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 · Thursday January 17, 2013
Did You Notice?… Those who impressed at Daytona testing weren’t as surprising as some might think? Yes, some eyebrows were raised when Jeff Burton led Friday morning practice at Daytona. Overall, Richard Childress Racing was strong, flashing the best speed out of the Chevy brigade despite winning all of one race last season. But Burton, with new crew chief Luke Lambert shouldn’t surprise anyone. Daytona was the No. 31 team’s strongest track last year; their two top-5 results of 2012 were registered there. In the 500, especially Burton looked like an upset contender, leading 24 laps before getting shuffled back to fifth down the stretch.
Other strong teams have a very familiar ring to it. Take Joe Gibbs Racing, with the combination of Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch. Hamlin led 57 laps in last year’s 500, the most of any driver while Busch has totaled 180 in that category over the past five seasons. Add in newcomer Kenseth, the defending race champion and it’s easy to predict they’ll be successful.
Greg Biffle, of Roush Fenway Racing also looked strong, pacing the field on Daytona testing, Day 3. But that’s the organization that won the pole last year, with Carl Edwards, and whose 94 laps led of 202 was easily the most of any multi-car program in NASCAR’s Super Bowl. Last but not least, you had Michael Waltrip Racing near the top; but again, that’s to be expected. The owner of the program was two turns from winning Talladega last Fall and their three-car operation was 10th, 11th, and 12th in last year’s 500.
So did anyone really raise eyebrows last week? The answer, to me, is no. If anything, I think the more notable drivers were those that remained near the bottom of the charts. Hendrick Motorsports, in particular did not have the best week. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. triggered a 12-car wreck, once he tapped Marcos Ambrose in an ill-timed tandem bump and the best HMS did on any practice chart was fourth – on the final day, when only a fraction of the 35 teams actually tested. Believe it or not, it’s going to be seven years since that organization last won at Daytona, Jimmie Johnson’s lone 500 victory in 2006. With so many of the same teams above them flashing top-level speeds, combined with the HMS focus on winning elsewhere it looks like they still have their work cut out for them.
Did You Notice?… That the entry list for this week’s Charlotte test, crucial in helping fine-tune the handling of the new Gen6 car includes no new car owners or teams? The best we get is the No. 30, owned by David Stremme last season but who acquired investor Brandon Davis in the offseason, changing the organization’s name to “Swan Energy.” In all, there will be 33 cars, including the “upgraded” entry of Danica Patrick (from part-time to full-time with Stewart-Haas Racing) but all of the usual suspects will stay the same.
It’s a crucial component missing, of course in the litany of changes NASCAR has thrown itself into the last two seasons to win back fans. Early reports on the new car have been favorable; at Daytona, drivers were impressed with the way it brought handling back into the equation. No longer will 43 cars be automatically stuck together like glue; yes, it’ll be that way in the beginning, pack racing replacing tandem duos but over the course of a green-flag tire run I’d expect to see at least a bit of spreading out. And as far as intermediates? It’s hard to say, quite yet, but the long list of rule changes, combined with redesigned bodies have NASCAR positioned for the best chance to improve what’s become single-file “aerodynamic necessity” at those racetracks.
“With this car,” Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said last week, “We have a chance to do something great and really make a big impact.”
In a perfect world, that means the pieces are in place for competitive improvements. But as we’ve so often learned the past decade, through the “young gun” era where sponsors pushed out quality drivers – along with changes fans didn’t appreciate – stock car racing survives as a business. And no matter how good the competition is this season, even with photo finishes every race in the ownership ranks the people who can bring more cars to the table have yet to be convinced the “business” side is worth their investment. Sponsors, too, even those that recently pulled out who are still enthusiastic about the sport are hesitant to realign themselves with new programs.
The question then becomes, as we enter 2013 how you entice more competition to the table. In the short-term, there are owner groups, like Turner Scott Motorsports that would be capable of putting an entry on the Sprint Cup level. But over the long-term, that’s not enough; right now, there’s only a handful of Nationwide and Truck owners who would be able to make those dreams become reality. The sport needs more Tony Stewarts, willing to step up to that driver/owner level even if it means the sacrifice, for now of having them be offshoots of the megateams Hendrick, Roush, and Gibbs. New blood provides new opportunities for drivers, sponsors, and new stories to tell. So with the TV deal secure, NASCAR would do good to pony up some cash here and provide the same types of incentives open-wheel did to produce more full-time competition. How about a cash bonus (a set one, paid once no matter how many teams) for an owner that competes in all 36 races? Better yet, the only way they get the money is to finish at least 24 of them, eliminating the start-and-park problem.
It’s a system you don’t have to keep in place every year; make it a short-term option, a way to entice boardroom interest the same way the Winston Million used to have drivers giving that extra 10 percent in certain races. A little money now could secure the future for a generation, because the Penskes, Roushes, and Hendricks won’t be around forever – a point this column has tackled far too many times with no movement on a solution.
Did You Notice?… Some notes from the past week before we take off…
- Breaking news late Wednesday Landon Cassill had left BK Racing, due to no 2013 contract being reached (and 2012 terms unfulfilled) becomes the perfect example to prove my point above. Here’s a talented guy, who at age 23 is coming off a “building block” season with one of the sport’s few new teams willing to compete. But does that “team” even have the money in the bank to pay its bills? The two-car organization, in its first year was virtually invisible on-track, posting one top-10 finish (with Travis Kvapil) and a best result of 18th with Cassill. It’s hard to survive with those kinds of numbers; combine that with sponsor impatience and you’ve got a near-impossible environment for these expansion teams to survive long enough to A) make money or B) grow into a team capable of challenging the Chase-contending programs. The sport has to find a way,
- So the new rule in NASCAR is you’re eligible for Rookie of the Year in any series the first year you choose to earn points. Translation: Danica is eligible now, despite running ten races last year (over NASCAR’s previous limit of seven) because those earned her zero points – she was competing for a title in the Nationwide Series. The rule change was expected, as this season marks the first “real” battle among freshmen drivers since Joey Logano – Scott Speed moved up to Cup in 2009. But over the long-term, you’re going to have to come up with a limit for how many races a guy can run before taking the plunge. Take Trevor Bayne as the perfect example. Right now, he’s competed in over 30 starts in the Sprint Cup Series; by the tail end of 2013, that number should grow over 50. So you’re telling me in 2014, should he move up full-time with Roush Fenway Racing that makes him eligible for Rookie of the Year in Cup? It’s not a “now” problem, but one NASCAR needs to address at some point before an example like that comes into play.
- Brad Keselowski running two Truck teams, instead of one? That’s the rumor, but you wonder how much an expansion of his own program could have an effect on Keselowski the champ. Yes, the drivers that know how to balance everything have the right people in place to manage these things. Last season, a driver replacement midseason (from Parker Kligerman to Ryan Blaney) didn’t change Keselowski’s mindset one bit on the Cup side while charging to a championship. But you never know… in a year filled with changes, where Penske’s moving to Ford, there’s a new teammate in Joey Logano and new cars to learn any off-track distraction would be most unwelcome in 2013.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“Believe it or not, it’s going to be seven years since that organization [Hendrick Motor Sports] last won a plate race, Jimmie Johnson’s lone Daytona 500 victory in 2006.”
Huh?? Jimmie Johnson won at Talladega in 2011 with a push from Junior (who finished 4th while pushing the winning car across the start finish line).
Regarding the bonus for competing in all 36 races / finishing 24 of them, if winnings were pro-rated based on the number of laps completed, then that could be the bonus you’re looking for. Instead of paying someone for showing up & parking, pay racers for the amount of race they actually complete. That discourages starting & parking, and compensates the drivers & owners based on what amount of the race was completed.
I agree with your other point that nascar should look to this season as truly trying to build itself back into some form of relevancy and take steps to help create a more feasible business model for the teams. I just hope they stop saying that the racing is the best it’s ever been and that ratings and attendance slippage is due to the economy. Puh-lease.
Yeah, and not to mention that Jeff Gordon won both Talledega races in 2007. Where do you get your stats from, Tom?
No, Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush may not be around forever, but their teams most certainly have a succession plan in place. You don’t grow a business into 100’s of employees and then just decide to lock the door and turn off the lights when you decide you’d rather be fishing.
Also, you bemoan the lack of new teams, and yet further down criticize Keselowski for starting one.
Good idea, but then they’d just park it until 10 laps to go. I think Michael’s idea of pro-rating is closer to what we need.
It is a bummer for Landon but Reuti will get 100 more points out of the BK ride this year then Cassill did in 2012.
Just want to apologize for the plate race stat. It’s been corrected… meant to say the important words “at Daytona” instead which is what the stat refers to. Big whoops.
Re: Brad Keselowski, I’m all for new teams being started. I’m not criticizing the new team aspect — I just wanted to point out the possible distraction for a driver who’s just won the Sprint Cup title. Over the long run, I don’t think we need more driver/owners, either as much as we do new, outside owners who have a passion for the sport and the money/sponsorship connections to back it up.
I wonder if the sport would be better suited if they “sold” a limited number (40-45) of franchises and the teams collectively share TV revenue like the NFL does. Franchises could be bought and sold as the market sees fit.
They could also sell part-time and Daytona only rides to teams.
Revenue sharing would give teams a guaranteed income that could be supplemented by sponsorship (a portion of which should be shared amongst the teams).
Of course the France’s pockets would likely be lighter so this would never stand a chance.
NASCAR isn’t the same sport it was 30 years ago. Penske, Hendrick, Childress, Roush, Gibbs, etc. are organizations that will not go away with the death of the patriarch. They will function more like F1’s McLaren and Ferrari, or even the NFL’s Bears and the Giants. They will be around forever. It is time NASCAR recognize this and form a tighter bond with its teams.
Anyone have thoughts on this rough proposal?
As a 50 year fan of Nascar start and park is my biggest gripe. I understand it is necessary for some new teams but totally unacceptable for it to be a business model for people like Phil Parsons. He has good equipment, a great driver and the bottom line is he is making money starting and parking with no intent to race. it is a disgrace to the Parson name . Second gripe is media personalities owning teams , it is a conflict of interest with the biggest violator being Michael Waltrip, Phil Parsons and know it all Brad Dough boy. My third and final gripe is Boogity Boogity Boogity, everyone hates it and it needs to go.
I saw that Checkered Flag JJ gave to Dale Jr. at the HMS museum, brought a tear to my eye!
The majority of new “competition” will have to come from within the sport. New owners are not coming into the sport because there are so few outlets to supply a competitive engine, so new manufacturers producing engines in house are the only way new competitive blood will flow into the sport.
In the meantime, if JGR, RCR, RFR, MWR, JTG, SHR, and Penske could all add a new car as they’be shown interest in doing, it would be a great influx of competition into the sport
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