Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday September 26, 2012
Did You Notice?… Kurt Busch’s pick of Furniture Row was based on finances more than future success? Yes, he had offers from plenty of other programs, and Richard Petty Motorsports in particular would have loved to add him. But after a year with Phoenix, in which sponsorship has been near impossible to come by, Busch knows the obstacles at stake in NASCAR today. There are no new companies waltzing in for a 36-race schedule, and the ones remaining know all about the 2004 Cup Series champ and his personal Days Of Our Lives history with the fans, media, NASCAR officials … you name it. You don’t erase that “bad boy” image up at corporate in less than ten months, no matter how many touchy-feely statements people make before you enter the boardroom. Let’s not forget, this “recovery period” included a one-race suspension for swearing and personal misconduct, applied after a postrace interview at the same track we’re headed to this weekend: Dover.
That meant for Busch, any of the options with NASCAR’s top-tier or even “middle class” teams would come with the words “if we get sponsorship.” Well, Matt Kenseth as the point leader was still looking for backing at points this season. Joey Logano waited, unsuccessfully to find funding to remain with Joe Gibbs Racing in a fourth car. Tony Stewart, last year’s champion, is losing Office Depot as a primary sponsor… you get the picture. Finding a Fortune 500 partner, even in good NASCAR times, was going to be a diamond in the rough for Busch as it is; now, it’s impossible for a bunch of owners who like the idea of him in the car but, in reality, can only offer some false promises and a brief one-week window of media attention before the ride never materializes.
Even in an unsponsored car, Busch now knows the difficulty of working with limited funding. In this age of engineering over wheelmen, it’s impossible for him to take a 30th-place car, even with “B” level Hendrick chassis, and gain the tenth or two needed to jump up and compete with the “A” group of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the Gang Of Unlimited Resources. Another season like that, and Busch would collect just a handful of top-10 finishes, be two years removed from the Chase and wind up teetered on the cliff of Permanent Racing Irrelevancy.
That’s why Furniture Row Racing, with its rock solid funding through family-owned sponsorship, becomes such an attractive proposition for Busch. He has to worry about pleasing just one person – owner Barney Visser – and the money to compete will always be there. Yes, Visser is the religious type, not exactly a guy who’s going to play defense when his driver just issued a bunch of expletives on the radio. But that’s where the partnership with Richard Childress Racing comes in; behind the chassis and engine package is a guy who knows how tempers can sometimes get the best of you. Childress is a big supporter of Busch, had briefly courted sponsorship for him and would like nothing more than to a successful partnership with his equipment. When mistakes happen – and with Busch, you know they will – that’s a powerful enough person in his corner to keep the peace.
Will this equipment be good enough for Busch to be successful? Right now, current driver Regan Smith sits just 23rd in points, without a top-5 finish and just two laps led on the year. But before you say it’ll be “same old, same old” with a different driver in 2013, keep in mind the struggles that have plagued both ECR engines and Childress chassis all season long. No one racing them has one win on the Cup level, only Kevin Harvick has made the Chase out of that group, and they all look a step behind the Hendrick-Roush-Gibbs-Penske juggernaut.
So if RCR can catch up in the offseason, putting a few extra hours in the wind tunnel? Expect Kurt Busch to come through on his promise for this year – putting together the best effort for a single-car team in well over a decade.
Did You Notice?… With Busch’s signing, combined with Brian Vickers’ likely trek to the Nationwide Series, the Sprint Cup level appears to be in crisis mode when it comes to a 43-car, 2013 grid? At the moment, roughly eight spots each week are filled by the dreaded start-and-parks (for those who have been living under a rock – they’re cars who comes to the track with no intention of even running the distance.) One or two of them? That’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But right now, we’re looking at nearly 19 percent of the starting field and a number that threatens to grow in 2013.
Consider that only the following teams have full funding…
Behind them, you’ve got the “middle class” of NASCAR, a dwindling breed…
That’s a startling number, barely more than two-thirds of the grid as sponsorship concerns grow like a life-threatening disease inside the Cup Series garage. Consider the following questions:
Richard Petty Motorsports: – 2 cars No deals, as of yet, have been announced for 2013, and with Dodge pulling out, they’re betting on Ford to keep them in the fold. The problem is, with Penske joining the Blue Oval program, there’s only so much money to go around, while Petty’s investment group has lost out on the big names they crave for a third straight year (Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch come to mind). With patchwork sponsorship, forcing more spending from ownership itself, will we see another case of Petty’s backers getting frustrated and pulling out?
Stewart-Haas Racing – 1 car in question Ryan Newman claimed his No. 39 car was all but completely funded for 2013. But then, like a bombshell in early September, owner Tony Stewart lost financial support for roughly two-thirds of the races on his No. 14 Chevrolet. Will the owner/driver need to pull from Newman in order to get proper funding? With Danica Patrick moving up, does that mean a third car can only run a part-time schedule?
Tommy Baldwin Racing – 2 cars An alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing, largely credited with keeping the team afloat, is up at the end of 2012. Where can Baldwin, with fortysomethings Dave Blaney and David Reutimann go from here? In the past, he’s survived by simply start-and-parking until the right deal clicks in place, which means you add two more to the “show up to sit down” grid for 2013.
FAS Lane Racing – 1 car Frankie Stoddard’s little team that could has torn up half-a-dozen race cars this year in vicious wrecks. With patchwork funding and jalopy-style hand-me-downs from Ford how much longer is he going to press on? Can a 2013 season come together?
JTG Daugherty – 1 car Bobby Labonte has been working with more of a “piece it together” funding deal than you think. How bad was it? This team wasn’t even going to run the All-Star Challenge in its own backyard, Charlotte, until a couple of companies stepped up at the last minute. With an ESPN analyst (Brad Daugherty) as co-owner, it’s hard to believe the No. 47 would close up shop. Someone, somewhere would step in and save it… right? It’s not so easy to say “yes” when your best finish in 28 races is 10th place – especially during a year where Michael Waltrip Racing, your former full-fledged partner, is putting all three of its cars in contention to win each week.
Last but not least, we have Phoenix Racing, whose owner, James Finch, has claimed an intention to close up shop effective Homestead at the end of November. That means, even with Danica Patrick’s team jumping to full-time status we’re stuck at roughly 35 cars, max that will come to the track each week intending to compete. In a worst-case scenario, that number could drop to as low as 30 – leaving the sport not that far ahead of the 27-28 IndyCars that will show up to run the full distance at oval races.
Tough talk for tough times; and we’re not even touching the Nationwide Series, sitting at 30-32 cars running the distance. Who cares that the “locked in” qualifying rule is going away? We don’t have enough cars to go the distance on speed anyways.
Did You Notice?… Quick hits before we take off…
- Did the 2013 Sprint Cup schedule get released? It looks like an exact carbon copy of 2012 (joking aside, there’s literally one date change: Kansas swaps with Talladega on the schedule). Guess the best way to fix what’s broken is to keep running the status quo, right?
- Jimmie Johnson, as everyone’s been telling you, has won four out of the last seven Dover races. Should he win again, leading the most laps, the Chase lead for him three races deep is at least six points. But let’s look at his main rival’s average finish at the same track:
Denny Hamlin – 20.5
That’s what makes the Monster Mile so dangerous for this Chase. If the other contenders run according to their past histories, that leaves Johnson with roughly a 22-point edge over everyone – almost enough to have a mulligan and get away with it. With the experience of five Cup championships on his side, that’s going to make winning this Chase election for anyone else near impossible.
- As the NFL replacement ref issue heats up, owners digging in their heels and refusing to reach a deal it’s obvious they haven’t stopped to take a look at NASCAR. What the heck do we have to do with it? Well, as stock car racing knows, it is so much easier to lose fans than win them back these days and the best way to do it? Give them an impression they’ve put in four hours of time (or some hard-earned money to go to the stadium) only to see an event manipulated by officiating. What are some of the main complaints of racing fans today? Cautions for “phantom debris” that randomly bunch up the field, altering the outcome of an event. Calling penalties for cheating only to take them back (Jimmie Johnson, 2012 Daytona) or not properly explain them despite their importance (Clint Bowyer, 2010). Adding the Chase to force a close championship battle down the stretch. Perception becomes reality, in their minds and suddenly every controversial call lands them on the side against the sanctioning body and Brian France.
The NFL, with their absurd call in the end zone to end Monday night’s Green Bay – Seattle game, handing the victory to the wrong team, combined with all their other comical mistakes of the first few weeks is headed in that same direction. How many more plays before fans are saying, “Enough!” and turning off the television? We’ve seen it happen here.
Good to know this sport isn’t the only one whose executives can make a bad decision. We’re just still waiting for ours to return to making good ones.
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You sound surprised that the 2013 Cup Schedule is the same. Why? There was no rumors of new tracks, nor rumors of tracks losing dates to give to other tracks. What were you expecting to happen?
Hmmm, I’m not so sure that NASCAR actually does KNOW that they are bleeding fans. Whenever BZF opens his mouth, it’s all sunshine and flowers and obviously anyone who says differently is just stupid.
I happen to agree with you and yes the NFL and the NHL should take note of what can happen. I was a big hockey fan until the strike. I have watched very few games since and haven’t attended one. I marginally pay attention in the playoffs.
NASCAR management thought they were being so clever with the whole playoff deal – as if football fans would suddenly tune in to racing, if they weren’t already fans. Sometimes, you can be too smart for your own good.
NASCAR used to be MUST SEE TV. Now, it depends on if I don’t have anything better to do or “is it raining?”
Point 2 on did you notice is that point 1 was missed due to extended commercials.
Point 3 Hard to secure sponsorship cause if your not in the chase you’ll never be shown on tv or talked about.
Point 4. Is there anything more stupid than “Points as of now” when they are on lap 50 of 250. Talk about useless
Points 5 & 6 had to be missed so we could show you in slow motion cars coming off pit road.
Point 7. Does it really matter if there are 43 cars when the networks talk about maybe 20 if we’re lucky.
Last point. If I wanted a driver who could win every week for me he would be named Busch.
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Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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