NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
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Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday June 30, 2010
Did You Notice? … That with nine races left, there’s a bit of a cushion for a handful of playoff contenders? The top six in the Sprint Cup standings have at least 271 points over 13th-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr. That’s not an insurmountable margin, but large enough that all can breathe a sigh of relief, avoiding the dreaded “bubble” talk and the media frenzy that goes with it. For their teams, the focus can turn towards succeeding in the playoffs rather than simply getting in the door.
While drivers that peak getting into the Chase can often play the role of Cinderella (see: Juan Pablo Montoya last year, Greg Biffle in 2008) chances are the man holding the trophy is having success right now. After all, since the current format came into existence, only Kurt Busch has come from lower than fourth in the regular season to win the title, rising from seventh in the standings in 2004.
So what do each of these half-dozen contenders need to work on the next nine races? Let’s delve deep inside the fine-tuning that’ll go on in their shops the next few weeks:
Kevin Harvick. NEEDS: Win races, announce sponsor. No question, Harvick’s established more consistency this season than at any point throughout his Cup career. But while the No. 29 has a comfy 105-point lead in the standings, they’re a little further behind in two other important categories: wins and laps led. Right now, a lone victory through a last-lap ‘Dega pass leaves Harvick 40 points behind playoff “top seeds” Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, a deficit that equates to at least four positions on the racetrack.
But it’s that second statistic – laps led – that should really leave the No. 29 troubled. His total of 137 is just 10th-best on the circuit, and 68 of those occurred in the series’ first two races, Daytona and Fontana, back in February. In his last 15 starts, Harvick’s led for more than five laps in a race just once – Martinsville the end of March, a win he wound up losing to a top championship rival (Hamlin). For Harvick to be taken a bit more seriously, he’s going to have to spend less time scraping and clawing for top-5 finishes and more time clicking off laps up front.
Also, there’s that little distraction of coming up with money for 2011. Harvick may be resigned with RCR, but when’s Budweiser, their likely replacement for Shell/Pennzoil, going to sign on the dotted line? The longer things go without an announcement, the more speculation could become an off-track distraction. I’m hearing the deal could get done by August, and you’d better believe all parties are pushing for sooner behind the scenes.
Jimmie Johnson. NEEDS: Stay out of controversy. With back-to-back victories, talk of a Johnson “slump” has subsided as the reigning four-time champ is once again clicking on all cylinders. At this point, the team’s clearly been there, done that, leaving them fine-tuning and experimenting with setups all the way from here ‘till September.
Looking ahead, I’m not even sure peaking at the right time applies to this group, as Johnson’s won the title every which way – from seemingly on the verge of chaos heading into the ’06 Chase to winning the last two regular season races of ’08. My concern lies more in making sure this group dots some I’s and crosses their T’s. Chad Knaus is the master of the gray area, but all experiments don’t need to cross the line. Remember the six-week suspension both he and Steve Letarte got for those Car of Tomorrow violations in 2007? That’s the type of stuff to avoid.
I’d think if the No. 48 wins two, maybe three more times, ends the regular season about fourth or fifth in points, and doesn’t get involved in a wreck, they’d call the next two months successful.
Kyle Busch. NEEDS: Consistency, consistency, consistency. Don’t worry, there’s no more talk about an “old” or “new” Kyle Busch in this column. But this year’s version of Kyle is a nice “in-between” of last year’s disaster and 2008’s incredible success story. He’s on track to win four times, tabling about 14 top-10 finishes come Chase time.
The issue is that most of those top-10 finishes have come in clusters. After starting the season with zero through the first four races, Kyle caught fire with the rest of JGR in going nine-for-10, scoring two victories in the process. But in the last three weeks, some untimely wrecks combined with poor-handling cars left this team with runs of 20th, 39th, and 11th.
Streaky is a dangerous way to be, because then you’re banking on starting one right as the Chase begins to have a chance. As we saw with Kyle in ’08, that just doesn’t work; three poor finishes to start the playoffs all but eliminated a chance at a title. As aggressive as this guy can be it’s a Jeff Burton-like zen (ironic, isn’t it?) this team needs to achieve the next nine weeks.
They won’t catch Hamlin or Johnson in the wins column, so it’s time to practice the art that’ll really make a difference come September: taking a seventh-place car and bringing it home seventh, or pushing a 15th-place car into the top 10 instead of whining and getting it involved in a wreck. Clearly, they’ve made progress in this department – Charlotte and Pocono come to mind – but practice makes perfect when you’re still lagging behind your rivals.
Denny Hamlin. NEEDS: Don’t hop on that emotional roller coaster. Hamlin followed up an embarrassing run at Infineon, where his hood popped up on him under green flag conditions with an ugly 14th at Loudon, where the team experimented with disastrous results. All of a sudden, people are jumping off the Hamlin bandwagon in record numbers, what we see all the time in an ADD society that changes focus the second a new pretty, shiny thing appears in their field of vision.
But while people lost confidence in Hamlin, the most important thing is that Hamlin doesn’t lose confidence in himself. We’ve seen that ugly ending before, including self-induced mistakes last year that he didn’t recover from until it was far too late. Being an emotional driver can be a blessing, and Hamlin’s great at using the highs to give himself an extra boost. He just needs to make sure the lows don’t break them apart.
Jeff Gordon. NEEDS: Finish, baby, finish. This one’s so obvious, I’m waiting for a kindergarten fan to ask Jeff Gordon on race day, “Why haven’t you won lately?”
But Gordon’s problem goes even beyond victories. He’s really struggled on double-file restarts late in races, costing him about 10-20 points every week with cars that tend to pull a Dale Earnhardt, Jr.-like fade already over the final 50 laps of a race. Steve Letarte has pulled some poor pit strategy calls that haven’t helped either, leaving Gordon scrambling to make the best of a bad situation in the closing laps. While the No. 24 weakens, the No. 48 uses that last portion to flex their muscles … and that’s why it’s Johnson four titles, Gordon zero, since the start of 2006.
Kurt Busch. NEEDS: Get a little help from his friends. Everything for Busch checks out so far this season. His 793 laps led are a Cup Series best, with two wins and 10 top-10 finishes at a variety of different racetracks. Nudging Johnson at New Hampshire Sunday, he lost the battle but sent a clear message that during the war this fall, he’s not beyond booting the No. 48 out of the way to score a victory. That’s a clear change and a leg up over too many challengers that have treated the Lowe’s Chevrolet with kid gloves.
But while Busch is driving on autopilot, owner Roger Penske’s dealing with a troubling stat: His other two cars are a combined 0-for-34 on top-10 finishes! How Busch has performed with two five-ton weights in the No. 12 and No. 77 behind him is pretty fascinating.
You’d have to think during the Chase, it’s going to come back to haunt him … right? Think of the resources these Hendrick, Childress, and Gibbs contenders have, with all teams within their multi-car organization capable of winning on any given week. Busch is effectively acting as a single-car team in comparison, and that’s going to leave him constantly fighting from behind if Penske’s not careful. I can see it now: Busch starts the weekend tops in practice, but Joey Logano gives Gibbs information that has Hamlin and Busch blowing by the No. 2 car come Sunday. It’s a valid concern that needs to be addressed for Penske to finally score his first ever Sprint Cup.
Did You Notice? … The biggest problem concerning Nationwide’s new Car of Tomorrow? Yes, there’s going to be a full field come Daytona, although a handful of cars are still expected to start-and-park. Yes, the cars look cool, sleek, and bring the “stock” back into “stock car” racing when NASCAR badly needs it.
But the biggest void on the entry list I see is at the ownership level. Everyone’s known the start date of this car for months now, with NASCAR trumpeting the “wave of new interest” that these models will generate for the sport. But if these cars are as low cost as they claim … where’s the new owners interested in joining the fun? The only one that’s on the list for Daytona is the No. 68, Craig Partee owning a fleur-de-lis sponsored car driven by Carl Long.
Don’t tell me it’s a bad economy driving those low numbers. If this “inexpensive” CoT could be a long-term benefit for owners in the Camping World Truck Series, K & N East Series, and other divisions, people would jump on the bandwagon in a heartbeat. Instead, the new car has actually driven some ownership groups away, with Specialty Racing’s No. 61 and K-Automotive’s operation (Kligerman is running a No. 26 Penske-supported car with Keselowski’s number) among those going MIA.
Will fan excitement over the new look spur ownership interest over the long-term? Possibly. But in the short-term, it’s far from a quick fix for a series that ultimately needs new owners, drivers, and cars to be successful.
Did You Notice? … Some quick hits before we leave this long column …
- Amazing how years of pessimism can leave the glass half-empty. I was at New Hampshire covering the race, and I can tell you from personal experience those stands were almost completely full, with the exception of Turns 3 and 4. If you need proof, come back in time and sit with me in the hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic I experienced after the race.
But just like the boy who cried wolf, weeks of inflated attendance figures have fans still sitting there in disbelief. All over the web, on my Twitter, and in my inbox, I’ve read about how “empty” people thought the seats were in New Hampshire. It just goes to show when you’re conditioned to think the worst about the sport, well, chances are you’re going to think the glass is always half-empty, right?
And when attendance is still a hot-button topic amongst fans … man, apparently Sunday’s race was boring then. Don’t we follow NASCAR to talk about what happens on the track every now and then?
- Speaking of Sunday, the race had a 201-lap green-flag run. By my calculations, it’s the most we’ve seen in over seven-and-a-half years. In November, 2002, Johnny Benson won his one and only Cup race at Rockingham, where there was a 203-lap green-flag run between Lap 27 and Lap 230. It could have actually lasted longer, but … NASCAR called a yellow for debris on the frontstretch.
The more things change …
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Here is the reason owners are not jumping into this series.
The Purse Sucks
And if you can believe this Charlotte actually paid more to a start and park who ran 3 laps $19,700 then to someone who finished 10th and ran ALL 203 LAPS $19,100.
While the stands Sunday looked better then MOST weekends this year, it also looked as though the fans were able to spread out more then usual.
Yes it was nice to see a long green flag race. Not a Denny fan, but sure glad he spoke up after Pocono. Hope the green flag trend continues.
I very much enjoyed that 201-lap green-flag run and I hope we see more of that! I applaud NASCAR for letting them race and not trying to manufacture excitement. And what do you know…we still got an exciting finish without them having to intervene!
did you notice that the nationwide car that is being lauded a a mustang looks NOTHING like ong? They might as well call it a fusion..or an escort or fiesta as those cars have about as much if not more resemblance….. I’m not a chevy fan but they do get my kudos for refusing to call their nascar template car a camaro. but then again.. I’m SURE this new car will get people flocking back to the Nationwide series as opposed to say kicking out the cup regulars in favor of promoting better racing… but who am i to say?
I was wrong in saying Pocono, I meant at Michigan.
At least the NHRA calls their cars “Funny” and not “Stock.” I bet if you stuck those Mustang decals on a pig Brain France would think he just saw a new Ford Mustang pass him by, then take another swig of Crown Royal.
All the new car has different than the next guy is the new nose. The rest of the car is basically the same as every other car on the track. If the racing due to this car is as bad as the Cup car, that series will be on life support. Cup guys dominating a minor league series and add in bad racing spells bad news for that series.
Bad Wolf, watched any NHRA races lately? Have you heard of a class called “Pro Stock” ? Do those cars look much like stock street cars any more? But there are “Stock” and “Super Stock” classes too that ARE made up of cars right off the street converted to racing duty.
Recent articles from Tom Bowles:
Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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