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 February 4, 2013
As the NFL fades away this week, sports fans across the country turn towards the next big event on the schedule: NASCAR’s Super Bowl. After a three-month hiatus, Daytona beckons as the 38-week, 2013 schedule descends upon us.
But the Great American Race is the Great NASCAR Beginning, the start of a journey that takes us to Las Vegas, Pocono and nearly two dozen American locales in between. There’s plenty of unanswered questions about what’s to come, a year filled with changes from the Gen-6, to new qualifying, to new competitive rookies for the first time in over four years. So let us get you revved up once again; it’s Frontstretch season preview time, all week setting up not only the Sprint Cup season and the excitement of our coverage to come.
Today’s Season Preview Topic: All we’ve heard about this offseason is the Gen-6, Gen-6, Gen-6 and how it’s ready to fix NASCAR’s problems. Based on what you’ve seen in testing, heard from teams or through your sources will the car be as competitive as we’re being told? Also, will we see some of the underdogs break through, creating parity versus the upper-class teams or will the Hendricks, Roushs, etc. have the edge?
Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: In some ways, after the Car of Trash (err, tomorrow) was finally thrown in the dumpster the Gen-6 can’t do any worse. I think initially, with its physical look alone fans are going to offer it a longer honeymoon period because for the first time in over a dozen years, they’re visually appealing. Are they the cars you drive around on the street? Let’s not get carried away on LSD here. But it’s a substantial, leap-in-the-right-direction improvement from where we’ve been.
With the handling of the race cars, I’d say the jury’s still out. Some superstars have noted to me there’s more downforce, making these cars easier to run side-by-side on intermediate tracks. Clearly, the plate races will be different, likely better with the homoerotic dating ritual known as “tandem pairings” nearly impossible. I do worry about the final two laps of the Daytona 500, when some drivers try it anyway and the potential is there for wreck, after wreck, after wreck to turn the ending into an embarrassing Demolition Derby. But in general, my guess is we’ll have a more competitive year with the new body styles contributing to an unpredictable learning process jumbling up several finishes.
As 2013 wears on, though I will say that there’s a downside to making these cars easier for the drivers to handle, the “chicken or the egg” quandary NASCAR is constantly addressing. (Note: to me, more downforce means easier to handle over time even if right now, the drivers are whining it’s difficult. They’ll adjust). Anyways, if the mentality is still “race in place and collect your top-10 finish for Chase time” I think the boring, first 300 miles of intermediate events lately won’t change their tone. You have to give drivers more incentive to run for position early than just a race-able car, especially these days when they’re all financially secure. Finally, on the engineering side NASCAR still has the rules so constrained I wonder if the pecking order of teams can ever change. Yes, we did see some breakthroughs in testing, single-car teams like Germain Racing (Casey Mears) cracking the top 5 at times. But in the long run, the less creativity you have the more these cars lean towards the top-level engineers, guys who can use the wind tunnel and expensive tools at their disposal to crank out the extra thousandths of a second. Who’s going to be employing said engineers? Tommy Baldwin Racing? I don’t think so.
Mike Neff, Short Track Editor: The Gen-6 car is definitely an upgrade from the CoT. It appears as though there is more downforce on the front of the car along with greater mechanical grip. Crew chiefs are telling us that the increased downforce will make it easier to get close to a car and actually pull out and pass. That would seem counterintuitive, though because increased downforce would seem to require more air on the nose. The one thing that does seem to be true is that the car is harder to drive. That means it will put a greater emphasis on driver ability and a good driver will be able to do things with the car to make it respond.
Everyone is saying the car will lead to better racing but it is yet to be seen if that is true. That said, it will not give lesser-funded teams an option to break through. Yes, there will be two or three times this season that a team finds a setting or configuration that gives them an advantage. It will be similar to when Roush figured out how crabbing the car would make it faster. Unfortunately for lesser-funded teams, they don’t have the resources to find those little advantages. They are destined to spend their race weekends battling for 20th on back; a great weekend, outside of restrictor plate tracks, will continue to be a 15th-place finish.
Tony Lumbis, Marketing Director: It’s tough to tell what the impact will be on the intermediate tracks from the limited testing so far. I do believe that it will change the game on the superspeedways. Regan Smith commented in his Driver Diary series last year that expectations were that the bumpers won’t line up, meaning you won’t be able to push the crap out of the car in front of you. With that in mind, the tandems should be gone (which we’ve seen in early testing) and NASCAR won’t be forced to break them up, meaning no smaller radiators and overheating issues.
The new car should also give crew chiefs some more wiggle room in what they can do with the cars, which hopefully will translate into races where not everyone is running the same speed, making it impossible to pass. Team contraction over the past few seasons has also resulted in smart minds going to smaller teams (see Steve Hmiel and Tony Eury, Jr. as competition director and crew chief respectively at Swan Racing). Considering the theory that crew chiefs should be able to be more “crafty” with their setups, I think it is possible for some underdogs with bright minds atop the pit box to succeed.
Danny Peters, Senior Writer: The simple answer is: let’s hope so. Certainly, the early signs are promising but that’s all they are at this stage. We’ll know a lot more after the first five races. As for the underdogs, well, I’m figuring it will still be business as usual for the big teams with perhaps someone like Kurt Busch springing a surprise for Furniture Row Racing.
Brett Poirier, Senior Writer: First off, I’ve always disagreed with the notion that changing the car or any equipment to it is somehow going to allow underfunded teams to compete with the elite. The Gen-6 car leveled the playing field — for about 10 seconds. The moment that stuck out the most to me from the Daytona test was when SPEED showed a table of about 12 Gibbs engineers studying data on their laptops. Do you think Phoenix and Front Row Motorsports have that luxury? A race hasn’t even been run and already the smaller teams are behind because as always it comes down to money and resources.
I am a believer in the Gen-6 car, though, but not a dreamer. I don’t see anyway this car could be worse than the previous in terms of racing side-by-side and aero push. Bringing back the showroom look gives each brand its own identity again, but it also could give one manufacturer an edge again at the bigger tracks.
Amy Henderson, Managing Editor: Is the new car the magic bullet that will instantly make every race non-stop excitement from flag-to-flag? No, it isn’t, nor should anyone expect it to be. What it should resemble, though is a car that looks like its showroom counterpart and one that the drivers seem to genuinely enjoy driving. It has a ton of rear grip, and that should help with passing. Aerodynamic dependency, no matter how much people hate it, is a fact of life, even with these cars — because street versions are also much more aerodynamic than they used to be. New models in the showroom don’t look like a 1985 Buick any more, and if you build race cars to look like street cars, well, the days of them punching a hole in the air like a brick crashing through a window are over.
Does that mean the new car won’t be an improvement? No, because all indications are that it will be. It will create true competition between manufacturers, and those “car wars” are good for the sport as long as one doesn’t gain a huge, unanswered advantage or NASCAR doesn’t have knee-jerk reactions to every little complaint. The cars are really nice to look at, they do drive differently than the previous machines, and those are definite positives.
S.D. Grady, Senior Editor: No car will fix all of NASCAR’s problems. However, the Gen-6 is visibly appealing, and drivers that enjoy piloting by the seat of their pants have been granted their wish with the aero package. It’s got some new safety innovations, and that’s never bad. Competitive? Parity? That’s always left in the hands of the teams. The monsters like Hendrick and Roush will continue to dominate the sport, and the smaller ones will struggle. It takes money and a large staff in order to beat the competition, not just the dream of winning a Sprint Cup race and a new car.
Phil Allaway, Senior Editor: We still haven’t really seen much testing with multiple cars racing together outside of Daytona, so it is still a little early to tell as to whether it will be more competitive. However, the car is apparently more floaty than the old CoT. The thought is that mechanical setup will play more of a role than aerodynamics. Let’s hope so. All we do know for sure is that the cars will have more downforce and will be faster.
Underdogs might have a slightly better chance at competitiveness early in the season, like when the CoT was introduced in 2007. However, expect that advantage to be whittled away as the season goes on.
Jeff Wolfe, Senior Writer: I am not convinced that the Gen-6 cars are going to give us closer racing at all tracks. Places like Chicagoland, Kansas, Indy and even Dover (those last two being places I love to get to) I don’t know if what kind of cars they race at those places really matters. The designs of those tracks just don’t seem to be ideal for close, side-by-side competition. Maybe it’s the banked straightaways, maybe the corners are too narrow at Indy? Whatever the reason, close finishes just don’t seem to pan out there. I will say, despite those disadvantages the new car has got to be an improvement over the CoT. Last year’s race at Indy was a real grass grower (i.e. – as exciting as watching grass grow.)
There’s no doubt the elite teams will have the edge early in the season. Better testing, better engineering, better engine programs. The other teams, though should start to make gains when the series hits tracks for the second time, because they’ll have similar information to go on.
Matt Stallknecht, Senior Writer: Given time, I firmly believe that the Gen-6 car will be every bit as competitive as NASCAR is telling us it will be. From what I have been told, the aero profile of the new cars is such that they will handle much better in traffic. These cars were also given a huge bump up in downforce on non-plate tracks, changes which will increase grip and strengthen the effect of the draft (mostly due to the tall spoiler). All of those things will go a long way in improving the on-track product, especially at 1.5-mile facilities which are in the most dire need of intensified racing.
The plate races will also benefit from the Gen-6 car as well. With the advent of the two-car tandem and super grippy track repaves, Daytona and Talladega had become a bit of a free-for-all over the past two or three years. That is going to change in a big way in 2013, as the aero package that the Gen-6 cars will sport at this year’s plate races has a great deal less downforce than that of previous years. This adjustment will turn back the clock a bit and make the style of drafting more similar to that of the early 2000s, a time where driver skill and drafting prowess were paramount to success at superspeedway venues.
As far as underdogs go, don’t count on them having much more success than they usually do. Teams like Front Row Motorsports and Tommy Baldwin Racing have made some serious gains over the offseason, but even with the leveled playing field fostered by the Gen-6 car, their overall lack of resources will prevent them from making any serious noise in 2013.
P. Huston Ladner, Senior Writer: First, while changing the car is an excellent and necessary move, it will not be the panacea that cures all the ills of NASCAR. The drivers have, in what seems like a unanimous outpouring, all decried that the Gen-6 ride will be much better than the CoT. OK, so let’s say they like it more and that they feel that they will be in more control rather than fighting “aero push” and other issues. That doesn’t mean the racing will improve.
Just like the previous iteration of the car, some companies will adjust faster, just like some drivers. Being realistic, however, once again engineering will be the key component. Hence, the teams with the best resources will be the ones to come out strong – which probably means Hendrick, just like when the CoT was implemented.
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The real cure for boring races would be more short tracks on the schedule. Casinos don’t make a better race…they just give ‘fans’ an excuse to stay away using the slot machines.
lol, how can we even say anything until we actually see a race at one of the aero tracks? Even then it won’t be totally indicative as Goodyear plan to keep softening the rubber into the season since the car is now lighter so we will get a true picture by summer.
What we also need are drivers like Dale, Cale and Pops who would man-handle (sorry Danica) a car and not cry that the car wasn’t handling like the driver wanted and just ride.
If you don’t know who Pops is look it up. I’m showing my age again.
Those days are now past, DoninAjax. Sport’s too scienced out. Not even a versatile guy like Stewart can manhandle a 30th place car today.
Yeah, what SB said!
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