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.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday September 29, 2010
Did You Notice? … The substantial, yet not surprising shift in Chase strategy towards “playing not to lose?” From Denny Hamlin on through the field at Dover, the philosophy turned towards simply gaining as many points as possible at a place where Jimmie Johnson could have the track renamed in his honor.
“I think there’s too much to lose within this Chase for anyone to really do anything that’s out of the ordinary,” Hamlin said Sunday. “Or make a dumb move. It’s just not worth it. There’s too much at stake for these race teams.”
That follows up a Friday conversation I had with Hamlin in the media center, one where he claimed “it wasn’t what fans liked to hear” but that he would spend the weekend attempting to minimize a bad day instead of going for the kill. To a certain extent, I understand that, with his track record here colored with the ugly red pen of DNFs while Johnson can’t even see his stats underneath all the Dover trophies on his mantle.
But you better believe Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton’s deflating endings in Loudon, while heart-stopping for fans, proved a cold reminder this system is based on passive consistency, not aggressive risk. Don’t think there wasn’t a conversation in the No. 31 shop this week about how if Burton’s fuel had made it to the checkers last Sunday, he’d be sitting runner-up in the standings to Hamlin instead of seventh, 80 points off the pace. And Stewart, well, losing that gamble was like blowing your thousand in Vegas in 10 minutes, meaning it’s only 9:10 PM but you’re supposed to stay out to your friends ‘till two, leaving you broke, frustrated, and watching a whole bunch of people win money you’ll never have. No wonder he was cranky after an ugly race on Sunday, finishing 21st and then refusing to comment publicly while punching himself in private over the mistake that’s destroyed his Chase.
Such conservatism suggests how much a mulligan of sorts would work wonders to invigorate this playoff system — if we keep it. Or even a separate point system among the Chasers themselves would help, done in a way where wins and running up front encourage you to take gambles, not shy away from them. Whatever the answer, the status quo just doesn’t work; for in the closing laps of a single-file parade, with five Chasers sitting inside the top 6, what I saw at Dover was a whole bunch of people sliding around and simply happy to make it to the next race with what they’ve got. That’s fine, I guess, but fans don’t get to travel to Kansas and see their Chase plans play out; they get three hours with their heroes on a Sunday, once a year, and they expect people to be focused on the race they’re paying to see.
Right now, our point system is not set up for drivers to do that … yet another reason attendance and viewership in these early playoff races continues to drop.
Did You Notice? … The troubling downhill slide for aspiring owners, men who now can’t find their footing in a sport that used to welcome them with open arms? On Sunday, that spotlight was shining darkly on TRG Motorsports, in their second year of operation since being built from scratch by sports car success story Kevin Buckler. Last season, as a rookie owner on tour he tried to do everything the right way, hiring an underdog driver (David Gilliland), a crew chief with something to prove (“Slugger” Labbe) and a small, dedicated group of individuals with the right chemistry to believe that underdog story could play out for them. In an era where owners saw the open spaces on the 43-car grid and had visions of dollar signs dancing through their head, Buckler believed he could do the unthinkable: Post consistent top-10 finishes right along with Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, and Penske under the right circumstances.
Their first few races started off strong, making even the biggest doubters believe in the ultimate upset. Gilliland was hired after a Daytona DNQ and scored a shocking 15th-place finish at Las Vegas, just his second start behind the wheel of the No. 71 Chevy. By Bristol, they were the only one of the upstart programs to sneak inside the top 35 in owner points, with hopes of a sponsor and dreams of cementing themselves on the Sprint Cup circuit dancing in their heads.
“I think the economy opened up a door,” he said in a story I did for SI.com last April. “I saw it as a little bit of an opportunity, because I think some of the big teams are actually throttling back a little bit on some of the expenses that they could afford to do. And we had parts, pieces, available people, really good personnel available.”
But they also were running out of money rather quickly, as doing things the right way was far more expensive as others parked around them. What Buckler wouldn’t say was how much engines and chassis from Richard Childress Racing were costing, deals set up that were just expensive enough to drain an unsponsored operation and keep them from running the distance. A $75,000 engine rental was more than the purse sometimes, but without it, you don’t qualify for the race; that’s where the start-and-park comes in, running 20 percent of the laps saving you $60,000 of that cost while neatly ensuring you’ll never end the day running in front of the lessee.
Once the team fell outside the top 35, a sponsorship deal went sour and soon there was no choice for TRG but to rent the top-level equipment and pull the dreaded S & P whenever possible that spring. Even then, Buckler had hopes of remaining in a “locked in” spot, circling target races where the team could be successful while parking in others just to maintain that Cinderella chance. When Gilliland’s hope soured, he left the team for a shot at Joe Gibbs Racing that ultimately proved unsuccessful; yet his foundation along with Labbe’s led the way for recently unemployed 2000 champion Bobby Labonte to come calling. It was a dream come true for the little team that could, signing a 15-race sponsor in TaxSlayer.com for the start of 2010 and hoping the reputation of a former superstar would be enough to fill the financial gaps.
It didn’t. In an era where engineering, not excellent feedback, makes the difference the team ultimately fell a step behind those with better personnel, the money for simulations, and equipment that ultimately proved a step above what they were being leased. Labbe left, off to a better opportunity with a team whose future was funded by some of daddy’s money (Paul Menard) — the perfect match as opposed to living on the edge, week-to-week with worries running the distance wasn’t enough to get a sponsor. Labonte never clicked with the crew chief replacements, went the whole season without a top-15 finish and openly griped about the lack of horsepower and handling.
Yet despite all the obstacles and money issues, they kept trucking on when other teams around them showed up clearly to collect a paycheck, drive a handful of laps and head home. Buckler ran the team into the ground, and then some, until the money ran dry, finally forced to use the dreaded S & P when TaxSlayer was the only part-time sponsor who’d keep ponying up. Three times in four races they pulled in during May and June, embarrassing for one of the sport’s former stars to the point he finally couldn’t handle it by the start of the summer. In a flash, Labonte was gone, only returning when the team has money — and when it doesn’t, suddenly the lucrative world of starting and parking has begun to creep into the picture even though they’ve won the fight to sneak in the top 35.
And why not? PRISM, NEMCO, and so many organizations around Buckler are making a quick buck, earning $100 less per race while his team puts in twice the effort and gets nowhere against the ironclad, country club operations forever positioned in front of him. So in six of the dozen races since Labonte’s semi-departure, that’s exactly what he’s done, using rookie Landon Cassill as a test session and not a talented future driver like he once was for Hendrick Motorsports in Nationwide. These are tough times in a weary world, my friends, which brings us finally to the dark side exposed after the team pulled in after 126 laps with “clutch” problems on Sunday:
“Switch over to channel 2, please.” The scanner chatter was the luck of the draw, and I perked up while quickly switching to the alternate one in a crowded media center. Whatever was said, they didn’t want anyone to hear – which meant you knew it was eavesdropping material.
“They’re going to pull some bullshit,” said the crewman on the radio to his boss, referring to NASCAR questioning the team pulling in early – one of those “stern lecture” type of things that does no more to stop the practice than blinking your eyes, putting on a puppy dog look and saying please. “We may have to think about running longer.”
“****!” was the response on the other end of the radio, worried not about winning but of the thought they would have to – God – keep racing in general. “That’s ridiculous. They can’t do that.”
The conversation that followed surrounded “fake diagnosing” the problem, and whatever discussion they had with NASCAR paid dividends – the car was never forced back on the track. But it’s moments like those that make me cringe, as the transformation of determined underdog to throwing in the towel, starting and parking to collect a paycheck had officially become complete. This organization had done everything it was supposed to that in a different time would have sparked a long-term future in the sport.
Now? They’re getting beaten down by others, rivals whose goal it is to keep them from not making it past halfway. And you know what? After awhile, it’s like the old saying goes: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Ladies and gentlemen, your NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2010.
Did You Notice? … Some quick hits before we go:
- An unintended victim of this whole Clint Bowyer saga continues to be Ryan Newman. While the Chase has been reduced to virtually 11 candidates, pending an all-but-likely denial of the No. 33’s appeal Newman sits 13th in points, with the consistency of five top-11 finishes and the knowledge he, not Bowyer, would be gunning for a title if that penalty had been handed down during a Richmond “warning” instead of that fateful Sunday at Loudon. If Newman was put in the Chase, the No. 39 would sit seventh, 74 points behind leader Hamlin and with as much of a shot as anyone considering his team, Stewart-Haas Racing, won Kansas last fall with driver/owner Tony Stewart.
Considering the man’s Stewart-like tendency to get in the news lately for all the wrong reasons – his Sunday scrape with David Reutimann is the latest in a long line of on-track incidents that have people pissed off – he’s done an incredible job of staying cool under the circumstances. But a top-5 finish at Kansas and another at Fontana, and it’s hard to believe he won’t be sitting up at night wondering, “What if?”
- Is it just me, or is it impossible for the sport to put two complete races together back-to-back? We start with a fantastic Daytona 500 (pothole excluded) and one week later, there’s Fontana (‘nuff said). The best finish of the year at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin’s pre-ACL win (albeit on a rain delay where no one is watching) gets followed up by an off week, then a Phoenix yawner, a weird finish where Newman, in a sense, lucked into his victory. Then we have the best start to the Chase in seven years at Loudon, followed by a soap opera-like atmosphere leading up to a Sunday race where fans anticipated a Hamlin-Harvick brawl on or off the track. Instead, they got a bunch of single-file racing, Jimmie Johnson domination at Dover that gave them every reason to say, “No thanks,” go back to their NFL package and finish off the season elsewhere.
I guess when it rains, it pours. The problem of it all, of course, is you can only hype things up so many times before transforming into the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
- So let me get this straight. Last year’s Kansas race was two hours, 55 minutes, 13 seconds, run from a little after 1 EST to 4. But the pre-race coverage leading up to it all runs for three hours: two hours of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED followed by a little over an hour pre-race show on ESPN.
Yes, you read that right; the pre-race shows are longer than the actual event itself. Need any more proof our sport is suffering from a case of overexposure?
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©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
A Chase mulligan? We already have the Lucky Dog and the wave around.
Drivers are point racing?? Never noticed. Always wondered why after Daytona, drivers seemed content finishing 7th every week.
And agree with Shayne. Do not let NASCAR mess with the Chase group once the cursed Chase starts. Thank goodness a certain driver wasn’t 13th in points in this year; I could NASCAR in their desperation giving into such suggestions.
Finally, I mentioned this earlier. The powers at Fox, ESPN, etc. need to either dump their prerace coverage or create a seperate earlier show – just like their NFL programming. If the race is to start at 1:00, then the viewer should be seeing the green flag waving at 1:00 – not some stiffs going over the weekly news that everyone already knows about.
So, Thom, let me get this straight. Since the majority of the fans hate the chase due to it’s contrived and fraudulent nature; your suggestion for a fix is to add another layer of deception, fraud, and contrivance?!?
Ryan Newman had 26 opportunities to get himself into the top 12. He failed to do so. Penalizing Bowyer FOR A CAR THAT WAS TECHNICALLY LEGAL would have done…what, exactly?!?
Ummmmmm…here’s a thought, don’t watch RaceDay, they never have anything worth watching anyway. Then your pre-race coverage will be just 1/3 distance of the actual race.
@ Kevin: It used to be that the 1pm-1:20pm portion of a race broadcast was the pre-race. The coverage started, you got a couple clips of what happened in qualifying, a track description, the National Anthem, invocation, fire the engines, and get ‘em on the track.
Long story even longer, I agree with you. The cars need to be coming to the green flag at 1pm.
No mulligans, please, but the idea of a separate point system for the chase contenders has merit. It seems to me that it would tighten the points up between the chase drivers and force them to race each other harder and go for wins more often.
That’s assuming Nascar keeps the ridiculous Chase format, and we all know they will.
You are a little harsh on Landon Cassill saying he is not a talented future driver. Why would HMS keep him on contract if he has no talent? Just because they are biding their time with him doesn’t mean he is not talented.
It’s STILL about POINTS and not wins, no matter the format.
So, Mr. Bowles, you’re saying that it’s because of the current point system that drivers were just “sliding around”, as you put it? Tell me, how is a different point system going to magically make the cars handle better? If they’re sliding around now, they’d still be sliding around under any point system. Unless you’re suggesting that the crew chiefs would suddenly see the light, unlocking the secrets to better handling that they’ve missed all year?
A separate point system would go a long way towards making the “playoffs” a lot more legitimate and making the Chasers race each other instead of also the other 31 drivers who are technically eliminated.
Enjoyed this article immensely but it got my blood boiling. again…
The fairy tale about radio transmissions on the 71 car were entertaining , but they sure leave a lot of unanswered questions . How is it exactly that the bloggers for this site always happen to be listening to the correct channel to pick up these nefarious conversations ? Since these crews are well aware that NASCAR monitors radio talk ( so does everyone with a scanner ) why would they risk being overheard ? Since theres plenty of time before each race to discuss a potential S&P scenario , why do you suppose these teams alledgedly put their plans out over the airways instead of talking about it in the motorhome ?
One big problem with the “What if Newman was in the Chase?” story. Bowyer’s car was legal at Richmond. They were warned they were scary close to going over the tolerances, not that they were over tolerances. Sadly, you probably aren’t intelligent enough to process the difference. Must be hard getting around being so unintelligent.
I apologize because I’m breaking a rule I tell my staff never to do, respond to critics. But after a year of this and an increase in bashing of virtually EVERY writer on this site, I’m breaking ranks for this one. Couldn’t be more wrong on your TRG “fairy tale” accusation. Surely, I couldn’t have misheard the 71 conversation since I was listening on a scanner at the track in the media center; you know, that place you’d love to be a part of but have never walked through the door. I guess I’ll throw away my tape recorder with fantasy interviews and conversation with NASCAR personnel – Mark says I dreamt it all. Man, that’s been a long five-year dream.
I ask you one more time, why do you come to our site to constantly bash us daily, insulting our intelligence and for many of us our chosen profession? You’re neglecting one important point; for me, this isn’t a hobby, it’s a passion and a paycheck. You better believe I don’t report things I just think up in the morning out of thin air. And you better believe that not a single member of my staff would ever do the same if they expect to work here.
But that’s a key difference from you, fact getting in the way of your fiction as you desperately drown in enhancing your own personal self-esteem by figuring out the best way to bash a bunch of NASCAR columnists you disagree with to make yourself feel better. Every post you’ve ever written here has also come with a skunk-induced smell of swagger indicating you know it all. Alright then, Mark probably-stuck-with-an-awful office job Roley, you write a column for us and tell it like it is, since it’s your job to inform us of how misinformed and miseducated my master’s degree really is.
I’m waiting for your column and your job. Do drop a line and let us know when you get it.
Kudos, Tom. Great column — I’m tired of the chase, tired of the 48 winning all the time and tired of the same old hype. Weekend weather is looking good — too good to sit inside and watch ESPN bore me out of my mind with their race broadcast. I quit watching Raceday after Daytona — don’t need to hear Kenny Wallace braying nonsense for several hours. I preferred the 20 minute pre-race show we used to get — actual info about the RACE I was going to watch — not the rest of this malarkey.
And yet, NASCAR still doesn’t get why the ratings and attendance are down. Here’s a clue — it’s NOT the economy.
I don’t like the chase and I didn’t like the old points system. I think the champion should always be the driver that wins the most races. In the event of a tie, you have a raceoff with the winner being the champion. Every driver would race to win every week. I think Dale Sr. said it best when he said “2nd is the first loser”.
I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t address any of the points i made Tom .
@NSC*9 – you missed the point of his Landon Cassill reference:
“using rookie Landon Cassill as a test session and not a talented future driver like he once was for Hendrick Motorsports in Nationwide”
The way I read it, he’s saying that they are using him merely as a testing driver, not as the future star that he could be.
No indictment of Landon’s skill, just saying that his talent is not being used or shown to its full potential.
I’ve said it before- if NASCAR wanted to stop the S&P practice they could in a heartbeat.
1) Prorate the prize money based on percentage of laps completed. Complete 29 laps of a 400 lap race? Get 7.25% of the prize money… so instead of $66,630, TBR would have gotten around $4800. Not quite worth it at that point. Take the money not awarded due to laps not completed and pay it out to the teams that complete 90% of the race and are running at the finish. If NASCAR wants to help teams compete and have parity, they need to award finishing races, not award simply qualifying, taking the green flag, and heading to the garage. There are plenty of folks out there that would run races if they could afford to and could get in, but S&P cars have an advantage of not needing to build and set up the cars to run more than one pit window.
Or, another idea:
2) Any car that “retires” for a mechanical reason gets the part that “failed” confiscated for 10 days. If it REALLY failed, and tests out to be bad, the team gets the part back so they can either fix it or learn what went wrong. If the part tests out good, NASCAR holds it at the R&D center for the remainder of the season.
3) REQUIRE all teams to show up with a complete pit crew and purchase (lease) the full complement of tires for the entire race ahead of time. Most of the S&P teams don’t have a pit crew and only lease 2-3 sets of tires to practice/qualify on, and most of the time they “trade” the tires to other teams to recoup the money anyway.
Mark “2nd is the first loser”. and you are him, I know all of the old guys are dumb, a lot of old timers we let our ass’s over load our brains and start talking before thinking, oh shit that must be you!
Please go away
As more fans become apathetic about the sport, expect the nas$car ship to sink further. For the first time after 30+ years of watching nas$car, I recorded a race (Dover) and then didn’t watch much of it. It is so obvious that the drivers are not putting much emphasis on winning. Hell, the first 26 races are one big test session. With this “chase your tail) system in place, why bother take any chances. And with the cup drivers dominating the “cup light series”, I quit watching that series last year. And in closing, where are the future cup drivers going to come from? I hate to be all gloom and doom, but I just don’t see a silver lining anywhere. Burton’s been my favorite driver for years, but after he retires, I don’t know if my heart is going to be in it much longer. Brian France needs to be replaced and if it isn’t done soon, the whole situation isn’t going to improve.
And to all you morons who feel it’s their “civic duty” to bash the columnists and anybody else who do not agree with, please go away. Op[inions are like a$$$holes, everybody has one.
Ain’t it funny. How the same folks that say they aint racing hard only racing for points, and on the same note complain about how Kyle Busch aint a true contender for a championship cause he races the wheels off the racecar each and every race for a win. Now he settles down to get good positions and a points day cause he wants a championship. He even said he would trade all the wins for a championship and Joe Gibbs told him to calm down get what u can get out of the car and call it a good day. It’s just funny how people complain about them not racing hard for wins and it aint fun, but when a guy who races hard for wins is looked at as a fool but on the same breath complain that they dont get to see a real race LMAO Cant have it both ways
Thanks for the Landon Cassill explanation – I totally did not read it that way the first time.
Pretty sickening about TRG. Just stay home. Same to Nemecheck and Parsons. They are basically legally stealing fans money. Fans pay tickets and buy products which gives the track – indirectly – purse money. The fans buy these tickets to see a race. Those jackasses run twenty laps, park, and put $60,000 in their pocket while fans watch 35 cars race. Or, worse yet (like what happened with the 26 at least twice) – a start and parker makes the race and a team planning to run the whole race goes home. It makes my stomach turn. If we can’t fill a field up with RACERS, then cut the fields down to 35 cars or whatever.
NASCAR’s stupidity over the years has created new problems with worse NASCAR solutions. Its to the point where fixing one thing doesn’t make a difference, because there are twenty other repercussions from the other stupid things NASCAR is still doing.
Oh yeah, forgot this. The irony of your column (which I agree with) is that “points racing” gave us the Chase to begin with. Matt Kenseth only had one win on his way to a championship and because he “points raced”, everybody got bored.
A few drinks later, and Brian France came up with the Chase. A lot of good that has done us.
BTW, why do people waste their time to read an article they already know they will hate written by a guy they already know they don’t like? I don’t understand that. If y’all already don’t like Tom and think he’s a dumbass, why do you come back every week? Sounds like y’all are the dumbasses, not Tom.
Chase Mulligan? He’s an up and comer in the Nationwide series (with Cup promise), right?
The Chase should be tweaked though—points for 1 – 12 Chasers should be awarded to the Chase finishers in the order of what position they finish in: first Chaser gets x points even if he only finishes 10, then the next Chase gets second place Chase points and so on and so forth…
I’d rather see it done that way and at least make it possibly come down to the final race with almost every Chaser having a shot at the title then the way it is now.
Points scale: 12(1st), 11(2nd), 10(3rd) and so on…
Personally though, I’d like to see the Chase points awarded to only those drivers who finish in the top ten—that might really jazz up the racing.
Now you know how we feel Tom! We have been run off every site by the domineering newbies. Its looking like deja vu again on Frontstretch.
The best thing about the chase is it happens in the fall, which up here in New England is the absolute best time of the year to get out on a sunday afternoon on the Harley or take the vintage car for a ride to one of the many fall shows. Usually Ill watch Speeds news show at night to catch up on whats happening, though Im beginning not to even care whether or not I get the Nascar results.
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Did You Notice? ... Keep On Asking, And You Will Receive A Qualifying Sigh Of Relief
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