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.
Frontstretch Staff · Monday October 1, 2012
Did you see all of the race action this weekend? Or, like a lot of busy fans, did you miss a late-night adventure, a Friday controversy, or a juicy piece of news? If you did, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, The Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch during the week ahead. Let our experts help you get up to speed for the coming week no matter what series you might have missed, all in this week’s edition of Pace Laps!
Sprint Cup: Talladega One Last Chance For Phoenix To Fly? For more than 20 years, James Finch has fought the good fight as a single-car, independent NASCAR team owner—with middling, often frustrating results. So this season, despite limited sponsorship, he made one special push to break out from the back end of NASCAR’s Cup Series garage, moving from respectable some of the time to potential Chase participant this September. A “lucky break” left the No. 51 car partnered with its biggest heavyweight yet behind the wheel; landing former Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, a driver hungry to prove himself after an unceremonious release from Roger Penske made it seem the sky was the limit.
Instead, just one week from now, this team could be headed towards that giant stock car graveyard in the sky. Busch, whose roller-coaster temper never changed in 2012 and at one point caused him a one-race suspension from the series, is poised to leave after a series of mechanical failures and poor performances never attracted a permanent primary sponsor. Jumping over to Furniture Row Racing, whose funding comes from ownership itself, his 2013 season comes with the added sense of security Phoenix’s patchwork equipment never provided. That leaves Finch in the lurch, with no free agent available matching that type of quality resume and the knowledge that, even with B-level Hendrick chassis and engines, his team can only go so far with the reality of NASCAR multi-car economics.
That’s why one of the few car owners left willing to battle the Gibbs, Penskes, and Roushes of the world without starting and parking announced recently he was folding for the 2013 season unless a major sponsor came forward. The move makes sense, considering the frustrating results this season (just one top-5 finish); why keep going when you can’t push forward even with A-quality talent at your disposal? So if Finch is telling the truth, and Busch is bolting effective after Sunday’s race at Talladega, that could mean Sunday becomes the 221st and final race for this team. It’s the perfect place to end it, the site of the team’s sole victory with Brad Keselowski’s shocking upset in April 2009. Busch, a strong restrictor plate racer will spend the day as a contender at a track where parity typically gives everyone a chance.
For the record, right now Phoenix is saying it’s business as usual for the rest of 2012. “We’re running the full season,” claimed crew chief Nick Harrison to NASCAR.com over the weekend. “It’s just a [matter of] who is going to drive.” Potential candidates run the gambit, with anyone from Regan Smith (who Busch is replacing) to recently reinstated AJ Allmendinger on the short list. But in that same breath, funding was mentioned as a way to earn the seat, a sign that perhaps a return to starting and parking could be on the agenda — especially should the team not be confident enough a driver can give them a chance to truly compete.
Either way, come second victory or disappointing defeat the clock is now ticking towards extinction for one of the sport’s longtime participants. What a big loss for a shrinking NASCAR community, one where the back of the garage is repeatedly waving the white flag rather than attempting to unseat the upper class elite—leaving fewer and fewer cars in the field of 43 willing to even complete the distance each week. Tom Bowles
Nationwide Series: Hornish Season Sliding Into 2013 Unemployment? With the lion’s share of the headlines going toward Elliott Sadler and his ever-building championship momentum, Sam Hornish Jr.‘s troubles continue to snowball. Despite sitting fourth in points and having made dramatic progress as a stock car driver over the course of the 2012 season, the longtime good soldier for Penske Racing is now facing a blank slate for 2013. Having already lost the No. 22 Cup ride to Joey Logano, despite an admirable performance filling in, Hornish has also been noted not to have a contract in hand for next year at the Nationwide level.
If nothing else has been learned in the 2012 slate of Nationwide racing, it’s that winning still means something. The two full-timers leading the series in wins are the two leading the points. Joey Logano’s still yet to prove much of anything on the Cup side, but with seven NNS victories this year he’s supplanted Kyle Busch as the most dominant ringer on the circuit. That statistic alone, despite a mediocre Cup season, could explain why he one-upped Penske Racing’s most veteran driver in any form of motorsports to score the team’s second Cup ride.
Hornish has made great strides as a driver, dramatic strides that have made the open-wheel convert a valid contender in stock car competition. But there’s been little flash and zero trophies to show for all that progress. For better or for worse, driver development isn’t enough for NNS regulars to accomplish anymore. Bryan Keith
Camping World Truck Series: Peters Clinging Hard To Title Contention Following his second win of the season at Bristol, Timothy Peters had finished 13th, 19th, and 21st in the three races leading up to Saturday night’s Smith’s 350 out in Las Vegas. It was a devastating series of performances for the once-title contender, dropping him back to third in the standings. And after leading 37 laps out in Sin City, another cardinal sin courtesy his Goodyear Eagles left Peters in more serious trouble: he was forced to make a green flag pit stop for a vibration that dropped him off the lead lap. But although the No. 17 team was down, Saturday night their ability to rally back from certain disaster reappeared. Showcasing the championship form shown early in the year, Lucky Dogs and hard competition led to salvaging a solid, eighth-place finish, on the lead lap for his 11th top 10 in 17 races.
“Something happened with our tires on the first stop of the night and I was so loose I couldn’t hang onto it. We had to come in the pits and that cost us a lap,” Peters said. “But this Red Horse Racing team stayed calm as they always do and did a great job to put us back on the lead lap. I’m proud of the comeback we had tonight and after we went through, we will gladly take a top 10.”
It’s that never give up attitude that has helped Peters remain within striking distance of the championship leaders. And though he’s more than 20 markers out at this point, the driver of the No. 17 Toyota has a combined one win, four top 5s and ten top-10 finishes at the remaining tracks on the schedule. It’s enough to make him cling to life, ready to pounce should front-runners Ty Dillon and James Buescher make a mistake. If they don’t, the odds will still be long but you can bet the No. 17 team won’t give up until the checkered flag flies over the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Beth Lunkenheimer
IndyCar: 19 Is The Magic Number When It Comes To The 2013 Schedule Randy Bernard revealed the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule on SPEED’s Wind Tunnel Sunday night. The opening leg of the schedule through the Indy 500 remains the same as 2012; however, once that Memorial Day Classic completes the middle and end of the season reflect a number of historic changes.
The first of those will be three doubleheader weekends, hosted by Belle Isle, Toronto, and Houston respectively. Bernard noted the doubleheader weekends will be made up of two complete racing events, one running on Saturday and the other on Sunday. He also noted that one would feature a rolling start and the other a standing start to highlight the diversity of the cars and drivers.
On the oval side of things, there will also be a date added at Pocono, the first appearance of Indy cars at the track since 1989. The race at the 2.5-mile, triangular-shaped track will be 400 miles and part of a Triple Crown of events, teaming up with Indy and the Fontana season finale. Any driver who sweeps that trio in a season will have a $1 million bonus, a little extra incentive for teams and fans to watch the action. There will be a $250,000 bonus for winning two of the three.
There are 19 total races on the 2013 schedule, as each doubleheader event counts as an individual race, while the addition of Pocono brings the oval count to six. The season finale, pushed back into October will once again take place at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Toni Montgomery
Grand Am: Season-Ending Drama At Lime Rock, the championship was never really all that much in doubt. In the Daytona Prototype class, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas only needed to finish ninth to claim their third consecutive championship. This meant that they just had to avoid trouble, which they did by finishing seventh.
However, the races for the class wins were just excellent on Saturday. In Daytona Prototypes, Ricky Taylor had one of the fastest cars all day, but degrading Continental rubber late in the race allowed Antonio Garcia the opportunity to challenge. Garcia never could get alongside Taylor, but he hounded Taylor all the way to the finish, coming in just a third of a second behind.
In GT, Andy Lally looked like he had the race won. Under normal circumstances, no one could touch him. However, in the last few minutes of the race, Lally had to back off a little to save fuel, which allowed Stevenson Motorsports’ Robin Liddell to run him down. The two battled hard for the lead for multiple laps before Liddell got by with three minutes to go. It turns out that Lally’s Porsche was starved for gas, forcing a stop for an extra splash that wiped out any chance of a comeback. Liddell won, easily while Dion von Moltke drove the race’s lone Audi R8 that had been involved in at least two crashes on the day to a career-best second in class.
However, in the season finale of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge’s Grand Sport class on Saturday, the title chase was very much on everyone’s minds. David Empringham and John Farano of BGB Motorsports (No. 83 Porsche 911) entered the race with a seven-point lead over the duo of Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi for Rum Bum Racing (No. 13 Porsche 911). Empringham and Farano simply had to finish third or better to win.
What happened in the race? Rum Bum pitted the No. 13 under a yellow 26 minutes in and swapped Longhi out for Plumb. That’s legal if Longhi were going to get back in the car. He didn’t; therefore, Longhi could not score points. From there, Plumb drove a masterful race to win.
Empringham and Farano drove a great race as well. In the final minutes, Empringham was in position to clinch the title. However, he got in a brutal battle with John Edwards to keep third place. The two had contact and ended up in the wet grass. Empringham recovered, but fell back to a sixth-place result.
Under normal circumstances, this would mean that Plumb would be the solo champion by three points. Not so fast. Rum Bum Racing entered Plumb as a driver in both his normal No. 13, plus the one-off No. 3 BMW M3 (this entry was the car that the team campaigned early in the season, but was set aside because “Mr. Bacardi (team owner) wanted a Porsche”). Now, there’s nothing illegal about that. However, there is a caveat to it being allowed in the rule book. Article I, Section 5.2 in Grand-Am’s Rule Book specifies how a driver entered in two cars can still earn drivers’ points. It states, “A driver may drive two cars in the same class provided he qualifies and starts one of the cars. This is the only car in which the driver will earn points.” Penalties for violation of this rule include the loss of potential driver points and prize money for said offending driver.
Plumb did not start the No. 13, and never set foot in the No. 3. As a result, Plumb’s driver points for Saturday were nullified and Empringham and Farano were given the title about an hour after the race ended.
“Championships are always hard to get and certainly John and I and our team worked really hard all year,” Empringham said after the announcement was made. “With three laps to go in the race, I knew I only had to be third and I had a bit of a wounded car and thought we could hang on, but we didn’t. Through a technicality, I guess you could say we’ve been handed it. I’m sure down the road I’ll be happy, but it’s kind of a strange situation.”
Yes, it’s a very unusual scenario that resulted in the championship being taken away from Plumb after such a sweet victory (that he will keep, minus the spoils). Rum Bum Racing will have to be content with the team championship going into in the off-season. Phil Allaway
Short Tracks: Hoosier Hero Passes On Fifty-five years ago, in an abandoned horse barn in Northern Indiana, Robert “Bob” Newton began recapping used street tires with softer compound caps for use on the short tracks around the Midwest. Building his own business around it, the company was named Hoosier in tribute to his racing roots in the state of Indiana. The purple color, designed in tribute to that race car that he drove on those same short tracks would quickly become one of the most well-known stickers plastered on tires all over the country.
The innovations eventually produced by Hoosier’s founder, the last company to compete against Goodyear on the Cup Series level will last forever. Sadly, the fragility of human life comes without that same option of immortality. This past Wednesday, Bob passed away at his home after dealing with the effects of a stroke he suffered last year. On the same day, Mike Boits, who also worked for Hoosier Racing Tire, succumbed to his battle against cancer. The short track racing community lost two visionaries and huge supporters on the same day.
Hoosier Tires, well-known today for their role in the ARCA Series, continue to be a staple on local race tracks as well, retaining their roots from when the company was founded. They have been an affordable option for local racers while maintaining a role as an active sponsor and supporter of race events and tracks across the country. Short track racing will never be the same thanks to Bob Newton, and it will also never be the same now that we’ve lost him. Godspeed, Bob, and thank you for all you did to increase the quality of stock car competition. Mike Neff
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As a KuBu fan, we’ll always be thankful for the help Phoenix gave Kurt. They need to pull back and focus on a few races a year like the Wood Brothers.
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