Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Friday September 9, 2011
Did You Notice?… The circumstances behind Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon’s fantastic finish? If NASCAR needs a road map for its return to national prominence, have officials watch the last 10 laps at Atlanta, let their mouth drop and make that the standard for how any race ending should unfold.
The sad part is the situation creating the drama is just as rare: neither Johnson nor Gordon had any “title concerns” to worry about. Both found themselves solidly inside the playoffs, clinching their spots one week earlier at Bristol and were simply focused on a three-point Chase bonus for the victory. If the No. 48 lost it on Turn 4, giving 110% that final lap? No big deal; Johnson’s DNF would affect nothing but the body shop, forced to rebuild a car that probably wouldn’t get back on-track the rest of the season anyways (NASCAR won’t visit Atlanta again until next Fall).
But let’s stop and reset the circumstances a minute. We’re three races into the Chase, at Kansas and the Gordon-Johnson duo is running 1-2. But Johnson is five points to the good on everyone else running for the title, sitting pretty while Gordon is a discouraging 20 points behind. What do you think happens at the end? What type of finish do you think we’d see?
We’d see Johnson a second behind Gordon, trumpeting the victory of the No. 24 while using that consistency to pump himself up towards another title. It would be the type of teammate 1-2 victory no one would like to watch… but the one we’ve discovered seemingly nine times out of ten as of late. So, NASCAR, take note of how you can create a fantastic finish from here on out. These guys are racers, and if going for the victory is on their mind they’ll take a chance. The key is eliminating caution, tweaking a system that encourages consistency over courage during the final ten weeks of the season…
Did You Notice?… NASCAR’s first “Race To The Chase” under the new system is turning out rather anticlimactic? In the sport’s defense, sometimes circumstances work against you no matter how much you try and promote competitive balance – honestly, the move to change the postseason system, adding two “wild cards” for wins is the best long-term solution if we’re keeping this format. Typically, it’ll allow more drivers fighting for the playoffs to stay “eligible” for longer, keeping sponsors happy and fans paying a little extra attention to their drivers’ seasons.
But clearly, going into Richmond this 2011 setup is not exactly what the doctor ordered for drama. Nine of the twelve drivers have clinched Chase spots, with only Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart capable of being knocked out of the top 10 in points. Earnhardt, Jr. and Stewart must finish 20th and 18th, respectively to lock in a spot but in a weird twist, the man they’re fighting has already secured a bid through the “wild card” format in Brad Keselowski. That leaves Keselowski less willing to take risks, knocking out his mentor in Earnhardt (probably the most vulnerable considering Stewart’s third-place finish at Atlanta) unless the No. 2 Dodge shows up to Richmond with a winning car. That’s unlikely; considering Keselowski has an average finish of 26th in four Cup starts at the three-quarter mile oval, anything more than a top-15 result would be considered a major accomplishment.
That leaves the twelfth spot, held by Hamlin on the strength of his sole victory this season at Michigan. Surely, with an underdog like A.J. Allmendinger surging combined with perhaps Clint Bowyer’s desperation an upset could be in the cards for the struggling No. 11 team… until you remember Richmond is one of his best tracks. The hometown hero, Hamlin even finished second during the midst of his Spring slump this year – so even if, say, Allmendinger wins it’ll be difficult to impossible to beat Hamlin on the points tiebreaker. Plus, the drivers who can earn a spot with a second victory are running far too weak to be considered serious contenders: Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose, and David Ragan are acting like a ragtag bunch as of late.
That means this regular season’s finale will be more about going for broke instead of postseason positioning… not necessarily a bad combination for a short track. But don’t be discouraged if this format stays intact for 2012, because for every dud like this year I’m thinking we’ll have three to four where a dozen drivers will enter the final race fighting for postseason bids.
Did You Notice?… The number of major sponsors set to back Carl Edwards’ No. 99 car next season? AFLAC, UPS, Fastenal, Subway, and Kellogg’s are either signed or nearly definite as a primary sponsor for at least one race next season. However, they’re all companies who either have the money to go full-time or have supported teams as a full-time primary sponsor in the past.
Thinking about all the economic troubles these teams face, like within Roush-Fenway itself – just two of its four cars have funding for next season – and you wonder if NASCAR could take the unprecedented step of limiting a team to one sponsor on the hood for next season. Think about it: they standardized what point system drivers can run for, so why can’t they put a check mark next to what business the owner of each car is allowed to put on the hood? That would force greedy multi-car teams, asking for money companies will no longer give to cut back the price tag in order for UPS to partner for all 36 events instead of eight. That would also free up four different companies, if sold on the talents of someone else to sponsor other cars and keep struggling teams afloat. Of course, there wouldn’t be enough to support the 400+ employees at Roush Fenway, Hendrick Motorsports, Penske Racing, etc… but is having five teams with 2,000 people good for the sport in the long run? 20 teams with 100 employees, the same number might be good for long-term growth even if NASCAR takes a short-term hit in the number of jobs available.
What about those underdogs like Tommy Baldwin Racing, you ask, who sometimes use a number of one-race sponsorships to keep their team afloat? Under this theory, the companies “let loose” by this policy would hopefully be more than enough to keep them covered. In fact, looking at the long run it adds to more stability at the back of the field – teams won’t be surviving “week-to-week” or start-and-park if they know going into the season exactly how much backing they’ll have from one company.
For me, some sort of sponsor limitation makes only too much sense in a sport with limited options on how to contain costs. But then again, why should NASCAR bother? UPS just signed up as the “Official Delivery Company…” so they’ve got their money in the bank. As long as the profits keep rolling in, there’s no financial reason to help others until their bottom line starts dipping in the red.
Did You Notice?… Time for our typical selection of “Quick Hits” before practice starts this morning…
- There’s no mention in the RCR / KHI Nationwide merger about a team for Austin Dillon for 2012. With Clint Bowyer potentially heading elsewhere next season, opening up a spot at the Cup level it’s an omission that makes you go “Hmmm” considering the 21-year-old has outgrown his current series.
- Once again, NASCAR’s crowded schedule reared its ugly head with the 72 hours of rain delay at Atlanta. Why can’t we have an open week after Richmond, at the very least to put an extra race if one gets rained out? It’s better for the fans, only marginally more expensive for the teams and creates extra revenue for a track in AMS that got hit in the pocketbook by Mother Nature this week.
- David Ragan’s not worried about his future? Somebody must have done a real good job saving their money…
- As I wrote this week over at Athlon Sports, who’s at fault in the Clint Bowyer – Juan Pablo Montoya mess is pretty debatable. But after Montoya’s ugly tweet about it all “I heard that Bowyer wasn’t too happy… I guess next time he’ll give me a little room” the fact this man never takes the blame for anything is not.
- There’s been so much criticism leveled at Jeff Burton after an ugly 2011 season without a top-5 finish. If Bowyer leaves, some will scratch their heads over the decision to keep the 44-year-old veteran instead, but Burton’s put in his time and helped rebuild the RCR franchise. Plus, Luke Lambert has quietly been righting the ship, resulting in consecutive top-15 finishes which has this program potentially on its way back to Chase-contender status next season. Only concern: Childress tries to stretch the finances of three cars and keep a four-car program intact.
- Bravo to Andy Hillenburg and Rockingham Speedway for creating an improbable reunion with NASCAR next season. But I agree with colleague Amy Henderson’s assessment; the fans now have to practice what they’ve been preaching. 500 fans at a Truck Series race, which was the case for a lower series event this year at Rockingham just won’t do…
- The four drivers had their reasons for not attending the President Obama “Meet ‘N’ Greet” on Wednesday. I understand, and the whole thing was blown out of proportion. But let’s not take that simple invitation for granted… as Denny Hamlin claimed in a post-meeting interview, the whole process is one of those “right of passage” moments that verifies how much the sport matters. Remember what a big deal it was for Richard Petty to first come up to the White House in the late 1970s?
Next season, let’s not lose sight of that and think ahead so there’s no excuses. Maybe NASCAR can coordinate with drivers well in advance of the date, making sure sponsors are aware and everyone has the ability to go?
Connect with Tom!
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Who cares whether or not drivers show up at the White House? Everyone understands—or should—that the visit is a pr gimmick for the prez.
As a small sponsor in another series, I can tell you I question every time I write the check whether its worth it. Am I getting anything for my investment? And to be honest I doubt it. There are other mediums that are much cheaper.
In theory, the Chase is a decent idea. There were some boring championship runs in the years prior But a third of the field is too much (S&P teams were never in contention).
They should cut the number in half. Top 4 plus 2 wildcards using the current method.
You’ll see better racing all year and Jimmy Johnson won’t be soft-pedaling until late August.
Forgot to mention…I like Montoya; he had an admirable career in Indycar & F1. Not so much in NASCAR.
The problem is not totally on him. It’s a South American style of racing. Ask Indycar drivers about when it became acceptable to vigorously block an opponent from passing. Ask one of Ayrton Senna’s competitors about his habit of chopping at competitors.
It’s how they race there and while I don’t approve of it, it’s been accepted by all the major sanctioning bodies. Mostly because South America has lots of money to throw into the sport and lots of new blood eager to get in the game.
Old Farmer….and the White House visit wasn’t a PR gimmick for Na$crap and the 10 race Do-Over Chase for the Chumpionship?
There is definitely a need for a break before the chase. It’ll give NASCAR and the media some hype-slingin’ room and give space for the postponed races. Nobody wants to go into the chase with races stuck onto the end. It’s gonna happen if they keep messin’ around.
The White House visit is an opportunity for both NASCAR and POTUS…and for the invited drivers. The Pres just needs to make them less of a spur-of-the-moment thing.
Back in the 70’s being invited to the White House was a big deal in the last 10-20 years it seems like all athletes get invited at sometime. Not as big a deal when everyone gets an invite.
Do you think Brian France saw the finish of the race at Atlanta live or on tape? Any chance it changed his mind about Atlanta?
When Major League Baseball changes its season schedule when the Yankees win their division by 20 games I might believe in the theory of the chase.
NASCAR is to blame for a lot of the start and parks. They have deprived legitimate businesses from entering. Verizon, Cingular (AT&T), Motorola all got kicked out cause of the title sponsor. How insecure is Sprint for that? The shell logo was too big and Sonoco complained. So think of teams like Bill Davis Racing, Robby Gordon Motorsports, and even Petty Enterprises. They all had good sponsors that NASCAR either chased away or pushed them to the better teams. Great to have a sponsor like Golden Coral but lets be real. They can’t pay like a telecom company can.
Why the decision to invite last years Chase drivers now? Why wait so long? If it wasn’t political by the White House, it sure looks it.
Cripes, this years Chase is set and they are inviting last years guys 2 weeks before this years playoffs. These guys are busy so blaming the drivers saying they need to clear their schedules whenever the president wants them to is wrong. The White House planned poorly on this. The drivers should not be taken to task for it.
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