Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Sunday July 16, 2006
To the Point: Looks like Kyle Busch hasn't heard of the sophomore slump. The 21-year-old Nextel Cup driver, in just his second full season, moved up to fourth in Nextel Cup points with 19 races in the books after recording his first win of 2006 at New Hampshire. Leading the final 68 laps, Busch survived a green-white-checkered restart in which several contenders behind him ran out of fuel, coasting to the line half a second in front of Carl Edwards. Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the Top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Busch. Leading a race high 107 laps, Busch didn't assert himself up front until late in the event, but once he did, it was lights out for everyone else. The key for Busch was making a gas only pit stop under caution on lap 212 while leading; although pitting dropped him out of first place, it allowed him to run the rest of the race without stopping, putting him in position to grab the lead back after a lap 234 caution in which most of the cars in front of him made a pit stop themselves. Restarting second behind Elliott Sadler, Busch quickly disposed of the 38 car, and never looked back.
Five Questions You Should be Asking After the Race Weekend:
Yepâ€¦ it's called Tony Stewart - Ryan Newman. There were several bumping incidents on Sunday that caused controversy, but the one between Stewart and Newman clearly stood out. Stewart was in command of the race, leading 28 of the first 92 laps, when Newman, on fresher tires, came up on the 20 car and attempted to get his lap back. Stewart gave Newman a hard time, so Newman decided to drive his 12 car a little too hard into turn three on the inside of Stewart; the end result had both drivers wrecked, giving Stewart his fourth finish of 28th or worse in the last five races. Clearly, Stewart was unhappy with Newman after the wreck, claiming he was taken out, while Newman refused to apologize. With Stewart now in a more desperate mode to make the Chase, this confrontation may be worth keeping an eye on.
2) What is it with Robby Gordon and New Hampshire that makes him the center of attention here?
New Hampshire is a track known for one-on-one confrontations with Robby Gordon on the racetrack, and Sunday's event was no different. Robby renewed old bumping rivalries at the track with Jeff Gordon, who he spun out to win at this track in 2001, and Michael Waltrip, who Gordon hurled his helmet at this race last year after being wrecked by him. This time around, Waltrip got the short end of the stick, having his day ruined at the hands of Robby Gordon's bumper; Jeff Gordon was able to recover from his contact with the 7 car, contact that supposedly bent the steering linkage of his Chevrolet to finish 15th. As for Robby himselfâ€¦he soldiered onto a 19th place finish.
3) OK, so let's finally figure this outâ€¦will Danica NASCAR, or will she IRL?
After a week filled with rumors, wild comments, and conflicting interviews, the Danica situation appears to be more confusing than ever before. Patrick claimed in an interview with ESPN on Saturday that her first priority is to win the Indy 500, and to do that, she needed to be in IRLâ€¦but sources throughout the garage area I've heard have Danica fielding potential offers from not one, but two top NASCAR teams, each with the money and the flexibility to give Patrick a car she needs to win Indy in the month of May. With any IRL team hardly capable of matching multimillion dollar NASCAR offers, it should clearly come down to money for Danicaâ€¦yet she says it isn't about the money, it's where she'll be most competitive (IRL). If that's the case, though, why use NASCAR as a negotiating ploy against the IRL? That, to me, means money would have to appear to be somewhat of a motivatorâ€¦so I think the IRL vs NASCAR debate is an interesting "wait and see" case that could take a few more weeks to resolve, regardless of what Danica says.
4) Is Jeremy Mayfield really on his way out at Evernham?
Why wouldn't he be? Mayfield is suffering through the most disappointing season in his career. Just a year removed from making the Chase for the Championship, Mayfield is 32nd in points with no Top 10 finishes, along with six finishes of 31st or worse in 19 starts. Much was made about Mayfield and Evernham's "verbal war" last week, which ended in Mayfield being offered a ride with Michael Waltrip Racing if he could get out of his contract. That shouldn't be too much of a problem, as Mayfield has clearly been shown his place within his current organization since December. After making the Chase for two straight seasons, Mayfield still had his crew ripped apart by Evernham, with crew chief Kenny Francis switched to Kasey Kahne's car simply because Evernham's most marketable driver was struggling. It was clear by those changes Evernham knew who he wanted his primary team to be, and Mayfield's wasn't the one. Contrast that with the opportunity at MWR, where Mayfield could find himself top dog within the organization by 2009, when both Jarrett and possibly Waltrip have retired, and you can see why the choice becomes easy for Mayfield.
5) With seven races remaining, who is realistically still in contention for the Chase for the Championship?
Certainly, the way Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth continue to run, it looks unlikely that the 400 point rule will come into effect for this year's Chase, That means only ten drivers will be eligible, and after Kurt Busch's crash on Sunday, it appears 13 drivers are in contention for those ten spots, with Carl Edwards a longshot in 13th. Busch is now over 200 points behind 10th place, and drivers behind him like Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, and Ryan Newman are running too inconsistently to put the run they need together in order to make the Chase from being that far behind.
Mark Martin – After rising to a season high third in points after Dover, just 216 out of the lead, Martin had gone five races without a Top 10 finish entering Sunday, putting him in a position where he needed to stop the bleeding or risk falling out of the Top 10 in points. Sunday's run accomplished that; for the first time in over a month, Martin's car improved consistently throughout the course of the day, quietly rising all the way up to a 4th place finish in the final running order.
David Stremme – It's been a season to forget for the Ganassi rookie, and this race certainly didn't earn Stremme any more respectâ€¦well, at least in the eyes of Kurt Busch. Still, the driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge was able to recover from that potential disaster and move up to an 11th place finish, a career best and the third Top 20 finish in the last four races.
Dave Blaney – With the focus on "teammate" Michael Waltrip's miserable season, everyone has seemed to forget just how bad Bill Davis' other driver has had it recently. As such, it was a pleasant surprise to see the No. 22 CAT Dodge running up near the front for extended periods Sunday, spending time in the Top 10 before settling into a 13th place finish, easily a season best.
Kurt Busch : Other than Tony Stewart (whose plight was explained in the five questions above), no one was hurt more in New Hampshire than Kurt Busch. For the second straight race at this track, Busch found himself taken outâ€¦this time, it was in turn four by David Stremme, when Busch was simply biding his time and simply setting himself up for a Top 10 finish. Now, the car which had the most momentum of the cars looking to get into the Chase now has the least, as the 38th place finish dropped him 206 out of 10th and in a nearly impossible position for the last seven races.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. : For the past nine races or so, Dale, Jr.'s been more lucky than good, moving his way up in the point standings by virtue of Top 15 finishes instead of finishing up at the front of the pack. Well, that luck caught up with the 8 car on this dayâ€¦just 134 laps into this Sunday's race, the engine expired on the Bud Chevrolet, and Dale, Jr. finished dead last, dropping him from third to seventh in points.
Joe Nemechek : In a season filled with enough rotten luck to fill a decade's worth of racing, the Army car was finally putting together a run it could be proud of, running comfortably in 6th placeâ€¦until he found the back bumper of Denny Hamlin coming out of turn four. Just like that, Nemechek was wrecked, his day was over, and the car found itself 41st in the final running orderâ€¦par for the course in what has been a frustrating season.
Elliott Sadler : In what proved to be a microcosm of Sadler's season, the 38 team found itself in perfect position for a Top 5 finish after great fuel mileage got them up front in the final 100 laps of the raceâ€¦only to see the race go to "overtime" and their car run out of fuel, dropping them to 25th in the final running order.
Behind them, though, it's a dogfight for the final eight Chase spots. Jeff Burton, by virtue of another Top 10 run at Loudon, moved up to third in points, with Kyle Busch fourth and Mark Martin fifth after their strong runs. Kasey Kahne dropped down to sixth, with Dale, Jr. seventh and Kevin Harvick eighth. Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle find themselves tied for the ninth spot, the final two drivers currently eligible for the Chase.
For the first time since March, Tony Stewart finds himself on the outside looking in as far as the Top 10, now 11 points behind Biffle and Gordon in 11th place. Denny Hamlin is 12th, 18 out of 10th, with Carl Edwards 146 behind in 13th place, the last driver with a realistic shot at the Top 10.
"It was a great race (today) if you were a fan. With the pit strategy like it was, cars were back in the pack, cars that were leading were out front. You were on pins and needles to make sure you weren't caught up in something." Rick Hendrick
"I got wrecked by Ryan Newman. Everybody races each other different. And there's guy are really good at give and take and there are guys that aren't. Ryan is one of those guys who is not good at the giving part." Tony Stewart
"We were on fresh tires. I don't know if Tony knew that or not, but regardless, he didn't live up to what he preaches and that's move over and let a faster car go - especially a car on fresh tires trying to get a lap back." Ryan Newman
"It was very difficult with the conditions today. The track was very hot with this weather. The tires weren't holding up very well at all. Cars were slipping and sliding around. It was just very difficult to pass on this track. Any time you have those types of conditions, you're going to see a lot of guys losing control and you're going to see them getting into one another." Jeff Gordon
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You said that Robby Gordon spun Jeff Gordon out to win in 2001. You might want to see the videotape again – Jeff was moved out of the way but there was no spin. It’s funny how the human mind can just rewrite history.
I stand corrected…no one is perfect, and in editing I missed that error. Thanks for correcting it and reading FS!
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