NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday July 13, 2011
Did You Notice? … These statistical oddities that tell us the story of the Cup schedule halfway through this season. Predicting the future can be dicey business, but these quirky trends stand out to me:
- No driver is on track for more than six wins this year. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick lead the circuit, with three apiece although they’ve gotten there in entirely different ways. Busch tops all drivers with 1,060 laps led, while Harvick sits 14th with just 130. In fact, during Harvick’s three victories he’s paced the field for a total of just nine laps.
If that pattern holds, it’ll be the lowest amount for any win leader since Kasey Kahne’s six trophies led all competitors in 2006. It’s part of a “spread-the-love, pass the trophy” year when it comes to drivers visiting Victory Lane; already, we’ve had a dozen different wheelmen take the checkered flag first, astonishing over just 18 events to date. In comparison, a total of 13 drivers scored a victory in 36 races throughout the entire 2010 season, a number we’ll likely surpass by early August. And check out the list of drivers still winless in 2011: Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
- So far this season, we have three first-time winners: David Ragan, Regan Smith, and Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 upset. That’s the largest total since 2009, when Joey Logano, David Reutimann and Brad Keselowski all visited Victory Lane; but of course, the interesting note about that trio is they were considered one-hit wonders, never coming close to making the playoffs while enduring inconsistency in the remainder of their Sprint Cup starts. Well what do you know, check out what’s happened with this year’s crop of freshmen winners: Ragan’s 15th in points, the highest of the bunch and the only one with a realistic shot of making the Chase. Smith has struggled under the weight of mechanical problems, while Bayne chose to run full-time in the Nationwide Series instead and even had to step out of his car for a month with a mysterious illness. Translation: one win does not a superstar make, even during a time where the sport is desperately in need of new blood (see: national Beatles-like phenomenon over Bayne post-Daytona 500).
- By all accounts, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has had a comeback year while equaling his top-5 (three) and top-10 totals (eight) from 2010 in just eighteen races this season. But the problem with the No. 88, while consistent has been their inability to run up front. As it stands, Junior’s on track to lead just 86 laps, the worst total of his 12-year Sprint Cup career. And when you don’t lead laps, it’s a lot harder to sustain confidence you can run up front that has led to additional challenges during this month-long, momentum-draining slump he’s been in.
- Chevrolet still holds the lead in the manufacturer’s race, but it’s a slim one: just 12 points over Ford, who’s clearly had a renaissance year. With five victories, already their best total since 2008 there’s a chance they’ll have up to four cars in the Chase, posing the biggest threat to Chevy’s eight-year hold on the trophy. The Impalas may have the higher car count, giving them an edge but Fusion horsepower and handling have proven superior, with Carl Edwards leading the standings for the majority of the season’s first half while the manufacturer holds the series crown jewel: the Daytona 500.
- Manufacturer parity. Victory Lane parity. So why does it seem like it’s same old, same old? Nine of the drivers in the top 10 in points at halfway have made the Chase within the last two years (Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the lone exception). David Ragan, if the wild card holds would be a first-time Chaser but all it takes is a win by veteran Clint Bowyer this weekend to knock him out. Also, just thirty drivers this season have top-10 finishes, running chassis from roughly ten different teams at most. The others – and we’re talking a good 30% of the field here – lug around most days outside the top 25, or simply choose to start-and-park. NASCAR 2011: Rich, poor, no middle class.
- It’s a tough year to be over 40 in this sport. Greg Biffle? Out of the Chase, winless. Mark Martin? Winless, causing more accidents than at any point in his career and (gasp) perhaps losing a step at 52. Jeff Burton? Without a top-10 finish through 18 races, enduring a mountain of bad luck and on track for his worst season since joining the Cup Series in 1994. Bobby Labonte? Armed with the money to compete, yet stumbling with just one top-10 result in what was supposed to be the year the 2000 Champ proved he still had it. Joe Nemechek? Start-and-parked in 17 of 18 events this season. Michael Waltrip? The cause of Daytona’s “Big One” and the recipient of an embarrassing Kentucky DNQ. Even Tony Stewart, turning 40 this year remains winless and on the cusp of missing the Chase. I guess Jeff Gordon (also 40 this year) hasn’t realized he’s over the hill yet?
- And finally, for those wondering if Jimmie Johnson is lagging behind the competition don’t be fooled. Just one win in 18 races, with six top 5s and 11 top-10 finishes actually comes as an improvement over numbers in 2008, where he made the turn with one victory, four top 5s, and eight top 10s, respectively. You never know where the No. 48 really stands until Chase time, leaving them the prohibitive favorite as they’re already a lock for the postseason this year.
Did You Notice? … How the Chase wild card, love it or hate it is inciting race teams to take more risks? That mentality appears to be behind the Greg Biffle – Greg Erwin crew chief change that happened Monday. That duo, their pairing now four years deep was longer than the average “racing marriage;” it’s clear, despite Biffle’s love for his head wrench the cohesion between the two had run out. So if you’re Jack Roush, with the Biff 14th in points why not make this change now? If there’s enough of a jolt, the No. 16 team scoring a victory or two in the next eight races you make the Chase regardless of how the points wind up – automatically salvaging the season. And if the last 18 races show little to no improvement, well, that’s a heck of a better sample size than the final ten to decide whether to keep rookie Cup crew chief Matt Puccia on board. In the past, you would think this type of decision would be made in early September, when it was clear Biffle and Co. would have absolutely no chance to climb back into postseason contention. Not anymore.
And for the record, I think there’s no need to overanalyze what happened here. You can count the driver/crew chief relationships lasting four years or more on two hands these days: it just doesn’t happen all that often. With David Ragan, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards clearly a step ahead, all of them visiting Victory Lane the pacing of the No. 16 had fallen behind. Plus, you add in the issues with refueling – while not necessarily Erwin’s fault – and someone has to take the blame on the crew, right?
Did You Notice? … There’s quite an uproar over the Kentucky situation compared to other, comparable experiences. So what makes this one stand out?
Kentucky vs. Great Daytona Pothole of 2010
At Daytona, fans were already in their seats and enjoying the race until the pothole. There was no seven hours of boxed in traffic, which lessened their overall frustration (at least they got to see something instead of being turned away).
While the red flag was frustrating, fans that stayed could not complain about the end of the race, one of the closest, most exciting finishes in Daytona history that produced an upset winner (Jamie McMurray). With that in mind, some might argue the pothole, while an incident that shouldn’t have happened had a minimal impact on the race’s overall outcome, like experiencing little more than a weather delay. Should we be saying that, blowing off the misstep considering that great asphalt disaster was 110% preventable? Probably not; but compare these circumstances to Kentucky, where 400 miles of single-file action and a ho-hum finish did little to distract you from what happened away from the track. There are no shiny little objects to distract you from Kentucky… and that’s why it’s gotten so bad.
Kentucky vs. Texas and Las Vegas Traffic Debacles, Late 1990s
In theory, these other racetracks, both Bruton Smith properties that experienced similar nightmares their first race should have sunk along with Kentucky. But in 1997 and 1998, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, and the Internet was just reaching universal status. NASCAR also had yet to sign its big-money TV package, leaving fans with their local paper, RPM2Nite on ESPN and a limited stream of feedback information to choose from. So in many cases the traffic issue got glossed over as national reporters ignored it; in their defense, both races left them with plenty else to focus on instead. At Texas, a multitude of accidents and track-specific problems (let’s just say Fontana’s weeper issues paled in comparison) hampered race activities all weekend. In the case of Las Vegas, Mark Martin routed the competition but there was so much pomp and circumstance surrounding Sin City complaints died within the big-money, entertaining casinos people went to blow off some steam.
Also, consider the time frame for those incidents: in the late 1990s, it seemed no matter what transpired NASCAR could do no wrong. It was a time of tremendous growth for the sport, new owners and sponsors sprouting up faster than Republican candidates for president these days as the money, market share, and automatic excitement made watching the sport the “it” thing to do. Ever have the buzz over something be so overwhelming any negative feedback just goes in one ear and out the other? If you own a Pokemon, a hackysack and the home version of The Weakest Link then you know what I’m talking about. An air of invincibility was created then, one it doesn’t have in 2011 that makes the sport incapable of holding off the punches over this mess.
Did You Notice? … Quick hits before we take off…
- Not to pile on Junior, but his average finish at Loudon last year was 6.0. If he can’t get it together this weekend, well, it’s going to be hard to stop this downward avalanche considering August obstacles like Pocono (that June sixth-place run was an anomaly for him) and Michigan (the track that started this mess) lay ahead.
- Good for J.J. Yeley, subbing for Travis Kvapil this week on the Front Row Motorsports side. But isn’t it disheartening, even saddening to have a full-time driver declare how excited he is to actually be able to run the distance? Such is the life when 15% of Cup / Nationwide drivers these days are out there to run a few laps and park.
- In the last eight races at New Hampshire, we’ve had seven different winners. Clint Bowyer is the only driver to win twice, in the Fall of 2007 and causing “template gate” with his victory turned 150-point penalty last Fall. Guess who really needs a win after an awful race at Kentucky? Guess who fell out of the top 10 in points and is still winless? You guessed it: Clint Bowyer. And in case you’re wondering, there’s a runner-up for “driver that gets his season jumpstarted this weekend:” Tony Stewart. He was the class of the field at NHMS last Fall before running out of gas on the last lap.
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©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Still hate the chase and wish it would go away but the wildcard was a good idea. I wish they would change it to the top 5 in points and 3 wildcards.
Bill B, I agree. Hate the chase, could care less who wins the 10 race trophy this year.
the 48 as usual is just sitting there sandbagging until the 10 races.
If brian really wanted to make it a challenge, then it shouldn’t be the same 10 tracks each year.
Did you notice… NASCAR has changed the Chase races the last few years. Fontana, Atlanta, Chicago have all changed positions in and out of the last 10 races recently.
And I’d still rather have the Chase than watch one guy get a huge points lead and stroke it the rest of the year. Tell me, was Kevin Harvick’s or Carl Edward’s dominance in the Nationwide series, or even Jeff Gordon’s dominance in the Cup Series in 2007 seriously the most exciting championship battle you’ve ever seen? I think not.
@ Bill B- Well said my friend. F- the CHASE.
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Did You Notice? ... Keep On Asking, And You Will Receive A Qualifying Sigh Of Relief
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