Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The Key Moments
Duel Two – Jeff Gordon led. Then he sped… on pit road, so Kyle Busch pretty much took control from there. Kasey Kahne tried, and failed on the last lap to make a charge as teammate Matt Kenseth served as sacrificial lamb for Busch’s second career Duel victory.
In a Nutshell – 45 cars, 43 spots. Two DNQs identified within 10 laps. An ill-handling car. Not enough parts and pieces. Drivers still learning the draft and running – shall we say it – a little scared to wreck?
Sounds like the perfect recipe for a single-file parade to me.
Dramatic Moment – For a hot minute, the first five laps of Duel 2 looked like it was going to be insane. Mike Bliss, one of the aforementioned DNQs was up to 14th, all the underdogs looked like they needed to fight and the inside line was working hard against Jeff Gordon. And then… it all took a side turn to the local library where we could watch paint dry.
Kasey Kahne, for about five seconds had us believing the No. 5 car could pick off not one but two Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas.
The lone serious wreck of the day, in Duel #1 when Denny Hamlin lost control had Carl Edwards nearly flipping again in a savage hit to the outside wall.
The national anthem singer, at times had more energy than those already guaranteed a comfy spot in the race.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
If it sounds like I’m being hard on the Duels, don’t get the wrong impression; I think they’re a Daytona tradition that should never be dropped. Sometimes, though all the pieces of the puzzle work against you to produce disaster. The biggest problem with these races was lack of energy, and it stemmed from the smallest car count to attempt the 500 in several years. The number was understandable; after all, some of the lower-tier teams don’t even have two Gen-6 chassis in stock yet. But when you’ve got such a shortage of equipment, combined with two cars in Bliss and Keselowski clearly off the pace (virtually locking in your field of 43) you know the prevailing attitude is going to be, “play it safe.” Sometimes in life, even the best pitchers wind up throwing stinkers and the Duels, by and large one of the more exciting events of the year most times had their bad run of the decade Thursday afternoon.
Slick tape? Welcome to the new fad sweeping the NASCAR garage, on about half the bumpers of Sprint Cup vehicles these days. From Matt Kenseth to Ryan Newman, this substance, which looks like an extension of the rear decals is put in layers on the back of the car to help with bump drafting… even though these Gen-6ers are not that good with it. Designed to “grab” the car behind you and keep the front bumper from sliding, it’ll be interesting to see how much the movement catches on before the 500 (Jeff Gordon, for one was a car that I saw with a minimal, if any amount of this tape on the rear.)
GEICO is sponsoring Casey Mears for a full season, which begs the question – what took them so long? Why, as a Fortune 500 company would you want to keep associating yourself with a single-car team you’re causing to start-and-park in the races you don’t back them? Then again, if I was getting free advertising for 12 events in which the team keeps your decals on for the hell of it I’m guessing it would take me years to pay, too.
So Kyle Busch says the leader is nearly impossible to pass. Kevin Harvick says it’s nearly impossible to get a run on someone. Does that mean the Daytona 500 is destined to fail? No, no, no. You have to understand, these guys just went a few seasons where they could snap their fingers in the draft and jump from 20th to 2nd. Moves are back to the “old school” way of strategy and calculation, where runs are slower and it’s going to take more than a full lap to set a guy up. We’re in the midst of those growing pains, right now and know some of the newbies, like Busch himself weren’t around for this type of drafting that resembles the early 1990s more than any other era. My only concern for the 500 surrounds green-flag pit stops; if it’s caution-free, for an extended period of time I think the packs will break up into groups of 8 or 10 which will make passing more difficult. But never fear; we’re talking modern NASCAR here! At this point, a 120-lap green-flag ending, with handling and not green-white-checkered the rule of thumb. would be more surprising than the mystery debris that will appear with 20 laps left to bunch the field.
The Duels are moving to nighttime beginning in 2014. Honestly, it’s one of the best ideas the sport has had as of late, with FOX picking up the live television feed. If NASCAR could get more cars on the entry list, and I think they will in 2014 what better way to drum up excitement for Sunday’s big event than two balls-to-the-wall heat races? As we said, this year is an anomaly in terms of competition and I think there’s a great opportunity to grow here.
Danica Patrick’s co-owner wanting her to start-and-park? Of course Gene Haas wants the publicity involved by making sure his first female starts from the pole on Sunday. In the end, Ms. GoDaddy pulled the perfect compromise by gaining experience but playing it safe, hanging at the tail end of the lead draft for most of Duel #1 before coming home an invisible 18th.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
You’ve gotta feel for Carl Edwards. The season hasn’t officially started yet and the No. 99 team has already wrecked four times, from January testing (one) to the Unlimited (two) to Daytona 500 practice (three) to Thursday’s Duel #1. The sad part is each of these wrecks were not of his making, as in this case Denny Hamlin just lost it off Turn 2 and slid right in front of Edwards’ path. That also ruined a potential top 5 starting spot for Trevor Bayne, third-fastest in qualifying but now starting from the rear after his primary car was torn in “Tiny” little pieces.
Jeff Gordon might want to check his tachometer. Without that costly pit penalty, he would have won Duel #2 going away.
Last season, BK Racing started with speed so awful they needed their top-35 spots in owner points just to make the Daytona 500. After one year of experience, they’re not any better, needing those provisionals a second straight time with David Reutimann and Travis Kvapil.
Ryan Newman tried to enter the pits, running solidly in contention but ran into the McDonald’s Drive-Thru of Jamie McMurray instead. It cost him $5.79 for a #2, two laps of time to make an extra stop that is en route to a disappointing 21st-place finish.
Mike Bliss had a window net fall down within 10 laps of the race, forcing a black-flag penalty that killed his chance to make the main event. Martin Truex, Jr. was penalized in the last lap of his Duel for having his side window fall out. What gives? Add in the window problem Carl Edwards had in the Sprint Unlimited and we’ve got a pattern here.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
David Gilliland was a lap down in Duel One before the late caution gave him the Lucky Dog. He came back to finish 12th for new sponsor Love’s Travel Centers. Which, while we’re at it let’s give credit to fellow underdogs Josh Wise (16th in Duel 2) and Joe Nemechek (12th in Duel One) who snuck in without the best equipment in the stable. Honorable mention goes to Michael Waltrip (14th in Duel One) who was third down the stretch at one point and in position to pull a gargantuan upset.
Austin Dillon did pretty much everything right en route to a third-place finish: perfect pit stops and an excellent pairing with Jeff Burton. Even though Burton lost the draft late, along with teammate Paul Menard in Duel 2, RCR has to be happy with their four-car fleet heading into Sunday.
Juan Pablo Montoya did right-side damage to his Chevy on a pit stop but used the final caution to his advantage, tearing through the field up to third at the checkers.
What’s the Points?
None. In fact, I don’t think I heard the Chase mentioned once here… how refreshing.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – We’ll give each Duel two generic cans. Were they award-winning? Hardly. But they did serve as an important test session for Sunday; considering their history of being heart-stoppers, I can cut NASCAR a break here as well as reward them an extra half-can for bringing back the old qualifying format. I do think, after the 500 we’re going to be looking back at a thrilling finish and going, “Man, good thing they used these test sessions on Thursday to figure it out.” For all our sakes, let’s hope I’m right.
Next Up – The Great American Race, the 55th Running of the Daytona 500 is this Sunday at 1 PM.
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I am not sure there will be a long green lap run because of the difficulty they have getting onto pit road under green. The chaos was the turning point of both races.
As hopeless as things seem for a great 500, whatever Montoya did at the end of duel one gives me hope.
I expect the 500 to be a parade for at least the first 100 laps.
The worst part of the duels was listening to the idiots in the booth obsess over the transfer spots and “who was in and who was out”.
Ok…elephant in the room…the Duals were all in all pretty boring! There..the beast is set free! The Sprint race at least gave the appearance the new
I fully expect to see single file racing…until those debris cautions come out.
Only the super rich teams (mainly Hendrick) have lots of parts to spare so they will be full-on at the end. Most of the field will be playing it extremely safe to save cars, parts, and money.
Hey, don’t knock Kyle Busch for what he said…remember, he was right about the POS COT when he said it sucked.
I didn’t watch either of the races. I was at work during the day and since they don’t even start at a time when I could legitimately take a “late” lunch and go find someplace where they would be on TV, well, I simply can’t worry about it.
Larry, I wouldn’t be too sure about HMS having lots of extra parts. Remember they had to end their test sessions early because they didn’t have anything extra.
Let’s face it with as small a field as it was, why not be careful with your primary car so you can win on Sunday when it really matters?
Not sure how much of the 500 I plan to watch. I’m not a big fan of RP tracks in general. I don’t want to see a lot of wrecks – ever. However a good race would be nice. Past history says that if the drivers are smart (and considering the number of weird wrecks that have happened in practice and in the races), I expect them to do a lot of riding around until the last 10 laps. Just the nature of the beast, but it doesn’t make for compelling TV
I think the duels are an indication of the what we will see all year. The drivers will continue to look like a merry go round just following each other. Until NA$CAR awards points at intermediate points of the race, it’s just riding around until near the end of the race.
I too was tired of the whole “all important transfer spot” making it sound like Jr and Jimmie weren’t going to make the race. Do they think we are that stupid?
And why did FOX give Nemechek the shaft with no interview. He finished higher than Waltrip who they tripped over themselves to congratulate. (At least we won’t have to hear him in the booth…at least until he crashes out)
While I’m a Danica supporter, I finally realize why people hate the hype. Did they really have to show her on top of the hauler during the 2nd race? I almost thought they were going to interview her after the 2nd race too it was that bad yesterday.
If the telecast yesterday is what we have to look forward to from FOX this season, its going to be a long first part of the season.
If my memory is correct, Edwards has wrecked five times because he was involved in the Sprint Unlimited practice crash.
The drafting has a real 1990s feel again. Track position and a strong car are now more important than ever. I hope we get more action on Sunday, but I like a draft where the strong cars rise to the top. You will have to earn your passes on Sunday.
Could it be- gen 6 car D.O.A.?
All the hoopla of the “Gen6” car… and it’s not really a different car. Just a different body and a few suspension and rollcage mods from the “awful COT”. Some of the top team’s Daytona cars ARE COTs from 2010, 2011, just with a makeover. And most the the small teams, that’s all they have.
Doug, agreed, the Gen6 car is just the same chassis with a new “look” on top of it. RP tracks are a combo of boring followed by a few laps of downright scary. Personally I hate them.
Steve, thank you for the comment about the hype over DP. The broadcasts overdue this for everyone – I mean we’ve seen it with the Jr lovefest, and then it was Montoya, or whoever else is flavor of the month. Every driver has fans — how about a fair and balanced broadcast? What a concept! The hype is the reason I am not bothering to tune in for any of the pre-race stuff and will probably have the TV muted. I’ll use my computer and hope that NASCAR.com has figured out how to get raceview working so I can follow what I want.
It would be so nice if the announcers would just call the race – instead we have Waltrip & Company aka “it’s all about me”
So Nascar is finally moving the Duels to night time racing. I always wondered how they expected to get fans geeked up for the 500 when the first race that affects starting positions is run at a time most people can’t watch it!
NA$CAR sucks worse then ever. What is the purpose of the “duals”. Any other race or series “its go fast or go home”. NA$CAR could learn a lot from smaller series and especially the NHRA.
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