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.
Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday February 6, 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: Sponsorship has become an issue heading into 2013 with none other than the sport’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. having races unsold. What’s your fix to this problem, if you have one and is the issue going to get worse throughout the year?
Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: I feel a bit more positive on this issue than I did two weeks ago. There has been a sudden jump in announcements as of late for the smaller teams, from Tommy Baldwin’s two-car organization to Swan Racing’s No. 30 that makes me think new deals with companies are still possible.
The problem to me, in a nutshell is Hendrick’s attitude towards the No. 88 car. The owner is claiming companies are lining up in droves to back Earnhardt but he just hasn’t found the right fit, pushing him to the point he’ll even fund the ride out of pocket if necessary. That leaves us with two realities. One, Hendrick is full of you-know-what and the car, which at one time I’ve been told had $40 million in cash getting pumped to it has priced itself out of the market. Two, Hendrick’s hardball/pickiness allows the price for top-tier support to be so absurdly high there’s no way these new teams with a dollar and a dream are ever going to be competitive enough to get there. It’s one thing for the New York Yankees to have the most money and give back to the small markets. In this case, not only does Hendrick not have to do the same but he knows the bottom-tier competition is like the equivalent of playing a high school baseball team with this business model. Why allow others to become a threat if you don’t have to? It’s much easier to collect the most money and leave everyone else running 35th and dirt poor.
Unfortunately, in the long run that mentality has been proven to kill audiences who like to see parity in sports (see: the NFL). So how do you block Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs, etc. and their unlimited bankroll without franchising? One option would be to allow no more than one sponsor on the hood per season. That, in theory could release all these other companies pursuing limited deals and A) force them into a 36-race schedule while B) giving them the option of other cars. But the Devil’s Advocate argument there is would they even choose to stay in the sport? And are you screwing over smaller teams that, in theory could collect a number of small, one-race deals to survive should the NASCAR economy revive itself? There’s no easy answer here, but I do think it’s a mistake to let the Big Five keep expanding and/or holding the rest of the sport hostage with sponsorship pricing. It’s a dangerous game.
Tony Lumbis, Marketing Manager: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. not having a sponsor for a portion of the season is the answer to the problem. I do not think NASCAR should get in the business of franchising or attempting to implement any “cap” model. Finding a process to do so will be complicated, hard to regulate and most likely will have unintended consequences (See the now defunct Top 35 rule).
Sponsorship costs sky rocketed with the popularity of the sport, led by the top dogs in the series (Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs…etc.) When one team is able to raise the ante for sponsorship dollars, the others must follow suit or be left in their dust. I believe the opposite will hold true as well. Now that Hendrick is struggling with sponsorship, and Roush is still down a team because of a lack of funding, the asking price should, in theory, begin to fall. As the cost of sponsorship decreases, NASCAR will become a more viable entity for potential companies to market their brand.
Jeff Meyer, Senior Writer: “Sponsorship has become an issue heading into… (insert any year past or present here)” (eye roll) Two quick fixes here. 1st: No more “official this or that of NASCAR.” The sanctioning body needs to direct companies more toward the teams if they are really concerned about the longevity of the sport as we know it. NASCAR has enough “official sponsors.”
Second, we need to reduce the number of cars in the races. Less space makes available space more desirable! It used to be companies competing to get on a car; now, you can’t give space away. Time to bring back the “something special” about having your logo on a car.
Mike Neff, Short Track Editor: You have two options when you are selling sponsorship on racecars. You can take one-race deals and piece together an entire season, or you can wait to find partners who will stick with an organization for several years. Rick Hendrick has decided to try and find someone that will partner with the team for at least three years. That is why they are still looking for the races that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has unsold. Jack Roush has not compromised on his pricing for sponsorship, and that is why they have many different, one-off sponsors on their cars. There isn’t a fix to the situation because, at its very core, NASCAR is the epitome of capitalism. The best teams garner the biggest sponsorships and the things that come with having the most money to spend. One thing is for certain in racing: racers will spend as much money as they have, no matter what money they have. Until teams decide to spend less money, the challenges of finding sponsorship are still going to be there. The economy turning around is helping things, but it is always going to be expensive to go Cup racing and that is going to cause sponsorship issues.
Phil Allaway, Newsletter Editor: Compared to last year at this time, the sponsorship situation to me actually looks a little better. Remember that Matt Kenseth started last year with something like 12 races of sponsorship for the season on the No. 17. The Earnhardt, Jr. situation is an exception to that rule, though. Hendrick is obviously charging top dollar to get on the No. 88. My guess is that he’s still trying to get a $40 million total for the year, which is Looney tunes. Hendrick needs to think more realistically and quit turning down legitimate deals. I’m more worried about teams like Stewart-Haas with races to sell than Hendrick Motorsports, though.
As for a fix to the overall problem, the only option would be for the teams to ask for less money to fill their schedules. They’re not doing that anytime soon. The economy is still not the best and won’t be improving to the point it helps NASCAR in 2013.
Beth Lunkenheimer, Managing Editor: Blame it on the recession … blame it on the decline in attendance and television viewers … blame it on whatever you want to. But the bottom line is that NASCAR has got to quit signing so many “Official (fill in the blank)” sponsors. A quick count of all of those official partnerships shows 41 different companies that NASCAR has snapped up. Sure, some of them do also back teams across the sport; however, many others have scaled back. The bottom line is that NASCAR needs to reach into their own pockets and let go of some of their backing; until then, the problem will likely continue.
Brett Poirier, Senior Writer: According to Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal, NASCAR saw a 25 percent ratings drop last year in the 18-to-34-year-old demographic. Yeah, that should bring some more sponsors into the fold. This problem is only going to get worse, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise because the writing has been on the wall for years. It hit the Nationwide and Truck Series first, then Sprint Cup, and now even the biggest name in the sport, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I sure do miss the days when each team had one primary sponsor backing its efforts.
Amy Henderson, Managing Editor: Somehow, I don’t think Dale Jr. needs to worry about backing. Rick Hendrick said he’s turned some companies down because they want the whole car (National Guard always has a spot, and that won’t change) or aren’t the right fit. I worry more about Ryan Newman in that department. Several teams are adding sponsors, too so the news isn’t all bleak. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Penske Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Swan Racing, and Tommy Baldwin Racing have all announced new financial support in recent weeks.
That doesn’t mean the situation is rosy all around, because it’s not. Sponsors have priced themselves out of the game as they pony up more and more dollars to back a winner. What could NASCAR do? Find ways to funnel money toward the teams instead of into their pockets. Long term, healthy teams mean a healthy sport, and more money for NASCAR. If they helped those companies that fork out money to be the “Official (fill in item here) of NASCAR” connect with a needy team instead, that could bring a lot of money onto the racetrack. Also, while NASCAR does need to help tracks turn a profit, they should cut their astronomical sanctioning fees instead of decreasing purse money that goes to the teams. Those fees are the reason why Rockingham and Martinsville don’t host the Nationwide Series; they don’t break even after those fees. While NASCAR needs to turn a profit, they should be looking at the big picture and not just short-term gain.
S.D. Grady, Senior Editor: We’ve been watching this sponsorship trend over the past few years as team after team patchwork together a season full of funding. No, there’s nothing much to be done. As with the rest of the Nation, NASCAR needs to get its collective house in shape. If Hendrick can’t afford to run four teams, he shouldn’t. What the Gen-6 can’t possibly bring to the table in terms of parity, the great American Dollar will. Less sponsorship will equal smaller teams, and that will serve to equalize the field faster than any redesign of a car.
Summer Bedgood, Assistant Editor: It’s less of a solution and more of inevitability. The cost of racing is going to have to go down. Yes, in the meantime, teams will learn how to divvy up sponsorship throughout the season to cover their butts. We’ve already seen that the past couple of seasons. But even with the season divided up amongst two, three, or more primary sponsors, even that is unsustainable. It’s difficult enough for the experienced and successful teams such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to find enough funding to cover the year, let alone the lesser-known and struggling one. I don’t know how it’s going to happen or how long it’s going to take, but one way or another this sport is going to have to become more economical. Period.
P. Huston Ladner, Senior Writer: Until NASCAR changes to the F-1 model of sponsorship or adopts the concept of franchising, sponsorship will always be an issue. First, the field should be capped at 36 – there’s no need for 43 cars anymore, and there’s probably an argument to be made that even more than 25 is too much.
As for the franchising idea, this adjustment is where the best gains could be made because as franchises teams would have both stability and inherent sense of worth. Even a low-level team, say BK Racing, would provide a platform for marketing and visibility. In comparison, even a team like the Cincinnati Bengals brings attention and is worth something. BK Racing could fold tomorrow and the only thing that would be worth anything are the parts, cars and machinery that could be sold.
Brad Morgan, Senior Writer: There are 43 cars in every Sprint Cup points race that all have ample room for companies, with both big and small budgets, to show off their brand. During race telecasts, the television camera is constantly panning between the contenders for lap after lap. Thousands of laps go by during a ten month long season in which every car is shown at one point or another. Those telecasts go out to over 100 countries and are viewed by over 75 million fans, making exposure an important selling point and an extremely valuable asset to the companies involved in NASCAR.
Teams should also consider what their driver represents to NASCAR’s huge fan base when sifting through potential sponsorship offers. Matching an appropriate sponsor to a driver’s personality and reputation is just as important a selling point as the exposure that the sponsor gains.
Vito Pugliese, Senior Editor: The statement issued by Rick Hendrick was that there was no shortage of suitors, just not the right fit. I think what we’re seeing with NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver is what we’ve seen happen at Roush Fenway Racing that led to the No. 6 car being shelved last year. It takes a certain sponsor who can pony up a pre-determined amount of dollars before they’ll be allowed on the flanks of the flagship cars of a team or a sport. The sponsorship on the No. 88 also helps to float the boats of the No. 24 and No. 5 cars as well; Even Jeff Gordon, a name as synonymous with the sport as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has had difficulty scoring sponsorship in the last few seasons. Hendrick Motorsports is in a unique position where they can be picky who they place on the hood and quarters of their cars.
Rick Hendrick might be a used car dealer by trade, but this isn’t some clapped out Lumina he’s going to unload just because somebody shows up with $900 in cash.
Danny Peters, Senior Writer:
Kevin Rutherford, Nationwide Series Expert: Is sponsorship really that big an issue? I realize Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has struggled to find a backer to fill out the rest of the season, but as Rick Hendrick is quoted as saying, he’s looking for the “right deal, not any deal.” A team of this caliber is undoubtedly looking for the best possible options, rather than resorting to smaller deals that may indeed fill out the season, but don’t feel like the complete package like, say, National Guard and Diet Mountain Dew.
As a sign that the sponsorship situation in NASCAR’s top series is actually looking up, I point to Tommy Baldwin Racing, a team that has struggled to find major backing since its inception in 2009. During its “7 in 7” series of announcements, TBR has revealed sponsorship for a number of races for the Nos. 7 and 36 and is arguably looking toward its best season yet, especially in terms of funding.
Plus, the landscape of sponsorship has changed. Gone for now are the days of teams getting full-season sponsors; instead, what reigns for many teams are smaller deals with multiple backers, as some sponsors are unwilling to commit to an entire season with an uncertain economy.
I’m not going to call sponsorship a real issue until big teams are forced to shut their doors, and that’s just not going to happen unless the economy actually worsens. We’ll talk then. For now, I predict an announcement on another sponsor for Junior before the halfway point of the year.
Jeff Wolfe, Senior Writer: If the Gen-6 car leads to better and closer races, then that will help. I think NASCAR needs to market their drivers as everyday kind of guys, not superheroes. They’ve done better, especially with the ESPN spots last year. I think making more drivers accessible to fans during race weekends would help, too. Sure, they are busy and have lives, but the more interaction they can have and be seen as regular people only helps their attractiveness to fans who are faithful to their sponsors. Also, all drivers should be required to carry their phones and tweet at least ten times on race day before they get in the car. Then, they should be required to carry the phones in their car so they can tweet if there is a red flag. No other sport has an opportunity to connect with fans in such a way. Call it the Keselowski resolution.
Matt Stallknecht, Senior Writer: There is no simple fix to this problem. Lots of different things need to change for the sponsorship situation to become remedied. NASCAR is still every bit as lucrative to sponsors now as it was ten years ago; the issue is that the cost of doing business in this sport has become astronomically high. Sponsors would be knocking down the door to get on a car for a full season if it only cost 3-4 million do to so, but alas, such sponsorship costs upwards of 20 million in today’s NASCAR. Whether the sport can get costs down via technical regulations or through other means, it absolutely must figure out a way to do so, and the owners need a say in those discussions as well. Otherwise, if a fix is not found, stock car racing could very easily price itself out of existence.
Rick Lunkenheimer, Contributing Writer: Sponsorship woes are sadly a sign of the times. Just a few years removed from a recession, the sport continues to suffer from the decline in numbers both at the track and on television. There’s no quick fix to the problem in a time when so many corporations are downsizing and scaling back their advertising budgets while outsourcing to other countries. If the companies don’t have the funds to keep their workforce in its current capacity, things like outside sponsorships are usually the first to go. The easy solution would be to limit owners to two to three-car teams; however, that wouldn’t make anyone happy, especially since there was a big fuss about limiting them to four cars. In reality, there’s not a quick fix and it’s a problem that will likely plague the sport for many years to come.
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I’m sure there are lots of sponsors lining up for cars that never get mentioned during a “race” broadcast.
Good Lord Tom, why don’t you use your brain and think an issue through before you start accusing Hendrick of lying or being too picky. He is a bonified success dealing with details of which you cannot conceive. He is widely respected in the business world and is certainly capable of deciding how he wants to deal with sponsors. His record speaks for itself. He has a quality product to sell, and will not devalue it with a fly-by-night sponsor. Your fixation about Dale Jr’s sponsorship is becoming irritating at the very least. You would be better served by writing about something you fully understand. Business deals of this caliber are clearly out of your league.
Jeff and Mike, you hit the nail on the head. Amy, you are very close. I can’t help but smile at how a non-story gets magnified by your esteemed Editor-in-Chief.
I agree that NASCAR needs to temper it’s own greed and stop taking sponsors for itself, rather than having them sponsor the actual race cars. I don’t turn on the TV or come to the track to see the “official whatever” of NASCAR. I want to see good racing.
Everyone worries about the 18-34 male demographic. BZ France was willing to run off the diehard fans without any thought about the impact on the sport at all. Many of those fans were people who would have brought their kids or grandkids to the track. It’s easier to keep a happy customer than recruit new ones.
Agree, too, with Donin’s comment – if all the TV broadcasts talk about are the same few cars, why would people sign on to someone who never gets mentioned – esp when you get to the last 10 races when any car that is no longer “relevant” (Allen Bestwick’s word) or still in contention get any air time. Fans don’t change who they cheer for simply because they are not in the chase.
First, DoninAjax hit on one very important point. Why sponsor anyone if only “the chosen few” will get mentioned on air? But, are the broadcasters making this choice because they think that the chosen few are the only ones who people are interested in, or is this a directive dictated by NASCAR? Hey NASCAR, not everyone is a fan of Junior, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and the bimbo! Woops! I can’t call her that anymore! She’s dating a driver I cheer for!
Second is this obsession with the 18-to-34 demographic. This group is a lost cause. They have the attention span of a knat, and can’t communicate face-to-face! They can only communicate through texting and their little social media websites. These young people aren’t interested in sports, unless it’s the blood-and-gore of MMA or UFC. Auto racing? They don’t even like cars, especially American based cars. They drive their little Honda Civics while texting, but to watch any racing? They are not interested. Someone wrote an article recently about ways to get this demographic interested in NASCAR. Basically, he compared it to Motocross racing. Reduce the races by as much as 2/3’s. Have several 20-lap/mile heats with a rock concert in between each heat. Oh, and he was serious about this, have scantily clad young ladies parading around to keep the young guy’s interest up! Really?? If this is what it would take to get the 18-to-34-year-olds interested in NASCAR, do we, the “old coot” fans, really want them around? I don’t! if the sport is in trouble that much that NASCAR will have to stoop to garbage like rock concerts and playboy bunnies to get guys out, then there is a much deeper problem here. But it’s not with NASCAR. It’s with society in general.
I agree with what most everyone has mentioned in the article. The cost to sponsor a team is just too high right now. Look at IndyCar, it gets a fraction of the ratings/attendance of NASCAR but a lot of those cars appeared to have full sponsorship last year.
Also, in these tough times NASCAR needs to share the wealth and direct “official partners” to race teams. I would also suggest Sprint lifting the telecom sponsor blackout for the time being. You are excluding a fast growing business from sponsoring cars. The world didn’t end for Sprint when AT&T was on the 31 or Alltel was on the 12.
Ken, wow, I misssed that one about the “how to get the 18-34 males”.
Gag me with a spoon! I am not a “coot” but that sort of nonsense would end my interest and following of NASCAR racing.
One of the big issues I have had with the whole Danica thing is that there is too much focus on her physical looks and not enough on her driving ability. Then again, she has a big $ sponsor so she gets air time no matter what – partly because GoDaddy is paying for it.
Gina, the article I was talking about was written by Richard Allan (Racing With Rich) that he wrote for The Bleacher Report sometime last week.
Thanks, Ken, I’ll go and take a look. I usually read Rich’s columns but must have missed it.
There hasn’t been much worth reading this offseason!
I just saw another article from some guy who writes for phillyburbs that suggests a half time break and heat races. If I’ve spent a lot of $ to get to a race and my driver doesn’t qualify for the A Main race so to speak, I’d be really pissed that I’d spent that money.
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