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.
Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday February 18, 2013
Kevin Harvick spent Saturday night “Happy” in Victory Lane, and why not? He’d won the first Cup race of 2013, established himself as a contender to win a second Daytona 500 and injected a much-needed boost of energy into struggling Richard Childress Racing. But the second he stepped out of that zone, into his media presser that merriness got entangled with a different type of off-track mission – one that involved holding up the middle finger.
“I missed all you guys,” said the winner, a sarcastic joke tinged with reality after walking in. “Because you were all busy being TMZ the other day. So now you all have to talk to me and I can be a complete prick.”
This statement, coming from a guy who won. Clearly, mixed with humor Harvick spoke for many in the garage who have been irked by the main story of Speedweeks being better suited for a Hallmark Valentine’s Day Card than the front page of the paper. News flash: Danica loves Ricky. Ricky loves Danica. It’s the sweetest romance people concerned about the racing could care less about. That meant even the future teammate of the woman of the hour was desperate to turn the talk towards some other storyline; in this case, the pending nine-month divorce decree with owner Richard Childress both sides are determined to overcome.
“The atmosphere is great, honestly,” he said about the “new” RCR. “Everybody is just working towards the same goal. That’s winning the races. We have to be professional anyway, whether it’s lame duck or not. You can call it whatever you want, we’re going to have a helluva lot of fun racing, having a good time, doing our jobs.”
He was loose, as was Childress and crew chief Gil Martin after leading 40 of 75 laps, staying cool as a cucumber down the stretch and blocking all challengers. It’s clear the public their M.O. is to ensure everything is all status quo; nothing to see here, people, even though the owner was as cantankerous as could be about the situation three months earlier in Phoenix.
It’s just that the storyline, however juicy when presented on a silver platter didn’t fool many; good thing it was wiped off the face of the earth in 24 hours anyway. Sorry, Kev; in this case, the win on Saturday night does as much to change peoples’ minds as his baby Keelan reaching for a different type of ketchup at the grocery store.
It’s no surprise RCR, a proven Daytona success story would be up front for not just the Sprint Unlimited but this year’s 500. Even much-maligned teammate Jeff Burton, who struggled mightily in the No. 31 last season went four-for-four on top-10 finishes in plate races, nearly pulling off a huge upset in last July’s Coke Zero 400. Add in Austin Dillon’s 500 debut, driving the No. 33 Chevy, fast times in testing and all the pieces have been put in place by engineering for an A+ weekend across the board. I wouldn’t say what Harvick accomplished on stage, Saturday night was expected, but it was far from surprising.
Looking ahead, it also does nothing to help what will be a dogfight quest to make NASCAR’s Holy Grail these days, the Chase. It scores no points, gives him no edge with the “wild card” or in the championship race no driver leaving for another ride has ever been successful with in the modern era. And all the drafting expertise in the world doesn’t work when RCR heads to Las Vegas in March, step one in an intermediate tour that, in 2012 often left this Budweiser Chevy looking like the engineers had a few beers before constructing it. This win doesn’t cover up drama in June, when new sponsorships get announced at Stewart-Haas Racing which will likely be the same ones Harvick has now – bringing them over from RCR and perhaps threatening the very jobs of his current crew in 2014. Early chemistry doesn’t come up midsummer, during the first rough stretch of tough finishes every team goes through where the difference here becomes this team knows their marriage is over. So yeah, there’s a reason why the “lame duck overcomes all odds” story hasn’t been hatched yet. The rocky road is still dead ahead.
Talk to us in five months, Kevin.
For those who dislike Danica Patrick, it’s clear you won’t get the same kind of off-air reprieve. After making history Sunday, becoming the first woman to win a pole in a Sprint Cup race her short-term itinerary could include making more appearances than the President. At one point Sunday for me, Patrick’s post-pole interview on FOX turned into her popping up on ABC News when I went to the gym, then a stint on ESPNEWS the second I turned on my television at home. She dominated SportsCenter, when I clicked to ESPN and then popped up on CNN. It was getting to the point where I thought Family Guy would be interrupted with a breaking news update on her whereabouts with Ricky.
In all seriousness, let’s stand up and respect what Ms. Patrick has done. Little girls all over the country, some who have never heard of our sport before now have a record to seek. Chauvinism, NASCAR’s dark side that once included an accusation Shawna Robinson was intentionally spun out after winning a Nationwide Series pole (Atlanta, 1994) is getting put to bed. Everyone from Jimmie Johnson, to Jeff Gordon, to Tony Stewart has come together and is openly rooting for her success. To start off 2013 in this way, great publicity luring new fans in for the first race with a new brand of car equals an incredible opportunity for NASCAR to regroup. (Bonus: Patrick is acing her interviews. Every. Single. One… it’s uncanny. She’s got us all wrapped around that finger of sudden success.)
But optimism must also be based in reality. As Michael Waltrip so eloquently said, “She deserves some credit… but the car deserves more.” Stewart-Haas Racing, with teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman landed three cars inside the top 5. Clearly, the engineers figured something out in the offseason, a combination of aerodynamics and Hendrick horsepower that left Patrick with the best possible equipment to succeed. Yes, you have to put together the perfect lap, even on a track where you never press the brake. But with plate racing, when running by yourself the best drivers will whisper even a trained monkey can run wide open. SHR also isn’t stupid, with twenty races in need of a primary sponsor spread among Stewart, Newman, and Patrick’s cars. No question, internally the best car in qualifying was going to go to the one capable of making the biggest media impact.
It’s also important to note this type of surprise run, by a rookie pole sitter isn’t unprecedented. In 1994, Loy Allen, Jr. came to the speedway with a subpar team (TriStar Motorsports) whose current car, driven by Mike Bliss didn’t even make the top 40 on speed in 2013. Back then, it was a different story, despite a resume from TriStar’s former rookie that included a best finish of 26th (twice) in just five starts, three DNQs and a whole lot of unfulfilled potential. (Sound familiar?)
How did this historical lesson compare? Well, Allen was a ho-hum 22nd in the 500, then crashed out the next week at Rockingham before failing to qualify at Richmond. That year, he missed 12 of 31 races, never scored a top-10 finish (despite two more poles) and was a general non-factor in the Rookie of the Year competition.
Patrick feels like her outcome will be different. The crew chief (Tony Gibson) has formed an instant bond with her and is proven. And while Allen was part of a single-car outfit, she’s getting directly assisted by a three-time champion in Stewart, along with the support of mammoth SHR “sidekick” Hendrick Motorsports. Her best finish, a 17th was accomplished just this past November at Phoenix and Daytona has been a good track for her at times — she nearly won a Nationwide race here a few years back.
Still, the odds are long she’ll be even moderately successful on Sunday — and she knows it. But that’s OK with her.
“I feel like thriving in those moments where the pressure’s on has also been a help for me,” she added Sunday. “I also feel like I’ve been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me. I don’t think any of it would have been possible without that.”
It’s clear, after this weekend that Patrick certainly has quality people around her, just like Harvick has the potential to overcome the odds. Both are off to the best starts possible.
Just don’t get caught up in thinking they’ve finished the job. That’s what the coming days and months are for; but at least, in the process they’ve gotten more eyes ready to watch.
Connect with Tom!
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I never really liked Harvick, but I applauded his snap at the media for their misguided obsession with the love couple. And I used to be a fan of Ricky Stenhouse, but now, I think Roush should boot him out of the 17 and put Bayne in there.
Speaking of The Bimbo, her pole award is a farce! I want to measure that restrictor plate! And I want to be witness to her pre- and post-qualifying inspections!
If there was ever a reason NOT to watch The Duels and the 500, we now have it! Ol’ D.W. will be all over himself talking about the biggest joke of the year! Not to mention how much FOX will be promoting her! But then, they are only going to show who NASCAR tells them to show! So, if you are a fan of any other driver, you know there will be no mention of your driver on Thursday or Sunday! that is, of course, unless The Bimbo screws up and crashes out! Which, if she does, I hope it happens before lap 2!
The new name for this race should be The Farce 500, because that is what it will be!
I predicted (to myself) that Danica would take the pole after all the hype about her top practice lap. Brian France has no shame.
I think that Danica winning the pole is the ultimate in marketing and deception. I’d bet my last penny that her car had a little “extra” to help bag the pole and Brian sent word to the inspectors to let it pass. I won’t be watching this farce of a race next Sunday (I’ve watched every Daytona race televised in the last 15 years). I will be channel surfing trying to find some professional wrestling to watch so I can experience some realism in sports.
I’m considering not watching any of the racing this week either since honestly I wasn’t impressed with the racing action on Saturday night and listening to endless hype about Danica just doesn’t interest me.
NASCAR loves to get a headline story and this year they had a bigger chance at it with DP and loverboy than with Jr so they took their shot and lookee there, the media will go nuts and voila, new instant fans.
The downside being that fans of other drivers would probably like it more if the coverage was about the actual race.
And no, I don’t “hate” her. I was very excited when she started out in Indy (for the same reasons that NASCAR is now pushing her name). Female driver, how great, yada yada – except that I’ve seen this act before and after the flash in the pan that she showed herself to be in Indycar and quite honestly the spectacularly bad example she shows with her temper tantrums, well, I stopped being a fan of DP. I’d rather be a fan of Johanna Long, Jennifer Jo Cobb or Simona De Silvestro. Heck I’d root for Chrissie Wallace if she could get a ride in NASCAR (and I am not a fan of the Wallaces). To me the women I mentioned above have worked hard in racing, they just don’t have the big money sponsors.
You obviously put a lot of work into this fine column. That said, it’s a shame that the biggest thing that I will remember from it is that you’re a “Family Guy” fan. Giggity!
Did you see the Fox ghost car segment they did with Danica and Stewart? They held the same line and neither of them got loose or had to catch the car, but it looked like Danica had an extra 10hp the way her car pulled away down the straight compared to Tony. It has been scripted and Danica got the call.
I in no way “Hate” Danica, but I HATE the fawning media coverage and the push to make her a star, along with the non stop Danica love affair from the booth. This will backfire and the ratings will tumble even farther this year.
I’ll be turning on the TV as the green flag drops in order to avoid the nauseating hype surrounding this twit.She will drop like a fly.
So how long will it be before the sex tape gets “leaked”?
WOW I THOUGHTI was just seeing it my way But yes the ghost car thing showed the 10 car had 25hp more it just pulled away same line .The Danica PIMPS at Fox talking about how dale jr may lose the fan fav thing just goes to show how far Danica’s PIMPS at na$car and fox are willing to take this.They got alot of money in this danamania pimping.This will make the Dale jr thing look small
Its all about power to weight ratio. Danica probably weighs 45Kg and Jeff Gordan 75Kgm thats 30Kg or 66Ibs difference.
He guys, about the gost cars and 25 more hp. Did you forget there was talk by the studio and drivers about wind gusts? All it took was a quick gust or calm for her to gain her spot, the rest of the run they were all three almost exactly the same. Please can your conspiracy blather?
Here it is, the link to the Fox ghost cars. Notice how all her time is made on the backstrech with pure horespower, and was even through the corners.
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