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 September 12, 2011
The “Have At It Boys, Era!” in NASCAR was supposed to create driver rivalries with their peers – not the press box. But as the 2011 season turns toward the playoffs, one of the biggest battles to watch leading into the Chase isn’t Johnson-Gordon, Harvick-Kyle Busch or even brother Kurt versus Johnson.
Nope. It’s drivers versus the NASCAR beat reporters who cover them.
Certainly, this topic isn’t one most media, especially those at-the-track each week want to touch with a ten-foot pole. I can imagine fans aren’t too thrilled about it, either, more interested in a competitive year with seven, possibly eight drivers in position to win a wide-open Chase. But the sheer number of conflicts, each involving high-level drivers have forced the issue; this weekend alone, three tiffs between drivers and reporters have reflected a continuing, on-and-off tension they’ve had with the media at large.
The AP’s Jenna Fryer was involved in two such incidents, kicking things off Friday when Tony Stewart grew tired of being asked the same (but valid) question about the pressure involved in trying to make the Chase, originally posed not by Fryer but ESPN’s Mike Massaro. Fryer, though sensing Stewart’s obvious frustration in the answer followed up with “What should we be asking you?” “I don’t know,” said Stewart. “I don’t do your job. Come up with something original.” The two went back-and-forth, Smoke resisting to go into specifics; instead, he claimed he “wasn’t worried about what’s going to make [Jenna’s] article this week,” knocking Fryer following a different question by ESPN’s Marty Smith.
“See, this is original,” said Stewart, responding to a question about the importance of naming a Competition Director. “This is somebody that is a good journalist because they actually know how to ask something original. It is a good question; it is nice to have that occasionally.”
Stewart, who remained fairly calm throughout the ordeal may have never seen this tiff go public. After all, in five years of covering him I’ve seen him rip reporters apart ten times worse for what he deemed stupid questions. But, as luck would have it ESPN’s NASCAR Now took a live feed of the press conference#! in what turned into a national, awkward “Candid Camera” moment. Smoke’s aggressiveness, for better or for worse was out there for all to see.
That merely set the stage for Saturday’s grand finale. Kurt Busch, after exiting his car was asked about his on-track incidents with Johnson by Joe Menzer, a NASCAR.com reporter. According to reports, Busch was asked by Menzer “Kurt, can either you or Jimmie win the Chase?” to which Busch responded, “How did I see you were going to come with that? We’re good.” Menzer also defended his question, a move that pushed Busch over the edge; turning, swearing, and confronting the reporter it took multiple Penske Racing crew members to prevent a physical confrontation.
Busch then walked in for his post-race presser, saw Menzer and immediately engaged in more verbal barbs; reports claim NASCAR PR head Kerry Tharp had to break up the mess. Moments later, though, things truly took a turn for the bizarre. Now up on the podium, Busch was asked by Fryer about a comment he made concerning “being in Jimmie Johnson’s head” uttered on live television. Well, Busch not only denied it, a shocker considering the video evidence, but then walked over to Fryer, ripped up the transcript in her hand (which contained that exact quote) and left the room.
Sounds like things are just peachy, right? And we’re not even counting last week, where Greg Biffle lit into a reporter for questioning his decision to miss President Obama’s 2010 Chaser Meet ‘N’ Greet.
“I’m disgusted by the comments I see, that people say we rejected or I can’t believe that Biffle rejected,” he said at Atlanta. “That’s disrespectful for people not knowing why I can’t go.”
Step back a bit, and there’s plenty of other minor incidents dotting the radar: Carl Edwards upset over a misreported contract, Kurt Busch angry over divorce coverage… the list can go on and on. So what gives?
Let’s start with Stewart, who seems to have consistent problems surrounding a line of questioning. Some people claim press conferences are filled with what some would call “generic questions and answers.” Let’s take the one about the Chase, for example. “What does your team need to do to make the playoffs?” doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. At the same time, one thing that’s important to understand is that a lot of reporters write for a more generic, wide-ranging audience. It’s not a specialty site they’re working for, like the one you’re reading now where we might get very specific about, say, a particular chassis setup. Their readers, millions of “casual” or even “new fans” are looking for basic information, the main story: who’s in position to make the Chase, who isn’t and what the drivers on the bubble are thinking heading in.
If that’s your job, well an obvious question is going to be asking drivers how they’re handling preparations going into the weekend. Athletes understand such back-and-forth, and most have no problem giving the obvious answer. Stewart? Honestly, it depends on the day. Many times, it’s not a particular hatred towards a reporter rather than the actual process of going through those generic questions that seems to irritate him; the owner/driver thinks taking the time to answer them is a waste.
But Stewart’s actions, to me pale in comparison to Kurt Busch. For a clue into how Busch is acting, let’s go back to an August press conference at Pocono, held shortly after Busch and Johnson got together on the final lap. Both the Busch brothers were in attendance for this one.
Q. Kurt, were you not upset at all with the way Jimmie raced, were you just upset with him coming to you and —
Busch: Here we go, People Magazine. I’m glad you asked. We were racing hard. I think that’s what we saw on TV and exactly that’s what should be reported. There are a lot of times when the 22 is on the short end of the stick of the 48. And I raced him hard today. I’m glad I did. I have no regrets in it.
Q. Kyle, in response to Kurt’s comments, would you like to see just as much of that and a little less give and take afterwards by the drivers?
Kyle Busch: You wonder why we don’t because we have to come in here and answer battle questions like this. Just accept it: It was great racing.
The knock here, it seems is that these rivalries are overblown, that the on-track incidents and off-track squabbling (as in, those ‘in Jimmie’s head’ quotes) take on a National Enquirer tint while becoming bigger news than the racing itself. Kurt wants to have his cake and eat it, too; bump fenders with Jimmie on the racetrack, ruffling feathers at the No. 48 team then not talk about it afterwards to the point where it becomes a public distraction for himself. The degree of the rivalry, it seems, is directly connected to how much we make it a news story in his eyes.
But here’s the unfortunate news for Busch: he is not in a position where he alone can dictate the news cycle. More than ever, in fact, in this changing media world it’s fans who have a say through communication from Twitter, Facebook, and other mediums telling us what stories they want to hear about. And I have news for Kurt: guess what they wanted to learn after Richmond? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t about the right handling tweaks for Busch to finish fifth! Whenever you crash with the five-time defending champ not once, but twice it’s going to be a story and people are going to ask you about it. That’s what fans want to know the details of, like it or not and more importantly it’s part of the overall story of how the race unfolded.
I think another, less pressing issue here revolves around a shrinking, consistent NASCAR at-track media corps that hasn’t exactly welcomed in a large group of new members as of late. With opportunities for newspaper journalism shrinking, the crop of beat reporters is getting smaller and who’s left are the same old, same old people that have covered the sport for years. For the fans, it’s not a bad thing, as there are reasons these people have jobs: good journalists offering good coverage. But for drivers, it’s almost like a 36-week arranged marriage for years at a time: sometimes, people can simply get on your nerves and you get irritated. Just like there’s few Sprint Cup rookies, no new media members are coming in, switching it up, and pushing the envelope so there’s at least a new voice or two in a driver’s ear every week.
As for the reporters themselves? Understandably, Fryer’s response after Saturday night, on Twitter was subdued: “It’s getting harder and harder to remain passionate about #NASCAR.” (Funny, isn’t it; I’ve been told since February passion for what you cover isn’t needed to do this job. So why should it matter?) But to be fair, she was frustrated, put in a position where drivers stepped over the line in both cases. These media members deserve an apology for their actions, and NASCAR needs to step up and start drawing clear boundaries again on the professionalism between drivers and reporters. Busch’s actions, in particular might be deserving of a fine that could serve as a serious reminder. In this age of shrinking journalism coverage, they need to keep the lines of communication open for who does cover the sport as much as possible.
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Stewart has always been a jerk when it comes to reporters asking questions he doesn’t like. Both he and teammate Ryan Newman have not only told reporters what they should be saying, but how they should frame it. Do reporters ask some stupid questions at times, sometimes before a driver has had a chance to calm down? Yes, but doesn’t make the driver any less of an ass when he gets nasty or condescending with the reporter. These guys are schooled in the necessities good PR, and most drivers are aware that their actions have a direct impact on their marketability. Tony Stewart was just being Tony Stewart, and the fact of the matter is that Tony is a jerk to reporters when the questions don’t suit him.
I had really come to admire the way Kurt Busch had matured since the speeding incident in Phoenix a few years ago. Now it’s one step forward, two steps back. What’s interesting to me is that I think a lot of people agree that what Busch said after the race was fine, and that Jimmie Johnson got what he deserved on the track. And Maybe Kurt was right; maybe he is in Jimmie’s head. Then Kurt goes and blows it by acting like a first-class jackass. What respect he had earned from me is now gone.
I wonder if Brad Keselowski’s recent success has Kurt a little envious.
Sounds like some of these drivers didn’t realize that when they signed up to drive at the national level, make millions of dollars and become famous, they didn’t read the fine print. Part of the job is dealing with the media in a professional manner to promote your sponsor, the sport, their team and their own marketability.
I am reminded of an NFL playoff game about 20-25 years ago, while I was a newspaper editor, when a running back had piled up a stupendous amount of yardage, and had scored twice by simply running away from the defensive secondary.
In a postgame interview, a TV reporter asked, “Are you really that fast?”
The player had an incredible look on his face, and answered, “Evidently.”
The player was crucified the next day in the print media for giving a “smart aleck” answer.
Personally, I thought it was a pretty stupid question for someone who had watched him run away from those people.
Sometimes the blame does lie with the interviewer.
Dumb—or offensive—questions by reporters call for dumb—or offensive—answers.
The problem is that they don’t look to be called out for them.
But they should.
I’ll vote with Tony, et. al.
Thank you John Potts! You just saved me minutes of keyboard pounding!! I second John’s comment!!
Just like the reporters that have been there for many years, so have these drivers. As a matter of fact I do think it’s getting sick of the “same old same old” year after year from BOTH sides! And I have suggested on multiple occasions that some people on BOTH sides should find something else to do, because I’M sick of hearing about it.
Nice article Tom. Can you address the ongoing issue of possible media bias? I know Jenna Fryer’s charity for her kids school was picked by JJ’s foundation to fund this year to tune of $150k+. Sorry, cant believe she remains unbaised. No way should media be nominating charities in first place and certainly not ones that directly benefit their family. Jim Utter went nuts last year when media member got TV from Best Buy…why no one going nuts over this?
You say some reporters write for generic purposes so they need generic answers. Got it. My question is during a media event DON’T reporters listen to all questions and answers being addressed? If they do then it shouldn’t be hard NOT to keep asking the same mundane questions over and over. Heck it makes me want to strangle the reporter. I’m not reporter but I certainly can figure out ALL the drivers are under a certain amount of pressure..I don’t need to waste the viewers, readers, drivers, or my time asking the same stupid question. The bottom line is if you’re a reporter and you are a good one..you should be able to ask questions that are interesting and informative..NOT boring, repetitive, and combative.
I cant imagine how annoying it must be to be warming the tires just before the start of the race and to have Dale Jarrett ask you how you think things will go today.
Tony was schooled by the master media manipulator Bob Knight.
I agree that tony’s always been a jerk when it comes to answering questions and Kurt & Kyle rank up there as not really good at this PR thing. Kurt clearly made the comment on TV. Why not just stand by it? I thought NASCAR wanted rivalries? Heck I was happy that he’s the only driver who’s been willing to play rough with the 48 and GET inside his head as was evident by the fact that Johnson tried to wreck him back and failed. Personally I thought it was hilarious.
I do recognize that interviewers often ask the same stupid obvious questions, but unless it’s Jamie Little asking “how do you feel?” after your race car has been wrecked, it’s part of the gig.
I do think Kurt should be fined for his actions against the reporter – and I am not a Jenna Fryer fan. No points but $, yeah, that works.
This issue is nothing new and it didn’t start with Stewart. While fans have their opinions…I notice in the responses above even those
who think Stewart and Busch
are jerks towards the media they still note their ARE slot of stupid repetitive questions being asked. Maybe the media should bull by the horns and try and make their interviews more original, informative, and less Duhhh! Then instead of having to write an entire column about how mean the drivers are during interviews the media can actually write an article relevant to NASCAR.
Calling out these drivers for being aggravated with certain reporters or questions is as stupid as this subject. There are good reporters and then there are lazy reporters. Good reporters can find a storyline that others can’t. The lazy reporters copy or repeat the same crap over and over. The crap is normally a none story until the media beats it to death until a driver gets tired of it and responds to the reporter like a parent would to a kid asking,“are we there yet?” 20 times in a 5 mile ride.
The reporters are intentionally provoking the drivers and then whine when the drivers get angry. As an example when Kurt got out of the car and was asked he said he locked up the brakes trying to stay off of JJ. (Evidenced in the replay by front tire smoke). Then went on to say a few choice words in general about JJ. Then when the same reporter confronted Johnson she skipped the explanation for the wreck and went strait to the most heated remarks to intentionally mislead and anger Johnson.
You aren’t reporting the news you are inventing it on your own. Eventually the drivers are going to get angry when you continue to behave this way.
That said Kurt can’t get physical with reporters. That’s going too far. From what I understand though it was only intimidating and chest thumping as his crew was between them. NASCAR should probably have a chat with him and tell him to play nice, apologise and perhaps warn him for the future. Going after another driver is one thing, reporters and public are another.
I remember back in May a reporter asked Tony Stewart if what he learned while racing at the All Star Race will apply to the Coca-Cola 600 next week. Tony Stewart responded with something like “Of course it will. Just like you asked last year and every year before that. File this answer away for next year because the answer will always be yes.”
Darren – Yes – I noticed that too – As a matter of fac,t Miss Little even made up some BS up to tell 5-Time. This is flat out lying and fabrication.
Glad to see Tony and Kurt responding to the the gotcha questions like most fans would. Most are dumb and less than original. That goes for the print & TV.
Really? You want us to feel sorry for you?
Tom, if someone is writing for a “more generic, wide-ranging audience, “ they don’t even need to ask a question. Let the dedicated Nascar reporters ask the questions and then cut and paste what they need for their generic article. The generic audience won’t know the difference and the dedicated audience will more likely get real answers about things that actually interest us.
I’d be more upset about the way Kurt treats his crew and owner with his harsh comments. I know that they are said in the heat of the moment. However, I am completely surprised that one: Roger Penske didn’t fire his butt after his comments over the radio and two: He hasn’t “accidently” lost his brakes entering a corner due to the constant abuse he levels at his crew. I’ve always believed that everything you do should be a good reflection on your Mother and Father. I guess we know just how we’ll they did their job as parents.
Tony just being Tony and we wouldn’t want him any other way!!!
Let’s report facts, like Bob Pockrass did. Smoke had just came off the track after being held up by a crappy S&P driver in McDowell on his Q run. His draw, determined by said run, was affected and cost him dearly at a time where he needed a good run to lock into the Chase.
He was already angry about that before Fryer asked the standard, “How do you feel about the pressure of making the Chase?” question.
It’s like he’s the only person who goes after reporters. Harvick is pretty bad, so are the Busch brothers. If Smoke is a jerk, than most of the garage needs to be thrown in with him.
Earnhardt, Sr. could be a smart guy when he was asked a question he didn’t like and nobody said anything about it. His son barely has a pulse during interviews, but nobody reports about his lack of energy for fear of the Junior Nation. Journalists want guys to not be vanilla (aka Hendrick Motorsports Drivers). When they say anything, the reporters get angry and write scathing articles.
Tony Stewart is a chip off the old block of AJ Foyt. Last I checked, AJ had no problem going after reporters and nobody said anything. Smoke has 39 Cup wins and 2 Championships, he has earned a right to answer what he wants to. Ask Mulhern and a couple other guys, like Gluck about what its like to ask Stewart questions to instigate.
Kurt Busch is as brutal to media about this situation (because he has an issue with JJ) as he is to his crew. The fact that Roger Penske has not canned the guy shows he sees the talent and potential as a driver and looks away from the character flaws — something the writers cannot.
You guys need copy in the worst way, so attacking people who have a unique view is the way to go. Heck, Monte Dutton spent a bunch of time going after Smoke, but he has had an axe to grind with Stewart for years and he is an old windbag anyway.
Jimmy Johnson’s too vanilla .. but every time you get a driver with a personality, the media (Thomas Bowles, in this case) crucifies him.
Tony Stewart’s a jerk, but in those examples cited he gave good answers. Sadly, the media seems to prefer to interview third rate drivers who kiss their asses (Michael W).
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