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 · Friday February 8, 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.
2013 SEASON PREVIEW, PART I: IS THE GEN-6 NASCAR’s FIX-ALL
Today’s Season Preview Topic: Bruton Smith has said this January start-and-parking is detrimental to the sport and must be stopped. Do you agree with that statement, and if so, jump in Bruton’s shoes and give us an idea to stop it.
Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: I think start-and-parking has been a problem for years, done in part to make a profit and in part because teams feel hopeless. If you’re no better than a 35th-place car, and the difference between that and 34th in the purse won’t get you an extra set of tires then why finish the race?
I think that mentality was partially addressed by NASCAR through redistributing the purse. But cutting money for 39th through 43rd by $4,000 isn’t enough. You need to create substantial incentive for running 30th instead of 35th, 25th instead of 30th… it can’t just be $500 extra between positions. Otherwise, teams who are hopelessly behind the Chase contenders of the world will continue to pack it in early. There’s also a solution going around to pay teams by laps completed. I think that would help… and it would also cause some small-time “owners,” disguised as businessmen to pull out altogether. If that makes a short field, so be it! Parking early does nothing — the money needs to go to the teams actually attempting to build a future through competing.
P. Huston Ladner, Senior Writer: Start-and-parking makes NASCAR look like an organization run out of my grandmother’s basement. It weakens the sense of competition and allows for the distribution of funds to drivers who aren’t actually racing. To think that seven or more cars are showing up at a race to run just a few laps and call it a day is an embarrassment. That the governing body has not attacked this issue, and has ostensibly condoned it, makes them look weak and short-sighted.
Sure, the big names are the ones that most fans come out to see and aren’t concerned with J.J. Yeley running 10 laps and parking. But isn’t allowing this practice to continue counterintuitive to the very concept of competition and racing? If Yeley were finishing out the race, even 15 laps down, at least there’d be the contention that he was competing, that the team was building and learning. But the S&P convention ignores these ideas and dilutes racing.
Phil Allaway, Newsletter Editor: Of course it’s detrimental to the sport, but it has also been a part of it from time to time throughout history. The problem is, what we have today is a completely different form of S&P compared to the last time it was a problem (2004). These teams are making a fair amount of money off of doing what they do. Also, the teams doing it are a lot faster than past ones who attempted the same practice. With sponsorship money, most of them would be at least a little competitive. That wasn’t the case in 2004. I think some of you guys remember Carl Long’s No. 46, the Stan Hover No. 80 that Andy Hillenburg drove, and Kirk Shelmerdine’s No. 72 that got parked on at least one occasion for failing to met minimum speed because they just plain couldn’t get there.
There are some options out there to fix the problem. Cutting purses further for the last few positions has been proposed, as has cutting field size. These are ideas that I’m sure Bruton would get behind. The idea of banning teams from selling tires to others, like in the Nationwide Series would not help at all. That would just lead to S&P teams quitting earlier.
Automatic teardowns for S&P teams has been done before (2010, when an S&P team would often be the “random” car for a trip to the R&D Center). But that ultimately became a hardship on the teams because it hindered their ability to attempt the next race. I’m sure NASCAR won’t do anything too drastic there because there may be a clause in either their TV deals or their sponsorship deal with Sprint (possibly both) requiring 43-car fields.
Unfortunately, there are only two ways that the S&P teams will go away (or be able to run full races and thus, not S&P). One is that the cost to compete would have to decrease significantly. NASCAR is not in the business of subsidizing teams in Sprint Cup (championship winnings are one thing, but outright subsidies are another), so don’t expect them to help in any way. Perhaps Goodyear could charge less for tires (Are they really worth $1,900 a set? I don’t think so. They’re probably laughing all the way to the nearest Fifth Third Bank). Secondly, the economy would have to improve so that sponsors could spend more money in NASCAR.
Welp, that’s not happening anytime soon either — so don’t hold your breath. The bottom line is we’ll have to put up with S&P teams for years to come. This is part of the reason why, in Cup I’m a bit worried about Timmy Hill’s rookie campaign with FAS Lane Racing. His cars are outdated enough that a number of these S&P teams can outqualify him on a weekly basis. That might cost him — and owner Frankie Stoddard — dearly.
Tony Lumbis, Marketing Manager: I don’t think the start-and-parkers are necessarily detrimental, unless they are taking spots from those who intend to run the full race. Even then, the argument can be made that if you are not quick enough to qualify, you don’t belong in the show.
STP 400 at Kansas: $69,640 (Scott Riggs)
If teams are virtually guaranteed at least $60K, just for showing up, who can blame them from doing just that? NASCAR and the tracks must work together to come up with a purse for the bottom of the field so that it is not worth it for teams to incur the travel and tire expenses to race ten laps.
NOTE: Since this piece was written, NASCAR has announced that each position from 43rd through 39th will receive $4,000 less for each position. This is exactly the concept I had proposed; however, I do not think it goes far enough, when we are talking last place winnings of over $60,000. I would think $10-$20K would be more appropriate. I also still stand by my original concept of decreasing the purse for the bottom 10 spots, perhaps doing so on a sliding scale (i.e. decreasing $4,000 for 33rd, but upwards of $20,000 for 43rd.) This will help to prevent a start-and-park team for simply running a few more laps of the race until four competitors fall out. If the NASCAR brass feel that the situation does need to be addressed, their solution needs more teeth.
Mike Neff, Short Track Editor: Honestly, start-and-parking doesn’t make a hill of beans of difference to the sport. The only time it has a negative impact is when they employ a past champion to make a race, resulting in a team that legitimately wants to compete going home even though they are faster. The teams that start-and-park are not going to compete for wins and having them out on the track, well off the pace, is more of a nuisance than having them park and get out of the way. With that said, the solution to start and parking is simple. Tie the prize money earned during the race to the number of laps completed. Finish less than half of the laps and you only get a small percentage of your prize money. Unfortunately, if you do that, you’re going to have more rolling wrecks hitting the track to make sure they take home their prize money.
Beth Lunkenheimer, Managing Editor: I don’t know if there’s really a single solution that would work to eliminate start-and-parking short of NASCAR outright banning the practice. However, that would be a rule that would be nearly impossible to police fully. So perhaps the solution lies somewhere along the lines of reducing the points and financial payouts for those that don’t complete a minimum of half of the event. Not so fast. In theory, it’s a great idea but you have to consider things like a lap one melee that would cost a championship contender dearly in that department. In the end, it all comes down to the precious sponsorship dollars and the high cost of competition. Unless the sanctioning body can reduce the cost it takes for a team to run competitively, there’s little in the way of fixing what has become a very serious problem in the sport.
Brett Poirier, Senior Writer: Starting-and-parking is a problem, but I do like the steps NASCAR has taken this offseason to combat it — limiting Nationwide fields to 40 cars and creating a larger separation in winnings between each position at the back of the field. Smith’s best suggestion was to barely pay the cars at the back, and give the winner more. I don’t like that solution because it only further separates the haves from the “have nots.” While some of the start-and-park teams are clearly milking the system, others are just doing what they can to get by, so that maybe they can race next week.
Amy Henderson, Managing Editor: There have been start-and-park cars in NASCAR race fields since the dawn of time. They used to be called field fillers and they were there for a few reasons. Often, a team owner would field an extra car or two if its main driver needed only a few points to clinch a title, because when those cars dropped out it meant their guy would finish high enough to get the needed points. Or sometimes, faced with a short field, NASCAR would persuade a car owner or a few to enter one, knowing they weren’t going to run all day, just to meet the numbers. And until NASCAR finds a way to lower the cost of competition and to help sponsors find their way to teams instead of NASCAR themselves, it’s going to continue.
What’s different now is that for a very few teams, starting and parking early has become its own business model. Shame on them, because those owners aren’t racers. But the reality is, those are a very small handful of the teams who pull in early. The others are teams who desperately want to race, and would most certainly run the full distance every week if they had the money to do so. Those teams – Tommy Baldwin Racing, Germain Racing, Leavine Family Racing to name a few – shouldn’t be lumped in with the first group and they should be respected, not reviled. They’re just trying to stay in the game, and they have no hope of finding a sponsor if they don’t show up at the track at all. Instead, as an alternative they show up and do what they can to show that they could compete with their peers if they had the money. They’re real racers trying to what it takes, and anyone who understands the sport at all should understand that and respect the blood, sweat and tears those crews and drivers put in every week only to have to pull in early, as much if not more than the big teams do. I can assure you that those teams don’t put any less effort or passion into it than the ones at Hendrick or Roush Fenway — why do they deserve derision for wanting to race?
S.D. Grady, Senior Editor: I don’t believe Bruton means a word. S&P’ers have been filling the field for NASCAR, to keep the TV contract happy for more years than I care to count. They will not be going anywhere quickly. Seems to me Bruton was singing the same song a couple years ago, with threatened penalties to those parking before their time. Nothing changed. Nothing will. Otherwise, we’ll have 25 cars taking the green flag, and that will kill ratings and attendance faster than 10-20 uncompetitive teams.
Summer Bedgood, Assistant Editor: I don’t think it’s detrimental to the sport, especially in regards to the previous question. If it’s too expensive for a team to run the race, are we saying they simply shouldn’t? You have to start somewhere and if you have neither a big name nor a fortune to start with, starting and parking is the only option. So unless Bruton Smith has a solution to give these small teams more of an opportunity to make something of themselves, I’d suggest he keep his mouth shut.
Brad Morgan, Senior Writer: Start-and-park teams are a deadly virus spreading throughout all levels of NASCAR competition. The Camping World Truck Series, for instance is riddled with teams that run only a handful of laps before pulling the kill switch early in an effort to cut costs and save equipment, putting on the same disappearing act week after week.
This trend depletes viewership because it puts a dent in the amount of action that occurs during the race, which in turn hurts the sponsors that are tied into the various teams involved in NASCAR.
In order to prevent start-and-parking from occurring, the automobile manufacturers could provide extra, optional factory support to lower budget teams with a limited amount of equipment. With less of their own assets on the line, start-and-parkers would have a reason to be more aggressive with their game plan on race day, improving their chances of landing a noteworthy sponsor.
Vito Pugliese, Senior Editor: It’s only detrimental to the field in that the current contracts call for 43-car fields. It wasn’t that long ago, prior to the Network TV era that 36 cars were the limit on some of the smaller tracks on the schedule. It’s no different than Bruton taking a tax deduction for something that may be considered a stretch; if you can make the field on Friday, you get to race on Sunday. It helps employ a great number of people in our sport, and provides a stepping stone for drivers, crew members, and sponsors alike who otherwise may not have a chance to participate. If it wasn’t for 43-car fields, would Phoenix Racing be around, and would we have heard of some kid from Michigan named Brad Keselowski?
Danny Peters, Senior Writer:
Kevin Rutherford, Nationwide Series Expert: This is a tough question, because 2013 is going to be a deciding year for many opinions regarding start-and-park teams. In recent times, the Top 35 system has kept them from taking spots from bigger, sponsored organizations.This year changes that. With the first 36 spots determined by qualifying speed, teams coming to the track intending to start-and-park can unleash a formidable qualifying setup that puts them solidly into the race without having to worry about beating just their fellow go-or-go-home organizations.
The practice has not been detrimental, as Bruton Smith puts it, to the sport just yet, but it could be. If more of these organizations pop up and start taking spots from funded teams, said teams may lose that funding and be relegated to the same practice. Currently, the sport is teetering on the edge between it being a non-issue and an issue.
That said, many former start-and-park organizations are finding more funding for 2013, including Tommy Baldwin Racing and Swan Racing. Former such teams like Germain Racing and Front Row Motorsports have mostly purged themselves from the practice. As it stands, there may only be two or three teams parking full-time in 2013.
And if it’s just three teams doing it, I wouldn’t call that detrimental.
Rick Lunkenheimer, Contributing Writer: Start-and-park teams are definitely detrimental to the sport and there are ways to encourage teams to run the full distance. Perhaps the simplest solution would be for NASCAR to put a rule in place that prohibits the practice. Sure, it wouldn’t be received with much positive feedback, but it’s the only hands-down way to guarantee it won’t happen. Barring that idea, perhaps a monetary or points bonus—or even a combination of the two—would be the way to go.
Jeff Wolfe, Senior Writer: Starting and parking is a black eye on the sport. The start and parkers should also be identified on the official results, instead of the mystery “vibration,” or whatever, as being listed for the reason out. Start-and-parkers also should declare who they are before the race. That way, as James Finch pointed out, if someone who intends to run the whole race is involved in early wreck or does have an early mechanical problem, they won’t be penalized by getting less purse money.
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One problem with giving out prize money by laps completed is that it’s likely to further discourage hard racing in the early going. You’re less likely to race hard early on knowing that if you wreck then as opposed to with 10 laps to go you could earn 50 grand less for the same finishing position. I’d rather have the S&Ps continue than hurt the racing to get rid of them.
“If it’s too expensive for a team to run the race, are we saying they simply shouldn’t?”
Yes, that’s what we are saying.
It takes money to build a team. NASCAR isn’t your County Fair bump-to-pass series. If NASCAR wanted to get back to the roots, you’d race showroom cars with roll cages installed and the doors welded shut, and that’s it. Not 6-figure specialized chassis that bear no resemblance to street cars except that they have 4 tires and a steering wheel.
The argument that you cannot attract sponsors unless you’re at the track is bogus in relation to a S&P team. You attract sponsors with top 10 running positions. You don’t run top 10 by shuffling to the back and pulling in 5 laps into a race. That’s just lazy; at least you could run the full tire run. Some of these guys run more laps in practice than they run in the race. How is THAT saving money?
I have a 3-tier plan that would greatly reduce the S&P practice:
1) Pro-rate the prize money based on percentage of laps completed. You would still have the published pay scale, but anyone completing 75% or less of the race would get only the percentage of the prize money equal to the percentage of laps completed. The 75% mark would get some of the rolling wrecks off the track at the end, and it’s not going to hurt the big teams anyway. Prize money is a drop in the barrel to them.
2) Require teams to have a full, accredited pit crew on site and in the pit before the car can take the green flag. Too many of the S&P teams don’t even have pit crews; they have a spotter and a crew chief (chiefing what crew I don’t know).
3) Require all teams to purchase a the standard allotment of tires if they qualify (no use making teams buy them if they fail to qualify). I’d actually rather see the tires be handled like fuel- not a team purchase deal but rolled into the entry fee, but that ain’t gonna happen.
The way to handle this problem, stop out of control spending. The top 5 teams in the sport each spent over $100 million on their Cup programs. Roush-Fenway topped the list at between $150-200 million spent. Because the charges get tossed down to the smaller teams, the minimum required right now is $25-30 million a season. That’s way too high a number. Even Indycar doesn’t require that much money.
i do think the money is out of control, but i also think that this whole start and park hubbub is more like a witch hunt than anything else. nascar is not a franchise business, hell it’s not even public. It’s a privately held corporation that sanctions private contractors. if a team can make money, so be it. let’s call this what it is and how its owner treats it. it is no longer a sport as much as a business. you want to fix something? address theracing, ratings and attendance. eliminating start and parks will have exactly zero impact on any of the things currently hurting nascar racing.
I would rather nascar spend more time on making the racing more exciting than worrying about start and parks.
Find a way to make WINNING a race mean something rather than being happy with a “good points day”.
The answer is simple. If you park your car after a few laps and Nascar finds that there is nothing wrong with it and is capable to race you get no money.
If Nascar had a better product to show fans, didn’t take most of the sponsors for themselves and lowered the costs to run a competitive team, it would go a long way towards solving this problem.
Start and parkers are not detrimental. The tv networks don’t even pay any attention to them, so how can it be a black eye to the sport. You can’t police it so let it go, and move on to more important issues that are plaguing Nascar.
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