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.
Editor’s Note: Starting today, Tom Bowles returns to writing full-time for Frontstretch through the Chase. You can find his columns on Monday, when he’ll be writing a post-race commentary and also on Wednesday with one of the website’s signature columns, Did You Notice?
Monday morning marks 36 hours since the end of Sprint Cup’s “regular season” at Richmond. Every other major sport would be a marketing machine, publicizing the first round of the playoffs. NASCAR? With accusations of cheating, hanging back and questionable cautions they’re still figuring out a publicity nightmare of whom they “might” allow in. As the NFL completes its first week, stealing the spotlight it’s a worst-case scenario even the WWE, the go-to place for stock car criticism these days couldn’t script. Daytona Beach officials now face a crucial decision that, if handled wrong could cause tens of thousands of fans to walk away.
It’s also a problem that’s important to understand… because it’s been building, far beyond Clint Bowyer’s “suspect spin” and potential cheat-like consequences Saturday night. This controversy comes 18 years since NASCAR’s multi-car revolution, important to revisit at a moment where the sport is wondering, “At what cost?” Hendrick Motorsports, winning its first title that year hit the finale with a nearly insurmountable lead for Jeff Gordon. The only way Dale Earnhardt could take the championship is if he won the race, led the most laps and Gordon finished dead last. So Hendrick pulled out a car for Jeff Purvis, in the race purely for one reason only: to park in case the unthinkable happened. It was the smallest of moves, deemed unnecessary but also spoke to a “new” championship-winning philosophy. In a sport built on individual success, it’s better for “the business” of four to five cars if one of them winds up winning – the individual concept of competing was clouded. Sharing information, working in tandem across teams, and shifting resources to whatever car was doing best became commonplace.
The era of team orders, however subtle in NASCAR had begun, along with a copycat movement: within five years, the multi-car model was a sink-or-swim mandate to succeed in the sport’s top tier. It was a new era, one that made a select few rich at a time when unprecedented growth was a yearly event. The “middle class” of the 43-car field slowly disappeared, but who cared? Everyone left standing was rolling in the dough of TV contracts, fattened sponsor deals and racetracks selling out the second they posted tickets. As dictator Bill France, Jr. grew weak, fighting cancer and eventually ceding the CEO spot to son Brian the scales tipped more towards multi-car mayhem. NASCAR’s ironclad control at the top was vulnerable; a “country club” group of a half-dozen owners, whose expansion allowed them to control the 43-car grid gave them unprecedented leverage.
So did the downturn of NASCAR’s economy. Over the last six years, as ratings tanked and investor interest soured the success of the sport depended on men like Hendrick, Jack Roush, and Richard Childress staying in it. No one was around to take their place; at least, no one with the passion these men brought to the table. Toyota’s entrance, welcomed just before the real-life American recession became a necessity. Without them, and the new owners like Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull (now gone) the Cup Series would have faced a short field, filled with junkyard dogs while just 15-20 cars had the funding to run up front.
Those big teams came with a cost, of course, that mentality of “all for one” in a sport where second place is the first loser. NASCAR wasn’t built on participation trophies for everyone; just ask Dale Earnhardt, or more importantly, the dozens of drivers he slammed aside. It was hard contact and harder heads, in the form of driver rivalries for the win that attracted its modern day audience. A 1-2-3 parade finish, for the good of “the business” has been bad enough, making fans yawn as teammates cheer success and fail to compete down the stretch against each other.
I think the sport did see this coming long before Richmond’s ridiculous ending. A push to cap multi-car teams, for example at four was put on the books in 2009. But by then, it was a decade too late. These owners simply sidestepped, knowing all they had to do was threaten to leave, starting their own series or selling to the highest bidder and NASCAR would be brought to their knees. So while there are “technically” limits, “satellite” operations, like Richard Petty Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing depend on engines and chassis from their “bigger” counterparts in order to survive. NASCAR makes the rules, but in the end, it’s the owners who choose whether the field will abide by them.
Which brings us to Saturday night. Richmond’s race, in the eyes of most was “won” by Ryan Newman. Jeff Gordon, sitting solidly inside the top 10 was poised to make the Chase for the ninth time in ten tries. Only a caution by Michael Waltrip Racing’s Clint Bowyer, in which he spun out on his own switched the outcome. In-car video makes that spin look suspicious; in-car audio makes it look like Watergate. Candid quotes by the sport’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was running directly behind the “wreck” are like a 300-page indictment from the CIA on the case. Add in teammate Brian Vickers, who dropped back without explanation to add a point for Joey Logano and a conspiracy theory is very much on the table. Without those actions, Gordon outpoints Logano, sending MWR’s Martin Truex, Jr. to the house instead of the postseason.
How ironic that Hendrick, the one who helped spawn this modern-day philosophy is now the one being “victimized,” both in the form of their driver (Gordon) and SHR client (Newman). The same goes for MWR, who has been involved with cheating in the past (see: 2007 Daytona 500, jet fuel). But the ramifications go far beyond just them. NASCAR is facing a hard reality that the basic concept of their existence, 43 cars battling each other for first place, has changed. An individual sport is now a team game, where it’s every man for himself unless it benefits the organization he works for. A redneck sport has gone corporate, hard contact amongst each other replaced by a chess game where even cheating is on the table in order to make a multi-car organization they work for millions on the bottom line.
A sport, in one spinout became exposed as a business instead of a form of entertainment. And if there’s one thing sports fans don’t like, it’s watching a corporate empire unfold in front of them in their spare time outside of work. Kind of makes the whole fans hating the Chase problem inconsequential, huh? No one follows a sport that doesn’t compete the way the fans want; you know, the ones who actually generate the business. The rules they’re being sold and what’s really happening, on the racetrack are failing to match.
That leaves NASCAR with a few ugly choices. One, they could ignore this whole Richmond ruckus, passing on the conspiracy and hope too many fans don’t leave with a sour taste. Team orders have happened before, giving them precedent to do it although there’s never been an issue this bad. Two, they penalize Bowyer, perhaps Truex heavily but allow the current Chase field to stand. It’s a risky move, considering proof may never be 100 percent in this case; strong innuendo, however damning doesn’t make you guilty in a court of law. Three, they simply change the “end” of the race to the lap when Bowyer spins out. That adjusts the results, putting Gordon and Newman back in, but manipulates the field in a different way where I suspect a majority of people will still be unhappy.
The best compromise, in my view would be simply adding Gordon and Newman, an unprecedented 14-driver Chase as it’s hard to fully prove a conspiracy. Even then, NASCAR leaves with a black eye; when’s the last time any major sport changed their playoff rules in-season? Sidestepping major punishments, while acknowledging potential crimes makes it seem NASCAR’s lost complete control.
But maybe that’s because it has. Right now, the inmates are running the asylum, in the form of car owners playing their own game and everyone else is left to deal with the consequences. The only way this stops is if the ones with the real power change their own philosophy… or if the powers that be, down in Daytona Beach find some sort of last-ditch strategy to stop it.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
That is saying the race was over before it was over if you give in and allow those two in the chase. In this year in particular with the late race cautions aplenty, the solution you put forth is saying you saw in a crystal ball the outcome which is just as bad as if not worse saying what happened was the correct and the final outcome was based ont that caution, again a crystal ball. Nobody in this scenario of racing crossed the checkers so to right a “wrong” is stupid because we don’t know what the “wrong” is!!!
Great article Tom. Good perspective on what happened Saturday and how we got there. In my mind there is no doubt that Bowyer spun on purpose and then he and Vickers pitted to make sure Truex got in.
Well Sully I guess NASCAR could call the race at the time of the spin and say it was “rain shortened”! (I’m sure at this point NASCAR feels like their in one of the worse storms possible and with the water rising drowning is a reality!) A solution..I suppose, besides heavy fines and possible suspensions…adding Newman and Gordon to the Chase and seeding Truex and Bowyer 13 and 14 might be the only choice NASCAR has. If they do nothing (which they are really good at) they are going to have a dismal Chase..and a bleak future. NASCAR has gone along making up rules and turning a blind eye for many years…the problem is their eyes may be blind..but us fans have 20/20 eyesight..and it’s getting sharper everyday! As far as multi car teams..not my favorite..but I truly don’t think most teams would go to quite the extreme extent MWR has gone to help a team mate. There’s “helping “ and then there’s “manipulating”…
Yes, this is the abortion Nascar created with multiple teams and a not-a-playoff ‘chase’. With attendance and TV ratings down, I think they are reaping the rewards of Brian France’s corporate racing.
An excellent article! NASCAR is in a “no-win” situation. No matter what they do, a very vocal segment of the fan base will be screaming “bloody murder!”
WRASCAR isn’t going to do anything. It would mean their sport is rigged. If they wanted to change something it should have started with the Edwards restart. As long as Robin Pemberton is in charge, RCR will not get any justice. Pemberton is still PO’d at Childress over the
Lets see now, let me check my crystal ball, but didn’t some one crash Bowyer last year late in the year I think it was, where it helped his team mate a good bit. I don’t watch much at all any more, but seems like I remember seeing some replays of Gordon not only taking out Bowyer, but then going after him in some form with his 3500lb additude adjuster? Maybe someone who watches all the time can fill in the blanks.
I got home early enough to watch the last 40 minutes or so. Couldn’t believe the “spin” and the subsequent restart! Good article and your suggestion makes good common sense; which means of course in NASCARWORLD it wont happen. Newman got screwed. The chase was a joke before Saturday night, now its become a farce.
What NASCAR needs to do is break up multicar teams and break up their engine monopolies, period; also allow other tire companies to supply teams and thus break up the Goodyear monopoly that does nothing but help the country club.
If NASCAR decides, beyond a shadow of doubt, that MWR cheated, and wants to make a statement, why not simply disqualify MWR from the chase which would move Gordon and Newman in, I believe?
This is hands down the BEST article on the State (or Problem) of NASCAR I’ve ever read.
NASCAR is a mirror for what is happening to this country. Corporate America (Multi-car Teams) is taking over and it has no more accountability or concern than Big Government (NASCAR HQ). The product suffers and those who lose are the Middle Class (Single Car Teams and Fans).
the nail has been hit on the proverbial head
and spot on
I posted this on the other article, but I wanted Tom to see it since I know he reads them. This is coming from myself, a fan of NASCAR since I was 4 (1989)…
Ever since they started throwing fake debris cautions it has made this more of a show then a race. I’ve really struggled over the years with NASCAR manipulating the races to cover up the piss poor product the cars, tires and tracks have out out there. Restarts don’t excite me when they aren’t genuine. If a race is meant to go the whole way without a caution, let it happen – It’s not fair to the team who gets a big lead because they hit the setup early on to have it erased by a fake caution. If your not happy with your product – FIX IT! – eliminate some aero dependency on the cars, better tires, different tracks.
Friday night watching a cup driver steal a win from a NW regular by jumping a restart left another bad taste in my mouth. Two things that are awful about NASCAR right now – cup drivers dominating NW and horrible officiating – both on display. I didn’t think Saturday could be any worse, but boy was I wrong. When Newman took the lead and was about to race his way into the Chase, it reminded me why I love the sport. 10 minutes later, after an intentional spin and blatant blown restart call, i was reminded why I can no longer get excited about this sport and waste my time.
My driver is in the Chase, but I am done watching races for the year. Hell, I might be done forever unless NASCAR decides to actually let the teams “race” on tracks that put on a good show. I put up with the boring CHASE races on 1.5 milers for so many years, but now that the race to the championship is insincere I see no need to watch. I’m tired of wasting 4-6 hours of my life every weekend only to feel cheated and manipulated.
Good article, it was a black eye for NASCAR on Saturday Night. There have always been team games since multi-car teams became the standard, but this went “Beyond the Pale”. NASCAR has to do something, or Hendrick and SHR will take “street justice” out on the race track. It’s time for Brian to “grow a pair” and do something. At the very least penalize the 15 and 56 enough to make winning the Title a miracle.
I think the “inmates ruling the asylum” is spot on. NASCAR needs to remember its a dictatorship and step up. The big owners aren’t going to pack up and leave, they saw what happened to IndyCar. Though we do have to remember NASCAR treats the individual teams as independent contractors, and that is important to their business model. For example, it prevents the drivers from forming a union, and could save them from anti-trust litigation. In the end, I’m just sickened by the whole thing.
Count me as one of those fans who won’t be watching the next 10 races. I may not be back next year either.
I do prefer to have at least a modicum of belief that the sports I watch aren’t fixed and NASCAR pushes that belief into the negative on a weekly basis.
I doubt that NASCAR will do anything worthwhile. They will pretend nothing can be proven & let’s all just move along. Nothing to see here.
This cheating was just too blatant for me.
Sponsors, Sponsors. If
This race seemed to demonstrate that Henrick is not nearly as good at team orders as most people suspect. At the final caution the #5, #24 and #88 were all on the lead lap. All they needed to do is have the #5 or #88 stay out and Lagano wouldn’t have been able to take the wave around and hence pick up a few positions. Or it would have forced Boyer and Vickers to head to the Garage.
First this is almost a classic case of “getting what you asked for”. The incident at Richmond is only the latest in a series of these manipulations, and is not unique. Don’t forget a similar event with RCR, again at Richmond, only a couple of years ago.Nascar,with its looking the oher way, and manipulations, has allowed it to get to this point. A point where the teams actually control them not the other way around.
My guess is they will issue a statement, citing “no conclusive proof” and move on. But a bit more of the audience will slip away, and the sponsors will be just a little more reluctant.
I posted this on another article and thought it was relevant here.
Nascar minipulates races every week and you expect them to penalize a team who tried to do the same thing. Personally, I hope Nascar does nothing so it will make them look even more stupid.
Nascar made their bed with this stupid chase and now it is finally catching up with them and I can’t get the smile off my face at how this is going to make Nascar look. This controversy is all over the web and makes Nascar look like a joke and I love it. They are getting what they deserve.
I hope the ratings tank for the Chase too. No Gordon. No Stewart. No defending champ. And the possibility of Johnson winning #6. Sounds like must see tv to me.
With regards to the restart, instead of enforcing the rules, Nascar plays favorites again.
And oh by the way, the Bears are home this weekend. Having nobody show up for the first race of your precious playoffs doesn’t look so good. Maybe they can give a discount to all Amtrak employees considering the nice long train they will be watching all day long on Sunday.
Sorry to be all negative, but this is what it has been reduced to for a 20 year fan who used to plan their weekends around Cup races.
First of all welcome back Tom!! Always a great read. I agree with everything I read here. My only issue is why wasn’t Carl Edwards black flagged? I don’t care if the 27 turns into the dirt the second place car cannot cross the start/finish line first. Carl Edwards did not deserve the win. He’s lucky about all the other talk or he would be the top subject. Glad your back
I think I’m done after this one. I’ve been watching less and less over the last few years. This is probably the final straw.
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