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
Tuesday March 4, 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 July 14, 2010
Did You Notice? … How much has been made of David Reutimann’s upset win at Chicagoland Saturday night? From television to the tiniest column on the web, I can’t get away from it. Entire columns and segments of shows are now being devoted to whether he’ll make the Chase, as if the man has turned into some sort of potential superstar overnight.
Um … huh? Since when did LeBron James turn pasty, white, and 40? I will say Reutimann is one of the nicest, most genuine people to walk the NASCAR garage. Talent-wise, he’s been underrated in both performance and potential for years. But let’s not get carried away here by one little victory, as impressive as it may be. Last time I checked, viewership at Chicagoland was down by over 200,000 people.
Come regain perspective for a minute. This shocking upset – as lovable as Reutimann is in that insular garage world – isn’t big enough to make fans outside it suddenly pay attention and turn on the TV.
It’s all part of the problem when a sport goes downhill; every positive moment gets immediately overblown. I’m happy for the guy, sure, but I’m not going to write he’s a title contender. I think even Reutimann himself, more of a Steve Urkel type (his nickname is “Beak”), will tell you he’s far from being NASCAR’s future star. On the marketing front, Jimmie Johnson would run circles around the guy, and that’s saying something. If the No. 00 went out now and won three or four races in a row, you can’t sit here and tell me he’ll ignite a media frenzy – especially with the sport’s biggest sponsor shill as his puppeteer.
For me, the bigger victory was one seemingly swept under the rug. In just his 12th Camping World Truck Series start, Austin Dillon destroyed the field at Iowa, leading 187 of 205 laps to score the win as a rookie. Driving that No. 3 carries with it heightened expectations, along with an automatic fan base forever connected through the ghost of the Intimidator. After telling me this week he’s choosing to stick around the series another year in 2011, running full-time with the goal of winning a title, we suddenly might have a case of driver development done the right way.
Unfortunately, that means he’s probably two, maybe three years from making an impact in Sprint Cup. Does that mean Reutimann has the greater upward potential here? I still don’t think so. Instead, I’d put my eggs inside the basket of the guy who’s backed by a legendary car owner and what the girls say are Kasey Kahne-style looks.
Did You Notice?… Speaking of Dillon, the next wave of potential success stories in NASCAR have a familiar “legacy” ring to it? Dillon, of course, is Richard Childress’ grandson, and his brother, Ty, won the pole and ran second in his ARCA debut. Ryan Truex, Jr., reigning K&N East Series champion, is making his first Nationwide start this weekend but also doubles as Martin’s brother. Just yesterday, Dale Sr.’s grandson Jeffrey announced a partnership with Rick Ware Racing for Gateway, slipping behind the wheel of the No. 6 Chevrolet for Friday night’s Truck race.
Dillon was asked on Monday whether he thinks he’d have the same favorable circumstances without the famous Childress connection, one of those “duh” questions he deftly turned into a politically correct response.
“I think there’s always a shot of making it to the top,” he said. “I have a good opportunity, and I’ve tried to take as much advantage of it as I can.”
I beg to differ, although you certainly can’t blame Dillon for the current state of the sport. Sponsorship-wise, legacies are easy sells because of the connections already in place, and honestly they’re nothing new. From the Flocks to the Bodines, families have always tried to tackle this sport together; and with a win under Dillon’s belt, it’s not like he’s taking that seat away from somebody who’s more deserving.
It’s just now, the environment is so tough that the famous last name seemingly provides one of only three ways for talented drivers to achieve upward mobility. The others: have a rich dad (Brian Scott, John Wes Townley, Justin Lofton, or James Buescher – in this case, father-in-law) or be a marketing genius (Kevin Conway, Jennifer Jo Cobb). Pure talent alone doesn’t get you anywhere, even if you’re finishing inside the top 10. Only Justin Allgaier survives as an exception to that rule … and that’s after years of running ARCA with a family-owned operation.
NASCAR has tried to buck the trend; in a way, their Drive For Diversity program, whose selections are talent-based, is a good start. But the second those drivers achieve success, they’re looking for money to keep them going to the next level. And right now, that money is reserved for those who already have it – or know how to partner with it. There’s no room for others.
Did You Notice?… That during one of the slowest sports months on the calendar, NASCAR takes a step back with a week off? Considering NFL training camps are just weeks away from taking center stage, it’s a crucial time for them to steal some thunder. Instead, they go on vacation, then travel to Indy – in recent years more sizzle than steak, followed by Pocono and Watkins Glen before the NFL preseason starts up on August 8th. Of course, this all comes after NASCAR played their “ace card” during another slow sports weekend last Saturday with … Chicagoland?
Considering the radical realignment of the schedule I think is coming soon, now would be a good time to address those concerns. If you admit NASCAR is entering a rebuilding mode, one way in which you showcase your product is waving the white flag, acknowledging you’re behind the NFL, NBA, etc. and putting your best foot forward during times where fans won’t be distracted by something else. You know what I’d do? Take the Bristol night race and have it swap dates with Chicagoland, giving the sport a guaranteed chance to shine in July without a single conflict. While we’re at it, why not do a whole “short track summer” swing by putting Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond all in a row?
I’d also give tracks with the best competition some love. Gone would be second dates at sleep-inducing ovals like Phoenix and Fontana, replaced with a second Darlington and a race out at Iowa. I’m realistic in that Rockingham and North Wilkesboro will never return, but let’s work with what we have to create the best product possible while working on these cars so it’s easier to pass, beating and banging in the process without cutting down a tire or losing ten miles an hour down the straightaway.
It’s easier said than done, a “back to basics” routine that could also include dropping the Chase and going back to the point system that wasn’t perfect, but worked pretty darn good. I find it very intriguing Darlington doesn’t have its schedule renewal forms yet. Could NASCAR maybe, just maybe, be thinking of putting the 500-mile race on Labor Day weekend again next year? Hope springs eternal.
Did You Notice? … Some quick hits before I take off…
- So Dario Franchitti says Danica Patrick is making a mistake by trying to drive in both IndyCar and Cup. Really? I hadn’t noticed anything wrong.
- I’ve never seen more of a television commotion over nothing. Rusty Wallace calls Kyle Busch a dumbass? Isn’t that what 80 percent of the fan base says just about every week in the stands? It’s not like Rusty mouthed off after Kyle said, “I like kittens, bunnies, and little baby seals.” The guy was publicly calling out fans for booing him! Rusty should have kept his mouth shut, sure, but he’s apologized now, leaving the whole thing wildly overblown. Call me when a reporter smokes pot or something … oh wait …
- Last year, I looked at what Bill Elliott was doing with the Wood Brothers and felt great about the direction everyone was headed. Now? I just feel sad. Funny how quickly things can change.
- Joe Nemechek and Michael McDowell have 30 Cup starts this season, and 30 DNFs. Sickening.
- So IndyCar’s announcing a new chassis today, one that has innovation and creativity as its central focus. I’m hoping someone from NASCAR’s there taking notes.
- A few years from now, Mark Martin may look back on this season and say he lost a shot at a championship because of two people: his Most Popular Teammate who needed a little extra help, and his More Marketable Replacement whose hiring has caused more distractions then when he retired the first or second time. But when he and Benny Ertel cry reporting foul, as much as I feel for them, I’m also reminded of how many times he’s changed his mind in public. How many times did Martin do an about face with his future a few years back? I’m just sayin’.
- 17 years ago yesterday, we lost one of the sport’s rising stars in Davey Allison. Just 12 years old then, I remember crying like a baby through an ESPN tribute, then weeping again during the Garth Brooks one after the CBS race at Talladega two weeks later. No question, if he was still here Dale Earnhardt would not have seven championships, and Allison would probably have two or three. Matt McLaughlin’s column still gives me chills whenever I read it, a beautiful summary of a man whose life met a tragic end far too soon.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
We can speculate all we want, but I for one am very doubtful Davey could have taken any of Dales, or subsequently Jeffs, titles from them. Let’s face facts. Dale was winning championships handily while racing Davey. Dale had an off year in 1992, then came back and won two more with amazing consistency (something Davey never showed). Then Jeff took over with a combination of consistency and big numbers in the win column. I loved Davey, and still deeply admire the man. However, from a talent and team perspective, he was not on the same level as Dale or Jeff. Sorry, but Davey came at the wrong time and his best shot was 1992 when Swervin took his title away. 93 and 94 were Dale’s no matter what, and 95 on was Jeff and Hendrick (with Terry in there at 96 with sickening consistency).
Further (and I know this will get Matt’s blood boiling), but same goes w/ Tim Richmond. Tim was the mid/late 80s version of Kyle Busch. Immensely talented, but too roughshod to put it together over a WHOLE season and win a title. Tim, had he stayed healthy, would have retired title-less but with a lot of wins.
Now, if Davey or Tim were in a Chase system, the whole field is screwed. They could go on some blistering hot streaks and buried the field. But over a 36 (or 29-31 like back then) race schedule, they were not title guys, they were race winners, and there is no shame in that either.
Tom——that statement about Waltrip being a shilling-puppeteer is so true. I guess you must be remembering those terrible ads done for Aaron’s Rent-To-Own a couple of years ago. It was always either JAWS or POS running their mouths, while “Beak” just set their bobbing his head with some goofy look on his face.
You nailed it, perfectly.
not to defend Rusty, but who among us hasn’t called Kyle a dumbass, or worse ;)
It might help your sagging credibility if you could at least manage to spell peoples’ names correctly . It’s Benny Ertel .
I was happy for the 00 and David but feel he was lucky in some respects. He had a fast car, was leading and deserved that also, but lucky in the fact that there was no usual late race caution that most certainly would have cost him the win. I am tiring of those late debris cautions and Fri. nite I wasn’t rooting for Logano, but I had his same reaction when the caution flag fell. Imagine That, a late race caution that almost always screws the leader. So with that I say the 00 was lucky enough not to get one. I don’t know about you, but I was expecting one as the laps wore down.I also think a sponsor schilling puppeteer is right on the money, I was so happy he wasn’t there Sat to hog the cameras away from the driver and the team.
I will always believe there was no late “debris” caution because Johnson couldn’t use it. But I was still waiting for it as a way to mess up Edwards.
Ditto on your thoughts about Bill and the WB. They need to figure this new spoiler out (of course, that could be said of ALL the Ford teams).
Thanks for mentioning Davey, too, and how he definitely would’ve had a championship under his belt. I don’t guess younger people realize how talented he was. It’s too bad Robert Yates Racing, as it existed back then, is gone, too.
Anyone who wins that isn’t a member of Hendrick, Gibbs, Penske, or Childress’s camps is going to get significant airtime. It doesn’t happen often.
As for Austin Dillon, sure, nice to see him get his first win, but if he can’t win with Cup-caliber equipment in the CWTS, there would be something wrong with him.
Tom, as usual, I disagree with just about everything you wrote. David Reutimann’s victory was great because he is an underdog. That’s why the NCAA fans look for a Cinderella team every year in basketball. Reut’s vitory was not over-hyped and does not indicate NASCAR is in decline, although you certainly want it to be.
Second, I disagree about the championships Davey Allison would supposedly have taken from DE Sr. The “death factor” rears its ugly head again, making people remember dead race drivers, pop singers, and presidents as better than they were. You have NO IDEA if Davey would ever have won a championship. Ditto Tim Richmond. Ditto on a second championship for Alan Kulwicki.
Finally, Rusty Wallace is supposed to be a professional broadcaster (in the sense that he is paid, not in the sense that he is qualified.) He had no business calling Kyle a dumbass, especially since Rusty was a dumbass himself his entire career and received plenty of well-deserved boos from the crowd many times himself.
Why don’t you review a sport you actually have an interest in? This site seems to be dedicated to whiners only.
Susan, not to seem argumentative, but wouldn’t Rusty being a dumbass his entire career make him extremely qualified to judge Kyle’s dumbassery? Rusty is definitely a subject matter expert.
I think that one of the issues that Nascar (and most pro sports) have to deal with is the whitewashing/PC-ification of everything. I want the broadcasters to call it like they see it. One of the things I dislike the most about the coverage is the canned, neutral, soft responses to everything.
I love that Kurt Busch is incapable of sounding polished and professional in an interview. And that Montoya will call his teammate incompetent when he’s angry, that Jimmie is making Jeff “pissed off”, and that Rusty thinks kyle’s being a dumbass…bring it on.
Chris, I believe there is a world of difference between what the competitors say in the heat of the moment and what the “professional” broadcasters say. I am not going to get into a hissy fit over a driver who calls another driver a dumbass – or even says he is gonna kill him, because being emotional is part of what makes them competitors.
However, the announcers know very well that there is a line they cannot cross in criticizing a driver. An NFL announcer may say “the QB made a bad decision to throw that interception.” He may NOT say, “Joe QB is a dumbass.”
If NASCAR wants to be recognized as a legitimate sport, then its hand-picked announcers need to stick to criticzing behavior and not get into the dirt with personal insults.
You may call it “PC;” I call it simple respect and professional conduct.
As far as Rusty being a dumbass himself, he might well have commented, “I have been booed by the fans myself, I know what Kyle is going through, but many of the fans will only embrace him when he shows more maturity and good sportsmanship. And even then, there will be those who don’t like him. He should learn to deal with it better.”
I guess you all didn’t notice that the comment was supposed to be off the air but they hadn’t turned his mike off.
Recent articles from Tom Bowles:
Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
If you want to know more about Tom Bowles or to view all of his articles here at the Frontstretch, check out his archive and bio page.
Want even more Tom Bowles? Check out Tom's archive at SI.com.