Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday October 24, 2012
Did You Notice?… Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is coming back with no real incentive to do so? Yes, you can tell me all you want about how Earnhardt loves to race, there’s still four chances to win and an outside shot to sneak back inside the top 10 in points, an improvement that would give the driver a little extra TV time at the Las Vegas Championship banquet. At heart, these men are racers, the passion for their craft pushing them to get back in the driver’s seat as quickly as possible. But outside of Martinsville, the No. 88 hasn’t exactly had the history as of late to suggest wins will come at Texas, Phoenix, or Homestead. Momentum for 2013 is a moot point, both in setup notes and at-track finishes as a new car will wipe the slate clean come Daytona. And while Earnhardt could assist teammate Jimmie Johnson with setup information, their relationship being better than Johnson and Regan Smith’s, it’s arguable that Smith was producing better results, driving quickly into the top 10 at Charlotte before blowing the engine and slotting in seventh at Kansas, the team’s best all-around performance since Michigan in August.
So why is Earnhardt back behind the wheel — and why didn’t someone at HMS say “stop” with a capable sub in Smith already hired? The answer may be in the form of this week’s big story, from the Sports Business Journal. PepsiCo is reducing their primary sponsorship on the No. 88 Chevy in 2013 to just a handful of races. While suspected for months, no replacement deal is formally signed to fill the void and the current lineup leaves 13 races open for “Hendrickcars.com” or a blank hood for the sport’s Most Popular Driver in 2013. It’s a situation Earnhardt has never been in throughout his career: trying to sign on the dotted line with a financial backer after September. Heck, whoever fills the void will be just the fourth full-time, primary sponsor in Earnhardt’s career at the Cup level.
If you’re thinking I’m insinuating the guy won’t get the funding… you’re wrong. HMS has been anticipating PepsiCo’s change for months and has a number of businesses lined up as replacements. But any good company, with this economy, is smart about the way they spend their money and will use any potential situation to gain an advantage. Let’s say Earnhardt didn’t come back, sat the rest of the season and said he’ll return in February, 2013. Company A will go, “What’s my guarantee Earnhardt will come back good as new? He didn’t prove it to me. I’m about to give $10 million for x races for a great unknown… sorry, I’m knocking $2 million off the final price. Take it or leave it. Or, you put out clause A in this deal I get to bail if Earnhardt doesn’t finish above xx position four times in the first five races…”
You get the point. Considering Earnhardt is the biggest moneymaker for this organization – at one point, primary sponsorship for the No. 88 was rumored to total $40 million over a 36-race schedule – those potential “discounts” could add up to a lot. I’m not saying it’s fair, but reality in a world where safety is preached yet the only clear sense of comfort, for all parties in sports is when there’s a few extra zeroes in that bank account. Hendrick needs to prove Earnhardt is healthy, period which is likely why he made that overzealous statement Sunday at Kansas only to take it back hours later in a bizarre mea culpa. People have caught on to the fact Earnhardt isn’t the gate attraction he once was – ratings declined just 1.5 percent during his absence – and the man has only won two races since the start of the 2007 season. At some point, that track record is going to catch up with him if major companies sniff he’s an injury risk on top of it. And so, the media onslaught will begin this week, like we saw on ESPN SportsCenter where you half expected the HMS janitor to come out with a quote celebrating the moment Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was spotted walking down the hall at HMS headquarters. The full court press is on, good business sense for all parties involved.
After all, the only place you don’t play it safe in the corporate world is when it comes to collecting cold, hard cash. Right?
Did You Notice?… Who’s on the roster for Goodyear’s Phoenix tire test this week? None other than our current point leader, Brad Keselowski along with third-place point man Denny Hamlin. Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, and Kasey Kahne are shut out of this two-day “practice” in the desert as the tire company’s exclusive invites didn’t arrive at their doorstep.
Yes, Hendrick-allied Tony Stewart is down at the test, feedback that you know will filter straight back into the hands of the No. 48. Johnson’s average finish at the track, a healthy series-best 5.3, suggests extra practice for J.J. would be like trying to have Michael Jordan practice shooting free throws in crunch time. Why go down and prep for a facility you’ve already mastered?
No, in the Johnson camp their anger should be directed more at the extra opportunity afforded Hamlin and Keselowski. The No. 11 car already won Phoenix in the spring; this extra test gives that camp another strong advantage heading into November’s penultimate Sprint Cup event. Keselowski, meanwhile, was fifth last time around, one spot behind Johnson, and now gets two full days to tweak a possible setup. With NASCAR’s current testing policy, banning unapproved practice at any Chase-sanctioned track, that in theory puts the No. 48 at an unfair disadvantage.
To be fair, Johnson has been on the other side of this whole testing debacle. Greg Biffle openly criticized him for participation in an extra tire test at Dover, one conducted shortly before the No. 48 came in and whooped the field a few years back. But in both cases, the rules that allow for Goodyear to tap a Chaser to help them is simply unfair. There’s plenty of teams with unlimited time on their hands this Fall: Furniture Row Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Front Row Motorsports, and JTG-Daugherty Racing are just some of the cars with limited Chase connections and an ability to come down and help test. Why not give some of these underdogs more track time, giving them a leg up towards the end of 2012 while removing the accusations of bias and impropriety?
All it takes, sometimes is a little common sense.
Did You Notice?… in the Richard Petty Motorsports renewal with Ford on Friday: “The driver lineup for 2013’s Sprint Cup cars is still being finalized.” Five minutes later, Marcos Ambrose was in front of a camera stating he was working on a deal but notice Aric Almirola was nowhere to be found. That “in limbo” status, a combination of sponsorship concerns and poor performance likely contributed to the youngster’s sense of urgency Sunday, a race he nearly ran away with during a 69 laps led performance cut short by multiple flat tires. It was the best race of Almirola’s career, but ultimately one he didn’t finish, another case of unfulfilled potential in his file that has gotten big enough to put him “on the bubble” for his return to the No. 43. Without a top-10 finish since Dover in June, he’s finished on the lead lap just once since Michigan in August and has dropped to a disappointing 21st in points. One thing working in Almirola’s favor, though: who is out there to pick up the slack? The top free agent remaining, Regan Smith seems set to sign over in the Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports while Trevor Bayne and Brian Vickers appear content with their part-time rides over this option. RPM’s owners are the type that are looking to make a splash; so unless some random open-wheel convert becomes available, ala Jacques Villeneuve you wonder if Almirola might not just earn a second chance by default. Longshot candidate that hasn’t talked to them, but who should be on the list: AJ Allmendinger. If this team was going gaga over Kurt Busch, why not take a second look at the man they should have never let go in the first place? It’s the one organization where they could probably collect enough sponsorship and private funding to overcome the stigma of a positive drug test.
Did You Notice?… Quick hits before we take off:
- It’s hard to believe that it’s now almost 25 years since a blue Stroh’s Light car with Mark Martin at the wheel debuted in the Daytona 500 with a fresh-eyed, focused owner named Jack Roush. Now the owner of a multi-car, two-time Cup Series champion organization, Roush will make his 3,000th Cup start as an owner on Sunday at Martinsville after those humble beginnings in 1988. The list of drivers behind the wheel for him include two Future Hall Of Famers (Martin, Matt Kenseth), three wannabes (Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch) and two current drivers with that type of upward potential (Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) But check out this list of other “Where Are They Now?” journeymen that have spent some time in a Roush car: Wally Dallenbach, Jr., Ted Musgrave, Chad Little, Johnny Benson, Jr., Kevin Lepage, Dave Blaney, Jamie McMurray, Kenny Wallace, Todd Kluever, and David Ragan. Interesting tidbit: of all those drivers, Blaney is the only one to just make a single start for the organization, filling in for the No. 99 ride during the Fall of 2004 at Charlotte.
- Can you believe we’re one year removed from Brian Vickers, the giant wrecking ball? It was in the Martinsville race one year ago “Vickers chose to bowl over Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and seemingly half the Martinsville field at will in his Red Bull(dozer) Toyota.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuegYl4DhRg After a second incident, with Kenseth at Phoenix a few weeks later some wondered if he would ever have a full-time ride in Sprint Cup again. And here were are, heading into this Fall’s edition and Vickers will not only be an automatic qualifier; he’s a darkhorse to win the race. In his eighth and final drive behind the No. 55 Toyota this season, Vickers is a candidate for Comeback Driver of The Year but will be an interesting driver to watch as the race unfolds. More than anyone, he has nothing to lose and is trying to impress perspective future sponsors he’s worth a fourth Michael Waltrip Racing car. With the past history here, combined with the excitement and aggression he’s one guy I’d tiptoe around if a Chase contender.
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Let everybody test.
When nascar closed testing, people said it would help equal the field. But all it did was help the “rich” teams (Hendrick) who had the facilities and equipment to test on their own.
Well I didn’t miss Junior the last couple races…and I enjoyed watching Smith go up through the field. I guess we’ll be over saturated with Earnhardt..the media has two weeks of catching up with how many times he’s mentioned and shown during a race! Oh well..I truly wish him well..but it was great to have Smith, Allmendinger, and others spotlighted during the races. I am very happy The Dinger is back for a couple more races and hope a team and sponsor see the light and give him another opportunity. I still find it strange NASCAR gave him a big Scarlett letter as a druggie..but managed to cure him in two months! Hollywood needs to get signed up with NASCAR’s “road to recovery”! Something is not quite right there! I also hope Smith finds a good ride next season..he’s a gem a team would be lucky to have!
I think that Regan Smith should be given the keys to the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevy for Stewart Haas Racing. He deserves that ride more than Danica Patrick EVER will. Smith would put that car in Victory Lane and in the Top 10 every week, whereas Patrick would only put it in the wall every week.
let everyone test the tires. The other option is no one involved in the chase is allowed to test. This way does give advantage to whoever tests. Although Goodyear is known for bringing a totally different tire – really stupid the mess at Kansas – partly ISC/NASCAR’s fault and partly Goodyear’s. They shouldn’t have repaved until after the season was over.
I thought Smith did a great job in the car. I like the option – put him in the 10 car next year. He could do more with it than Danica.
I can understand why Jr is getting back in the car even though I think it is a dumb idea from a health perspective. I’m glad I’ll be at the race then I won’t have to watch the media frenzy from ESPN’s coverage about him. I have nothing against the guy, I just think that ESPN goes overboard – especially since according to the tweet I received from one of the announcers – the only IMPORTANT people are Kez, Johnson & Hamlin. Well, gee, I guess in that case, I can find something else to do with my Sunday.
Yet attendance and ratings are down – gee, I wonder why?
I completely agree with Tom Dalfonzo and GinaV24. Reward Regan Smith’s impressive relief driving effort for Jr. by putting him in the SHR #10. Leaving Danica in the #7 Nationwide car would actually be doing her a favor. It would give her a chance to gain more experience and maybe salvage her stock car career. Otherwise she is moving up to the cup series way too fast and will most likely crash and burn (pun partially intended).
Ppl would have a fit if JJ got invited to a test and the other 2 didnt.Tired of JR but they will beat us with him for missing the last 2 weeks..
Ya gotta let ALL the chasers test or NONE..Simple… I Agree the testing ban didn’t equalize anything & did seem to only assist the wealthy (Multi car) teams so time to adjust that…Smith while driving over his head the last two weeks was additioning & I’m pretty sure he had a great chance with Rousch & didn’t keep up…Suddenly after 1.45 races he’s the latest superstar…not for my 20 mil…& could we cut the dull D’s by a third?
I think Jr should sit out the rest of the season. He has nothing to lose at this point, he’s not sitting at the head table at the banquet anyway.
So he’s cleared to drive. What happens if he wrecks again? Since he already had a recent concussion, will another hit to the head do more harm? I’m sure he doesn’t want Kelley to have to wipe drool off his chin for the rest of his life if something goes wrong.
Bravo to James Finch for sharing Smith and Dinger for the rest of the season.
I don’t know what to do about tire testing. I do think it gives teams an advantage when they get extra time on the track. If you notice, KyB hasn’t won this year since he cut back racing in the NW series. I think it’s because of less time on the track. Maybe they could choose a driver from each team lowest in points. Example, Carl Edwards for RFR, Menard for RCR, et al.
I feel the restricted testing since 2008(?)combined with the strict rules stifling innovation has put NASCAR in a state of arrested developement. The racing can’t get better because teams haven’t been allowed to make it better. No wonder Johnson won 5 championships in a row. On top of being damn good, the music stopped on testing when he was the car to beat. I say let everyone test as much as they want. However, sanctioned tire testing should exclude chase drivers. Right now it’s easy to say Kes, JJ and Hamlin should all be included but what about tire tests early in the chase when there are 10 guys in the hunt. Should all 10 be invited? It’s easier to just exclude the chase guys.
As for Smith in the 10 car, since when does someone get a ride because they deserve it? If Go Daddy wants to waste their money on a spokesmodel who also drives (average at best) then it’s their rite. Besides, there are several drivers that could be argued as deserving of a ride.
MWR has the be the best story this year. From jet fuel to making the chase with both full time drivers. It is fun to have something new is a sport that can be very much the same every year. Here is hoping Vickers fills out a fourth full-time car in ’13. .
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