NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
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Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Tuesday December 6, 2011
For Sprint Cup’s crowded field of free agents, matching the current state of unemployment in this country Christmas will come a little early this year – at least for one. Kurt Busch’s departure from Penske, leaving a seat that was 11th in points last season produces a top-tier job opportunity for 2012 at a time when fully-funded Sprint Cup teams are set to decrease by almost 10 percent. Yes, whoever gets it will likely get a one-year deal regardless of their success in the car: “A” level free drivers like Matt Kenseth or Denny Hamlin could be available next season, with Sam Hornish, Jr. moving up regardless of funding in 2013. But who wouldn’t take a “Kasey Kahne” type of “lame duck” ride, a temp job that could produce both victories and a Chase appearance immediately?
No wonder why drivers are already banging down Penske’s door by the dozen. With Busch out, here’s a look at the most likely candidates to take the slot:
David Ragan. Everyone on the national beat has pegged Ragan, formerly of Roush Fenway Racing as the overwhelming favorite to take the seat. The driver himself even publicly lobbied Monday, informing ESPN he “wanted to be under consideration for that car” and acknowledging a call with Penske President Tim Cindric. Both sides will sit down sometime in the next week to conduct a formal interview for the seat.
For the record, my sources have Ragan as the No. 1 candidate as well. I can see why he fits: after taking the public relations hit of Kurt Busch, Shell/Pennzoil is willing to give up championship caliber performances for political correctness. And while Ragan won’t win a title, even make the Chase in the No. 22 he’ll fit the Penske image of “clean cut” while not making a peep on the publicity front for 12 months. Note that Shell wasn’t exactly using Kurt Busch for their national commercials, right? The on-track exposure of their colors on the car, combined with the benefits of a business-to-business relationship with Penske is enough for them. That leaves Ragan’s wallpaper personality virtually irrelevant; the fact he could eke out a restrictor plate victory, maybe two under the right circumstances is an added bonus.
We should note the Georgian did take a slight risk; his release from Roush Fenway Racing Monday morning, which was granted, did cost him at least a part-time opportunity. Sources told me over the weekend there’s an investment group negotiating to buy some of the RFR Fords, start their own satellite operation and run a part-time schedule with the No. 6. Ragan was supposed to be in that seat; but if the odds fall in his favor at Penske, one thinks he’ll be much happier driving the No. 22. CHANCES: 70%.
Brian Vickers. Team Red Bull’s former main squeeze is looking for an energetic opportunity to continue his Cup career. I think a few months ago, before the Chase Vickers would be the clear No. 1 candidate. There’s no one else on the sidelines with postseason experience, and people forget Vickers is one year removed from blood clot that nearly ended not just his Sprint Cup career but his life. It takes time to settle in and recover from that, and the 2009 postseason participant should be sharper in whatever ride he gets in 2012.
Sadly, though the Martinsville-Phoenix debacle with Matt Kenseth seems to have put a permanent dent in Vickers’ reputation. It was bad enough the man was part of half-a-dozen cautions at the short track; the fact he used Phoenix for revenge, when Kenseth was battling for a championship did not sit well with most insiders. The explanation from Vickers that Kenseth’s brakes failed, causing him to wreck into the No. 17 in the desert didn’t break through the minds of most, even if it was true – occurring on the same weekend as teammate Kasey Kahne’s victory, that was an ugly comparison at the worst possible time. You don’t want the season to end and have everyone’s enduring image be of you wrecking people.
Yet that’s where we are with Vickers. There are other obstacles, too; his extreme sports hobbies, a great fit with Red Bull clash with the conservatism of “old school” Penske. But for this ride, he would be my choice and clearly has the most talent of anyone on the sidelines. It’s just an uphill battle to remind people of that. CHANCES: 10%.
Casey Mears. A longshot, or so it seems but don’t we always say that about this guy? Mears is the only Cup driver to have slipped behind the wheel for Chip Ganassi, Hendrick Motorsports, and Richard Childress during an underachieving career that’s produced just one lone victory, at the Coca-Cola 600 in 2007. That top-tier portion of his career has faded away; currently, he drives the GEICO Toyota for a single-car team in Germain Racing that doesn’t even have funding to run the distance in all 36 events. And did I mention his last top-5 finish came three years ago?
Good thing there’s Uncle Rick to save the day. The multiple Indy 500 winner, whose ties with former owner Penske remain strong could make a difference after years of verbal abuse by Busch. If there’s one thing NASCAR’s nice guy has proven, it’s that he won’t cause any problems and bring the equipment home in one piece; the epitomy of “average” when this situation requires nothing more, nothing less. And if the seat is being kept warm for Hornish, there will be little controversy on who should get it at year’s end. A compromise pick if there ever was one. CHANCES: 8%.
David Reutimann. So far, in talking to sources I haven’t heard his name come up yet. That’s much to fan’s chagrin, as many people thought Reutimann got the shaft with his October release from Michael Waltrip Racing. But loyalty, however strong does not erase a total of two career victories in five seasons. Unlike Vickers, Reutimann never made the Chase; unlike Ragan, he’s not as marketable a personality. There’s a reason why big companies, like UPS have shied away despite the success.
Even on the racing side, Reutimann faces an uphill battle. A Toyota guy his whole career the Florida native hasn’t exactly dealt with the adjustment of switching manufacturers. Sure, it’s not as difficult as it used to be; but when you’re already down two strikes in the count, it’s enough to knock you off the list. CHANCES: 6%. (And that’s being generous)
Sam Hornish, Jr. The top internal choice, Hornish was being prepped for a full-time Nationwide Series schedule before Punch-Gate. A win at Phoenix last month, his first in NASCAR’s “AAA” division shows how far the Indiana native has come since stepping back from the major leagues. But without one more season under his belt, adding the experience of battling for a championship Hornish may be moving up too quickly. Penske has already been there, done that; and let’s just say you don’t become the winningest man in Indy 500 history by making the same mistake twice. CHANCES: 5%.
Parker Kligerman. Kligerman, at 21 has progressed nicely while driving for Brad Keselowski’s Truck Series team. 11th in the season standings this year, he posted four top 5s, eight top 10s, and acquired solid sponsorship that should help him contend for the 2012 championship. Ditching that for a jump straight to Cup? That’s careless, and everyone knows it. Nowhere close to ready; he’s two years away, at least, and even owner Keselowski would help protect him. CHANCES: 1%.
So there you have it; surprisingly, Ragan is the overwhelming favorite but as we’ve seen in the Republican Presidential Race, anything can change until that signature is on the dotted line. Meanwhile, while our Bryan Keith has Kurt Busch covered, one quick note on his future: it will be defined by the lack of new ownership in this sport. With 30+ teams under the umbrella of a handful of owners, Busch’s clashes with not just Penske but Roush (who makes up all of Ford) eliminate plenty of opportunities. Hendrick? Not a chance with that personality. Childress? The man just fought his younger brother. And trust me, Tony Stewart would rather take on that dead weight, parading her through a week’s worth of festivities in Vegas and shower her with love instead of coming within a continent of hiring Busch.
So out of the megateams, who does that leave? Bryan’s suggestion of Joe Gibbs Racing. Simple process of elimination… and now, for that franchise Busch becomes like the poison apple in the Garden of Eden. Will they pick it?
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We won’t miss your punk ass Kurt!
I’d rather they didn’t rush Hornish into the seat. Let him run a full season and possibly win a title in Nationwide.
Reuti’s my pick, sorry to see he’s not high on anyone’s list. :(
Kurt was featured in a lot of different print advertising, in-store displays and I swear he was also in TV spots too for Shell. He wasn’t the star, just one of many people featured including Helio, but he was there (I swear!).
Ragan would seem to be the best choice, both in image and as probably an emotional fan-favorite.
Vickers, um, well, he didn’t think that one through, did he?
Hornish needs a full season of NNS time under his belt. I think if he’s going to shine, he’ll do it there first.
It would be nice to see Reutimann get a chance…
David Reutimann would be my choice by a very wide margin. Good driver that takes what is given to him and don’t wreck the equipment in doing so. Remember he has won 2 cup races and one of them (Chicago) he won by a wide margin. If you don’t believe it ask Gordan and Edwards.
So it would look like Penske and Shell will be satisfied with a team running in the middle or back of the pack. Has anyone realised that the information Keselowski gets from that second team with Ragan or Mears will soon have them back to running in the middle or bottom as well? Given the records ragan, Mears and Vickers had with top teir teams I would not like to be a Dodge fan next year. It could be a long long season.
I remember at least one Kurt Busch / Shell commercial with him and several Shell people standing in a gas station, and Kurt was opening several banners and streamers to announce a Shell promotional giveaway.
Reuti would get my vote, saves equipment and has the ability to run up front given decent cars. Shoot look at what Ragan has done in the #6 and what Reuit has accomplished in the #00. Discussion over.
“how far the Indiana native has come since stepping back from the major leagues” Sam Hornish is an Ohio native
Penske, Shell, and everyone else decided that the problems caused by Kurt outweighed the fact that he was a proven winner, consistently getting at least 1 win a year. But for the organization to work as a team, it needs their 2 cars to work AS teammates. It was no secret that Kurt did NOT like Brad, and didn’t want to work with him. Just look at the plate track pairings- when every other organization kept the pairings in-house, Kurt and Brad stayed away from each other.
So let’s look at the contenders:
1) David Ragan has but one PLATE track win in 5 years driving top-tier equipment. His numbers aren’t there- 23rd, 13th, 27th, 24th, 23rd. 2008 was an aberration. But he’s loyal, marketable, and he’s not going to tear his crew a new one 10 times a race. Or likely ever.
2) David Reutimann’s 2 wins in 5 years looks better on paper than Ragans, though the rain-win in the 600 doesn’t prove anything but his win in Chicago, driving what normally is vastly inferior equipment speaks volumes (ask Truex how good MWR stuff is). He has never had a chance to prove himself in good equipment, but he DID drive 2 cars into the Top-35 in 2008. That’s not an easy feat. His numbers aren’t great- 38th, 22nd, 16th, 18th, 28th, but the 38th was with missing 10 races (Ragan has always started the season locked in, Reutimann had 2 years having to qual in). 2011 probably torpedoed his career, though. He still finished ahead of his quasi-teammate Labonte. The big issue is he is deemed “unmarketable” due to his age (44) and lack of TV presence, but geez, how do you get TV time when your car owner, who has an ego large enough to orbit planets around, hogs all the TV time?
3) Brian Vickers’ 2 wins also look better than Ragan’s 1, but like Ragan his first was on a plate track. The second was a fairly dominant win at Michigan. But he only managed 1 win in top-tier equipment, then 1 win in middling stuff. He was the 2003 Busch Grand National champion, so he had success there. 2011 really messed up his future, unlike Kahne who knew where he was going Vickers knew he was out of a job at the end of the year, but didn’t go the right way about it.
4) Casey Mears has the same issue as Vickers- ONE win in top-tier equipment, in a fuel-mileage race. Multiple chances showed he isn’t a top-tier driver. He’s had his shot.
Now, there’s always the possibility of poaching a driver from another team. If Kurt Busch takes an already occupied seat, that could cause a domino effect. Kurt to the #20? Where does Logano go? Roush decides they can’t afford to run Kenseth unsponsored? There’s your champion-tier driver. I don’t see that happening, but stranger things have.
Vickers and Ragan are mediocrities who’ve had their shots,and failed, with top teams. Where’s the new blood in Nascar?
None of the ones listed. The Captain will surprise you.
I think they should try to get Bobby LaBonte out of his current contract. He just needs some top equipment and I think he would show well – and you don’t see him flipping off officials and cussing out media!
This is where NASCAR’s youth movement has failed. Most drivers mentioned were brought up to the Cup level too soon. Now, we have a huge surplus of young, politically correct, talentless race car drivers.
Give Johnnie Benson a call. I think he might fit the bill for Penske/Shell.
I would like to see Travis Kvapil get the seat. He was suppose to get the seat Roush gave to Ragan a few years ago. I would like to see Travis get his ‘big’ chance.
The perfect fit for Shell/Penzoil/Penske would be Matt Kenseth. Anybody else would be a seat warmer.
Regan Smith needs a shot in a quality ride.
Kenny Schrader fow the win!
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Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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