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.
Bowles-Eye View: Special Edition · Thomas Bowles · Tuesday July 12, 2011
As The Kentucky Speedway Turns had its latest plot twist Monday, two days after the sport’s newest Cup Series track took one on the chin with appalling traffic conditions that left even government officials late or unable to attend the race. A Republican State Senator, David L. Williams is pledging to hold hearings on the issue, claiming there’s a “responsibility” to investigate the matter of public safety; after all, some fans were stuck in their cars for seven hours plus only to be turned away at the door. On the flip side, “I’m sorry” was the new modus operandi for Kentucky track president Mark Simendinger, Speedway Motorsports, Inc.’s owner Bruton Smith and even his son, SMI President Marcus, all of whom got into the action with various romantic apologies. If nothing else, they were far-ranging in scope, from ESPN’s NASCAR Now to a press release that seemed an obvious melt to pressure Monday afternoon. As of this writing, those fans that bought tickets, yet missed the race can cash their ticket in for a free one at any SMI Cup event the rest of the year or the 2012 Kentucky race next summer. As a bonus, they’ll also get free admission to October’s Camping World Truck Series / IndyCar weekend at the 1.5-mile facility.
But will it be enough? The variety of first-person accounts we’ve heard from fans run the gambit; there are those who feel the problems are overblown, but plenty more who’ve taken the stance “they’re never coming back.” And note a ticket exchange, while a juicy consolation prize does not equate to a full, monetary refund for fans that might not be able to make future race dates work for them.
How big, exactly, is the scope of the problem SMI is dealing with? Well, here’s a small sampling of fan reaction received by us in the last 48 hours since the race.
Disclaimer: these are real stories, by real people whose last names have been withheld to protect the innocent.
In any type of situation like this one, it’s important to note that not everyone had a bad experience. After all, the race itself did sell out and there’s a reason traffic was backed up for miles: tens of thousands of people did make it in the stands and enjoy it.
“Yes, I would go again,” explains Vicki, who had a great time from her seats in the inaugural race. “Everyone that I talked to said this was expected – they need to re-route the traffic not going to the race, and that should be possible. Our bus left extra early.”
Another fan, Steve through Twitter, maintained the camping experience was great: no traffic, amazing people and an impressive group of Speedway employees to help out. He’ll certainly be back next year, along with a number of those who camped around him.
The Main Complaint
Marilyn, who writes in from north of the track explained in detail what happened to her and a whole bunch of people in the same line of traffic. Hers, more than any other story stands out as the template through which plenty of fans endured unexpected suffering throughout the afternoon.
“We traveled from Michigan to attend the race,” she explained. “We arrived at the backup on highway 127 (or is it 27) at approximately 2:30 pm, and we were exactly 5 miles out from the track. During the next 3 hours, we managed to move ahead 1.5 miles. By this time, people were coming back from the track saying that there was no place to park and they were turning traffic away; since we calculated that at our current rate of speed, we wouldn’t even get there until 11:30, we left. There were five of us in our group – all over the age of 60, so even though we might have been tempted to walk in, we would never have been OK to walk back out in the dark.”
“We were amazed on several levels,” she continued. “How can you not know that with 100,000 seats, you’re going to have at least 40,000 cars – especially after you had problems parking people for races the 2 previous nights? And even if you have no experience with event-day traffic, why would you not do a little homework and ask other tracks what they do. You never even considered running all roads inbound prior to the race and all roads outbound after? I find that completely amazing. Michigan International Speedway gets many more people than that in and out in way less time. Call them. They can probably help you.”
Writer’s Note: So much for help. Michigan President Roger Curtis issued his own personal response to the incident Monday, expressing “disappointment” at what happened down in the Bluegrass State and promising his Speedway would do more to personally ensure a great fan experience for everyone who attends there.
Marilyn continues: “Where is your PR person who has had nothing to say for the past 2 days. The only thing we’re hearing is that everyone is ‘sorry’ and they’ll ‘do better next time.’ Tell you what…in Michigan’s depressed economy, it was a bit of a sacrifice to spend $550.00 for those tickets, but we were excited to celebrate the inaugural race in Kentucky. And now, through no fault of our own, our tickets are worthless and the track is ‘sorry?’ I’m sorry, too, guys. Sorry we spent upwards of $1,000 for a race we weren’t allowed to attend. Also, sorry for the folks at the track who don’t seem to want to make it right with loyal fans.”
Here’s where the “will a ticket exchange be enough” question comes in. These people, like many others, had plenty of other expenses to go with their racing purchase; gas money, possible hotel expenses along with hours of wasted time. Will a simple exchange, in some sense baiting them to spend more money in traveling elsewhere – or back to Kentucky, with an uncertain traffic situation in 2012 – fully appease concerns? And is Monday, a full two days after the event too late to come out with a full-fledged apology?
Back to Marilyn. “How can NASCAR and Bruton Smith continue to sing the ‘It’s all about the fans’ song and yet let so many down?” she continues. “It would appear that everyone is sorry unless it’s going to cost them something. Then it’s ‘Tough luck, you guys.’ It makes me sad. One of the people in our party was attending his first ever NASCAR race and he’s vowed to never even attempt it again, and I know our story is not unique. People in line Saturday were out of their hot cars and talking. Everyone started out to be jovial and kidding about the holdup. By the time we left 3 hours later, there wasn’t a smile to be seen.”
But she ends with optimism for the future, if the track can make necessary improvements. “We went back to Richmond and watched the race at BWW’s,” she said. “It was a great race and the track looked wicked fast. Everyone who made it there seemed to really appreciate the Kentucky venue, so I’m sure you’ll not have trouble getting some folks to come back.”
Don’t Forget The Food
Several fans wrote in complaining about concession stands, perhaps a smaller problem in the grand scheme of things but don’t forget – those who made it in still need a certain amount of food and water to make it through.
“We sat in the Ohio Tower,” writes John. “They ran out of soft drinks and only half of the registers were open, causing long lines.”
Fellow fan Kathy agrees. “I guess we were some of the lucky ones,” she explains. “Though it took us 5 hours to go 20 miles, we did make it for the start of the race (pace laps). Also, we were on a chartered bus with TV so got to watch Race Day on SPEED and Countdown to Green on TNT. But food was another problem: it took my friend 45 minutes to get food after standing in 5 different lines.”
Clearly, according to several reports directly to us, it appeared the food stands were simply overwhelmed. Smith addressed this problem yesterday, claiming track workers from hot dog vendors to bathroom janitors ended up backlogged because of their own traffic problems. With even employees running late, it left Kentucky hopelessly understaffed in a “domino effect” that continued throughout the night. But if enough fans, at least the ones coming to us, are complaining about not enough food vendors? Expansion in that area might not be a bad idea for 2012. And we haven’t even mentioned the bathrooms…
Sandra, an older fan attending the race writes in: “I was 6 1/2 miles from the track at 3 PM for Saturday’s race. After the green flag was dropped, I was able to find a $15 parking lot about 1 mile from the track. I am a Senior Citizen and have knee problems. I took my cane and 12-year-old grandson, parked the car and started walking. I would like to thank the man driving a hay cart who offered us a ride up to the track after we walked about half a mile.”
Whoever that is, know how appreciated you are; the woman was unsure if she would have been able to make it to the track if not for that helping hand. “I did get to see part of the race,” she continues, “But had no time to shop for souvenirs, as after the race I still had to walk back to my car. This was definitely not a ‘Priceless Moment.’ Had the tickets not cost so much, I probably would have turned around after sitting in traffic for 4 hours.”
From those who experienced what many called a personal nightmare, frustration won’t go away so easily. While Bruton Smith was blaming the roadways themselves, specifically I-71, fans seemed focused on pointing the finger at SMI’s eccentric, octogenarian owner. Joe writes in, “Don’t tell me the ‘old man’ didn’t know this was going to happen! He’s smart enough to steal the race away from other tracks and he’s smart enough to know what was going to occur to the traffic situation when the race was held. He knows ‘You can’t put five pounds of [horse poo] in a one pound bag! However, the $$$$$ came in and that’s what important to him!”
Ken, who commented on an article Monday fired off as well, summing up a variety of problems. “We left Cincinnati at about noon and finally made it into the track at about 7:00,” he claimed. “There were cars running out of gas on I-71! When we finally got off I-71, there were no cops directing traffic. No wonder there was traffic chaos! It was worse once we finally got into the track! Now, we knew about the no cooler policy, but apparently, a lot of people didn’t. And there were some serious delays getting into the grandstands. The concession stands were selling everything out by the time the race started!”
“I finally made it to my seat with my one bottle of water about halfway through driver intros. Never again! This was my first time to that track, and my last! Bruton and Mark Simendinger both should be strung up! If I was the Governor of Kentucky, I’d order that facility shut down for good! Absolutely the worst fan experience ever!”
That’s the type of attitude from many of these fans that pose a challenge for track management. They have a voice, a public means to dispense that anger and for now, have developed an “off with their head” mentality; that, of course, is the hardest type to heal through even exceptional customer service.
Through several statements made Monday, to their credit, those in charge are moving in the right direction. But the process ahead will be long, arduous, and – if these fan stories are any indication – incredibly difficult to change perception.
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As I said yesterday, Bruton, nascar and track management are all GUILTY and the more I think about the State of Ky also.
They ALL KNEW of the problems this location and Track had during previous races, and should have DEMANDED the changes needed to handle the additional 40,000 fans.
Nascar should have demanded minimal additions/changes before/in conjunction with awarding this track a Cup race.
This was caused by GREED. Everyone in they Know should have foreseen this type of problem, but the money signs floating in thier eyes BLINDED them to these “minor inconveniece” these fans experienced.
I suggest people take the time to compare I 71 exit and the Rt20 by Talladega……..They look exactly alike….Yet the folks at Talladega do a much better job.
Has anyone pointed out that when they mention the traffic fiascos they all have one thing in common …..Yep they are Bruton’s tracks…..seems tp be a pattern here.
I feel for all those fans. I thought my experience getting out of Pocono was bad (2+ hours just to get off track property, 2 more getting back to the highway), but this was ridiculous. Not having enough parking is the worst. I’ve learned going to Cup races to expect a mess getting out, so we just keep tailgating. However, I’ve never been to a Cup race where getting in is an ordeal, and a couple of these tracks are in the middle of nowhere. I give Kudos to the people at Charlotte, Richmond, Watkins Glen and Martinsville. It’s not like SMI can’t do this right.
I went to a race in Pocono a few years back and that was by far the worst traffic I ever experienced going to a race. We spent almost 4 hours to go about 5 miles just to get into the track, causing us to miss the first 50 laps. I have traveled to over 60 races in the last 15 years, including Vegas & Atlanta (both had bad traffic issues)The problems were fixed and I expect th Kentucky track to make the changes required to improve their situation.
We have a “ Road to Nowhere” here in mountains of North Carolina.Please do not let them spend our Social Security money on I-71 and a road to No Race.
Typical Bruton Smith modus operandi. He claims to be the innocent party in all of this. Then he will bully the local and state politicos to do what ever improvements he wants. He has a history of this type of behavior at his other tracks.
Bruton KNEW ahead of time there would be problems with access, parking and concessions and did NOTHING. He’s laughing all the way to the bank.
I will never, ever go to a race at one of his tracks.
Did anyone see Bruton Smith on Raceday? After seeing that old fool on TV is there ANY WONDER why the traffic at his tracks is so consistently bad? He is in cahoots with the local governments that let him build and operate his tracks without requiring him to contribute to infrastructure improvements such as roads. It’s the new mantra of all things in this country….“I got mine so hurray for me and the hell with you”.
Message to Bruton ‘dick’ Smith: Earth provides enough for everyman’s needs but not his GREEDS
Oh Yea & no ones even talking about the Dull single line (dull D) racing…Just what nascar needed …But Hey “it’s all about the fans”
No mention of the fault NASCAR has in all of this? They GAVE them this race date after years of legal wrangling. In no way should they have gotten this Cup race without proof of improvements in parking and a good traffic pattern plan; That should have been a contingency to the contract. This is NOT SMI’s only track, I’ve attended races at LVMS and the patterns there are AWESOME, even while construction was going on on the interstate. They KNOW strategies to help with race traffic, and NASCAR knows this. It should have been a stipulation: “You get a race date when you show you have the ability to get 40000 extra people in and out and parked.”
Heck, even my friend who camped 2.5 miles from the track almost did not get in!!!! Had she known the circumstances, she might have considered hiking the 2.5 miles, but that’s hard in heat, and there was no shuttle from the campground.
In NO WAY should NASCAR have given them this race date this year. There is a large demand for good tracks and Cup races in the midwest, and this SHOULD have been a spectacular event; instead, it was a spectacular mess. And some of those fans will NOT come back.
I’m SOOO glad circumstances conspired to keep me from attending this race, and this will KEEP me from attending a race there until the reports are much more positive…probably several more years.
Bruton is the one I am most angry at. I watched my DVR of Trackside on Sunday as I was away for the weekend and thankfully not at the Kentucky race. He was there all proud a happy, blowing his horn on how wonderful it all was but wanted to get the word out for people to come 6, 8, 10 to a car because parking might be a problem. We also haven’t see him since. First of all it aired Friday night talk about a day late and a dollar short. How were people going to make those arrangements and last time I checked my car only seats 4 legally. If things were already a problem why wasn’t the staff told to be at the track very early so they wouldn’t be part of the problem, he’d have to pay them that’s why. How can there not have been enough bathrooms. I know someone who saw a truck load of port a pottys come in late in the afternoon on Saturday. Umm shouldn’t they have been there days earlier. Evidently the organization in the lots themselves was a disaster causing some of the backup. Again how can people not be instructed how to have the cars park, perhaps they were stuck in traffic because they weren’t being paid to come in early enough. I know how excited I am when I go to a race I feel so bad for those involved to have their love for Nascar treated with such disrespect.
anyone who thinks Bruton is at fault knows nothing about business. Yes his oversight was lacking but he has several other tracks with no suc issues, this is purely a KY fould up. Mark S. should be out of a job along with the local Hiway patrol leadership. they have cost KY more than can be recovered in 5 years.
oh and the reason the vendors were overwhelmed is because of their backwoods rule about bringing in coolers of any type. Everyone (especially me) predicted this debacle.
Why did they build the track there with the limited access to it?
There’s got to be a lawyer out there that’ll file a CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT against Bruton Smith and NASCAR.
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