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.
Dollars And Sense · Thomas Bowles · Thursday March 8, 2012
As Dodge prepares to reveal its NASCAR future, the 2013 Cup Series Charger Sunday at Las Vegas they’re also wagering a multimillion-dollar gamble on the racing roulette wheel. Despite years of development, the manufacturer is still jilted from being left at the short-term altar by Roger Penske, leaving them with a roster of start-and-park Robby Gordon Motorsports and… and… that’s about it.
Can the organization find a new top-tier team to survive? One option would be to delve back into primary sponsorship; longtime NASCAR supporters might remember their two-car backing of Evernham Motorsports. It was the best way for the manufacturer’s flagship program to develop, spending a year-and-a-half working behind the scenes before coming out, guns blazing to win the Daytona pole in 2001. But will they be willing to spend that kind of money, which today could run them upwards of $40 million to kickstart a competitive operation?
One alternative option is to poach another team, preferably with an engine shop so the Arringtons, a small-time operation aren’t the only ones building motors. Can it happen? Let’s run down the grid and take a quick look at the possibilities…
Hendrick Motorsports. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driving a Dodge? Umm, unthinkable. Remember, the current top-valued NASCAR organization has been Chevy-based since its arrival in the Cup Series in 1984. With six championships to their credit since 2001, why would you fix something that isn’t broken? Odds: You have a better shot of winning the lotto.
Stewart-Haas Racing. Hmm… reigning champ Tony Stewart, who got a sweetheart, long-term deal from Chevy to ditch Toyota for good driving a Charger? The same Stewart who has Danica Patrick in training, the best equipment being spoonfed from Hendrick and admittedly keeps costs down by not building his own engines, a necessity if Dodge were a serious option? I just want someone to ask that question, preferably a media member untrained in Smoke’s tendency to blow off the answer just to see what Hall of Fame sarcastic answer they’d receive. Odds: Dodge has a higher possibility of securing LeBron to drive.
Roush Fenway Racing. Sure, Jack Roush can’t be thrilled to be sharing the Blue Oval limelight after being Ford’s top (and only) dog making chassis and engines for the past several years. But Penske could invigorate the whole RFR food chain, providing help and information while partnering alongside an organization that’s struggling for sponsorship to keep its own three cars afloat. There’s a benefit to not having to carry the load all the time; and considering Roush’s long-term ties to Ford, which date back to the team’s Cup debut in 1988 don’t expect anything other than Fusions to roll out in 2013. Odds: The longest of longshots.
Joe Gibbs Racing. Coach Gibbs may have been loyal to the Redskins, but when it comes to his Cup cars, it’s another story altogether. Since 1992, he has already run three different brands of cars – Pontiacs, Chevys, and Toyotas – even making his first switch, in 2003 the year after winning a title. And while JGR stopped making their own engines this offseason, relying on Toyota Racing Development the resources and shop space are there to make it easy on Dodge. But considering the tornado of changes there this offseason, along with steady sponsorship and Toyota’s branding of the team as their savior there’s no pressing reason to switch, either. Add in the team’s dominance in Nationwide, where their Camrys at one point were winning about once every other week and it’s going to take one heck of a check for them to consider it. Odds: I’d give it a 5 percent chance.
Richard Childress Racing. A GM loyalist, Childress has run their cars dating all the way back to when he was a driver in the ‘70s. Heck, GM Goodwrench was Dale Earnhardt’s primary sponsor during his last three championship seasons. So while it’s frustrating to be the bridesmaid, coming up second fiddle to Hendrick in the Chevy camp there’s too much history here to go elsewhere. Also, keep in mind Dodge doesn’t give support to the Truck Series, where Richard’s grandson Ty will likely spend the next two seasons cutting his teeth. Family doesn’t let family drive a three-year-old junk of a model, right? Odds: Zero point zero zero zero zero zero … you get the picture.
Penske Racing. Just making sure you were paying attention. Next…
Michael Waltrip Racing. OK, now we’re talking possibilities. Waltrip has the name recognition; the advertising power (awful NAPA commercials notwithstanding) and the multi-car operation to give Dodge what they’re looking for in a potential replacement. Within their three-car program, there’s also veteran Mark Martin, whose expertise even at 53 would be critical for a manufacturer implementing a major transformation. Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex, Jr. are also potential stars in the making, but the biggest prize hasn’t even run in NASCAR’s top three series yet. If Travis Pastrana can keep himself in one piece, plus his foot on the gas the “X Games” star would be long-term gold to build branding for Dodge in all forms of motorsports. They’d likely need to invest in his future, but considering the paltry seven-race deal in place for the Nationwide program it could be the cash-laden incentive needed for MWR to make the jump – especially if all three teams miss the Chase for a sixth straight year. Odds: 25 percent.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. This team is no stranger to Dodge, running for them from their return in 2001 until merging with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. at the end of 2008. But their engine shop also partners with Childress, who will almost certainly not switch so breaking away would cost them money and horsepower in the short-term. Despite all that, considering their place in the Chevy pecking order, combined with an awkward 2012 start the Dodge solution makes some competitive sense. But I just don’t see it. Odds: 5 percent.
Richard Petty Motorsports. Petty. Dodge. The two words have the same amount of letters, and when put together roll off the tongue as easily as some of The King’s dominant 200 wins running those cars. But while reuniting the two appears a “no brainer” solution, one that co-investor Andrew Murstein has trumpeted don’t count the chickens before they hatch. Remember, right now RPM, for all intents and purposes has neither an engine shop or their own chassis department. They’re simply a “B” team within the Roush Fenway umbrella, taking a small, two-car operation and refining equipment that’s already set up for them. If Murstein and Co. wanted to spend the money it took to build their own shop, far away from RFR and jumpstart the extra operations it takes to claim independence they would have already done so. That means the price tag for Dodge is going to be high, especially considering the limited return on RPM investment to date; will they believe the Petty name still means that much? And if neither car makes the Chase this season, with middling drivers Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose will it really be the best place for the manufacturer to spend its money? Odds: 50 percent. Not a slam dunk by any means.
JTG-Daugherty Racing. An intriguing proposition considering the single-car program just moved back into their own shop. Armed with veteran Bobby Labonte, who’s driven a Dodge before the team has mid-level sponsorship money and is looking to add a second car for 2013. What better way with sponsorship non-existent then by taking the bait, along with some extra cash from a desperate manufacturer? Odds: 30 percent. The darkhorse if Dodge is willing to spend.
Furniture Row Racing. Another organization that wants to expand, but an organization that’s also happy with their current chassis/engine partnership with Childress. It’s hard to see either side making the compromises need; Dodge would need to steer their program from Colorado, while FRR would have to expand and/or risk regression for at least a year. Not happening, folks. Odds: 2 percent.
Phoenix Racing. Sweetheart deal with Hendrick would make it hard to leave Chevy. Marketing nightmare of Kurt Busch has Dodge saying “been there, done that.” Need we say more? Odds: Negative 100 percent.
FAS Lane Racing. No consistent driver or funding, combined with Roush offering them heavy discounts on equipment makes a switch virtually impossible. Odds: Zero chance.
Germain Racing. Their Truck Series operation is dead, following a switch from Toyota to Ford but I have a sneaky feeling the Germains are not the type to bail on that type of major change after only one season. Odds: 5 percent.
BK Racing. A bit of a “wild card,” as this team’s new, enthusiastic owners have inked a sponsorship deal with Burger King already and are looking for any way to get ahead. They’ve got a promising young driver (Landon Cassill) combined with an underrated veteran (Travis Kvapil) that could step right in. But there’s no engine shop, the cost for Dodge is high and most importantly… do the names “Kvapil” and “Cassill” generate the buzz needed for the program? Odds: 15 percent.
Tommy Baldwin Racing. That partnership with Stewart-Haas, to keep Danica in the top-35 is also helping this team survive in a business sense. They know where their bread is buttered. Odds: About as good as another jet dryer fire, in the future leaving Dave Blaney randomly in the lead for a future Daytona 500.
Front Row Motorsports. This three-car operation needs to start-and-park one just to have enough cash to keep going. And if Dodge isn’t reaching out to rescue Robby Gordon, well, I don’t think they’re entering the business of saving cash-strapped programs anytime soon. Odds: Slim and None.
Jay Robinson, Inception, Phil Parsons Racing, R3, Rick Ware, NEMCO Motorsports. All of these programs either start-and-park so frequently, have problems raising cash or have never proven themselves on the Cup level. Not exactly a recipe for success, no matter who the manufacturer is. Odds: Does it matter?
As you can see, the pickings for Dodge aren’t exactly plentiful. At the same time, manufacturers are enjoying some of the strongest profits in recent history, even during this economic downturn. So will they step up to the plate, investing in one of the small-time options? NASCAR desperately needs a company like this one to stand out and say, “We believe in the future of the sport.”
You would hope this announcement for Sunday isn’t going to be for nothing… right? Otherwise, Penske’s defection is a sign of larger trouble.
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Just FYI, Gibbs’ first switch was from Chevy to Pontiac in 1997. 2003 was their second switch — back to Chevy once the writing was on the wall that Pontiac was getting out of the racing business (and eventually all business). But they were never going to pass Hendrick and Childress in the hearts of the GM brass, thus the final (so far) switch to Toyota.
Think you are correct with Petty being the Ford “B” team especially with Penske joining. Dodge will probably go after them pretty seriously. Don’t think either of the big four will switch. Engines aren’t a problem, you’ve got Arrington and Elliot they can turn to.
Basically it’s up to Dodge and how serious they are about writing checks. It ain’t gonna be cheap folks. I’d think Petty and their two cars and Robby going to two cars. Just depends on how interested Fiat is in being an actual force in NASCAR. Their not being involved in NASCAR at a high level would seem a marketing disaster.
I really don’t see Dodge going after a big name team. The interests in the board room back in Italy isn’t there. The current regime seems more interested in open wheel racing due to the connections between Fiat, Alfa Romeo, & Ferrari. Plus Dodge seems to be putting more emphasis on its SRT program.
Having lived in Europe for well over a decade, oval track racing isn’t perceived there as “real racing”. They see road courses & rally racing as being the real deal because of the drivers having to turn the steering wheel both ways and constantly shifting.
I can see them increasing Robby Gordon’s budget. Maybe enough to field a second car. Unlike most NASCAR drivers & teams, Robby’s got a global presence thanks to his off-road racing efforts. So he’d better fit into what the Turin board room is looking for.
Tom … Do know anything about other racing series? Ganassi has not poured millions into a GM chasis in Indy car. They have run Dallara-Hondas since jumping back to Indycar from Cart. And are the lead Honda team with the new Dallara chasis this year. Do some reasearch.
Simply screwed up Ganassi. That simple… what happens when you are putting the finishing touches on a column at 3:30 AM. Line deleted, thanks for catching the mistake.
Don’t be such a jerk man. This was a well written article. Mistakes happen.
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