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 February 6, 2013
Did You Notice?… The battle over start-and-parking is revving up for 2013? The first salvo was fired at the end of January, where Bruton Smith went so far on the Media Tour as to ask reporters in attendance to stop the practice, where cars come to the track, park and collect the prize money for profit.
“Start-and-park should not be a part of what we do,” said the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. owner, whose tracks, he claimed, “donated” tens of millions of dollars to “this cause” in 2012. “Either NASCAR should shorten the race or something in order to stop this, but I think it’s got to be stopped.”
“I hope we look back in a year and (start-and-park) is history. Because it should be history.”
Those comments did not sit well with some owners, in particular Tommy Baldwin, who believe the practice is necessary to survive in NASCAR’s down economy. For Baldwin, it’s been a slow but steady ascent to respectability, from just six runs to the finish in 25 starts during his first year (2009) to nearly winning last year’s Daytona 500 with Dave Blaney. Still, despite that near-miss and a one-year informational partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing, allowing TBR to expand to a two-car program with driver David Reutimann in 2012 they still didn’t pursue a “full” 36-race schedule. In roughly 15 races last year, either the No. 10 or No. 36 was in the garage before the first pit stop as a cost-cutting move to keep the team as competitive as possible in other events.
“Bruton’s got enough money… if he wanted to be part of the solution, he’d help figure out how to get the start-and-parks sponsored,” Baldwin said with frustration when I asked him to respond to Smith’s comments Monday. “We tried meeting with his sponsors that he has at his racetracks involved in a package deal, but they don’t want anything to do with it.”
“They’re too greedy.”
That term could certainly be applied across the board, considering the number of contingency sponsors NASCAR has itself that don’t spend money on individual teams. The list of backers that go directly to Daytona Beach read like a “Who’s Who” of former multimillion dollar logos on the hood: Coors Light, Exide Batteries and UPS to name a few. With so many Cup teams in sponsorship crisis, there’s a point to be made as to why Smith’s SMI, NASCAR’s International Speedway Corporation or even the sport’s marketing arm itself don’t try to steer those companies towards individual teams. Yes, as private entities, there’s no franchise link where the sport can redistribute sponsorship money. But there are also ways of doing things, from holding marketing seminars for all teams where sponsor representatives are available to all (let the best pitch win) to simply saying “no” to another big check. After all, if there are no cars on track, there’s no product for the sport to sell and make money, right? Despite a push to evolve in this area, several important executives behind the scenes in this sport still struggle to find the balance between just the right amount to keep in their bank account and pushing too many teams towards extinction — all over power and an extra trip to the Cayman Islands.
But we digress. Baldwin’s confidence Monday no changes would be made to stop the practice turned into empty words a day later; NASCAR, through a redistribution of purse money announced Tuesday a $4,000 reduction in positions 39 through 43. The change was made, according to some sources as a reaction to the S&P problem although Baldwin, in an interview with ESPN’s David Newton Tuesday claimed he knew it was coming.
“[Bruton’s] like one of those mad politicians who gets pieces of paper handed to him before he speaks,” the car owner said. “NASCAR is taking the right steps… at the end of the day, it makes sense what they’re doing [to reallocate purse money towards the top finishing spots in the field.]”
Is this small-time owner just covering up? Well, yes and no. It’s true a $4,000 reduction, on paper, is likely dropping a penny out of your pocket on the way to the bank. Take Joe Nemechek, who with his self-owned No. 87 ran 31 of 36 races last year (failing to qualify for five) while pocketing $2,505,189 in prize money. With the new rules, his winnings would have fallen to $2,409,189, a reduction of 3.8 percent. That’s about the average cut NASCAR’s backmarkers will see, hardly the “mountain-moving” impact that’ll keep businessmen from skimming off what, in some cases, has been reported as a seven-digit profit by sources. Keep in mind, also the Cup car count each week will be right around that magic number of 43. If everyone who comes to the track knows they’ll qualify, teams can cut corners, use old parts and conserve even more, running just 5-6 laps instead of 50 for example to try and make up that loss.
Start-And-Park’s Biggest Offenders
Phil Parsons Racing (formerly Prism Motorsports)
Tommy Baldwin Racing
Last Season Only
Humphrey Smith Racing
Front Row Motorsports – Third Car
The purse reduction, since it was anticipated leaves Baldwin in perfect position to keep his team intact while using the S&P practice for 12 of 72 races (J.J. Yeley, in the team’s No. 36 will only have enough money to run two-thirds of the races a full distance). Yet while the crew chief is admired for sticking it out, putting the profit back into his team instead of the back pocket he made a statement Monday that seemed a bit misguided.
“In the past,” he said, “These major teams today like Roush and Hendrick started very small, just like TBR. Just the media back then wasn’t as involved as they are today… if NASCAR didn’t give me the ability to start this process slowly, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today.”
Sure, Baldwin is right that today’s biggest teams for Ford and Chevrolet, respectively were little more than one-car operations when they started in the 1980s. But in both cases, those owners never start and parked, running competitively in hopes on-track performance would earn them sponsorship. Hendrick did just that, threatening to fold up shop in early 1984, his first season before Geoffrey Bodine’s win at Martinsville earned them a backer that would keep them in business – the first step to what became a racing empire. The media then was just as involved; the facts themselves were what was different.
It’s true, moving forward the system may not allow Tommy Baldwin those same types of “upset” opportunities as 1984; Roush and Hendrick remain stuck in their positions on top, leaving Baldwin’s teams left to run for scraps even if they earn every break,on one of the circuit’s 1.5-mile ovals. But that doesn’t make those backmarkers transforming a sport into an investment business, turning into the garage early in front of fans who paid their hard-earned money to watch them compete 100% right.
Did You Notice?… That if you were hoping the new car would get the focus off aerodynamics, putting handling back in the drivers’ hands well, think again. Even Tommy Baldwin Racing, an operation we just mentioned was still start-and-parking in 2013 has hired 4-5 engineers for its fledgling two-car program. It’s the only way, Baldwin says to strike out on your own and stay competitive with the multi-car giants hitting the wind tunnel like it’s a McDonald’s Drive Thru. A source, in passing told me recently JTG Daugherty is another team that’s gone from one engineer to nearly a half-dozen, redoing their approach with the new car in hopes harping on the data will get their driver an extra half-a-tenth.
There’s two ways to look at that. One: perhaps these engineers, like the crew chiefs of yesterday, can strike the perfect handling mix early within these one-car programs where someone catches lightning in a bottle and becomes surprisingly competitive. The downside, though, is even the most talented driver remains overwhelmingly dependent on notes collected before they even hit the racetrack. A badly set-up car at an intermediate track is almost impossibly stuck, whether you have Herman “The Turtle” Beam wheeling your car or Jimmie Johnson. With gaining and losing tenths harder to come by, could that leave everyone “locked in” place over the course of a 500-mile run – meaning a 20th-place car at mile 100 is almost guaranteed to run 20th at the checkered flag? Stay tuned.
Did You Notice?… Some quick hits before we take off…
- Like Danica, Hate Danica, make a voodoo doll with Danica on it or wish to God every night she’d go away, the bottom line is the day after the Super Bowl, sales at the popular domain name site GoDaddy.com hit record levels following their controversial commercials featuring Walter the geek, some bizarre website concepts and yes, that GoDaddy girl who happens to race around in circles. She’ll still have to prove it on the racetrack, but when it comes to the boardroom Sunday night was a big win in what’s going to be a make-or-break 2013 for Ms. Patrick.
- Add in another Nationwide title contender with Kyle Larson’s announcement today he’ll run the No. 32 full-time for Turner Motorsports, a joint Nationwide Series venture with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Between Larson, Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish, Jr., Brian Vickers, Trevor Bayne and Justin Allgaier this season could be the best championship battle the second-tier division has seen in nearly a decade.
- I’ve been told by sources Corey Lajoie’s Nationwide Series schedule will be the following: Dover June 1st, New Hampshire July 13th, and Atlanta Labor Day Weekend. He’ll be driving the No. 8 jointly fielded by Scott Lagasse’s Team SLR and Tommy Baldwin Racing.
- The fate of Max Q Motorsports’ Cup team, which partnered with Tommy Baldwin Racing during the latter part of 2012, remains unknown. Owner Larry Gunselman is no longer associated with TBR, the team said Monday, and former driver J.J. Yeley has been absorbed into Baldwin’s program. Ditto for Xxxtreme Motorsports, whose No. 44 car start-and-parked Phoenix in preparation for what they said was a full 2013 schedule. Owner Johnathan Cohen promised an announcement around the holidays and has disappeared since; crew chief Frankie Kerr, part of that short-term deal, moved on in January.
Sadly, both these organizations are no strangers to their start-ups going sour. Gunselman’s team, in the last four seasons, has been plagued by constant debt and completed only nine of the 52 races they’ve qualified for – including just one lead-lap result (Chris Cook, 27th at Watkins Glen in 2011). Cohen’s track record is even less impressive, failing to put together a quality deal with Macy’s in 2009 and enduring a handful of poor performances by Chase Austin, along with a long list of start-and-parks. The money never materialized for a full-time effort, causing him to pull back until this “major announcement” he was returning to the fold for 2013.
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What I want to know is where this “magic” number of 43 cars for sprint cup races came from and why does it matter? Since sponsorship is really hard to come by and if S&P cars are really an issue, why not just drop the number to 40 cars in the field?
Couldn’t agree more that NASCAR needs to be encouraging its corporate partners to go out and sponsor race teams. Even if they sponsor the top teams it could free up other sponsors for smaller operations.
In terms of start and parks, it’s one thing if an owner is just trying to survive with the hopes of becoming more competitive, or actually trying to game the system. In the end though, most don’t even notice the backmarkers in the field unless they mess up one of the top cars.
Start & Park has got to go..Have seen where a team (&teams once) who would have run the race could’nt qualify good enough (1 Lap) & then 4 cars pull out after 8-25 laps ..That doe NOT help developing teams…Time to pay the S & P’s per lap…& why would’nt (or could’nt) a sponsor pay based on actual competitive laps run? The time is coming for a complete redesign of the $ of sponsor ship…& I Avoid ANY sponsors who have dropped teams to go with the france’s empire..As you said when the product suffers ultimitly Nascar will pay
NASCAR’s gloming on to so many sponsors has been an annoying thing to me for a while. Many of these sponsors used to support the race teams, now, it’s all about NASCAR’s own bottom line and in the meantime, the racing has suffered.
Bruton as always runs his mouth. Some of the time he makes sense but most of the time, it’s just blather. Of course what comes out of BZ France’s mouth is not worth anything at all.
Tom, you’re misunderstanding the $4,000 edict. They didn’t say that each position would earn $4,000 less than last year. They said each position would be paid $4,000 less than the position ahead. In other words 43rd place is paid $4,000 less than 42nd, who is paid $4,000 less than 41st, etc. Without knowing what the purses will be this year (and I’ve heard they will be slightly higher overall) you can’t make the comparison you did with Nemecheck’s earnings.
For those that wish the Start and Parkers would just go away and/or be paid next to nothing… be careful what you wish for! During the “good old days” NASCAR was begging for cars to show up and race. There were times when they were lucky to have 25 cars entered. Sometimes NASCAR had to call teams from other divisions to bring their cars so they could even have a race.
Most of the old-timers remember that the first Talladega race had the “Baby Grand/Pony-Cars” (BG/PC) competing so there would be a full starting field. Of course that was because of the “drivers strike,” but there were other events that didn’t have high enough car counts and NASCAR had to hustle up more cars in order to “save the show.”
The “Bobby Allison Win Total Controversy” is a result of this situation. Bobby won a “Grand National” (now Cup) race driving a BG/PC and NASCAR only credited him with a BG win. When Tiny Lund won a Grand National race driving a BG/PC, NASCAR credited Tiny with a Grand National win. (More proof that NASCAR has always “played favorites” and been inconsistent in their rulings.)
Though NASCAR’s new redistribution plan is a good incentive policy to improve the show, prior experience proves that they must be careful to pay everyone enough to make it worthwhile to show up! If week to week car counts vary greatly (like IRL)… 40 cars one week, 30 the next, the Cup Series will lose it’s prestige/status and the “Billion Dollar” TV contracts as well! If that happens… Bruton Smith will see how truly petty he has become!
25 cars Racing is Fine with me
I fund it pretty hypocritical that Nascar is lowering the purses for these guys but won’t lower the costs associate with running a Cup car. If costs wouldn’t keep going up for everyone to race, maybe these guys might go the distance more often. But that’s right, Nascar promised teams to reign in costs with the COT. How did that work out for you?
And Bruton needs to shut his pie hole. He has done more to hurt Nascar than any start and parker ever will. Just look at all the crappy mile and a half tracks he has put up over the years. Talk about stealing money of race fans pockets with crappy racing. Bruton needs to just go away.
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