Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Frontstretch Staff · Monday March 4, 2013
Did you miss an event during this busy week in racing? How about a late-night press release, an important sponsorship rumor, or a juicy piece of news? If you did, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, The Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch going forward for the week ahead. Let our experts help you get up to speed for the coming week, no matter what series you might have missed, all in this edition of Pace Laps!
Sprint Cup: Ford’s Front Man Relevant Again For Carl Edwards, 2011’s title runner-up his 2012 couldn’t have gone any worse. Lose crew chief Bob Osborne, the only successful wrench he ever had? Check. Miss the Chase for the first time since 2006? Check. Lose veteran teammate Matt Kenseth to rival Joe Gibbs Racing, the very team that was trying to sign him before Ford stepped up to the plate? Check.
The final stats, for last season were truly staggering indeed for Edwards, whose long-term contract extension came paired with career lows in races led (five), top 5s (three), top 10s (13) and points finish (15th) for a full season in Cup. Who knew that with a financial windfall would come an actual “fall?” Add in five wrecks, all not of his own making since January testing started at Daytona and the season couldn’t have started off any worse. That’s why Sunday’s surprise victory, where Edwards led 122 laps and held off the sport’s five-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, in a green-white-checkered finish could not have come at a better time. In a sport where slumps can lead to self-doubt, a 70-race winless streak, for the second time in his career could have threatened to tear apart the psyche of the Blue Oval star had it continued.
“When you’re struggling,” he said Sunday. “It seems like time slows down, you’re working harder, you’re trying more, you’re questioning yourself more.  was one of the longest years of my life to work that hard and not get the victory.”
Now, after ending that career-tying drought for the second time, at the same track (Phoenix) Edwards has become, in the words of third-place finisher Denny Hamlin “relevant” again. Certainly, new crew chief Jimmy Fennig, one of the most experienced in the Cup garage deserves a ton of the credit. So does the pit crew, who churned stops out nearly a second, on average, better than the No. 48. But in racing, despite being a team sport the ones who don’t drive the car can only do so much. It was Edwards’ responsibility, in the face of a devastating start to step up and show, with Kenseth gone how much of a team leader he could be.
Certainly, there’s still a long way to go; in the last four years, Edwards has won in Cup just four times, zero of them in the “meat” of the season (races four through 33 on the Sprint Cup schedule). But for a driver looking to rebound, and a team facing Ford competition for the first time (note a green-white-checkered push from “teammate” at Penske Brad Keselowski) Roush Fenway Racing couldn’t have asked for any better from their “franchise player” this Sunday. Tom Bowles
IndyCar: A Familiar Face Getting A Famous Ride An 11th-place finish at Phoenix this Sunday, in a stock car isn’t the only thing AJ Allmendinger is smiling about these days. On February 19th, he ran laps in an open-wheel car for the first time since 2006 during a preseason test for the IZOD IndyCar Series at Sebring. Allmendinger tested a car for Team Penske at the invitation of its team owner, with the potential for a partial season in the series this year. Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said the April 7th race at Barber Motorsports Park would be a good event for Allmendinger and acknowledged the Indy 500 is also a possibility.
“My heart was beating fast and the first couple of runs, the car was definitely driving me,” said Allmendinger, who spent the last six years racing in NASCAR – including last season for owner Roger Penske before a drug-related suspension ended his employment. “I’m looking for the best opportunity. It slowly has come back to me. Everything feels real fast. A Cup car has more horsepower, but because of its weight that sensation of speed is a lot different. When you get in an IndyCar on a road course, it feels like it has 1,500 horsepower.”
So was the test strong enough ‘Dinger is thinking of a full-time conversion back to open-wheel, down the road? For now, he wouldn’t commit.
“I’m definitely happy to be here,” he said. “I’d love for it to lead to some races, especially Indy. I’m so grateful to the organization to give me this opportunity. From what I went through last year, to have Roger ask me to come here and drive one of his race cars ‘happy’ is an understatement [for how I feel].”
Meanwhile, driver JR Hildebrand turned heads when he arrived to a Chevrolet test at Sonoma Raceway on February 27th behind the wheel of a pink, 1962 Cadillac Coupe De Ville. Hildebrand already owns a 1966 Chevelle SS he received as a gift from team owner John Barnes for being named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2011 and a TransAm he’s working on restoring.
Hildebrand has always been a fan of early model year Cadillacs and decided to make this one his newest project car. He specifically looked for one that wasn’t completely restored so he could put his own finishing touches on it. It’s a great story, although the biggest question is… does he plan to leave it pink? Toni Montgomery
Nationwide: What’s Old Is New Again… And It Might Get Old Quick At Phoenix, the story coming out of the Nationwide race was not a last-lap crash, but the race winner. Kyle Busch, who didn’t visit Victory Lane in the series at all in 2012 while driving for his own team, dominated the Dollar General 200 Fueled by AmeriGas with Joe Gibbs Racing, leading 142 laps and only faltering when two pit road errors sent him to the rear of the field early on. It only took him a few dozen laps to get the point back.
Troubling as it may be to many, this dominance will likely be a familiar sight in 2013. Busch is running 25 total races in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54, a return to the organization with which he was almost unbeatable in this series during the late ’00s. Last season was a welcome respite from Busch domination for a lot of people, even though Joey Logano pretty much replaced him by excelling in Gibbs equipment. It seemed, during that year between the intriguing title battle, along with the emergence of youngsters like Austin Dillon the series was regaining some of its former flavor. But if Phoenix is any indication, with a strong performance by Busch, teammate Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski it looks like Nationwide regulars getting a foot in Victory Lane are going to have a hard time again in 2013.
All three will be formidable foes, whenever they jump behind the wheel of a car. Yet you can sense that jumping to the head of the class, topping on the list of obstacles for series regulars is now Busch, the Nationwide’s winningest driver who’s now equipped to run on all cylinders.
A hungry driver, top-tier equipment and a proven history of success? Nationwide Series competitors better watch out. Kevin Rutherford
Grand-Am: A Two-Year Drought Comes To An End Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney brought GAINSCO / Bob Stallings Racing their first victory since Montreal, in 2011 by claiming Saturday’s inaugural Grand-Am of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The Dallas, TX-based team started on the pole but never led until the final seven laps of the race, when they took advantage of a broken suspension suffered by then-leader Brendon Hartley.
“It’s great to be back. We finished second quite a few times last year, and man, what a day! We pushed it so hard the whole way,” Gurney said. “It was an incredible battle at the end with [Ryan] Dalziel and [Scott] Pruett, and it feels amazing to hold them off. We had 500 GAINSCO guests today, and we created 500 new racing fans. They were all going crazy.”
Co-driver Jon Fogarty echoed Gurney’s thoughts on their return to Victory Lane.
“It’s great to win, obviously, but today couldn’t have been a better time with all the people here from GAINSCO,” Fogarty said. “Victories are always great, and beyond that, we just put ourselves in a great position for the points championship. Now, we have to keep it going.”
The duo, who took home a seventh-place finish in last season’s standings now find themselves just six points behind defending champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. And while there are still ten more races this year, the GAINSCO / Bob Stallings Racing team have set themselves up in a great position to battle Pruett and Rojas for the title.
The Grand-Am Rolex Series is back on track again April 6th for the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Rick Lunkenheimer
Short Tracks: Chip Ganassi’s “Old Flame” Taking Center Stage Over The New One Earnhardt Ganassi development driver Kyle Larson has been shining the spotlight on many different forms of racing, thanks to his broad resume of series he competes in during a typical year. While Larson is obviously excelling everywhere, though he’s not the only driver around doing that. This weekend, Bryan Clauson put more trophies on his mantle from Canyon Speedway Park during the 6th Annual Copper on Dirt. Clauson swept the Midget features and won the first of the two Sprint Car ones. Still an up and coming star in racing, Clauson – who was once a Ganassi project himself, a limited Nationwide Series participant in 2007-08 before being released – has not been able to secure a full-time ride since.
That’s a shame, considering the talent Clauson has showed on the short track level. In the meantime, he’ll just keep racking up trophies, in both Midget and Sprint Car racing while pursuing that Nationwide / IRL opportunity. Canyon Speedway Park, especially is the type of place where he can do so, repeatedly. When R.J. Johnson beat Clauson in the Sprint Car feature on Saturday night, it was his first loss in ten starts at Canyon. Elsewhere, he has started the year finishing eighth in the Chili Bowl and already won races at Bubba Raceway Park and Canyon as he starts his defense of his 2012 National Sprint Car title. Clauson also won the USAC National Midget Championship in 2011 and 2010… and, sometime soon, he’ll also be competing for a NASCAR title in front of your television set. You’ll see… Mike Neff
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Yeah, not too happy to see the Nationwide series dominated by Cup drivers again. I don’t anticipate watching much of the races at this point.
Last year it was far more interesting. I can see Busch, Kenseth, Logano and Hamlin on Sunday -not interested in watching them beat up on the lower level series.
I agree with GinaV24 about the preponderance of Cup drivers in Nationwide races – YAWN (translation TV heads – I’m not watching!).
Not sure if you have been paying attention but Clauson has raced some Indy Lights and IndyCar races including last years Indy 500. I do not understand why you think he will be racing NASCAR soon. All signs point to IndyCar.
I agree Gina,
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