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.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday June 13, 2012
Did You Notice?… The timing of Kurt Busch’s Jerry Springer Show “leak” as it pertains to the “decision” to keep his marriage with James Finch together? The second I saw that mockup sponsorship plastered all over the internet, my Intrader Odds for Kurt Busch keeping a ride – at least for now – went from 10 percent to 99.99999. Only the words “lightning strike at Busch’s home,” “Maricopa County arrest” or “President Obama issues Busch ban on motorsports” would have changed my way of thinking.
Why? The key components to that story are that Springer’s “request” for a mockup came at Darlington Raceway in May. It was a full three weeks before the Busch-Pockrass incident, with plenty of time for the rumor to spread; yet the story wasn’t reported, by Phoenix Racing providing the information to a reporter until days after Busch’s suspension. Why would you show a reporter the plans for a future sponsor, catering to Busch when the driver’s employment with Phoenix Racing would be in doubt? The whole weekend sideshow at Pocono had me wondering about Finch’s motives last week; after all, the small-time owner has been trying to hang on for dear life with his unsponsored outfit. Why not make a few attention-grabbing quotes, make people think all hell is going to break loose – attracting the publicity you need for potential sponsorship – and then issue the following, “politically correct” statement after Tuesday’s “Come To Jesus” meeting:
“At the end of the day, we are racers so we’re going racing together with Kurt and the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet. We know adjustments have to be made, but how we fix that is between Kurt and myself. We’re going to go to the track, work hard, race hard and work on trying to attract a sponsor – and we’re going to do that together.”
I’ll say one thing in Finch’s defense: the free agent pool isn’t as strong as you might think. Brian Vickers is tied to Toyota and got busy running Le Mans; David Reutimann struggled in his one-race stint behind the wheel; someone like Bill Elliott is semi-retired and unwilling to pull that week-to-week commitment. The bottom line is, like it or not Busch has mountains more talent than anyone else immediately available. But I thought, after Finch’s initial response the owner had the convictions and the confidence to let Busch go. Maybe one day, he finally will.
But now? He seduced us all for the power of national publicity, giving Kurt Busch another chance in the process.
Did You Notice?… The series point leader is rolling into his manufacturer’s home track unsponsored? Matt Kenseth, whose No. 17 Ford has been working under patchwork deals all season has yet to announce a backer for Sunday’s race. Could there be any better example your business model’s in trouble when this season’s Daytona 500 winner, tied for the series lead in top-5 finishes (a stat that shows how often he runs up front) can’t make things work financially every week?
I don’t know what else it’s going to take for NASCAR’s top brass to wake up and smell the coffee over this business model. But it’s also a reality check for Roush Fenway, whose Carl Edwards No. 99 has also been plastered with nothing but Ford’s “backing” on the sides for several races. If the budget came down, with Edwards’ Super Wal-Mart stash of sponsors that money could easily cover everyone in the company. For years, the rumor has been that RFR’s Marketing Department refuses to compromise on any sponsor proposal, accepting top dollar and nothing less as if the sport was still running on 2005 horsepower – not “down a cylinder” by comparison in 2012. You’d think dropping to three teams might have taught them something, and maybe it has. Maybe the market is just that bad. But how can you have all these patchwork deals, cut down from four to three cars and still not have enough support to put someone on the hood this weekend? In Ford’s backyard? Something just isn’t right; and for Kenseth, a perspective free agent in 2013 the lack of funding keeps his future murkier than it should be.
Did You Notice?… Michigan’s flirtation with higher speeds is a little more worrisome than Pocono? Since the start of 1986, there’s just three tracks on the NASCAR circuit that have claimed two lives or more in its top three divisions: Daytona International Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway… and Michigan. It was here that Davey Allison’s brother, Clifford, died in a tragic testing incident just as his career was beginning to blossom in 1992. He joined Rick Baldwin, a journeyman racer who crashed in Cup qualifying six years earlier as drivers who had their lives cut short far too soon. And of course, who can forget Ernie Irvan’s scary midsummer wreck, in 1994 costing him a possible Cup championship and ultimately cutting short his career.
NASCAR has remained adamant that, despite speeds approaching 215 miles an hour entering the turns restrictor plates won’t be used. Why? I know it’s not an optimal solution, but every time cars get above a 200 mile an hour average at Daytona or Talladega the sport acts like an overprotective mother, tearing up the rulebook and jumping through hurdles to guarantee driver safety for all. Even with SAFER barriers, can you really be certain about what happens when a driver blows a tire hitting Turn 1 at speeds 10 miles an hour greater than any other racetrack? I’m reminded of what Rusty Wallace said a few years ago, at Talladega after driving a Cup car with the restrictor plates off (and reaching speeds approaching 230 miles an hour at times).
“It’s quite a thrill out there by yourself,” said Wallace, who still complained about driver comfort and car stability during his runs. “But it would be a recipe for disaster to think that we could race like that.”
Some might say plates also equal an automatic disaster. But besides the obvious concerns for driver health, remember – there’s no greater momentum-killer than tragedy.
Did You Notice?… How you could thank the Chase for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Pocono pit stop that cost him a shot at the victory? Without the postseason to worry about, Steve Letarte would have easily taken the chance and gambled the No. 88 driver could save an extra four-and-a-half laps of gas. After all, it’s only the NASCAR four-year victory drought talked about so much, fans are ready to erect a billboard “just win, already” describing their feelings behind Junior’s house in North Carolina. Could you imagine the drama Sunday if Logano, Martin, and Earnhardt waged a three-way battle for the win (Earnhardt was third at the time of his pit stop). The No. 88 was the fastest of the trio, but also had the best shot to run out of gas.
Steve Letarte’s decision didn’t come out of nowhere, though; he knows the tracks that lie ahead. Earnhardt running out of fuel, costing him what could have been a Chase-clinching victory would be a long-term gamble with his confidence level. There’s still no guarantee, with weaknesses like Infineon and the Daytona crapshoot up ahead a few bad finishes couldn’t put the winless driver back on the playoff bubble. This team is also the only one left to complete every single lap this season; there’s a little bit of luck involved, meaning a 35th-place mechanical problem has got to be in the cards at some point. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver has some of the most volatile on-track self-esteem; a tailspin, at the wrong time in this age of parity takes away a chance at the championship.
That’s the positive out of the whole “Junior whiff,” that this driver and crew chief truly believe a championship is possible. The driver has now scored back-to-back top-10 finishes at tracks Earnhardt hates with a passion. Building a base of notes there that have him thinking this team could be competitive at any track they show up at lays the groundwork for the type of consistency you need during the Chase. But don’t you miss when the wins, not making a gameplan for the future defined racing in a full-time “regular season?”
Did You Notice?… Quick hits before we take off…
- Yes, there were 22 speeding penalties Sunday. But did you notice 18 came in the race’s first half? Things had calmed down significantly by the final 200 miles, drivers dialing it down to the point where you wonder if a “faulty wire” could have exhibited that type of control. That’s why this Mark Martin quote from Sunday (who didn’t get busted for speeding) became my favorite… and also likely has a grain of truth attached to it.
“I don’t feel I can overcome a penalty, so I’m willing to stay slightly below the comfort zone,” he said. “For me, half a second is easier to make up than 30 seconds. There may have been some discrepancy in that last timing line, than if there were even I would have gotten busted. But I try to stay on the side where… I’ve got to look those guys in the eye and tell them I blew it if I got caught speeding on pit road.”
- Turns out there’s a reason Circle Sport’s Stephen Leicht is running just a smidge more than the rest of the start-and-parkers, driving the No. 33 Chevrolet. It’s for an opportunity to one day lock Austin Dillon inside the top 35 in owner points, just in case one of the teams above him close up shop (the Richard Childress Racing No. 33 car returns with Dillon at Michigan). Remember, Leicht used to work with Childress so this Circle Sport deal throws him a bone. But it’s also a sad, sad deal when teams are jostling for position as to who will be the “last one out” before 50 of 200 laps are complete.
- Carl Edwards’ Pocono restart penalty, along with AJ Allmendinger also brought up the concern of start-and-parking. The two drivers, according to several sources couldn’t drop back into the proper order because the S&P cars kept waving them ahead, refusing to run side-by-side since they didn’t want to risk any damage. It’s the most we’ve seen them potentially affect the outcome in quite sometime, and it raises the question… why are they coming to the track in the first place?
- No, the Pocono crowd wasn’t 100,000. But it was larger than last year. the facility did a good job making aesthetic improvements, listening to fans (by shortening the race 100 miles), and keeping Mother Nature at bay for the weekend. Those who want to take a race date away from this track? They’re going to have to fight for it tooth and nail.
- Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya led 17 laps for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing at Pocono. For McMurray, especially the weekend was big, a top-10 finish paired with the most positivity I’ve seen from him since Indianapolis last year. With the new pavement came a newfound confidence, reacting to the Pocono redo like a little kid on Christmas at what’s typically been one of his worst facilities. One-week wonder or permanent contender? We’re about to find out.
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©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Reutimann STRUGGLED in the #51? He finished 21st, on the lead lap! Busch has finished on the Lead lap TWICE in 13 races. I’d say Reutimann basically held the fort… in the prior 13 races, Busch finished worse than 21st 6 times, better than 21st 6 times, and 21st once.
As for Restrictor plates. NASCAR mucks with those when LAP SPEEDS hit 200MPH. Not when straightaway speeds do. Michigan is still a flat track requiring drivers to lift and brake in the turns, which negates the need for plates. Plates are especially bad when trying to accelerate due to killing the throttle response.
As for the Start And Park, I’ve advocated for years pro-rating the prize money based on number of laps. Complete 90% of the laps, get 90% or what it would have paid if you’d finished on the lead lap. Complete 5%, get 5% of the money. That formula would have given the #26, who did 12 laps, about $4800 instead of of $63,000. It’s end the Start-and-Park thing for good. Only teams wanting to really run would bother showing up.
What are you down on Finch for? He seduced us? He did exactly what he said he would and that was have a sit down come to Jesus meeting with Kurt. He never said there was any more than a possibility that Kurt MIGHT be let go, that it depended on Kurt and what he had to say.
If James did keep Kurt for sponsor opportunities then that was a business decision he made for his own reasons which we aren’t privy to.
Also if you had paid attention to what Finch said you’d know that every team member wanted Kurt back.
I think I’d advise you to not ask either James or Kurt any face to face questions that follow the lines of your article. This is simply a muckraking type of article that no real author/reporter would offer.
The real issue for the Start & Park teams is this… it costs too much to run the whole race, and it pays too good not to start and park. With that said, my opinion is that it’s not the purse money that’s the core problem, it’s the prohibitive cost to field a competitive cup-level team. If there were more teams that could afford to run the whole race, there would be no start and park teams. Unfortunately the S&P situation isn’t going to change because Nascar seems perfectly happy with the current status quo. When a Carl Edwards or a Matt Kenseth starts & parks due to lack of money, then Nascar will be forced to get it’s head out of the sand. Maybe.
Mrclause, U and Finch are full of it!!
If I’m a sponsor there’s only ONE team I want my money on: Hendrick and Chevy.
They are in bed with Nascar and have friends in high places…John Middlebrook. AND they have Jr., even if he doesn’t win.
It’s the only “sure-fire” team in Nascar to spend money on.
Keep dogging the Busch brothers out of racing and NASCAR will be about as dull as sport as championship lawn bowling. Then we can read about how Dale Jr. is about to win a race all of the time, as if we don’t now. If it weren’t for the little excitement the Busch brothers bring, no one would want to watch a race.
Agree with Doug about the prorating of purse money. I’m not sure if NASCAR is brave enough to try that though as it might result in something less than a full field. Not that it would bother me. F1’s starting grid isn’t that large and it works fine for them.
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