Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
”There is no truth. There is only perception.” Gustave Flaubert
The beauty of sports is that they’re a form of entertainment. You don’t need to know every lap, number, and fact in order to lay back and enjoy the show. That’s why for every diehard, no matter what you’re covering there’s about ten other people who know just enough to get by. Life has a funny habit of getting in the way of these hobbies: kids, work, bills, or even a beautiful Spring Day, which more than half the country experienced on Thursday that clearly supersedes some 30-minute research into the NASCAR Rule Book.
That means most of NASCAR Nation isn’t focused on reading 50 pages of analysis about Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing, and their murderous penalty heard around the world on Wednesday. They don’t have time to look in-depth at a motor, learning the difference between 522 and 525 grams or what makes a connecting rod “tick.” They just look at the gargantuan size of the consequences, the largest in NASCAR history that I can remember and immediately come away with this perception: “If the penalties hold up, Toyota, Gibbs, and Kenseth cheated to the point they won because of this faulty connecting rod.”
Based on what you see on paper alone, how can you come away with any other conclusion? Kenseth, for entering the race at Kansas now has lost himself two points for running this race – a far cry from the 48 he earned for winning it. Joe Gibbs, docked 50 points won’t be able to accumulate anything more for his No. 20 car until Michigan in mid-June. A $200,000 fine, the most assessed to anyone since Carl Long in 2009 isn’t the type of bill you hand out like a Christmas Card. Add in a six-week suspension, for crew chief Jason Ratcliff, no bonus points for the Chase, no pole and you’ve cooked yourself up a rap sheet recipe convicts can’t even match. It’s clear, through what’s been handed down from above these penalties are meant to mirror a serious offense. To borrow from baseball, it’s like Kenseth was on steroids, the tests came back positive and they’re throwing the hammer down. Hard.
There’s only one problem with this whole methodology; for those of us who do work NASCAR for a living, who understand what goes on behind the scenes the chances of three grams underweight giving Kenseth the win are… close to zero. A good source of the site, who’s won NASCAR’s Engine of the Year Award in the past (but wishes to remain anonymous) tells me yes, having a connecting rod too light, as Kenseth’s No. 20 was deemed to have after the race at Kansas was, at best a major oversight. Everyone, he claims knows one of the first things NASCAR checks on your engine is the connecting rod; the weights for those pieces are clearly spelled out and it’s not something you’re going to be able to get away with. Period, end of story… it’s like taking a shower every day. It’s not a part of the checklist officials are going to overlook.
With that said… the difference three grams makes, according to who I’ve talked to in the sport is equivalent to oh, about 0.5 HP. Is that really going to give Kasey Kahne the extra boost he needs to dive under Kenseth on the last lap Sunday? Almost assuredly not. Did it give Kenseth the extra one-lap speed he needed to earn the pole? Another resounding no. While illegal, according to the rules the faulty engine seems more equivalent to a car failing inspection for being too low. It’s a violation, yes, but where the competitive advantage was miniscule, at best and did not affect the overall outcome of the race.
In that scenario, which unfolded for Martin Truex, Jr. at Texas there were no break-the-bank moments, suspensions, or chairs broken over one’s head like the WWE. The penalty, instead seemed a perfect fit for the crime: six points (equivalent to about six positions on the racetrack), a $25,000 fine and no crew chief suspension. Michael Waltrip Racing, knowing they couldn’t prove a malfunction on the car simply accepted the hand they’d been dealt and moved on. Like a 5-yard defensive holding penalty, for football they simply regrouped and realized it’s something they’re able to recover from over the course of an 80-yard regular season drive.
Wednesday’s penalty, for Kenseth in contrast does the equivalent of leaving Joe Gibbs Racing in intensive care. If not for their status as a multi-car organization, $200,000 – plus the possible prize money lost through no owner points for six-plus weeks – would be enough to cripple a team’s future purchases. Just ask Carl Long; the driver, nor his self-owned team have been back on the track since being fined a similar amount for an oversized engine four years ago. How much JGR was involved in the whole process, we’ll never know; Toyota makes their engines but there’s a certain amount of “tweaking” the company does on its own, in the shop. But the competitive advantage, like in Long’s case wasn’t enough to make a difference, leaving everyone involved simply scratching their heads over why such a small violation’s turning into a witch hunt.
“I think the penalties are grossly unfair,” Matt Kenseth said Thursday. “I think it’s borderline shameful. There’s no argument the part was wrong. However, if you can find any unbiased, reputable, knowledgeable engine-builder and if they saw the facts, what all the rods weighed. The average weight of all the rods was well above the minimum — 2.5 (grams) above the minimum, at least. There was one in there that was way heavy. There was no performance advantage, there was no intent, it was a mistake.”
“JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) had no control over it. Certainly to crush Joe Gibbs like that — to say they can’t win an owner’s championship with the 20 this year is just, I can’t wrap my arms around that, it just blows me away. And the same with Jason Ratcliff (crew chief). I don’t feel bad for myself at all, but for Jason and Joe, I just couldn’t feel any worse. There’s no more reputable, honest hard-working guys with good reputations more so than those two — I feel really bad for them.”
It would appear, then if there’s no real connection to the scope of the violation and its punishment that NASCAR is using this opportunity to send a message. “Owners,” they say, through a piece of paper designed to kill Chase opportunities, “Don’t mess with our templates and our rules.” OK… well who are they aiming that at, exactly? It’s not like there’s a large group participating in misbehavior. The number of car owners, that can win on any given week in NASCAR you can count on less than two hands to begin with.
That means the message winds up muddled… and making people mad. This month, through their actions on Gibbs and Roger Penske the sanctioning body has succeeded in alienating two of its top-tier participants. How is “overdoing it,” in the name of getting people in line good for anyone? Especially in the case of Gibbs, who has important links to the non-NASCAR athletic community and whose words still carry a hell of a lot of weight. Another source explained that he spoke to some NFL folk, early Thursday including someone who was considering getting into ownership. The general gist? NASCAR was making fools of themselves, going against one of their own and respect was at an all-time low. “Radioactive” was the term best describing the mood of the day.
But where I feel the worst, about this whole situation is for Kenseth and the way his win will now be perceived. Sure, it’s one thing to put jet fuel in your engine, like Michael Waltrip did at Daytona all those years ago. Bring a motor to the track making 50 extra horsepower, illegally? Throw the book so hard at the guy it rips in half over his head. But to risk a team’s reputation, along with their long-term championship outlook on a three-gram difference in weight that didn’t even generate one extra horsepower? Doesn’t that seem a little extreme to you?
That contradiction is bound to, at best leave NASCAR fans a little bit confused. Or maybe it won’t. For thousands upon thousands of them, they’ll look at Kenseth, Joe Gibbs, the No. 20 Toyota and say simply, “They cheated.” There will be no further explanation needed; the damage, in an ADD world has already been done.
But as for those owners, hit hard by NASCAR’s wrath I predict there will be no such surrender. Earlier this year, after Denny Hamlin’s $25,000 fine for speaking his mind Joe Gibbs and his own sponsors stood by their driver. It’ll be interesting to see how much they stand up now, in the face of authority along with Roger Penske now that they’re the ones being unfairly punished. After all, there’s another famous quote about perception; the only way to easily adjust it is through power.
Perhaps the only way for the right punishments, to fit the right crimes is for these owners to start standing up and using theirs.
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©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I find it hard to believe that 1 connecting rod being 3 grams light would add any HP because it would unbalance the engine.
Also, add in Kenseth’s statement that the combined total of all the connecting rods was over the regulated weight, it makes me think that the engine must have been seriously unbalanced. Either that, or they are making up for the weight difference in other ways. Who knows for sure?
But it would seem to me that Toyota not producing equal weight connecting rods is a rather weird problem. Are they doing this on purpose because that they have found some way to cheat? I really would like to know.
And the penalty for this is just outrageous. I, literally, haven’t watched more than a few NASCAR races a year for the past several years now because of all this WWE type BS. …but I do still get the Frontstretch news letter :) just to see if things are getting better. And IMO, they are just getting worse and worse.
This is not the first time Nascar has gone after Toyota.
I predicted that if Toyota won too many races, that Nascar would go fishing and find something.
The whole thing makes me sick. And it’s hard for me to understand why Toyota, the sponsors, or the owners/teams would seemingly just sit back and take it.
Honestly, I’m hanging on to Nascar by the tip of my nails. Maybe it’s because I miss the Winston Cup days and my youth. But Nascar seems to be getting more and more biased and outrageous.
I left Nascar for a few years in the early 2000’s but came back hoping to rekindle my love of racing. Only to see this kind of crap year after year.
My heart is broken and I’m one step away from leaving for good. It’s not an easy decision.
Like I’ve said before, this just ensures another Hendricks cup championship. Cheatin’ chad is laughing all the way to the bank. What nascrap did to JGR IS shameful.
There has to more to this than meets the eye. NASCAR may have had enough grey area issues at Gibbs racing and this is a message to them. As I said, the owner suspended must mean something no one at NASCAR is talking about.
Jason Ratcliff is reputable? Remember the magnet under the throttle? Remember when the self-professed Christian would lie to the face of a reporter about KyB’s ultra-tweaked NNS car? Matt hasn’t paid much attention to this man over the years. He “talks” a clean game, but doesn’t walk it.
I do recall Carl Long’s penalty for having an engine, which he leased/purchased from engine builder ernie Elliot. His fine was $200,000 as well and a 12 race suspension. the suspension was reduced to 8 races but he could not afford the fine and basically ended his nascar career. IF NASCAR doesn’t uphold the JGR penalty then why not cry favortism? Carl’s block was .17 cubic inches TOO BIG. In the scope of things very minimal but it ended his career. I hope nascar shows no favortism on the penalty and Toyota Racing is held to the same standards as the other racing teams
I got married a few years back and my wife was not a nascar fan. It took me a while to get her to start watching races with me and she was starting to like certain drivers, teams, etc.
I was hoping to take her to a race because THAT’S where to really get into nascar…AT the track.
Granted, she doesn’t understand all that goes into nascar, but she DOES understand fairnes, playing by the rules, etc.
She is now DONE with nascar after what was done to Joe Gibbs. And I can’t blame her. I’m sick of trying to explain away things to keep her interest. Or mine.
Perception can be a mighty thing, but I’ll give all but the most casual of Nascar fans enough credit to see these penalties against the #20 team for what they are… a heavy-handed move by Nascar to quash a championship-caliber team that doesn’t race Chevys with a Hendrick Motorsports sticker on the fender. That’s MY perception anyway.
Even Darrell Waltrip has said the penalties are way too severe. Granted, he said it in the nicest possible way so as not to risk ruining his reputation as Nascar’s shoe-shine boy, but it’s got to be hard for DW to balance his Nascar loyalty with his Toyota bias.
If these penalties are upheld and cost Kenseth the championship, I’m done. After 54 years of being a lifetime Nascar fan, that should say something. Nascar doesn’t even try to hide their bias anymore. It’s disgusting, and like JP above, I’m close to calling it quits.
Carl D. – You and I are on the same page! Sometimes I wonder if NASCAR cares at all what their reputation is so long as they’re making headlines.
Perhaps Penske and Gibbs should talk to the Smith family about another sanctioning body being formed.
I am very upset with the way that NASCAR has been handing out penalties lately. Most of them are grossly unfair. In my opinion they are removing anyone who might be a threat to Jimmy Johnson winning his 6th championship. I understand that teams try to get the most out of the requirements that they can and may stretch things a bit. However, I do not think any crew chief but Chad Knaus deliberately goes outside the box to bend the rules. He has proven it on several occasions and got his penalties repealed on his last offense because of Hendrick’s friendship to the one making decisions. I think both Kenseth’s, Hamlin’s, and Keslowski’s penaltys were too harsh, especially Kenseth’s and Joe Gibbs. I am sure that they did not know that they were way outside the rules. They do not operate this way.
NASCAR likes to project the image that it is untouchable. And for all practical purposes it is. But like most everyone NASCAR is chasing the all mighty dollar. To get their attention I would estimate about a 40-50 percent sustained drop in attendance as a boycott to protest their policies. Also if Miller, Pennzoil and Home Depot would just leave the sport in disgust would get their attention too. But NASCAR knows the fans are not united enough to pull off such a move. One has to wonder just how long sponsors will tolerate NASCAR´s policies. Remember Mars Candy didn’t want to associate with Kyle Busch after his stupid move at Texas in 2011. So image is important to them. Somehow NASCAR has to humbled in some way.
In lieu of an actual DQ, penalties like this are necessary and keep the teams in check. At this point it may be more responsible and simpler for Nascar to dole out DQ’a instead of having to hear this ridiculous “penalties are to severe verbiage”. It seems there’s this quick rush to criticize Nascar for policing the sport. The car was illegal, the conversation ends there. Nascar has made it consistently clear over the years that tampering with a motor (regardless of possible performance advantage) will be dealt with harshly. In most penalty cases Nascar is doing the teams a favor by not pulling the DQ card and just assigning points penalties for post race illegalities. If Nascar truly wanted to be harsh and draconian all post race illegalities would incur a DQ with loss of all points, money, etc…end of all discussion.
I hate to defend NASCAR, but they established long ago zero-tolerance for engine violations (e.g. Petty in the 80s and Carl Long). Maybe it’s overstated, but I’m sure they feel that if they allow any tolerance or grey area in the engine, teams will exploit it fully and it will get out of hand fast.
Their guilty …Penaltys to severe..(fine with taking away the win-pole & points) Nascar IS sending a message…They won’t be able to back down on this without backing down on Penskes & vice versa (politics)..But they are guilty..(heck I’d be more concerned that some one found a way to balance an engine better using a light & a heavy)..Yes I’m a Kenseth fan
1) WHEN NASCAR TORE DOWN THE ENGINE BEFORE THE RACE AND THEN AGAIN AFTER THE RACE AS I WOULD IMAGINE THEY WOULD DO IF SUCH A THING AS THE WEIGHT OF A CONNECTING ROD IS THAT IMPORTANT, HOW DID JOE GIBBS
2) WHO OF VERIFIABLE CREDIBILITY IS WATCHING NASCAR WATCHING THE COMPETITORS AND CAN VERIFY THAT TO US, AS OPPOSED TO THE “ACCORDING TO VARIOUS SOURCES,ACCORDING TO NASCAR,ETC.” STATEMENTS WE GET THAT NASCAR IS INDEED TELLING THE TRUTH?
If this was a penalty and fine to Robby Gordon there would be no problem. No one would be writing or talking about it. What a difference for the chosen few.
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