Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday July 6, 2011
*Did You Notice?*… How one little divorce can cause so much controversy? The back-and-forth on Kurt Busch’s separation from wife Eva has caused a furor on both sides of the fence, a spirited debate on whether such news should even be reported based on individual privacy. Fans appear divided on the issue, too, with Dustin Long’s Backseat Drivers Fan Council reporting in at 46.9 percent yes, we want to hear about the Busch problems while 53.1 chimed in at “No / I don’t care.” Clearly, there’s a case to be made for both sides, so before forming an opinion let’s examine each one:
The Case For Reporting It: As in any job, when a driver struggles (or succeeds) their personal life can often influence said result. Just look at what happened with Tiger Woods in golf, post-Elin or on the positive side Brett Favre of the NFL, who looked superhuman a mere 24 hours after losing his father. Personal adversity becomes part of the story, because after all, sports are 90% mental, right? (Or at least that’s what Yogi Berra used to say).
That leads us to Busch, who spent the Spring publicly critical of his at-track crewmen and engineering leadership at Penske Racing. Time and again, his weekly radio transmissions could cause Howard Stern to report him to the FCC; a seven-race stretch with just one top-10 finish was the end result, wiping out a strong start and dropping the No. 22 Dodge driver to eighth in points. But in a weird twist, once the complaints went public, part of a public tirade that started at Richmond and spilled over into Darlington changes were made and performance markedly improved by mid-May. In the last six races alone, Busch has not finished worse than 14th while charging up to fourth in points, even winning the road course race out at Sonoma in June.
So it turns out this process was highly effective, causing fans to want to know why Busch would choose to be so critical. Any type of personal problem, affecting the driver’s emotional well-being could offer up some type of explanation; at the very least, it begs the question to be asked of just how much someone’s head would stay in the game.
There’s also the concept of NASCAR playing with the Big Four; and those sports, for better or for worse in stick ‘n’ ball land see their personal problems go public when it pertains to the story. Whether it’s baseball owners, in the case of the McCourts’ divorce for the L.A. Dodgers or Tony Romo’s (Dallas Cowboys) rendezvous with Jessica Simpson before the big game the identification of these athletes as public figures softens the boundaries. And without this type of reporting, where would we be with Woods? There may never have been any sex addiction rehab, public revelations or any such nonsense – his people may have all effectively swept such dirtbag behavior under the rug.
Some might also say Busch brought the story upon himself, openly interacting with another woman in Victory Lane whom even casual NASCAR fans could identify wasn’t his wife. It’s one thing to quietly go through a divorce, actively choosing to keep it a private matter; but when you’re bringing someone else to the racetrack, getting seen in public well it’s not exactly so private anymore, is it? Considering fans adopt these drivers as their role models, people kids look up to there’s a certain expectation they come as advertised. If there’s a story that contradicts perception, does that become a journalist’s responsibility to report it?
The Case Against It: The number one issue a NASCAR fan focuses on is their driver’s on-track performance. The number one story a NASCAR reporter follows is on-track results. So what does a personal matter, handled completely outside the racetrack have to do with Busch ordering “tight” or “loose” on the radio? Since when does a broken marriage have anything to do with a green-white-checkered restart? Busch seemed to indicate as much with his statement on the matter, issued down at Daytona last weekend:
“Although we [Busch and his wife, Eva] are no longer together and are legally separated, we appreciate privacy in this situation,” he said. “All I want to say on this is we are going though the process of terminating our marriage, but we are doing it with respect for each other and we’ll always be friends.”
“When you win, people want to bring you down. While drivers sometimes have a beef with certain media members, the vast majority are hard-working and responsible individuals trying to do their job the best way they can. I realize I’m an entity, but I’m also a person.”
You could also claim that Busch’s personal issues have no bearing in his complaints about Penske; it’s not the first time Kurt’s gone overboard on the radio for an extensive period of time, likely won’t be the last and follows a consistent pattern of speaking out when necessary to force internal changes within the team. The Society of Professional Journalists (I’ve become oh-too-familiar with that in the last six months) in their Code of Ethics claims journalists could, “Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.”
I think the words “overriding public need” are where this whole topic becomes a little messy. Because what “public need” does reporting about sports serve in the first place? We’re not reporting on matters of life or death, grave national security or even the robbery that happened down the street. Sports, in essence is always glorified entertainment so you’re operating on a different set of rules. Now, if there’s a crime or a lawsuit being reported (Jeremy Mayfield, anyone?) things change a bit. But what about the other 99.9% of the time? How is it even a “public need” to explain Denny Hamlin and Mike Ford, for example, hit on a special setup no one else had to win the race? In a sense, you’re “invading their privacy” by revealing the type of setup used but NASCAR Nation won’t lose sleep at night if those facts aren’t revealed.
That’s why, to bring this whole complicated mess full circle the code of ethics in this case can be defined in two ways: one old school and one new school. The old school way is by the core group of beat reporters covering the story. I remember back in 2006, when I first started in both writing and television; within my second week at the track, the big story revealed to me was that a certain car owner had been dating a female driver on his team for months. In total shock when this story was revealed to me as a reporter, my first question to person A was why hadn’t anyone written a story on it; after all, the team was struggling at the time, the owner in question was in the midst of a divorce and for me it was a relevant story for this type of scenario to play out on NASCAR’s highest level.
“Simple,” said Person A. “[The owner] doesn’t want the story reported, and he’s made that clear to everyone who knows about it.”
And so it went; as the new kid on the block, I kept my mouth shut while learning the ropes and sure enough, it stayed silent until a former driver on the team, of all people publicized the information a few weeks later. It’s an example of how the NASCAR media, in operating on cases like these has mostly chosen to take a more conservative approach, protecting sources on personal matters under the guise of needing to use them later or simply deciding the issue was not a “public need,” something the average NASCAR fan needs to know about.
Of course, in this world it’s different for many reporters as several of them live around the Charlotte hub, residing in the same neighborhoods and experiencing personal interaction with many of the subjects they cover outside the racetrack. The sport has always been known as a tight-knit community, one that prides itself from being different from sports like the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB so this whole concept of “sheltering someone’s personal life” fits in. Fans can complain reporters are not doing their jobs, but when covering glorified entertainment there’s some flexibility in setting standards; unless, of course, your name is TMZ.
But that brings us to the new school part of this story, the way in which the concept of the media is changing. With direct feedback more accessible than ever before – even instantaneous – people are discovering what a broad spectrum of fans want to know about, and why. As there were many stories about the Caylee Anthony trial coverage being driven by social media, so too will coverage of other stories in the future, as media entities are realizing they won’t exist unless people choose to read them. That means it’s simple common sense that with feedback readily available, they’ll restructure to focus specifically on what their readership wants to have covered going forward. So you, my gentle reader are really going to be the biggest influence on whether divorce stories like these get covered in the decade to come. If your reaction is that reporters missed the boat, to the point you’re not going to read them anymore well, you better believe the next time there’s a personal issue within a driver’s life 20 people will be jumping down their throat. But if your reaction to that coverage is one of disgust, feeling someone’s privacy has been invaded then the exact opposite will happen: private lives will become just that, a clearer line drawn in the sand as the competition gets focused on without the personal context.
See? You’re on the verge of holding more power than you think, I guarantee you. And it only took 1,600 words to explain that…
Did You Notice? … Everyone is just assuming Joey Logano’s the Kentucky favorite? Sure, the 21-year-old has captured three straight victories at the Speedway but he’s not going to be the only one capable of running this joint. Here’s some other people you should focus on this week for what is understandably the “wild card” of the remaining regular season races:
Matt Kenseth. He’s hot (second at Daytona), needs a sponsor (winning races will help that) and already has an intermediate victory under his belt this season (Texas). Chances are, with Carl Edwards still struggling a bit, Greg Biffle winless and David Ragan enduring a week of first win distractions this ride’s the best bet out of the Roush Fenway stable.
Kyle Busch. He owns a win at Kentucky in Nationwide (then-Busch in 2004), finished runner-up there as recently as 2009 and also doubles as Joey Logano’s teammate. After a top-5 finish at Daytona, running with a car headed for the junkyard after the race this year’s Las Vegas intermediate winner should stay in contention.
Kevin Harvick. Way back in the days when he had hair, a Cup Series rookie named Harvick won a Kentucky then-Busch race in 2001. Sixth in the only other race he entered (2006), this year’s Fontana/Charlotte winner on the Cup side has really broke through on intermediates this year. And oh, did I mention he’s the new points leader?
Paul Menard. If you really want a wild card, this intermediate track specialist had a 14th, 5th, and a 9th-place finish at Kentucky in the Nationwide Series before crashing out in last year’s event. If David Ragan just won a Cup race… why can’t Menard?
Did You Notice? … Some very quick hits:
- That message from UPS, sent immediately after the race congratulating David Ragan seemed kind of cryptic, didn’t it? I wonder what they’ll say in a month or two if they decide to leave the team. “Oh, well we thought he’d get three victories in two months, but it didn’t happen so we decided to jump ship and go with Driver X instead.”
- Whatever happened to that guy named Jamie McMurray? I haven’t seen him around in, like, months now.
- You have to understand, the Lucas Oil / Indianapolis Motor Speedway move (angering many fans this site has heard from already) was about money. Lucas Oil just wasn’t cutting it with the purse; it ranked 35th out of 35 Nationwide Races last year, plus NASCAR couldn’t agree with the track on a proper sanctioning fee. But there’s also likely an ulterior motive behind it all; with IMS attendance expected to drop precipitously this year, NASCAR needs to start giving the track incentive to keep hosting the Brickyard 400. Could you imagine if that race got nixed? Many fans wouldn’t care, but the casual public who doesn’t understand how bad the racing is would go nuts. “NASCAR is Dying,” the headlines would say and all of a sudden, it’s a huge public relations blow for the sport. So, while unsettling know that top officials may be trying to keep IMS happy any way it can… it’s just that sadly, as a result financial and business relationships mean the racing, tradition, and the fans suffer.
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Indy doesn’t really give a flip about nascar racing…only the fans money.
The racing at ORP KILLS Indy hands down. That’s where nascar needs to race.
All this controversy about Kurt’s divorce could have been avoided if he had issued a simple statement saying that he had his wife were separating when it happened, and asking for privacy on the issue. By not reporting it, it has become a big deal. I bet Jeff Gordon would have appreciated less publicity when he got his divorce. It isn’t as if this hasn’t happened before. And where was this ‘holier than thou’ attitude by the Nascar press back then? Pot, meet Kettle.
The ability to pay a big purse also killed the Busch Series at Hickory, Myrtle Beach, South Boston, etc.
Technically Tom….David Ragan is Driver X. Or at least Racer X…from that competition he won a few years ago on TV to get the Roush ride.
Every year I’ve looked forward to the IRP race on Brickyard weekend because that race is Soooo much better (hands down) than the Sprint Cup race and now that’s going away too – bad decision by NASCAR for the long run to make a short run concession.
while i agree that any time a marriage blows up it shouldn’t be any of our business, but when kurt got married the couple had no problem recieving god knows how much money from people magazine to have there wedding photos shown to everybody for publicity but now you want privacy? you can’t have it both ways. if kurt gets remarried maybe keep it private and i for one would be on your side.
Both Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon were subjected to the worst kind of tabloid scrutiny of their divorces. Part of it was that the divorce did not fit their “media-generated” images. (Peter Coors was especially an ass about it although as Bill’s sponsor he had a passing interest, but no more. What he displayed was a complete lack of loyalty and support to Bill and Martha both. I will NEVER drink Coors again – they are a phoney company with phoney conservative self-righteous standards.)
You could say Jeff enjoyed the positive publicity of his marriage to Brooke, but again, how much of that was his choice and how much was his sponsor’s choice? In Bill’s case, he had married his high school sweetheart and NEVER made her a part of his public persona, which is the way they both wanted it.
I consider all these guys victims of the media, whether they are going through a medical crisis (Trevor Bayne), a pesonal problem (Bill, Jeff, Kurt), or even an unrelated legal problem (a speeding ticket).
I HATE THE MEDIA! Could you tell?
I agree with SB and Bill’s comments. Being a Jeff Gordon fan and hearing him ask for privacy at the track that day (and not getting it- at least not from the tabloids) makes me wonder why Kurt was treated differently? As sb pointed out, KuBu could have made a statement rather than letting his new girlfriend show up at the track and VL for all to see AND then he asks for privacy? Sorry, the horse is now out of the barn.
BTW, I don’t drink Coors either not because of Bill Elliott but because of how they treated Sterling Marlin. I figure if they ditched him to sponsor a new younger driver (see how well that worked out) because they wanted to reach their target demographic, I didn’t need to spend my $ to buy their product since I’m over 35!
As far as the inaugural race at KY winner – I’m rooting for Jeff Gordon to do it again – 1st race winner in Cup!
Who gives a crapolla about anyone’s personal life?
I’ll be very blunt regarding the Busch situation. I really don’t f<>king care. If I want to hear Hollywood type gossip, I’ll watch ET. What happened to the actual racing? Oh, I forgot. To be a nascar media insider, you’ve got to the nose very brown.
Kurt and all the others have found out that marriage is a very expensive way to get something for nothing.
The day that NASCAR makes a decision not based on money will be the day after Brian leaves.
To answer your question Tom, Jamie Mac was sighted today in scenic Kodak, Tennessee promoting the Irwin Tools Night Race…where he finished 3rd last year…and if he wins this year, a lucky fan will take home $ 1,000,000. (note…not copied directly from a press release!)
When a drivers wife becomes a star because of her marriage to a driver, IE Brooke Gordon, it is fair game to report on the breakup. Eva Busch is not a star, hasn’t done any commercial to my knowledge, so deserves privacy.
Bob, so by that theory, Tiger and Elin Woods should have been given privacy, too. Sorry, as another poster mentioned – they sold their wedding photos to People – it makes them both celebrities and in the public eye. I’m not saying “stalk them” for heaven’s sakes, but Kurt should have made a statement before his new girlfriend showed up at the track. That way some of it could have been avoided. Although since I am NOT a KuBu fan, I don’t care if he brings a monkey to the track with him — oh wait, that’s been done.
Hey, Gina, notice that the hottest couple in NASCAR today is Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon? Certainly showed their “teammates” how it is supposed to be done. With Kyle’s uncanny ability to make holes and miss wrecks plus Jeff’s “steady as she goes” on Kyle’s back bumper, it is only too bad the race had not gone another GWC. Kyle and Jeff sharing VL! Sweet for them! A pure nightmare for Rick Hendrick!
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