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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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.
Did You Notice?… Sponsorship is what’s making the Silly Season world go round these days? Matt Kenseth didn’t have enough of it at Roush Fenway; Joey Logano had it stripped from him at Joe Gibbs Racing. Their financial problems, not personality conflicts or performance issues led to the biggest day of announcements we’ll see for 2013.
Kenseth’s time in front of the cameras came first, one of the most poorly kept secrets in NASCAR history due to a contract that kept him from “officially” announcing his move until a certain date. (Side note: When will NASCAR get with the 21st Century? Do they really think an archaic piece of paper will keep the Twitterverse silent for three months? Hello… someone get Jack Roush an iPhone and a paper shredder – that contract should have been ripped up and a press conference held back in July. But I digress.)
In reality, we all know this deal was sealed months ago, when an unhappy JGR sponsor in Home Depot complained right at when Kenseth realized his own employer would never have the funding to keep him long-term. Millions at RFR were already committed to keep younger drivers Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Trevor Bayne above water; across the way, fellow 40-something teammate Greg Biffle had a long-term deal with 3M and was leading the points. As expected, time and again Tuesday, Kenseth dodged the money and/or leaving RFR question. But even during a well-branded presser, one that centered around hope and change (after all, Obama is in town) there were moments where you could read between the lines.
“’I’ve been at Roush for so long, I was so comfortable there and that would have been the easiest thing to do,” he said at one point, discussing the transition to JGR. “Being there 15 years, I know almost everybody that works there. You know the place and you’re real comfortable…”
It was spoken, at that moment almost as if, even in the middle of this new reality Kenseth was wistfully thinking of what could have been. He’s leaving a best friend in Biffle, a likable crew chief in Jimmy Fennig and a team which, at midseason was leading the points themselves and one of Sprint Cup’s strongest championship contenders. Why would you leave a team that was in position to win you a second title? At 40, with the hit-or-miss Chase you never know if Kenseth will get another chance, especially with the No. 20 at JGR – a team that hasn’t made the postseason since 2008. In fact, only one thing’s for certain; with this deal, he’s lost any hope of a NASCAR title for 2012. The No. 17 car has just one top-5 finish since the Kenseth/Stenhouse switch was announced for 2013; with Hendrick’s recent dominance, they’ll be lucky to finish the Chase fifth or better.
I think that’s why Kenseth spent the day never giving us a clear answer on why he’s at Gibbs. Most athletes, when free agents look for the best opportunity that fits them; Kenseth was forced from what he thought was a lifetime gig after getting dumped by his boss. It’s all a blur after that; but sadly, it isn’t the first time Jack Roush has thrown a veteran into the Silly Season market like this one. Jeff Burton, in 2004 had a similar fate once sponsorship dried up on the No. 99 car. The door was opened for Carl Edwards then, a move that led to instant success in the same way Roush believes Stenhouse can take the next step. Stats-wise, last year’s title runner-up Edwards was clearly the better move long-term. Burton has been good, not great in his Roush afterlife, developing into an elder statesman at Richard Childress Racing while racking up a handful of Chase appearances and victories.
I expect the same type of track record for Kenseth here; the long-term move was to guarantee an extension of his career, any way possible and JGR was the answer that was there at the time. Meanwhile, owner Joe Gibbs on this deal knows the real winners are sitting inside the cockpits of his No. 11 and No. 18 Toyotas. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, both oh-so-close to holding that Sprint Cup trophy now get to meet every week with somebody who has one. Championship experience, combined with respect will make a big difference inside a camp that, for the past four years was two youngsters pushed into a role of maturity with a teenage sidekick that seemed in way over his head. It was the Three Stooges of NASCAR Emotion Run Amok – and it cost them.
But that chapter, almost immediately has turned the page. Think the JGR duo that remains is too egotistical and bull-headed to realize what they’ve got? Think again.
“Between him and Bill Elliott,” says Hamlin of Kenseth, “These are two guys that I try to model my driving style after.”
“Having Matt’s talents,” added Busch. “Where he’s a past champion in the sport, he can win races and be capable of running well every single week, we felt like it was just a possible better opportunity for us.”
Even Joe Gibbs was waxing poetic, on cloud nine recognizing Kenseth was perhaps one of a handful of names that could have kept Home Depot from jumping ship.
“I think he’s done great things and to win a championship — we all know how hard that is,” said the car owner. “We’re thrilled and I am excited to think that we have Denny, Kyle and Matt all sitting in a meeting talking things over — I would have to think it would be hard for us to miss something with those three guys on the feedback.”
What will be missing, of course starting in 2013 is Logano, the “next generation” driver whose next step will be with someone else. Like Gibbs, Penske jumped at the chance to grab this available wheelman, who realized the money was never going to be there at JGR (sound familiar?) Sure, a full-time Nationwide schedule was always in the cards for 2013 but that’s like taking a guy who’s stayed at the Trump Plaza for four straight years and booting him out into a Motel 6. In order to survive, the 22-year-old figured the best way was to run full-time in Cup; part-time is a part-time shift towards being outside the sport altogether.
That’s why Penske came along at the perfect time, a potential lateral move at a time when sponsorless drivers hit the unemployment line. And who was unhappy? Shell/Pennzoil, which had been through a temper tantrum-filled, embarrassing 2011 (Busch), then got dragged into the drug mess with A.J. Allmendinger (winless) before settling on Sam Hornish, Jr. to finish the season in the car.
Again, it’s not the “perfect fit,” teammate Brad Keselowski clearly the head honcho. But what other option did Logano have? Front Row Motorsports? To fulfill a dream, truly becoming the best his generation has produced the man can’t be out there driving jalopies.
And he won’t. My prediction is Kenseth sixth, Logano seventh in points next year – and each one wins a race in the Chase.
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I agree that these were moves that made sense for the drivers. As for the owners, I’m not so sure that Joey Logano was the best driver available for the #22. I don’t know what kind of contractual ties there are between Brian Vickers and MWR, but if Vickers was available I think he’d be a better fit at Penske and a more productive driver. I might have even gone with Hornish over Logano. I think you’re right, though… the sponsors are making the ultimate decisions on who they want sporting their logos these days.
Matt Kenseth will do great at JGR. That one was a no-brainer.
JGR looks like it will have a great team. I’m not enthralled with Denny, but will reserve final judgement until the end of this season.
I hope Logano is on a short-term contract. Penske’s drivers are often second tier and Joey may be lower than that. Better than Hornish though, and it seems like Brad has a strong need to be king-of-the hill. Brad’s very good, but someone like Newman would have improved him. Vickers? Not enough data on him yet but he’s doing well.
Roush seems to have all the money but lacks leadership or focus. I remain disappointed that they never put a championship together for Mark Martin.
When all is said and done – I still do not know how Rousch can rationalize letting Kenseth go. Edwards and Biffle need to win a Cup in the next couple of years, or else Rousch looks bad. I know Kenseth is older than other drivers, but he still wins and still runs hard week in and week out.
As for Logano – I think he has shown about the same as vickers and more than Hornish – so why not? Plus “Andy” above is right – Brad needs to be king of the hill. (Backs it up too) Plus he is young also.
“In fact, only one thing’s for certain; with this deal, he’s lost any hope of a NASCAR title for 2012.”
Help me out here… I do not understand why an owner would just quit on a team that has clinched a chase spot just because the driver is leaving at the end of the year. Isn’t the whole object of owning a team to win the championship? Sure, Kenseth is departing, but there are other RFR employees… crew members, engineers, etc… who have worked long and hard to win the cup; I don’t understand why Roush would not do everything he can to help the team win the championship, even with a lame duck driver. I know there are proprietary considerations and strategy issues that have to be negotiated, but it seems to me that the possibility of winning the championship would be worth it. Maybe I just don’t understand how the sport works anymore.
I think Logano will prove to be a bust in a Penske ride. I’m disappointed Roger made the safe choice. After listening to the Penske press conference this morning, it sounds like Keselowski was helping to broker the deal. Maybe Keselowski is hoping to insure he remains top dog.
I am disappointed that Joe Gibbs kicked Joey to the curb. I wish him success with Penske (although he definately won’t be “top dog”). And I would like to remind people that Joey was brought into the CUP series at least a year earlier than Gibbs had planned because Stewart left. We all know Joey could have benefited with more seat time in the Nationewide Series before he moved to the Cup series. On top of that, Joey was never going to be “top dog” at Gibbs either with Denny and Kyle already there. I could care less about Kenseth being at Gibbs (or anywhere for that matter), but I hope he doesn’t think that Gibbs is going take resources away from Kyle and Denny and give it to him.
Logano suffered the same fate as other “not ready for prime time” players in nas$car. He was not allowed to “mature’ at the “AAA” level. He should have kept in the nationwide series for a year or to. Not many drivers can succeed at the cup level when thrown into the fire at such a young age. As for Kenseth, He’s the consumate professional and I wish him the best at JGR.
Best to Kenseth (& I’m sure he’ll be fine) Sure would like to know what the Roush sponsorship deal is because they sure have issues with sponsors on cars that are producing well…Logano was up way to early & it showed (no fault to him) ..But could be just like Brad…Lousy for 1.5 rs & then liftoff…Maybe in 2013 Tony & Danica can share the ride…Ooh sponsorship $$$…eventually the whole system may have to be rebuilt
Here is the thing about Logano: He is a clean, polite kid.
He is not mature as a driver being thrown into Cup at JGR too soon as Coach Gibbs himself has noted. Even if he were mature he might not be the best driver available.
But he is a clean, polite kid and a clean, polite kid is what, I believe, Penske needed to ensure Shell stayed aboard.
I believe ROUSH Will regret ever letting Matt go. He will do just fine with JGR. Joey is going to develope in to one of NASCAR’s bright stars. Good luck to both of them.
Yes, Joey was thrown in too soon, however that does not negate his talent one bit, he is young and talented, Joe’s loss, Thrive and win Joey, you are the best man for the Penske stable..go get them!
Joey will fade away in couple years.Joey’s problem is his family threw a bunch of money at his race team in lower tier racing series and made him look like he had alot more talent than he does, like alot of young drivers whos families buy them the best money can buy in the lower series it has caught up with him once they reach the cup series
I lost all respect for Roush when he canned Martin with malice. There wasn’t much spoken at the time but you could tell there was no love lost between them. I believe if Roush had given Martin top quality equipment that he would’ve won a Championship.
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