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 November 10, 2010
Did You Notice? … The underlying message that both Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports sent sponsors the last two weeks? In the past, I’ve been worried about one pit crew member being replaced during the Chase, non-playoff teams losing their best man all in the best interests of the “organization” as the top-performing car tries to win the title. Now, this year has seen top car owners go one step further, with RCR and HMS brass replacing entire crews from other Chase-contending teams in the interest of giving their top-tier car the best available personnel to win a championship.
It’s a sign of how NASCAR has changed; could you imagine what would have happened to the underdog, single-car Alan Kulwicki in 1992 if Junior Johnson handpicked the best men in his two-car operation, assigned them to Bill Elliott down the stretch and gathered up all the resources at his disposal to use against him? Johnson didn’t believe in that, the antithesis to the Hendrick model in which each team possessed so much competitive venom towards one other it was almost impossible for each to work together (remember Darrell Waltrip and Neil Bonnett)? But that’s not the case in the new NASCAR, where three and four-car programs are trained to dispose of individuality as a championship for one driver is considered a title for everyone involved.
It’s a tough sell to men that were on Kevin Harvick’s and Jimmie Johnson’s crew, the bottom line being their swap is considered a demotion within an organization that no longer finds them “the best” at doing their jobs. It leads to a permanent ranking system, where Jeff Gordon’s and Clint Bowyer’s teams are considered “second string” with bad crews sent to purgatory and unable to collect on possible championships that they’re far more responsible for than the people who replaced them.
Looking at it that way, you’ve got to wonder what execs at DuPont, Cheerios, and BB&T must be thinking – the latter two coming back to the RCR organization next year while Harvick’s backer, Pennzoil, is not. You can’t sell this move as a “change in chemistry” because it’s not just one guy that’s getting switched out. Instead, it’s an entire crew that was removed for one reason: their times aren’t good enough to be championship-caliber. So you’re telling me BB&T and Cheerios should pay full price when they’re publicly being told they’re “second tier?” If I were a marketing exec for either one of those programs, what I would do is call Richard Childress up and say, “OK, thanks for giving us what you label a second-rate crew since we’re no longer in championship contention. So how about we give you a second-rate check for the last five races of the year? After all, this move obviously shows you don’t care about us as much as one of your other cars contending to win the Chase.”
Could you have imagined, after years of worrying that missing the playoffs could cost teams millions in potential sponsorship money, we’re now talking about the risk of those involved in the postseason losing out on cash because of personnel moves? More than ever before, the dominance of multi-car teams is coming into play because this Chase has become not a three-man race but a three-_organization_ battle between Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick, and RCR. Sure, JGR hasn’t made any swaps as of yet, but what if Hamlin’s crew has a series of poor stops on Sunday? Precedent has now been set to use everyone within your organization’s disposal to win this title.
The more I think about it, I just don’t think that’s good for NASCAR any way you look at it. Chad Knaus and Childress will be lauded as geniuses if the moves pay off, but the long-term consequences here may be something haunting the sport for years to come – or until the Chase finally falls by the wayside.
Did You Notice? … That despite most fans’ cheering Kyle Busch’s in-race penalty on Sunday, the dangerous precedent those consequences set for the future? Certainly, Kyle’s middle finger is the equivalent of a technical foul in basketball or perhaps a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct in the NFL. But two laps? Really? To me, that doesn’t fit the crime, permanently eliminating Busch’s chance to get back in contention and win the race while what should have happened was a slap on the wrist to serve as a wakeup call to get the team’s driver back under control. When it comes to officials, you have to maintain a basic respect level between them and the competitors; how thick of a skin do you expect them to have?
I think a one-lap penalty, at most, would have been justified for a gesture that clearly crosses the line in any type of sporting event no matter how much people try and defend it. Although to be honest, I’m fairly content with the $25,000 fine and probation until December 31st that NASCAR threw out as an additional set of consequences Tuesday afternoon. We see this type of misbehavior punished in other sports all the time, and why should this sanctioning body be any different? This move isn’t a rejection of the “Boys, Have At It” policy that’s sorely needed in this age of political correctness. I compare this punishment to when your 10-year-old son walks in the middle of the mall and throws out the middle finger at someone. What would you do? Would you just ignore it, let your kid get by with the gesture by sending a subconscious message that, “It’s OK to do it?”
Of course you wouldn’t. So don’t give me this free speech garbage and saying we’re killing NASCAR with political correctness. It’s one thing to show aggression towards another competitor, but there’s also a line you don’t cross – especially when it’s revolving around unbiased officials whose sole purpose is to keep the playing field fair for everyone. And unlike in previous incidences – like when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. swore on camera at Talladega – NASCAR rightfully decided not to take any points away. The championship standings should be earned based on how you drive, not any sort of mental misbehavior that does nothing to affect the outcome of the race.
So at least the sport is making some progress. In a perfect world, Busch would have gotten a one-lap penalty, still been in contention to come from behind at two laps back (wave around plus Lucky Dog, we’ve seen it done in the age of Wacky Rules that virtually eliminate mistakes) and Busch would have learned his lesson in having to work much harder to compete. Instead, a middle finger pretty much ended his day, and that’s not what those penalties should be intended to do.
Did You Notice?… That while the Cup and Nationwide circuits worry about the start-and-park count for 2011, ever-so-quietly it’s becoming less and less of an issue over in Trucks? A quick look at next season shows an infusion of new small-time owners, like Johanna Long’s program and Eddie Sharp Racing combined with the possible return of Roush Fenway, a second truck for RCR and an additional third Truck fielded by Turner Motorsports. KHI is likely to return two trucks, Germain is bringing Max Papis into the fold and you’ve got a handful of new people at least taking a look at the series.
That all begs the question : why not? Sure, the purses are far weaker than Cup or even Nationwide, but the ratings for seven of the last 11 events have posted an increase. At a cost of maybe $4 million to run a top-tier team as opposed to double that for Nationwide or six times that for Cup, it’s a bargain where you can dip your feet into ownership and see what happens. Look at all the start-and-park operations that have never gained any traction on the Cup side. How is that an attractive investment for car owners who presumably want to enter this sport to win, not just make some cash?
The Trucks are the one place where the multi-car giants aren’t dominating; a quick look at the standings shows a single-truck team with a part-time second truck on top of the standings (Todd Bodine, Germain) with another single-truck operation (Austin Dillon, RCR) in fifth place. Further back, Turner Motorsports has entered the series full-time this year and been competitive right off the bat, their drivers 11th and 12th in the standings (Ricky Carmichael and James Buescher, respectively) while contending for wins.
It just goes to show that despite the economy, all the attendance and ratings problems combined with ugly-looking cars, some rich people’s passion for success in this sport has never died. Hopefully, these smaller teams can eventually sustain an ownership model that can bring them up to the Cup Series at the right price in a couple of years, if the top-tier car owners are forced to reduce cost, their fleet, and overall personnel to negate the inherent advantages they already have. But as we’ve talked about too many times, getting men like Jack Roush, Hendrick, Childress, and Roger Penske to do that is far easier said than done.
Did You Notice? … Some quick hits before we take off:
- As I mentioned in my SI.com mailbag I think it’s ridiculous people are emailing me to call the Jeff Gordon – Jeff Burton incident a “sissy fight.” What more do you want? An old-fashioned brawl? It’s really bothering me that fans weren’t satisfied enough; I’d much rather we get a little pushing and shoving instead of someone landing a punch and getting a black eye and having to sit for a week. Let’s not get carried away with too much testosterone …
- Man, is there some type of PR war going on when it comes to “RPM Deathwatch! Week 3.” On the one hand, you’ve got Bob Dillner on NASCAR RaceHub reporting their haulers can’t even start heading to Arizona until a check clears in the middle of this week. My sources have told me all employees have been told to bring personal items home, because if they come to work one day and the doors are locked it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve their stuff. Ford just made a powerful bid for Chip Ganassi’s operation, one it arguably didn’t need as badly if RPM was coming back at least partially intact. Even A.J. Allmendinger has come out in public and said he’s nervous about keeping his job.
Yet you’ve got everyone from Richard Petty, to Robbie Loomis, to Ray Evernham saying that not only is this team in position to finish 2010 but they’re going to be full steam ahead into 2011 as well. And through it all, George Gillett hasn’t even really commented or issued a statement, one of many signs to me that the bank has now taken control of this operation in the interim until someone steps up with the money to pay the bills. See that, to me, is where the key to the future of this story lies. Will the bank accept new investors that will try to revitalize the program?
Or will they do what my sources had told me a month ago; come to the conclusion it’s impossible to make their money back, fold up this operation, retrieve what they can through an auction and just wash their hands of the whole thing? Keep in mind that behind the scenes, NASCAR knows the negative publicity losing the King’s name off a racing program would cause. But would an organization that’s still collecting its own sponsors at the expense of dying teams be willing to put up silent money to keep Petty alive and well in the sport? A lot more questions than answers here.
- Sorry, Kevin; you’re a nice guy, but my 2010 Rookie of the Year Award in Sprint Cup goes to … Trevor Bayne, with only one actual start to his credit. That alone should tell you the type of season for freshmen we just endured.
- OK, so Terry Labonte fields a team at Texas with brother Bobby, says he hopes to run 14 or 15 races minimum in 2011 but admits the team doesn’t have sponsorship to run them. Now, he’s coming out of “retirement” to start and park a second car for Whitney Motorsports this week. Boy, that deal looks healthy … isn’t it sad to see he and Bill Elliott reduced to taking some of these low-end operations (Awesome Bill is in the No. 26 this week, so God knows if he’ll even get a check for services rendered) to scrounge up whatever extra cash they can find?
- I wonder if Martin Truex, Jr. ever looks at the No. 1 ride and says “what if,”
- As many fans have pointed out to me through email in recent weeks, how must Dale Earnhardt, Jr. feel that Hendrick is willing to move mountains for either the No. 48 or the No. 24 but he can’t even get a new crew chief? At least, not yet …
- This Chase has gotten so wacky, I’m wild enough to think Kevin Harvick might surprise everyone, win Phoenix and tighten things up even further. He used to have a great track record there … how much would you have bet just one week ago that Homestead would be a battle between Harvick and Hamlin for the title, with Johnson a distant third and fading?
Now, it’s certainly possible.
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Kevin Conway’s best finish of the year is better than Trevor Bayne’s best finish… but point taken.
And Kyle Busch did effectively get fined points for the gesture, as the penalty destroyed any chance at a good finish. I can imagine Kyle being somewhat upset at ESPN: if the technical director hadn’t gone to Kyle’s in-car camera, he wouldn’t have received the fine or penalty or anything. Of course, Kyle should have held himself to a slightly higher standard, so I’m not exactly sympathetic.
While you are correct Todd Bodine is leading the truck drivers standing.
It is I believe another single truck team with a part-time second team that is also a first year team that is leading the owner championship. And that is KBM
Kyle Bush Motorsports.
“But would an organization that’s still collecting its own sponsors at the expense of dying teams be willing to put up silent money to keep Petty alive and well in the sport?”
I have been wondering if thats been going on and not just with RPM either.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. DID get a new crew chief…he also reportedly got some of Mark Martin’s engineers, hurting Martin’s performance while Junior still runs like crap.
If anything, Hendrick ought to be finding a new driver for the 88 car. Junior just isn’t that good, period. No other driver would get so many different iterations of a team to get him to run better. If his last name were Higgins (or even Labonte, for that matter) he’d be driving start-and-parks to stay in the sport.
Otherwise good points though.
Tom, no matter how you spin it, Jeff and Jeff were just shoving each other. To call that a fight is a joke. And again, they are BOTH “sissy men” or it would have been a full on fight!! I do wonder why you object to the “sissy man” remarks anyway, they are, and why are you defending that. Go back and look at Daytona ’79. Now THAT was a fight!!
I don’t like the crew switches for a few other reasons: 1)crew chiefs interact with their crews differently, look at Knaus v. LeTarte. Very different styles. Who’s to say that the 24 crew will work as well for Knaus as they do for Letarte? Sure, short term last Sunday they did okay, but there’s more to a team than just what each member does individually.
2)It is not only important in the sport to finish ONE team in the best position possible. For sponsorship in years to come, it’s important that EVERY team finish as well as possible! Get that 24 team as high in the top 12 at the banquet as possible. Get that 33 team up there as well. Granted they aren’t going to win, but how they finish this year, affects how they start next year right? So don’t tie their hands behind their backs now on an off chance that the change will make that big of a difference in the last 3 races!
3)It sends a message to the fans of those drivers that are losing their better crews, that the owner doesn’t care about those teams any more, so why should the fan? If the owner is throwing them out, why should the fan watch the rest of the season?
4)How well are those teams going to work in the future? I mean if the 48 team is thrown out after a bad day after all the things they’ve pulled out over the entire season, the morale for next year is not going to be the same. It sends a message to the teams that they’re only as good as the last race, which in the short term might motivate, but with that type of atmosphere on a day to day basis, futility becomes a real danger that may decrease the teams abilities more than increase them.
As my wife described it, Jeff Gordon resorted to his patented ‘Parrot Face Push’ on Jeff Burton, as previously demonstrated on Matt Kenseth. Not much more than that, but it was entertaining.
Bill isn’t out there trying to make a dime here and there. He just likes to race and, maybe he’s dusting off for a full run in 2011. Regardless, guys like Elliott and Labonte find it hard to quit NASCAR cold turkey….just like us fans who swear it off every year, but keep showing up (in lesser numbers every season). When will WE get smart and RETIRE as fans? You should pity us instead.
The #88 crew and crew chief would bail on Na$crap’s most Popular Loser, Dale Jr. in a heartbeat if they were given the chance to work on Championship winning teams like the #24 and #48. Instead of getting Crap week after week because of their underperforming driver riding around in circles to 20th somewhere finishes and collecting a sponsor check.
Sorry but got to disagree about your assessement of the Busch situation.
The 1 finger salute was not the only thing he was penalized for. If you remember on Saturday he went nuts in a profanity laced tirade over his radio and to PRN, then did the same thing in his car before he gave the salute. Combining all that, I’m sure nascar said enough is enough. Thus the 2 lap penalty. If he wasn’t Kyle Busch or still in contention for a Cup title, it would have been a slap on the wrist.
Kyle Busch gets away with alot and fails to realize that. He should remember that when he goes off on a tirade about speeding penalties or someone jumping the start.
Tom, I just read on Race Journal Online from someone who listens to Jr.’s radio, “JEERS to Lance…how does a team run out of tires with almost 25% of the race left? Let’s hope it was race dictated and not the pre-race plan. Glad Jr didnt have a flat and actually need a tire to avoid his first DNF this year. I’m pretty sure the 24 tires followed Jeff’s pit crew over to the 48 camp.” What…? I have NEVER heard of a team running out of tires in the Cup series, in the Truck or NW series, yes, but not Cup level. Why hasn’t anyone else reported it? Writers are always looking for stories about Jr. I wholeheartedly agree with overated 88, it is well past time for Rick to let Jr. go.
Marybeth…Just where is your head stuck up? NOBODY on the Cup level runs out of tires. Just another of your delusional BS excuses for Na$craps most Popular Loser Dale Jr.
Let’s not forget, Kyle flipped off an official, not another driver. I don’t care if it was on camera or not. Flip off an official in the NBA and it is a 3 game suspension, not just a technical foul.
Marybeth, are all your light bulbs on? No body’s reporting on your delusions, because THERE IS NO STORY TO REPORT! Please show us your intelligence and explain to the world how the #88 crew installed a 9” ford ring gear backwards, something YOU posted all over the web this summer.Marybeth … the crickets are chirpping!
Marybeth… I almost fell out of my chair when you said you agreeded with me about Rick benching Jr. for a few races to show delusional people like yourself and the rest of Jr. Nation the #88 team’s only problem is it’s driver. What driver would you want to prove this to you, Scot Speed? Danica Patrick? Or whoever? Really wouldn’t take alot of talent to do.
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