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 · Monday August 29, 2011
Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin continues to be out with health-related issues, so our Managing Editor Tom Bowles filled in for him this week. Want to send Matt a get well note? Click here, fill out the contact form and Matt will be sure to see it as he heals up!
The Key Moment: Brad Keselowski beat Jeff Gordon off pit road during the race’s final caution, blew by two-tire Martin Truex, Jr. on the final restart and made the rest of the Bristol field look like they were the ones driving drunkenly impaired on Miller Lite. Gordon tried to catch him, but alas, Bristol is the new half-mile Fontana: fresher tires made little difference while aero and track position took center stage – even at 15 seconds a lap.
In A Nutshell: Track position, track position and more track position, with a little bit of pit strategy mixed in. Where is the old Bristol, Bruton, and what the hell can you do to bring it back before people stop coming?
Dramatic Moment: Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex, Jr. had a pretty spirited battle for second down the stretch while Keselowski checked out. Mark Martin and Brian Vickers had it goin’ on, side-by-side for seemingly 100 laps during the race until Martin bobbled. And there was plenty of decent racing back in the pack, especially amongst a group of about a dozen cars from 12th – 24th that never quite seemed to break away from each other. It just happened on an oval that feels like “new Coke” with two grooves…
What They’ll Be Talking About The Water Cooler This Week:
I didn’t think it would be possible, ever, but they ran the first 298 laps at Bristol Saturday night and nobody spun. Halt, stop… we need to digest that for a minute. To put that in historical perspective, since 1984 – the earliest year I could independently verify – that’s the longest any Bristol race has started without someone pulling at least a 360 on the racetrack. People will read that and think I’m calling for carnage; I’m just looking for contact, rough and tumble of any kind which that Bristol race was utterly devoid of Saturday night. Good God, for most of the first 250 laps people were giving each other more room than when I calmly pass someone on the narrowest part of I-76 in Philadelphia. It was Bristol blasphemy on the highest scale, intermediate-style racing on the one track in America where fender-rubbing is supposed to be the hook that keeps everyone watching.
More than ever, in talking to fans that multi-groove, give-each-other-too-much-room style of racing is what irks people the most about Bristol. In the beginning, working the circuit every week in 2007 and listening to the hype I totally bought it: a repaved, smoother Bristol would lead to more side-by-side competition, fewer frayed tempers and better possibilities of a side-by-side finish that doesn’t leave a car in smithereens at the checkered. But what we all failed to realize then is variety is the spice of life; NASCAR thrives on tracks that have unique, easily recognizable personalities. For decades, Bristol sold itself as the one place on the circuit revenge can be a dish best served cold… as in slamming into the side of their rival, hard, with no repercussions while drivers try to push through traffic like a bunch of hyped-up 12-year-olds playing bumper cars.
Even in this year’s marketing commercials, Bristol was still trumpeting the crashes and smoking hot tempers of years past that gave it the nickname “Thunder Valley.” But that’s a lie now, especially with the current configuration: the truth is, Bristol’s what every good intermediate track should be, a whole lot of side-by-side racing where each car can run their own race if they find the right line. Because it’s shorter, the field can’t get spread out and that means there’s always good competition… but if people are looking for contact, well, they’re not going to get it. Considering we have too many 1.5-mile cookie cutters on the circuit to begin with, I feel like we probably didn’t need to turn a half-mile oval into one, right?
All that said, let’s give Bristol credit… attendance was clearly better, the number inching up to 156,000 for August compared to 155,000 in August 2010 (and the atrocious number that shall not be named from this spring). Still, wasn’t it a little weird to hear Brad Daugherty say, “The electricity at Bristol is catching” and the camera transition down to the one spot filled with empty seats in the process? Sigh…
Tell me, what track has Bruton Smith repaved over the last decade where the racing got better after he was done? I couldn’t think of any.
Bristol’s Music Driver Introductions are one of the coolest ideas any track has had on the NASCAR circuit. So why in the world aren’t they showing it on television?
Wonder why Tony Stewart’s been running so badly? During Saturday’s broadcast, ESPN mentioned Jimmie Johnson’s front tire changer was borrowed from Tony Stewart’s team, but crew chief Chad Knaus liked him so much the No. 48 team decided to keep him. Call me crazy, but I think if you’re a “separate organization” from the team you get engines and chassis from you’re allowed to ask for crew members back. No wonder Tony’s had such a sourpuss look lately; hopefully, this off week with Junior all but in the Chase he can go beg Mr. Hendrick to give him just enough equipment to stick inside the top 10 before falling out.
Anyone else think it’s weird Ryan Newman won the pole while Stewart, the only other full-fledged “teammate” started 42nd on the same track? Oh, yeah, I forgot one other thing; Stewart has full-time primary sponsorship for 2012 while Ryan Newman is looking for more. Hmm…
At least Hendrick Motorsports was nice enough to give Stewart a consolation prize: Danica Patrick. Patrick, who officially announced her transition to full-time Nationwide racing this week, will run eight to ten Sprint Cup races for SHR in a third car, presumably before a transition to full-time Cup racing in 2013. The trendy pick to split the ride with her is Mark Martin, at least from what I’ve been hearing; he works well with Danica and is already proven in a driver-coach role. But don’t rule out someone like Brian Vickers, armed with previous Hendrick ties and young enough to satisfy GoDaddy’s marketing share (and attract additional sponsors) rather than a 52-year-old having one of the worst full-time seasons of his Sprint Cup career.
Speaking of, it pains me to say it… but time is catching up with Mark Martin. The man has made more on-track mistakes, causing or contributing to more wrecks this season than any other that I can remember… it’s difficult to watch.
One other Hendrick musing before we go… Kelly Earnhardt explaining why Danica isn’t driving a Cup car under the JR Motorsports name just made me laugh. “We discussed whether or not that would make sense for everyone involved. And quite frankly, JR Motorsports isn’t ready to bite that bullet,” she told NASCAR.com this week. Bullet? What bullet when your AK-47 gun is filled with top-level Hendrick equipment, support and information at every turn if you make the move… plus, Danica’s just going across the street, driving the same said equipment while digesting similar information at SHR? Let me translate that quote for you: “Well, right now Mr. Hendrick’s accountant thinks it would make more financial sense for the team to go under the name ‘Stewart-Haas Racing.’ Plus, Junior doesn’t want to be stuck with that headache… so we just did what we were told.”
Bristol announced late Sunday they were adding more scoring loops on pit road. Thank goodness; if someone from the broadcast booth can see a driver speeding, yet there’s no proof to catch them you clearly have a problem with electronic radar. Still, kudos to Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski for taking advantage of the gray areas they were offered this weekend; that’s what makes good drivers great.
On a serious note, thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Irene this weekend. Some might say the hurricane wasn’t as serious as feared; try saying that to my buddy, currently bailing two feet of water out of his basement in New Jersey while floodwaters sit mere steps from his front door. We were lucky in our Philadelphia neighborhood; power is on, there’s minimal damage and not more than a puddle or two. But as of this writing, 21,000 others in the city of Philadelphia are faced with the prospect of no electricity for days. Godspeed and a hearty “thank you” to those busy working overtime this week, cleaning up while restoring the gift of basic amenities we often take for granted – along with their service.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
It’s been one of those “anything that could happen, will happen” kind of years for David Reutimann. An already so-so night turned ugly once David Stremme went from start-and-park to start-and-punt on the back of the No. 00 Toyota to cause one of just two serious wrecks all night. Reutimann wound up 70 laps down in 37th.
It’s been a rough month for the Busch brothers and the speeding police: first Kyle Busch in court, then Kurt Busch at Bristol who was busted for blowing the limit on pit road multiple times Saturday night. In other news, looks like the NASCAR “refs” who made the call were Stadler and Waldorf from the Muppets; according to Busch, “The officials are just puppets from up top.” He ran 17th.
Both Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart couldn’t get out of their own way, running like they both were on seven cylinders for much of the evening. Both off the lead lap by the race’s one-quarter mark, they ended their night a disgraceful 26th and 28th at a track both consider one of their best.
Jeff Gordon had the night’s most dominant car; unfortunately, crew chief Alan Gustafson had a less-than-dominant pit strategy. His call to pit for four tires late in the race, on a night where Goodyears from your personal car wouldn’t make much difference in speed cost Gordon the track position needed to win. He wound up third.
The ‘Seven Come Fore Eleven’ Award For Fine Fortune
It’s been an ugly season for Martin Truex, Jr., but the chemistry with new crew chief Chad Johnston is promising. The No. 56 ran inside the top 10 all night long, then used a two-tire call by the head wrench to earn track position late en route to a season-high second-place finish.
Denny Hamlin’s hard-luck season seemed destined for a potential nail in the coffin when he spun out behind Reutimann’s wreck. But the guy who hit him was none other than fellow “wild card” contender Paul Menard; and while the No. 27 team struggled to recover, Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota rallied with the crumpled fenders and charged back to seventh at the finish.
It wasn’t the typical Bristol night for Kyle Busch; he only led four laps and was responsible for the race’s final caution. At the same time, turning that type of ugly result into a 14th-place recovery is what will help the No. 18 finally become a formidable foe of the No. 48 this Fall.
Kudos also to two underdogs that deserve mention: Andy Lally, who steered the single-car, underfunded No. 71 to a 25th-place finish, just two laps off the pace. That’s the best finish for this rookie at an unrestricted oval track. Meanwhile, David Starr took a team running a limited schedule, the No. 95 of Leavine Family Racing and took their Advocare car to 27th, three laps behind but well ahead of big names like Stewart, Bowyer, and Menard. It’s the first race that car has ever finished…
What’s The Points?
Under the old system, we’d have a barnburner right now between Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson: both are tied atop the standings with two races left in the regular season. Instead, each driver has his postseason spot secured, waiting for the Chase – although they’ll be going for wins from here on out to improve their seeding (a good thing)…
Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, the Roush Fenway Racing duo are third and fourth in the standings, respectively, and have also clinched postseason spots. For Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick, tied for fifth their victories assure them a position, too – although a run of 41st or better Sunday gets them in on points no matter what.
Ryan Newman, sitting seventh in the standings, has a healthy 73-point lead over eleventh-place Brad Keselowski; that should secure his Chase position after Atlanta along with eighth-place Kurt Busch (+60). Only Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart remain in real question within the top 10; Earnhardt is 39 points up on Keselowski, while Stewart sits at +21 over the surging Penske No. 2 team. Keselowski, in 11th, is solidly in the first wild card spot while Clint Bowyer, winless in 12th must either win or make it in on points; he’s one behind Keselowski, 22 behind Stewart and 40 behind Earnhardt for a place in the top 10.
The second wild card spot, currently held by Denny Hamlin (13th in points, one victory) remains up for grabs. Paul Menard, David Ragan, and Marcos Ambrose could earn it with a second victory at Atlanta that catapults them inside the top 20… points-wise, Hamlin remains 41 in front of Menard for the tiebreaker.
Overall Rating (on a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six an instant classic) – We’ll give this one two cans of chilled Miller Lite. Brad fans were happy, Gordon’s were at least entertained but I’m not so sure anyone else would give this race more than a C- if it was a term paper.
Next Up: The “it’s not quite Darlington, but as close as we’re going to get” new Labor Day Weekend tradition continues with a 500-mile race at Atlanta Sunday night. And if Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose, or Kyle Busch pull off the victory there will be an extra $3 million on the line…
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Its nice to see you change the name of this column when its you writing. What about the previous few weeks when it was someone else on the FS staff? The column was still called Matt McLaughlin’s Thinking Out Loud.
Yes, the Bristol races have now become like most other tracks on the circuit. The uniqueness and intensity that used to be Bristol are long gone. Thank you for not having the condescending, superior attitude about what used to be racing at Bristol. It is now like watching Kansas, Chicago, MIS, California, or any of the other ‘cookie cutter’ tracks. Between the COT (which seems even more aero sensitive than the old cars), the ‘chase’, and Goodyear’s indestructible tires, Races are won from pit road. And, it appears that the #2 team paid close attention to what Chad Knaus has known for the past 5 years about timing loops on pit road. Eventually, all the races at every track are going to look the same. THAT’S the definition of cookie cutter, not the differences in configuration.
Brad Keselowski’s run during the month of August is nothing short of amazing. The nickname “Bad Brad” was earned, but in the last year he has raced his competitors hard but clean, and he’s finally seeing the rewards for his growth and maturity. He certainly won’t be a favorite going into the chase, but can you really count him out?
“Under the old system, we’d have a barnburner right now between Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson: both are tied atop the standings with two races left in the regular season. Instead, each driver has his postseason spot secured and will simply be going for wins from here on out to improve their seeding…”
Is it my imagination, or does this paragraph read like Tom is complaining that Kyle and Jimmie will be racing for wins????????
A NASCAR writer complaining that guys will be racing for wins???? I edge ever closer to being able to say I’ve seen everything.
Farewell to the old Bristol and hello to the same old crap. There’s no reason why someone shouldn’t be able to nose a car out of the way and pass them if they’re faster. This crap of the aero push is getting old and especially at Bristol. That was the one track where you could run without fenders and still win a race. Now you find yourself mired behind cars and hoping for a top 10. They couldn’t give me tickets for either Bristol race and I was on the waiting list for night races for years. I’m so disappointed I didn’t get to see the old track in person. Everything Bruton touches turns to crap.
Damn, I used to avidly look forward to the two races at Bristol. Now I can barely watch either. The progressive banking has effectively neutered this track. I barely paid attention to Saturday night’s race. Didn’t know who won till Sunday morning. And this is coming from a former fanatic of Bristol racing.
I agree…Bristol is now a pale shadow of what it used to be. I’m thankful that I got to see one race there with real racing on high banks. As a Tennessean, I used to be proud of our mighty little track. Now I guess it’s just another ruined venue. NASCAR has lost touch with what fans like. Every track used to have some unique quality to it. That’s what made racing interesting. What will they do next, straighten out the road courses?
OMG katie3 don’t give Nascar any ideas….
Two quick things…
Neal, you are right – it is your imagination, but I can understand how that paragraph can be interpreted. I’ve altered the wording a bit to make it more clear… my point was you don’t need the Chase to reset the standings this year, not that going for wins is a bad thing under any circumstance.
Kevin… not sure what you mean by the name change, there was no ego associated with it. The reasoning behind it was simple: we just wanted to try something new, letting fans know through the title when Matt actually wasn’t doing the column…
We witnessed the death of Bristol on Saturday night. I paid my final respects when Jeff Gordon with a faster car and four fresh tires couldn’t pass Martin Truex with dozens of laps to attempt it.
Bruton levegated (or some kinda term like that)Charlotte years back and ruined the racing there.Then he decides to progressive bank Bristol,what a maroon (as Bugs Bunny would say)! He’s given us cookie cutter tracks like Vegas,now Kentucky.
His treachery in buying off Rockingham and North Wilkesboro,and throw them to the gutter is classic him.
Tom, previously this year, when Matt was absent, the title of this column was always “Matt McLaughlin’s Thinking Out Loud” even when Matt wasnt the one doing the writing. Now, when you do the writing, you change the name to reflect the actual writer. I didnt mean to imply it was an ego thing, I was just commenting on the lack of change previously and the change now.
Well, I “watched” the race on TV in between the constant interruption of commercials. I realized that I had switched channels so often that I wasn’t really watching the race. I need to use trackpass & twitter to keep up with what ESPN doesn’t cover.
I got to see the Bristol night race before it was emasculated into whatever this “racing” is supposed to be. bored now and I’m sure that I’ll be even MORE bored when we get into the chase and ESPN will breathe hard about that instead of the actual race they are supposed to be showing. Did I mention I was bored now?
“Still, kudos to Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski for taking advantage of the gray areas they were offered this weekend; that’s what makes good drivers great.”
…made me wanna f’n puke. IIRC, it was a FS DYN article that trashed Chad and Jimmie at the Brickyard a few years back who did the very same thing. Basically calling them cheaters. Explain to me how intelligence translates to cheating? Nuts!
Not only has the racing sucked, add in pu**y drivers, stupid rules, piss-poor booth reporting, Gestapo goons in Daytona beach, and an all-around rotten and borish coverage. But, oh no, lets pile on some more. Monday morning articles have really taken a crap. Thank God for John Potts to even things out!
I am so tired, and worn out, it won’t be long now…
If the “Progressive banking” was supposed to create more side-by-side racing, if failed miserably. There’s still only one preferred line and that’s the outside. You had to have a vastly superior car to pass on the inside, or at least a somewhat better one on a restart.
Sure, you can run on the inside, but you can’t PASS on the inside. The old Bristol, you had one groove total. You had to force the guy in front of you out of the groove. Try that now, you both end up wrecked. Not the improvement they hoped.
I actually suggested that this track host the Cup series finale. I might rescind that decision. Make Bruton and/or Brian pay out the ying yang to make Bristol great again.
I was there and there are 2 lanes, only a few could run low but SOME DID. At it’s worst Bristol is better action than Michigan, Pocono, Cali combined. You folks are just not happy unless your complaining.
Holy Hogwash!! Why don’t you people go back to demo-derbies and monster trucks and leave us race fans alone. Bristol was improved in that they don’t have to spin to pass nowadays. That means racing, not destruction. The ‘intensity’ you are calling for was brought on by the inability to pass. A one-groove racetrack…that made everybody mad or broken, but not racing.
I vote for the New Bristol for racing, before the repaving there could be 200+ laps of caution. THAT IS NOT RACING.
Alot of the problem now is the chase and trying to protect your place in said chase.
I would like to think dishnetwork’s Charlie, nascars king brain dead and espn for not televising the race in middle TN. but showing titans football, texas high school football and 2 yr old worlds strongest man, good job
“Not only has the racing sucked, add in pu**y drivers, stupid rules, piss-poor booth reporting, Gestapo goons in Daytona beach, and an all-around rotten and borish coverage.” HankZ has got my vote on why NASCAR is shriveled, dried up and neutered. Hell, our whole country seems to be on the verge of being shriveled and neutered and I for one don’t like that one damn bit.
katie3, they won’t straighten out the road courses, they’ll turn them into mile-and-a-half cookie cutters.
If I was Tony Stewart, I’d rather have someone back who could help win a race than someone who hasn’t got a prayer of winning anything for years. But she will bring in a ton of money, depending on how much clothes she doesn’t wear.
Money rules, in racing and most anywhere and Hendrick has the money. For the most part NASCRAP kisses Hendricks behind.I can see Tony Stuart cringe when Hendrick tell him he gets Dianica like it or not. Tony has to do as told because he has no choice . Just like the days of the mafia and AL Capone. NASCAR would be better off without Dianica but she is a cash cow for Hendrick even more than Dale Jr. NASCAR is drowning in it’s own crap.
“Holy Hogwash!! Why don’t you people go back to demo-derbies and monster trucks and leave us race fans alone. Bristol was improved in that they don’t have to spin to pass nowadays. That means racing, not destruction. The ‘intensity’ you are calling for was brought on by the inability to pass. A one-groove racetrack…that made everybody mad or broken, but not racing.”
I guess you’ve never seen real Saturday Night dirt track racin. Bristol used to be the one bone thrown to us old school fans that brought the spririt of Saturday Night short track racin back. This was Nascar roots racin. This was REAL RACIN.
Enjoy your new Milque Toast competition. As for me I watched some Saturday night, got bored and turned to pre-season football. This from a guy who used to eat, sleep and breath Nascar.
Brian France; Turning died in the wool Nascar fans into casual fans for damn near a decade.
Tony Stewart needs a new crew chief.
Grubb can’t get a race car out of a paper bag on a consistent basis. Just ask Jeff Gordon, who was probably thrilled when Hendrick sent him to SHR.
These people that gave the Bristol race 5 and 6 cans in the poll must have drank at least 5 or 6 cans of the good stuff while watching that boring “event”. Bristol can’t live up to all the pre-race hype anymore, and isn’t at all worth looking forward to anymore.
no spoilers next time.
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