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 June 23, 2010
Did You Notice? … With Todd Parrott’s reassignment Tuesday, Matt Kenseth is now on his fifth crew chief in less than three years?
What does this recent pattern tell us about Kenseth? Clearly, he’s running out of patience in finding a combination that works to turn the team around. Sure, the Wisconsinite should make the playoffs with ease, but the cruel irony of the man dubbed Mr. Consistency is his fanaticism about returning to Victory Lane. Kenseth has led a total of 884 laps combined the last three seasons, compared to 912 the final year he and Reiser were paired together – and that was an off year for them. It’s one thing to scratch and claw for a top-10 finish compared to settling for sixth after leading 50 or 75 laps. For the last three years, Kenseth has been stuck in that first category for virtually every race – and he’s tired of it.
At the same time, it’s notable this crew chief is the second straight selection that can be considered “old school.” Fennig may have been working in R&D, but he made his career working with veterans Bobby Allison, Dick Trickle, Jimmy Spencer, Mark Martin, then developing youngsters like Ragan and 2004 Cup champion Kurt Busch. Simulations are not his forte, but motivating the man behind the wheel certainly is. I believe Kenseth thinks that’s what he needs; while I thought he and Parrott hit it off initially, it felt like the driver was still in control of all the decisions on pit road.
And while I thought the two would be successful, Parrott hasn’t exactly been anyone’s first choice in a crisis. Since guiding the No. 88 Ford with Dale Jarrett from 1996-2002, he hasn’t spent more than a season and a half in the same role with the same team. A temperamental guy, he seemed to fail the second this recent slump began and Kenseth started showing shades of the Eeyore personality he tends to slip into when times get tough.
Also notice how Roush has catered to the wishes of his drivers, in particular the Big Three: Kenseth, Greg Biffle, and Carl Edwards. He’s moved mountains to cater to Kenseth’s wishes, even with the destabilization a new crew chief brings to any program while at the same time bending to Biffle and Edwards to do the opposite. In both those cases, a crew chief change might not be the worst thing, but his drivers are so adamantly against it the owner refuses to act.
The bottom line in all this mess is the one thing Kenseth and Roush are both missing: good engineering people. Running the same retreads on top of the pit box for Kenseth – whether it’s Fennig, Parrott, or even Reiser – doesn’t change the widening gap in mastering Cup technology behind the scenes. Roush isn’t losing the battle in the engine room, he’s losing at Dungeons and Dragons behind a computer. More importantly, I don’t think Kenseth fully understands how much that’s out of his control.
Perhaps in three months, when this team’s still in the same spot with Fennig, he’ll figure that out soon enough. Could Reiser make a difference here? To a certain extent; but with no on-track testing allowed, one man can’t change a whole fleet of setups that open each Friday half-a-second off the pace.
Did You Notice? … Randy Lajoie’s shocking admission he smoked marijuana? The former NASCAR Nationwide champ turned-radio/TV analyst, supporter of son Corey’s driving career, and safety guru is suspended indefinitely for violating the sport’s drug policy. Tested because of a one-shot deal to spot for Joe Gibbs Racing at Nashville, Lajoie admitted he smoked marijuana one week earlier during the Coca-Cola 600 weekend in Charlotte. Tested a few days later, the failure became public knowledge today along with an apology to his family, employers (ESPN has already suspended him), and legion of fans disappointed a 48-year-old would engage in such behavior.
Before we go any further … can someone answer this question? Why in the world would you smoke marijuana three days before you know you’re going to be drug tested? Did Lajoie think he was going to be above the law? That part of it makes no sense.
Rumors swirl about the circumstances surrounding Lajoie’s marijuana “experiment,” but it’s too early to fully substantiate any of those, making me hesitant to comment further. I will say it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize it’s the biggest bust since Jeremy Mayfield’s failed test last May. And it also doesn’t take a major leap to realize that if this is a one-time thing, as Lajoie claims, it’s clear he wasn’t doing it by himself in the corner. My hunch is revealing the circumstances behind his experiment – if it ever comes out – may implicate others in the NASCAR garage, and it’ll be interesting to see how much we uncover in the coming weeks.
Did You Notice? … Everyone’s groaning over Danica Patrick’s return? But before we go kicking her to the curb, let’s be fair and note she’s not exactly the only rookie that’s struggled behind the wheel. Sure, that 34.0 average finish is downright disgusting, but check out these quick summaries of other Nationwide driver’s rookie seasons:
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.: Roush Fenway driver has wrecked in 10 of his 13 starts, with more DNFs (five) than TOP 25 finishes (four). He responded to owner Jack Roush’s plea that “his rookies will be better in the second half” by slumping to 26th, one lap down, at Road America.
Colin Braun: The second half of Roush Fenway’s dynamic disaster, he was removed from full-time duty after five wrecks in the first eight races. Rumors were Jack Roush wanted to fire him completely, but sponsor Con-way Freight wouldn’t allow it. He’s been marginally better as of late, with three straight top-11 finishes after his crew chief got fired after a reported incident with his crew at a strip club.
James Buescher: Dropped from James Finch’s No. 1 ride after pissing off Cup and Nationwide drivers alike by making Jeff Gordon’s Sunday bumper car adventure look like child’s play. Currently driving his father-in-law’s Truck after his bid to buy the operation – keeping the groom-to-be employed – fell through. Four official DNFs in his 10-race stint … all for wrecks.
These three alone have combined for over 20 crashes on the year, making Danica’s three-race debut seem par for the course in comparison. Only Brian Scott and perhaps Trevor Bayne have stood out as possible future talents in a farm system that’s no longer growing crops.
So perhaps we should lower our expectations a bit. After all, this IndyCar crossover star hasn’t even won a race over there this season, scoring just one podium finish (a runner-up at Texas in June). A top-20 finish at New Hampshire, to me, would seem like a win.
One other note: yes, the Nationwide Series has 1,000 problems, and we document them each week. And yes, the pressure is on these young guys more than ever before. But at some point, they’ve got to perform when given the opportunity. Joey Logano didn’t crash 10 times in 13 races while given top-notch equipment. It’s not like Stenhouse and Braun are driving cars from the junkyard … just sayin’ taking the Cup drivers out doesn’t automatically inject some of these guys with more talent.
Did You Notice? … A long list of quick hits before we go…
- The NBA Finals ratings were up significantly this season, with 28.2 million people watching Game 7 of the Lakers-Celtics matchup. That means the NFL, NHL, and NBA championships were all up significantly in viewership and attendance this season. Compare that to NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl, this year’s Daytona 500, whose ratings were down 16 percent with only 13.294 million tuning in. Then tell me we’re in bad shape solely due to the economy.
- So much has been made of this whole Shaquille O’Neal – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. race. Me? I’m left wondering what the hype is all about. How many minutes does Shaq play in the NBA nowadays? Didn’t his team not make the finals last season? And I know Dale Jr. is the sport’s Most Popular Driver … but we all know about his recent slump, a two-year ditch that’s hurt his mainstream crossover appeal.
If I’m wrong here, please tell me, but I fail to understand why it’s even a big deal. Two stars past their prime having a race for fun that’ll air on ABC’s summer programming schedule, where about half the regular viewership actually watches? Wake me up when it’s over.
- Rick Hendrick sponsored not only James Finch’s No. 09 car last week, but former HMS driver Joe Nemechek’s No. 87 with Hendrickcars.com. Of note: Nemechek gets his engines and chassis from Red Bull Racing, constantly in the rumor mill to switch to Chevy even though they’re under contract with Toyota for 2012. Also, does anybody else find it weird that an owner of four cars would go out and sponsor two others with his business? Hmph.
- With Robby Gordon’s decision to have P.J. Jones start-and-park Loudon, the possibility exists upwards of eight, if not nine start-and-parkers will be in the race pending sponsorship. That would be the highest number in the modern era, and might be enough for NASCAR to pay attention. A quarter of the field pulling in early at the sport’s highest level? How many will need to do it before they take action?
- OK, so let me get this straight. Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports, Inc. made $10.3 million last quarter alone, yet they’re arguing with New Hampshire Motor Speedway over a $105,000 difference in security pay? I know this billionaire is a man of principle… but really? You’re trying to undercut a few local, blue collar cops looking to squeeze the system for a little extra overtime one weekend a year? If you were in their shoes … wouldn’t you do the same thing? Smith would be wise to back off, take the hit, and let it go; but based on past history, he won’t, and we know which side will end up winning. Here’s a hint: it’s not the cops.
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Referring to Bruton Smith as being a man of principle is almost as outrageous a prevarication as calling the Oakland Raiders a football team.
Apparently Mr. Lajoie (who I don’t like anyway)doesn’t know that marijuana stays in your system for up to 30 days-he is a DOPE head.
I believe it is the city that is trying to squeeze Bruton and the track for more money. This race brings in how many MILLIONS of DOLLARS and they want to fight over THOUSANDS of DOLLARS.
While I will agree Bruton may not be the most upstanding man. He is a business man with a product that right now is wanted in Kentucky.
As usual, you raise some good points in your column, but defending Danica Patrick by basically saying “look how bad these other rookies are” pretty much makes the point for her detractors. However, you rightly point out that, as an Indy driver, Patrick hasn’t exactly accomplished much. She may bring a few new viewers to the Nationwide series for a while, but I suspect her long-term impact on Nascar will be marginal at best.
Lajoie must think we’re all stupid. How many people out there have tried pot for the first time at age 48? I believe he may not be a regular user but I have a hard time believing it was a first. Reminds me of the proverbial excuse a teenager uses when their parents catch them with something… “I was holding it for a friend”. Yeah, right.
EVERYONE is not groaning about Danica Patrick’s return. (3 days and counting… 3, how fitting)
Danica Patrick is the ONLY not Cup Regular to bring ANY notoriety to the Nationwide Series.
Please stop hating on Danica just because she’s a female. There are many females who post on this sight, like myself and noel_w who see Danica as a figurehead for women’s accomplishments in NASCAR.
On this day, 3 days away from her return, we should all pause and reflect on her accomplishments.
You can win the championship in game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Superbowl AND Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. What championship can you win by finishing first in the Daytona 500? Casual fans want to see championships won, not regular season events won. (Oh, wait… I forgot, the way everyone OVER reacted on this website Jamie MACMurry won the championship didn’t he… didn’t he???)
Let’s compare the Daytona 500 to ANY regular season opening day game in the MLB. How does NASCAR stack up there?
Also, why does the spell checker in the comments section of a RACING website claim that “Daytona” is misspelled? I guess that shows you how the Superbowl of NASCAR is viewed by the general public.
Don’t try to make it something that its’ not.
Carl_D… “hasn’t done much” other than WIN and finish in the top 5 (changed to 6, I know) in the TRUE superbowl of racing. Check the facts Carl, Danica has enjoyed success in IRL, a series where 3-4 drivers win ALL the races, she’s done well to bust that trend.
No one liked Dale Sr. when he first started, and there was a sharp learning curve for him. But, in the end he took his looks, personality, driving style and edge and made a name for himself in NASCAR.
Danica could be exponentially more popular and influential if she enjoyed the same success (and/or raced in a less competitive field ala Dale Sr.)
3 days and she’ll be back to try it in NASCAR.
I think I am going to be sick……
I dont understand the complaint that all Danica is bringing to the sport is sponsorship without talent. We have been dealing with Dale Jr for YEARS and thats exactly what he does. Last time I checked, he is having a very successful NASCAR career while being a completely awful driver.
Time will tell whether Danica has an impact on Nascar other than some fleeting fan interest.
I find it interesting that you consider Danica a “figurehead for women’s sports”. Personally I don’t have a problem with the way Danica’s GoDaddy commercials objectify women, but I suspect that some women do. I guess it depends on what you consider a being a “figurehead” is, and whether the ends justifies the means.
That said, I truly hope Danica makes it in Nascar, but I have my doubts and I question her commitment to stack car racing. We’ll see.
Er… make that “stock” car racing. Spell checker only works if you use it.
Shall we all hum a few bars of “Dont bogart that joint my friend, pass it over to meeeeee!”
Randy LaJoie admitting to smoking dope was “ shocking “ ? Anyone other than Mother Theresa admitting to smoking dope at some point in their life is hardly “ shocking .
The Kenseth crew chief “ hat dance “ is quite simply because Matt is almost impossible to work with .
As for Bruton Smith fighting to avoid having to pay more than he is supposed to for anything … rich people don’t get rich by giving money away . And if he doesn’t legitmately owe it , why should we feel he needs to pay it . Yes , he could be a nice guy and give them the extra money , but it’s 100 % his call , not ours .
If DANica is going to play with the boys, she better learn to act like the boys.
With apologies to ZZ Top,
It’s got bumpers, she better learn how to use ‘em
Qualify in the twenties, finish in the thirties. Unless she causes a massive pileup when she is being lapped (again).
Get the excuses ready.
Apologize for smoking pot,get real.Should tell ESPN to pound salt.
A lot of us don’t hate on Danica because she is a female, we hate on her because she is being hyped BECAUSE she is a female and not because of her on track accomplishments.
Pretty tough to side with the billionaire when he’s trying to give local cops a 60% pay cut… but like the good engineer I am, I’ll work out a solution that makes everyone happy:
Jr was hyped because of who his father was and not his on-track accomplishments…
RamblinWreck, your idea was humorous, but first you have to prove that all those cars were start and park. Good luck with that.
The NBA Finals was also between 2 of the biggest rivals in sports. You can’t compare that to the first race of a Nascar season. It was also for all the marbles, the Daytona 500 was not.
As a New Englander I’m torn on this whole police thing at NHMS. I dispise Bruton for everything he stands for but if he’s getting screwed by the police, he has every right to do what he’s doing. If he’s just trying to save a few bucks I think the bad press he gets would be worth giving these blue collar cops some overtime money. After all, who ends up suffering if police protection is terrible at the track, or if Bruton selfishly decided to move a race. The race fans of course, and we know he’s all about making them happy, right? Something tells me that would be a bad move on Brutons part.
NHMS sells more tickets than Kentucky would and I don’t think Nascar would allow Mr. Magoo to take a race out of a huge market like Boston either.
Maybe he could recoup some of the money by not bringing the stupid ferris wheel to the track that no one cares about.
Well, at least one thing changed- PJ Jones isn’t going to Start and Park Robby Gordon’s car. Bobby Labonte will drive instead after departing the S&P TRG team, and the claim is he will run the whole race.
Another classic example of the depths to which what might once have been called journalism has fallen. Get it first, get it read, and get it sort of close – facts and accuracy just complicate things. Randy L. made statements Tuesday that you could have read or heard and referenced if you cared at all about making some effort to be accurate or fair – but it might not have been as sensational, or maybe you have a grudge against Randy.
The Danica media circus brings to mind an Elton John song……the b*tch is back.
What accomplishments? Danica has done nothing of significance since coming over. NOTHING. If her name was Dan Patrick (not that Dan Patrick) she’d be lucky to run USAR. All hype. 34th every week puts her on par with Robert Richardson and Eric McClure.
I am just pointing out that NASCAR fans openly support one driver (who has very little talent) simply based upon their name recognition, but get offended when it is assumed that they will do the same to a different driver. Sounds like the definition of hypocritical to me.
Note: I am “assuming” for the sake of this comment that Danica will flop in NASCAR. I, personally, do not believe that will be the case.
- Did you just make a comment to yourself… I’m confused.
Danica did well in ARCA & I think that she might do well to think about running ARCA this yr., and NW next year.
If Danica was serious about Nascar I would think that she would have tested extensively instead of going on vacation or selling perfume. She is destined for Olympic Class Mediocrity.
I have never read a writer who gets so much pleasure in other people’s misfortune. You never have a kind word about anyone. You may think you are informing the fans. You. Are. Not. Are you this negative about everything you do? Don’t bother telling me to stop reading anything you write. I can handle that all by myself.
Pot is either legal or “semi-legal” in most of the free world these days and even Presidents have admitted trying it. It’s not Meth, crack or heroin…but it is on the Nascar list….some would argue that alcohol is as bad or worse. I like Randy – I hope this doesn’t wreck decades of hard work on his part.
OMG,I just found out that LaJoie smoked that evil weed. Shouldn’t he be in prison for 8 years or more? He violated more than NA$CAR’s drug policy, he broke the law with America’s War on Drugs. Gimme a friggin’ break. He was spotting for Christ’s sake. And seven days later. I’m sure he would have just stumbled right up to his post and nearly fall over the rail. Get real. How ‘bout we all gather round and watch ‘ole Brian piss in a cup. I’m sure he’d Sprint for that one. BTW, I don’t even smoke the stuff but know how much bullsh*t this is.
Maybe if DW took a few hits before “Showtime” the Fox broadcast would be more bearable.
I hope that Randy only has a short suspension. I am sure he has learned what a foolish mistake he has made. And I wish him the best of luck with his career in NASCAR.
Dan’s Mom — I’m a female – I don’t hate Danica because she’s female but because of how she’s used her gender to promote herself. Sex still sells doesn’t it?
She doesn’t represent a figurehead into NASCAR for me — Janet Guthrie did that a long time ago — with Danica, her brains aren’t her most famous attribute.
Only Brian Scott and perhaps Trevor Bayne have stood out as possible future talents in this sport? REALLY?!? What about Justin Allgaier? Michael Annett anyone? How about Aric Almirola or Timothy Peters?(I know they run trucks but still). I could go on…
Are you guys stupid? There is a rule in Nascar that you can’t smoke pot. Who cares how harmless it is. Randy is a moron for smoking it three days before a drug test.
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