NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Wednesday March 13, 2013
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years now since a smiling, happy-go-lucky kid from Arizona came out of virtually nowhere to earn a spot with Michael Waltrip Racing. That rookie season was full of hard knocks for Michael McDowell, known more for a savage crash at Texas, To one of the most devastating wrecks I have personally witnessed, than on-track performance. Let go from MWR following the season, it’s been a battle for the now 28-year-old to drive competitive equipment on the Cup Series level ever since.
But one of the sport’s well-regarded “nice guys” has never stopped fighting. After years of start and parking, hoping to keep his name out there. this year’s Daytona 500 provided an opportunity he made the most of. Earning a career-best ninth place, his first top 10 in 116 starts on the Cup level McDowell hopes that performance will propel sponsorship to look towards the No. 98, underfunded Ford he drives for Phil Parsons Racing. How much money have they raised for 2013? Will NASCAR’s Gen-6 chassis provide future opportunities for the “little guy” to stay competitive? And whose friendship does this driver value, inside the garage area that will always transcend the racetrack? The outspoken driver discussed those topics, and then some with Tom Bowles in this week’s _Beyond The Cockpit.
Tom Bowles, Frontstretch.com: I know it’s been a couple of weeks now. But how does it feel to have gotten your first top-10 finish in the Cup Series, not just in Daytona but the sport’s biggest race?
Michael McDowell: Oh, it was awesome. It was a total team effort. Obviously, Daytona has a lot of variables that are different than the other racetracks. But we definitely had a great race, and a great result. It was a good opportunity. That’s what the Daytona 500 is… it’s an opportunity race. You just know that when you go to Daytona, you can have a shot at winning or you can have a shot at being in a big pileup on Lap 10. You just never know what you’re going to get when you get there. So to come away with a good finish is awesome.
Bowles: Chad Knaus, after winning the Daytona 500 with Jimmie Johnson was bragging about how many hours straight he worked on the car. Explain for fans how much you guys put into preparing for the 500, along with the size of your team in preparing the car by comparison.
McDowell: I can promise you our guys put in more hours than Chad Knaus. There were six guys building the car, it was so difficult. The new car, and the jigs, and the fixtures and everything it takes actually to build one of those cars in house is just an incredible task. So our guys, Gene Nead [crew chief], Jimmy Evans, and all those guys worked I can’t even tell you how long. I think the Labor Board would come find us if I told you how many hours they worked.
Bowles: When did you feel like you had a shot at really running well?
McDowell: Well, at Daytona you always do, really. With Ford and the Roush Yates engines, you just know you have a good shot when you get down there. Just getting in the pack, and having a good motor and a good body… all the other moving elements are not as important as, say Texas or Bristol or Las Vegas. So we definitely knew we’d have a shot, or an opportunity. But to go against the powerhouse teams, and do it all day long…
It wasn’t just a fluke. It wasn’t like there was a 15-car pileup. We were in the top 15 all day long, and at the end made up four or five spots to get a top 10. It’s definitely a huge deal for our team.
Bowles: Now, you guys made $100,000 more than if you blew an engine on the first lap and finished last. How much does that help you guys in terms of running entire races? Can that make a difference in starting a full race itself and running the distance?
McDowell: It does and it doesn’t. For one race, yes but beyond that it’s not like a huge pick-me-up. Obviously, it helps, but for every race we run unsponsored, it costs us $150,000. You have to have sponsorship to be able to run, even with that additional $100,000 you made at Daytona. That’s really just to help make sure when you get down, in the middle of the summer, and you miss one of those races, you stay in business.
So this game is very difficult, and it’s so expensive to run these races so that the purse and whatnot doesn’t swing the pendulum enough.
Bowles: Do you feel it’s gotten worse in the last couple of years, in terms of the cost making it more difficult to run on the purse?
McDowell: Well, I think the biggest difference now – you’ve always needed sponsorship to go racing. Especially to compete at a high level. But I think it’s harder for the small teams now. Just because of the fact that to make these races, you have to be very competitive, you have to have the latest and greatest equipment. These cars, to build them now, with how tight the templates are from the Car of Tomorrow to the Gen-6 it’s just getting harder and harder. It just makes it more expensive for the teams.
The reason they’re doing it is great. I don’t disagree with it. We’re just having to adapt to that, and it’s a process.
Bowles: You have firsthand knowledge of the Gen-6 equipment shortage, missing Phoenix. When did you know that was going to happen and how tough was that?
McDowell: Very tough. It’s my hometown race, I’ve got a lot of friends and family there, do a lot of prerace media for the track. I actually flew out from Daytona to Phoenix, was already there… so it was definitely tough. But we didn’t really have a choice. There was no option. We got back to the shop, and we weren’t even close. The hauler needed to leave in 12 hours, and it wasn’t even a possibility. It took everything they had just to get to Vegas, and that’s not anyone’s fault but our own. We just were too late on starting to get our cars ready, and NASCAR was very late on finalizing the rules, and templates, and fixtures and things like that. It was hard for everybody, but let’s get through the next couple of races here, get back on our feet and hopefully get some sponsorship so we can race.
Bowles: One of the things we’ve seen early in the season is smaller teams tear up cars. With that equipment shortage, do you think preserving it (I.E. – racing conservatively) will remain an issue?
McDowell: For sure. Our Vegas car is our Bristol car, and our Bristol car will be our California car until we can get on our feet. So you have one bad episode, one bad wreck and you’re going to miss the next race. For us, right now we’ve just got to get through these races and get going.
Bowles: NASCAR has done a lot with the Gen-6 in terms of what they hope will level the playing field. Have they done enough? What can they do to make it easier for you guys to compete?
McDowell: No. Anytime the rules change, it makes it harder. The reason is the bigger teams with bigger budgets are able to adapt quicker. They’re able to have the resources to build infrastructure and make changes quickly. Normally, what helps us is at the end of the CoT car, we were pretty good performance wise because there were enough parts and pieces trickling around, plus you have a few years under your belt with the same stuff that you can get things sorted out. When everybody has to go back to the drawing board, the guys that have the bigger Sharpies and the bigger whiteboards win. It will take a little bit longer until it balances out again.
Bowles: You guys announced a sponsor for Vegas, but it appeared you pulled it in early. Where are you at in terms of races you’ll run the distance?
McDowell: It is week by week. We have one more race for Curb, we have one more race for K-LOVE. We’re working on lots of deals, but really right now we have two more races and that’s it. Sponsorship is key to whether or not we’re able to run, and run competitively.
Like I said, we’re constantly working on it. It’s not something where we’re sitting back and waiting for a deal to show up. We’re having meetings every week with potential sponsors and it’s just a hard sell right now. It’s hard to get things rolling. So, we’ll see what happens, but the goal for us, like in years past, is stay around, stay relevant and when things start to move and shake, we’ll be in a good position.
Bowles: With start-and-parking, we’ve all heard the criticism. Give your argument for how the start-and-park system has been valuable to your career.
McDowell: The biggest thing for us right now is I wouldn’t get those Nationwide opportunities, in those cars with Joe Gibbs if I didn’t get the opportunity to fill in for Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin testing. I wouldn’t be around to be able to do those types of things. So staying around, staying current, staying fresh from a driver’s standpoint – you only have to be away from the racetrack for a few weeks before you’re forgotten. So it’s very important to be there. Then, from a team standpoint we have to have a team up, running, equipment and infrastructure so that when you do sell sponsorship, you’re ready to go. Nobody’s going to come to a program – it’s like selling a product without having a product. They have to be at the racetrack, and you’ve got to be there every weekend.
Bowles: OK, a couple of fun questions to finish up. What’s your best friend in the garage right now that’s racing?
McDowell: Trevor Bayne.
Bowles: Do you remember that friendship on the racetrack or is it never something that you think about?
McDowell: I don’t really think about it. To be honest with you, we’ll race each other harder than most because we don’t take it as seriously as the other guys do when they’re battling hard. It’s kind of like when you’re outside playing basketball with your buddy, you still want to beat him but it’s still good and fun.
Bowles: So you’ve never been angry with him after a race?
McDowell: Oh, I didn’t say that! I’ve been angry at him lots of times. I just get over it. It’s not… what we do on the racetrack is just what we do. It’s not who we are. It’s not life or death. As much as a lot of guys want to make it that way, when you get home, there’s a reality that you’re just a human. You’re not superman. But I definitely have been very upset with him after races – it’s just part of it.
Bowles: Name one racer you never got to compete against you wish you had the chance to.
McDowell: Probably Senna or Schumacher.
Bowles: Schumacher, huh? Interesting choice.
McDowell: Yeah, I’m a road racer. I didn’t really start racing on ovals until I got to NASCAR. Growing up, that’s all I really watched and where my career was heading. So I kind of took a 180 degree change when I came here.
Bowles: Finally, to wrap up. Right now, recent surveys have shown there’s the highest percentage of unaffiliated Americans, or atheists in terms of religious beliefs the country’s ever had. Now, I’ve always considered you – as have others – one of the most religious people in the garage area. Why do you think that’s happening, and where do you think you fit in, as an athlete in trying to showcase to others religion could be a good thing?
McDowell: Well, that’s two different questions. One, it’s funny when you say that you consider me one of the more religious guys in the garage because I wouldn’t call myself that. I don’t believe so much in religion as much as a relationship – and that’s a relationship with Jesus. I think the reason that our society is so far away from moral foundations and beliefs is that we’ve become a society that’s tolerant. We want tolerance. And so, we just want to be OK with whatever we do, however we do it and however anybody else wants to do it versus a society of people that have a moral foundation and understand that there’s laws. And laws are good for us. It’s not about following rules and regulations but having a relationship that allows us to love God first and other people more than ourselves. And we’ve just become tolerant of … you can do whatever you want to do. If you want to love a leaf and say that’s a God, then you can. But there’s no power in that… and that’s where I stand with everything.
Connect with Tom!
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thx for the interview. He’s one of many good guys who deserve a better shot at the big time than they are getting.
Wonder if frontstrech.com could sponsor McDowell for a race or 2 this year??
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Did You Notice? ... The Details Behind Busch Double-Duty And NASCAR Teams/Series Needing A Boost
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