won just once after his ’09 triumph in the Great American Race, going 2-for-2 at Fontana the next week before the rest of his year got flushed down the toilet. One new crew chief (and several new sponsors) later, Todd Parrott seems to have this group turned around, although it’s notable things have been shaky ever since Gordon bumped him out of the way at Martinsville – a move that cost them both a shot at the win. Maybe an All-Star Race payback could turn things around?
Best Chance To Break Through: Dover. Fourth, second, fourth, and third in his last four trips there. What better way to challenge the No. 48 than beat him at one of his best tracks?
Jeff Burton. Current Streak: 51 Races. Burton’s worked his typical “put himself in position to win” to a T in recent weeks. It’s just every time he does it, he gets put in position to get wrecked instead. Since the last time he visited Victory Lane, he’s scored three DNFs for crashes and been involved in major wrecks about 10 times. Who knew a sponsor change from AT & T to Caterpillar would make everyone else want to run into him like a bulldozer?
Best Chance To Win: Charlotte. Not only was that the site of Burton’s last victory (October 2008), but RCR’s strength this season has been intermediate tracks. The 600 also seems to favor either first-time winners or those trying to break long winless streaks as of late (Mears ’07, Kahne ’08, Reutimann ’09).
Greg Biffle. Current Streak: 54 Races. Biffle’s last win was at Dover in September 2008, part of a two-race streak where he tried the glass slipper of Chase Cinderella on for size. His title bid fizzled down the stretch as Jimmie Johnson caught fire, but third in the standings had everyone thinking future title contender.
It hasn’t happened. While the consistency has been there (Biffle has seven top-10 finishes in 10 races this season) it’s had its limits (zero runner-up finishes during this stretch). Despite leading a whopping 773 laps since that last win, The Biff’s been undone with costly pit road mistakes, where either speeding, long stops, or poor track position has bit him at the end.
Best Chance To Break Through: Michigan. Typically a Ford track, Biffle feasted on the competition there in his early years. Just a month away, recent momentum could be enough to get him over the hump again.
Juan Pablo Montoya. Current Streak: 102 Races. Everyone’s favorite (and only) Colombian NASCAR star needs wins in a big way after an awful start. The conservative style of the last year or so won’t get him back inside the top 12; now, the question is when and not if he starts letting loose to get a win by any means possible.
Best Chance to Break Through: Infineon. I know that’s the site of his lone Cup Series win. But there’s nothing like a road course for an open-wheel vet to cure an awkward start to 2010.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Current Streak: 67 Races. This streak’s the one everyone knows about, the type NASCAR execs pray to end every night like it’s some type of life-threatening storm. You’d think the No. 88 was heading in the right direction; then again, there’s only one or two more good tracks left before we head towards Junior’s traditional summer slump. And after an awkward night of crew chiefing Saturday night (where Lance McGrew chose to pit his driver instead of grabbing a lap back through the wave around) there are still questions over whether that partnership will survive over time.
Best Chance To Break Through: Daytona. Running his dad’s No. 3 car the night before should make for Earnhardt’s storybook ending in the Cup race. You just wonder if when it comes to the Chase, it’ll be far too late by that point.
Elliott Sadler. Current Streak: 201 Races. Made a brief guest appearance at the 2009 Daytona 500 that could have led to an upset win. It rained at the wrong time instead, and he hasn’t been seen on the track since. Fans usually forget he was racing until they either see him wrecked – or wrecking one of their favorites.
Best Chance To Break Through: Retirement. Sorry, Elliott; we love you as a person, but your time as a driver may be coming to an end fairly soon.
Among the veterans we didn’t focus on … Carl Edwards (46 races), Clint Bowyer (72 races), Martin Truex, Jr. (105 races), Bobby Labonte (226 races). What a crop of outstanding veterans that have all been cut off during the “Jimmie Johnson Era.”
Did You Notice? … Ford has yet to win a race in any of the sport’s top three series this season? That’s an 0-for-24 shutout, coming off the heels of a year in which they won just three of 36 races at the Cup level. If this trend continues, it’ll be the worst stretch for the Blue Oval Crowd since Buicks dominated the Cup Series landscape in the early 1980s.
What’s got the Fords off kilter? It’s a combination of things. As Rick Hendrick is so fond of saying, “It’s all about people,” and Ford’s signature team has lost some of their best ones in recent years. Whether it’s retirements (Robert Yates), defections (Kasey Kahne), or last-second career changes (Mark Martin), the bleeding started six years ago and just hasn’t stopped.
What’s worse, the manufacturer doesn’t have any top-level talent coming up the pipeline, leaving Carl Edwards their lone “young gun” hope in the wake of Kasey Kahne’s departure. Colin Braun? Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.? Those guys have wrecked more cars this year than most people do during their whole career.
You also wonder how much Roush is burdened by supporting every team under the Ford banner. It’s one thing for Penske to be the lone Dodge organization; they’ve got just three cars. But Roush is working with four-car Richard Petty Motorsports, the three-car Front Row team, Latitude 43 Motorsports, and even the part-time effort of the Wood Brothers. That’s thirteen cars in all, many of which have limited sponsorship and need a little extra financial as well as engineering support.
You’d think that with Ford doing the best of any manufacturer outside racing, they’d be putting a little more emphasis and funding into their racing program. There is an internal push according to sources to increase the ownership ranks, but also consider Ford just changed ownership of its own program January 1st, with Jamie Allison replacing Brian Wolfe. It’s the third director in the last two years for the manufacturer after Dan Davis ran the racing side from 1997-2008.
You add all these little things up, and it turns into a big problem. I still think Edwards is the best long-term hope for the company; he’s not just a superstar on the track but a marketing cash cow off it. One thing’s for sure though, the Blue Oval Crowd would be wise to look for other young talents to plug in rides within NASCAR’s lower series. For as good as Kenseth and Biffle can be, at 38 and 40 they won’t be around forever.
Did You Notice? … That whenever Kyle Busch has a great day, you can almost guarantee his brother has a bad one? Considering how this sport has a history of brothers duking it out on the track (all the way back to the Flocks in the 1950s), I figured I’d take a look at the last time both were able to finish strong in the same race.
What I found shocked me. Since the start of 2009, the duo combined for 24 top-5 finishes. But they’ve finished inside the top 5 together just three times: Fontana in February of 2009, Richmond last Fall, and Texas just a couple of weeks ago.
Instead, what’s more memorable about the Busch brothers is how one takes advantage of the other’s misfortune. November, 2009: Kyle dominates Texas only to run out of fuel with a handful of laps to go. Who benefits? Brother Kurt, who takes the win while Kyle ends up 11th. June, 2008: Kyle Busch has a dismal car at New Hampshire, but crew chief Steve Addington realizes the team has superior fuel mileage over everyone else. If the race goes all 300 miles, Busch was set up to win. Instead, an untimely caution followed by a thunderstorm handed the win … to brother Kurt. March, 2009: The Busch brothers sweep the front row for their hometown race at Las Vegas. But while Kurt runs into one problem after another, Kyle demolishes the field en route to leading 51 laps and taking the victory.
I could go on and on. It’s just a pattern I found interesting; two brothers that never seem to have the 1-2 punch at the right time.
Did You Notice? … Some quick hits before taking off…
- Lead changes can always be a deceiving number. Did you know last Richmond’s fall race, perceived as one of the best of 2009, had only 12 of them? That’s the same number from the race this spring, one we know isn’t going to make the highlight reels anytime soon. Thinking back to the May 2008 event, Richmond had only four lead changes but the finish was so dramatic (Kyle Busch spinning Dale Earnhardt, Jr., then having to leave the track with the equivalent of the Secret Service guarding him) thousands of fans click on YouTube clips from that race on a regular basis.
Keep those thoughts in mind when NASCAR throws numbers down your throat about how many lead changes there have been this year. Just because there’s a big number on paper doesn’t mean the racing is always better.
- Is it just me, or did Silly Season explode a little too early? Sure, two weeks of high-quality news generated buzz about 2011. But now, the biggest free agents (sans Kevin Harvick) have been spoken for, top-level crew chiefs have extensions, and many dominos have already fallen. For a sport that needs drama to keep itself in the national news cycle, you wonder if packing all that much into a short period of time will backfire in the long run – especially when the summer doldrums hit and Silly Season’s a desert of dried up stories.
- Along those same lines, one of the biggest news items as of late has been the positive buzz about the sport’s new Hall of Fame. By all accounts from Media Day, the Hall will be an A+ facility when it opens to the public next week (see Mike Neff’s take in the newsletter for more – he was there yesterday). But isn’t it weird the best thing going for NASCAR right now is a building that celebrates its past?
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Tom some great research and point of view in the veteran “break out” section of your article.
I do wonder how Carl Edwards, Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Montoya classify as “vererans” of the Sport. As folks are claiming that Cup stars moonlighting in the Nationwide series kill the developement of the “youth” of the sport, why are we so quick to categorize drivers with under 7 years of experience and easily 10 years of future ahead of them “veterans”. (Side note, as available Cup Rides loom, talent developement will follow – it’s cyclical.)
Also, to seal a line from Stephen A. Smith referencing the Boston Celtics: “What is the difference between being a veteran, and just being old?” [see Bobby Labonte]
I’ll bet the guys at Roush and Ford are slapping their foreheads and saying why didn’t we think of that , why didn’t we think to ask Bowles what our problems were ?
Why would Ford even care? Do people still root for decals in NASCAR?
A Ford is a Ford on the street. In nas$car it’s just decals slapped on the car. I don’t think the average car buyer can afford a COT.
Due to DansMoms constant and obvious negative baiting of the comumnist (and anybody who doesn’t buy into her moronic diatribe), I will never respond to any and all of her desperate drive for attention. Besides I still think she’s Jimmie’s mom.
You can find real Fords racing at your local short tracks, dirt tracks, etc. In Nascar, Ford isn’t a racecar, it’s just another sponsor.
I’d love to know what started this Daytona 500 curse. After all, the team that won it only four years ago has been cursed with never losing a championship since that race.
I think you’re being rather conservative with Burton here. Take a chance and pick him to win this weekend! Of all active drivers with more than four starts there, only Gordon and Johnson have better average finishes at Darlington.
Well there are Ford/Chevy/Dodge/Toyota power plants in them & chassis- body engineers…& to all the real smart ones keep talkin about the Ford etc being nothing & have a look when they pullout ..DUH
2006 was the only year in which there was no D500 curse. In 2005 Jeff Gordon won it and then failed to make the Chase. In 2004 Dale Jr won it and while he did win a few more races and have a good year that year, he has been on the skids since. Michael Waltrip won it in 2003 (rain shortened) and he never had much of a career anyway. So once in the last few years has the Daytona 500 winner gone on to greatness. Sounds like somewhat of a curse to me, if you believe in that sorta thing.
Did you ever notice how fast Nascar changes the rules when Chevy is behind!
But a curse needs a fun story to go along with it! If you can’t think of an exciting curse story, just say “mid-pack teams put more resources into their Daytona 500 program than they can afford to put into the rest of their season, Daytona has a couple of ‘tests’ in race conditions before the running which gives smaller or less rich teams a chance to work on a setup, and a plate keeps things up in the air until the finish.” It may not have the same ring to it, but it’s more true.
There are some ads for a contest up here that include entry into the Hall of Fame. It seems to me that a Hall should be for the players or performers or drivers. The other Halls have sections for Builders or Announcers or people who helped advance the sport. If NASCAR’s Hall had a Builder section they could have put BilL France Sr. and Jr. in that section and put in all the drivers they wanted.
Is there a chance DansMom’s son is named Brian?
I know you are trying to make people think Nascar matters, BUT – nobody cares! If it were so relevant GM would be selling like hot cakes. But they arent and Ford’s doing quite nicely. In April GM sales up 6.7%, Fords up 25% despite GM winning all the races. Thats all that needs to be said. Enjoy the Koolaid.
Like what David Edwards said, the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mantra no longer applies today. Ford may not have any wins this season, but its sales are strong, with the Fusion and rest of the solid sedan lineup taking full advantage of Toyota’s goof-up. Meanwhile, GM’s still dealing with vehicle reliability disparities and the stigma of having to get bailed out by the federal government, and don’t even get me started on Fiat…err Chrysler.
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Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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