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 · Wednesday August 14, 2013
Did You Notice?… Juan Pablo Montoya’s NASCAR career is three months from ending? That’s a cold reality after Tuesday’s late-breaking story he’ll be released from his Earnhardt Ganassi ride after the season. On paper, that’s not a surprise. 22nd in the standings, he’s a whopping 292 points behind Jimmie Johnson and is almost certain to miss the Chase. With just three top-5 finishes, only Marcos Ambrose and Danica Patrick have done worse among the fully funded drivers to run every race.
But numbers don’t carry emotion, a human connection that keeps athletes afloat long after their time has come. That’s why this release has sent shockwaves through the NASCAR community. Owner Chip Ganassi, through seven years of employing Montoya has remained loyal and adamant the former Indy 500 winner can one day master the art of stock car racing. Where other drivers, like Reed Sorenson were released after a few short years to prove themselves it seemed like his Colombian protégé was given a lifetime leash. In stories announcing the move, it was even noted how a possible ride exists in IndyCar, SportsCar Racing or other Ganassi teams should they find the proper funding for Montoya (F1 is not an option). It’s a happy marriage of personalities, so good that it took three times as long as seemingly everywhere else for poor results to lead to that pink slip.
Was it deserved? Try asking Casey Atwood, AJ Allmendinger, or Regan Smith that question. Each was axed, from their first Cup rides without the seven years of patience EGR has given in this case. During that time, there’s been limited success: one Chase appearance, two wins, a few dangling carrots of oval dominance ruined by some late-race nightmare. Overall, though, Montoya’s lasting legacy of an aggressive driving style was also his downfall. His first Cup start was a wreck with Ryan Newman, a driver who later punched him in the face inside a NASCAR hauler in one of a handful of heavyweight rivals he created. Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, even mild-mannered teammate Jamie McMurray were, at times the “Target” of his front bumper. Bravado may earn you points in the boxing ring, but it certainly doesn’t help you score some on the racetrack – especially when your car’s on the wrecker in pieces.
At the same time, while justified, Tuesday was a dark day within NASCAR Nation. Chances are Montoya will vanish altogether; he’s too proud and accomplished to accept a full-time ride in Nationwide, similar to what Sam Hornish, Jr. did with Penske Racing. There’s little to no Cup options out there, meaning he’ll be off the circuit week-to-week. And what we lose from Montoya is a dose of personality other, up-and-coming drivers (including likely replacement Kyle Larson) can’t match. Love him or hate him, the Colombian spent his time firing people up while becoming one of the most difficult cars to pass each race. In an era where people move over for each other, too often like we’re driving on the highway and curtsy like they’re part of a ballet dance, not an athletic competition, that is going to be sorely missed. Montoya was one of those “love or hate” people that brought an opinion out of everyone involved in the sport: fans, drivers, media. Another “cookie-cutter” type replacement in the wake of his departure means there’s one less driver we can count on for a lovable quote.
Good luck, Juan Pablo. We’ll miss your candid moments: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Did You Notice?… Aaron’s stepped up to back Brian Vickers for a full season of competition? That, to me was the most important part of Tuesday’s announcement that had been expected for several months. There’s no doubt the 29-year-old, July’s New Hampshire winner was the perfect fit within Michael Waltrip Racing, rebuilding a career with hard work and perseverance. But you can’t build a marriage in today’s Cup competition without the big-time money to go with it.
Aaron’s, which had gone through some management restructuring, was far from a 100 percent lock. They’d only signed on board for about two-thirds of the Cup schedule, the last two seasons and had shied away from backing Vickers when he slid behind the wheel. You’d have to think that surprise victory at Loudon, one Mark Martin had never given them was the turning point needed for someone to open the safe.
What we do know is Vickers, along with soon-to-be-re-signed crew chief Rodney Childers become a formidable Chase contender in 2014. Right now, if you projected his limited schedule of results over a full season he’d be 18th in the standings, in contention for a bid. Those numbers should only improve with a Chase mindset, not a win-or-bust mentality combined with the consistency of being in the car every week. As long as Vickers keeps his car in one piece, an occasional stumbling block during his best years with Red Bull Racing a career year could easily be within reach. And if he ever makes the Chase, with a team capable of competing don’t forget he’s one of the sport’s best on intermediates, tracks which make up five of those final ten races.
With this signing, MWR now becomes the only “megateam” within the Cup Series that has all its full-time drivers under 35 years old. Hard to believe, considering their rocky 2007 start but they’ve positioned themselves to be contenders over the long-term.
Did You Notice?… A few quick hits before taking off…
- Mark Martin’s future remains “undetermined” at Michael Waltrip Racing for 2014. Waltrip does want a fourth car to run in at least the Daytona 500; could Martin slide behind for some more events? I think it’s unlikely, especially considering Clint Bowyer has ten unsponsored races on the No. 15 car. With no solid options, my hunch remains that Martin, at 54 years old is going to say “enough” after a down year and hang up the driving shoes.
- Considering Austin Dillon’s 11th-place finish, at Michigan in June he’s not a bad choice to sub for Tony Stewart. But what happened to good old-fashioned competition? Here’s a Chevy team whose rival is going to run Dillon, full-time on the Cup circuit next season. So you’re helping develop a rookie who’s going to potentially turn around and beat you? When there are other veterans, such as Regan Smith more closely connected to the team and available?
Again, Dillon deserves an opportunity just as much as several others on the list. But at some point, this whole everyone holds hands and sings kumbaya has got to be one of the problems, right? People don’t watch NFL because the Defense stops covering and helps the Offense score a touchdown. What happened to rivalries? Looking out for oneself instead of all 43 teams coming together in a big metal-melting hug? Dillon has plenty of extra opportunities to run in Cup coming up, with the team he’s actually going to be driving for. It’s also notable Elliott Sadler, last season while with RCR got nixed from driving a Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing – the very decision that gave Vickers the opportunity he took advantage of.
- The next surprise departure we could see from the Cup Series, after years of trying is Marcos Ambrose. 23rd in points, now without his signature win at Watkins Glen that’s “salvaged” the past two seasons his No. 9 Ford team has clearly regressed. With Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola running well, 18th in points you’d have to think the Australian superstar is frustrated. With 36 top-10 finishes in 177 starts, along with two wins on road courses those numbers look suspiciously mediocre… like Montoya’s.
But here’s where the two differ: Ambrose won’t wait for the axe. Last season, sources told me big money was offered for him to go back down under. Will the temptation of top-tier equipment, back in his homeland be too much to resist?
- You think Jeff Gordon, with his five DNFs is frustrated? Try being Travis Kvapil. He’s got eight DNFs, the most of the full-time Cup competitors running the distance and seven have been outside his control. It’s been three wrecks alone, in the last six weeks where he’s played the role of victim. You just didn’t hear about it until Danica Patrick was held responsible…
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don’t see that it’s much of a surprise.
seven years at the wheel of a Cup car and only 2 wins? not good
the only excitement out of Montoya of late was when he took out the jet-dryer at Daytona!
it was fun Juan! but alas,time’s up!
What’s surprising to me is that he lasted this long. Was it for PC reasons? Would a white driver have been given that much time?
We could put out a list of young drivers would have shown great promise who weren’t or aren’t given prime seats for some reason.
I wonder how BSPN will handle this?
Good riddance to JPM. He should have been gone long ago.
Too proud and accomplished? How about to arrogant and cocky. In F1, it’s nearly all about the cars and pit strategy to win. In Cup, some driving skill was involved and all he could do was he keep hitting his competitors and even a blower truck!
Lack of production?
I wish a decent team would give Marcos Ambrose a chance because I still think he can get it done in Cup. He was running really well with Todd Parrott last year (three top fives in row) and then they took Parrott and moved him to Almirola, and his performance suddenly improved, but not to where Ambrose was running. He has just gotten the raw end of the deal at RPM.
A couple of breaks here and there and Montoya would have won at least three non road course races that I can think of the past few years.
Possibly an opportunity for Montoya to deliver a little payback to some drivers he has a history with? Maybe not on purpose, but I don’t see him trying overly hard to race drivers clean that he might have a beef with if they get in his way.
Juan Pablo Montoya has exactly the same number of wins as another driver who has under performed for the last 7 years – Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2 wins.
Austin Dillon as a sub in the #14 was a No-Brainer. Duh! Bass Pro Shops made that call.
Montoya never quite made that leap to consistent performer and winner on the ovals. He even kind of backed into that Chase appearance. It proves that “turning left” isn’t as easy as it looks.
I hope Ganassi doesn’t rush Kyle Larson into that car and at least gives him another full-season in Nationwide (i.e. see Joey Logano). Newman or maybe Mark Martin sharing the ride with Larson could be a good fit for the next year or two.
Over88… then there must be a good business reason to keep Junior on board at HMS. But I’m not going to complain if Rick Hendrick wants to spend his money on average talent.
Upstate… I agree. To put Kyle Larson in the #42 car next season would be a horrible mistake for both EGR and Larson.
@overra88ted – re: dale vs juan – you nailed it – thanks!
Ellen in the newsletter said she was bored by Pocono and Watkins Glen but she’s excited about the upcoming Michigan race? Might want to check her for PED’s…
Juan Pablo Montoya is actually a good racer, but Sprint Cup isn’t the place for him yet. He should scale down to NATIONWIDE and see how that goes for a year or two. As for his replacement, people are saying Kyle Larson and honestly, I don;t think that’s a good idea just yet. Give him at least another year or so in NATIONWIDE. I would be looking at these following drivers who is without a ride or contracts end at the end of this year: Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Mark Martin (part-time in the No.8 with Kyle Larson maybe?), David Ragan, and David Reutimann. Reason I didn’t say Ryan Neaman like everyone else or Kurt Busch…well, RCR looks to already have Newman for the #29 Chevy and Kurt Busch I think should stay with Furniture Row Racing for at least another year. Also I didn’t say A.J. Allmendinger, because JTG Daughtery Racing looks to have them when that team I believe will switch to Chevrolet next year and form an alliance with RCR.
Carl D. … Just how many upcoming races is Dale Jr. not going to have a primary sponsor? No primary sponsor locked in for 2014. National Guard is not staying forever, and most likely will cut back next year, if they return at all.
Everyone is talking like montoya is leaving a good team. EGR is one of the worst teams in nascar. I feel sorry for larson if he gets the sprint cup ride with this sorry team.
Good luck Montoya. At the least, you’ve been entertaining to watch. But the results have been mediocre.
Overra88ted are you insane? I’m not Dale Jr. fan or anything, but 2 wins, leading the points at times, rafts of top 5s and several Chase appearances is not the same thing as 2 wins and struggling to run in the top 5.
Don’t really care about Montoya at this point, would like to see him land either a Grand-Am ride or Indycar though… But Marcos? I watch the V8 Supercars religiously so I’ll be real happy to watch him go back there and kick some ass, but it’s a real shame he never got a chance to drive good equipment. He should’ve been given a chance at Roush, either in the 6 or the 17.
stan You have to be kidding me? Earnhardt-Ganassi is a pretty awesome race team. Or at least it would without Ganassi anyways. It was better just as D.E.I.
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