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 · Thursday September 19, 2013
While a mountain of articles, in recent days has been written about NASCAR “Spingate,” from letting Gordon in the Chase to chasing away any modern sense of competitive integrity I took a small period to stand quiet. After 13 years of writing, from anywhere to the smallest of hobby sites to getting on the front page of cnn.com I took a deep breath, waited, and let everyone else do the talking – at least about this issue exclusively.
Why? There’s two reasons. The first one is simple: it’s been hard to pen how disastrous I feel this scandal really is, the long-term personal impacts to a sport in which the ones who love it want to never let go – yet see the potential of a Titanic-like, iceberg moment in front of them. Think I’m being melodramatic? Ask anyone, off the record who has an ounce of understanding on life outside the “NASCAR bubble” how the past two weeks have made them feel about their sport’s short-term future. Ask those whose income derives exclusively from it, like those at Michael Waltrip Racing or investors in the media, cars, tracks who have dedicated a small fortune on the gamble of future success. I guarantee, no matter how lengthy their answer you’ll at least hear this word uttered once during the conversation: “nervous.” From some of them, willing to be more forward the answers change to “petrified,” “disgusted,” and – in some cases – “exit plan.”
Over the weekend, I was at various events covering other sports, from baseball to college football. And you know the first question I get asked from non-fans? “What’s the deal with this NASCAR thing? Is it dying?” “Why is your sport filled with cheaters?” (Keep in mind that NBC News led Friday with a story about if the sport of stock car racing is rigged. For millions of Americans, including those with money to hypothetically invest in its future that’s the small, lasting impression they now have). Perhaps it’s this jarring question, though that becomes the most damning: “Why did NASCAR need to tell their drivers to _try?_”
In essence, when breaking down what happened Saturday that’s exactly what NASCAR CEO Brian France, President Mike Helton and the rest of the Daytona Beach brass told these guys to do. It was a double whammy of micromanaging, combined with the awkward reality that the best 43 race drivers in the world were doing the equivalent of coming in late, dozing off on their desk and forgetting to file TPS Reports. “You’re not giving 100 percent, and fans can see it,” was the call from above. “And if you don’t… we’re going to penalize you.”
Think for a second about how sad that statement is. Certainly, throughout a lifetime of sports we’ve seen athletes take quarters, innings, rounds “off” during the regular season. But when it comes to winning a championship… LeBron James has a fire in his eye like no other. So did Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus with golfing majors, and Joe Montana in the midst of a Super Bowl. It’s their desire to give 110 percent that comes naturally, during the most important times that brings fans to the edge of their seats. It’s those moments that help sports grow another level.
These 43 drivers? Come Saturday, the “best in their craft” were branded as completely the opposite. NASCAR essentially said, through their words and actions they’ve been stroking it, resorting to the use of strategy and manipulation to get their “championship bid” while collecting checks, relaxing on private jets and taking their position in the sport for granted. Some of this single-file racing, for sure has been out of their control; aerodynamic dependency, combined with the multi-car team dynamic and the “Chase” for the championship has pushed a philosophy to “stay in line.” But the reality of the situation is here, a concern about a level of weekly competition so stark NASCAR had to have a private meeting to point it out. And what’s worse, with the 100 percent “rule” they’ll now be using subjectivity to dole out punishments surrounding it. “Jeff Gordon, you didn’t pass for fourth place in the No. 24 to save your points! We saw that! It’s a ten-point penalty and a $50,000 fine.” In a mind-boggling move, they’re opting to broadcast to the public, including those they want to follow the sport someday how their athletes are occasionally not racing worth a damn.
Which brings me to the second reason I’ve waited, brought to light by an announcement from NAPA Auto Parts today: it doesn’t matter a bit what this scribe thinks about the future. Nor does it matter, to a certain degree what the fans think. Yes, if thousands didn’t show up in protest, making the Chase a ten-race cluster of empty seats a point gets proven. But, come 2015 the sport is set to make $750+ million a year for their TV deal alone. They’re not going to wither on the vine anytime soon.
But what will force someone’s hand, in this age of outrageous expenses to stay involved in stock car racing is corporate America. Thursday morning, we learned NAPA Know How was saying a big “no no” to staying with Michael Waltrip Racing, terminating their contract effective December 31st. Their reasoning? Cheating, which has likely invoked a morality clause making it a piece of cake to end a long-term extension after year one.
“NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR,” the company said in a statement. “We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports.”
With that type of statement, leaving the accused “cheaters” on the vine it’s likely 5-Hour Energy, the backer of “Spingate” centerpiece Clint Bowyer will soon follow suit. Those companies spend upwards of $30 million to keep cars on-track, combined with an extensive television presence that reaches well outside the three-hour Cup race. It makes them two of the most recognizable NASCAR connections. And now? The message being sent, loud and clear to those barely paying attention to the sport is, “We can’t spend our money… at least, not with this team. Because what we saw unfold in this sport was cheating.”
That means, over the next days and weeks how NAPA chooses to conduct its business has far-reaching consequences. Will they stay involved, aligning with another organizations to send a message they still believe in NASCAR itself? That proves critical; otherwise, they’re saying after two decades, it’s time to bail completely. And in this copycat age of instant scandal, their stage-setting threatens to open the floodgates. All of a sudden, tons of multi-billion dollar corporations have opportunities to save themselves a seven, in some cases eight-figure expense on a race team through morality clauses. The excuse becomes, “if one company bails, well then why am I going to spend money on a sport that’s not completely legit?” A domino effect begins, one that would threaten even the seemingly untouchable superpowers of Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Roush Fenway Racing. Best case, it becomes a major roadblock in convincing future companies to dole out $10-million plus for the hood. After all, NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains without a sponsor for some races in 2014 (and some races in 2013). How much harder did selling that high-dollar backing just become?
Through the sport’s unprecedented growth, running a race car really has become a business, mixed in with competitive sport. You can’t just show up, anymore with a dollar and a dream to run these races; that’s why filling a 43-car grid, in recent years has become so difficult. And no matter how much money NASCAR has in their own bank account, filtering in through various deals and agreements you can’t make money on a sport if enough cars don’t have the sponsorship to go out and race – preferably against each other, on different teams instead of being on a various plateau within two or three multi-car giants.
The risk to tilt in that direction is there, today more than ever before. You can’t just have Hendrick and Roush and Gibbs and Penske and Childress, their chassis and investment money supporting every team that wants to race. It won’t work. So it’s not about Truex anymore, or Bowyer or the future of the Chase. It’s about the sport’s long-term health financially.
What are Brian France and Company going to do now?
Connect with Tom!
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
There is SO much to discuss here….it’s mind boggling to realize the state of Nascar under the current leadership.
Many fools will point solely to MWR. But it is SO much more than that. Look, even the mighty ‘dega race has been losing fans in the seats the last two seasons. It’s hard to keep swallowing this Nascar mess and trying to pay for going to races while we’re all living in The Great Recession.
As for myself, I will be writing a letter to NAPA this weekend. Perhaps they will sponsor Jr. next season? Or Danica? Hey, I can’t blame them.
All very good points Tom. I never thought that any sponsor could use this incident to get out of their contract because the sport itself is being questioned.
I also didn’t realize Jr didn’t have a sponsor signed yet. I thought I had read that he did. That raises an interesting question: Is it possible that NAPA used this incident to get out of their contract with MWR so they could sponsor Jr. That might sound like black helicopter stuff but it will be interesting to see how things shake out.
i certainly agree that the money and business situation is negatively effecting the level of competition more than ever.
as far as the Frances, i don’t imagine the usual strong arm tactics are going to be much good in this case.
the 100% rule made me laugh out loud at first. from the outside it certainly looks like an indicator that the top of the organization thinks they are either immune to any ill effects of their decisions or are completely out of touch with the actual workings of their own organization.
and yes, it’s really really hard to walk away from this entertainment venue that used to be a sport.
I’m sorry for Truex, the 56 and the employees in the shop that had nothing to do with the actions at Richmond. However, NAPA bailing on MWR will send a clearer message against “team orders” than any NASCAR penalty would.
That being said, the economic model of the sport just isn’t working in this economy. It shouldn’t cost as much as it does to run these teams. However, I think a step back from the ledge might be needed. Look at Nationwide, sure they are leaving behind series sponsorship, but they also said they are going to invest more at the Cup level (i.e. team sponsorship). And, its not like the other major sports don’t have their issues (PEDs, concussions, player arrests, etc.)
Just to clarify, I’ve altered my wording a bit regarding Junior as I can see how it could be misread. He doesn’t have a sponsor to fill some races in 2014 — certainly, he’ll have the National Guard continuing to back him for the majority of races on the schedule. But that long-awaited “second sponsor” to replace the races where Mountain Dew scaled back never really happened. All we’ve seen is Time Warner Cable added…
Thanks for this very insightful column. You bring up a very good point that JP echoed above… this is bigger than MWR. This is about the future of Nascar.
On a personal level, I’ve tried to put this whole nasty mess aside and just enjoy the rest of the season, but that’s hard to do when every day or so there’s another shoe that falls. For a lot of us longtime fans, sometimes derided as “complainers”, it’s hard not to say “I told you so”. We’ve seen this sport so mismanaged for so long that none of this “spingate” fallout is particularly shocking. That said, there’s nothing I’d love more than for us all to be proved wrong; I’d love to see the sport bounce back and see it’s credibility and integrity restored, but I have to say it doesn’t look promising. The same guy that was CEO of Nascar two weeks ago is still CEO today and I don’t see that changing.
I never thought his name could possibly be the downfall of sponsorship in Nascar.
Many fans of Nascar grumble how they hate to hear his brother Darrell Waltrip cover and commentate races.
Darrell loves this sport,but his brother has brought a huge scar and black mark to our beloved sport!
Michael should be Gone with the Wind!!
Ah, the law of unintended consequences. Good article. I for one am boycotting Napa. MWR is not the bad guy in all this, Nascar is. This type of racing has been brewing since the inception of The Chase. Nascar is also using this event to steer away from its inept management. This is sad for the fans. And I am not blaming MWR. Remember people all you folks screaming from the puplit of perfectness, this could happen to your team and driver. Sheep.
It’s interesting that so many seem to be fixated on the “100%” quote from that meeting and misinterpreting it so badly. What I took from that was that, even in the age of multi-car teams, once the race starts, for instance the 15 team should be focused 100% on the 15 team, and not taking actions or making decisions on what’s best for any other team but the 15 team. Nothing more than that.
Anyone with any common sense knows your ridiculous hypothetical about penalizing someone who didn’t make a pass for 4th would never even cross NASCAR’s radar.
It seems that one’s view of the events of the past week or so very much depend on one’s predetermined opinion of NASCAR. Those who already hold an anti-NASCAR bias view everything through that prism. Those without that bias can see the blame for the whole thing lies with the teams, most specifically MWR.
Wow!!! It’s only taken the Brian France a little more than ten years to destroy all the good will that took decades to attain from the fans. When you combine the stench of cheating, Multi car teams, the chase (which discourages trying to win), a generation of pretty boy drivers with no connection to the fans, this is the very toxic result. This organization is dying from self-inflicted wounds.
I forgot to mention the main culprit that started this whole mess. Michael Waltrip. He’s always reminded me of a shady car salesman who’ll do anything to shill a product. This isn’t his first rodeo as far as cheating goes. Brother Darrel has to be cringing from the association with his brother. Darrel is a shill too, but he’s always earnest about it. Mikey has to go.
Consistency… Can someone with inside insight to the workings of NASCAR explain to me why there was such a hateful witch hunt in the media AND with NASCAR brass over MWR’s actions at Richmond, and nary a whisper about Penske/Front Row doing the same thing MWR was penalized for (which was collusion to bag and give up positions, and NOT Boyer’s spin)? That has really been (and still is) bothering me. I’m not saying MWR was right, or that they shouldn’t have been punished. But if the penalty was for collusion and bagging to give up spots and manipulate the running order, then Penske/Front Row should have the same exact penalty given to them, and the points should have fallen where they may in regards to whether Gordon made the chase or not. THAT would have been consistent and fair.
I also think complacency is fair to say. There’s no reward for risking it all racing for the win, or showing some personality by being true to who they are, and they have everything to lose if they wreck or say the wrong thing in the interview. Most are making really good money regardless of whether they finish 1st or 43rd. There’s no discomfort in “stroking” it to collect the paycheck. Gone are the days when drivers HAD to win or score high enough that the purse money would pay back their debtors and maybe an entry for next weeks race. Also gone are the days when “colorful”, passionate (sometimes volatile) personalities were an accepted and welcome part of racing.
Ho hum, just another day in the (insert 20 sponsor names) Chevrolet/Ford/Toyota. We’ll get ‘em next week.
Someone can be biased based on past history. Yeah, Nascar has issued a ruling that on paper sounds good. Their history in enforcing the rules fairly and consistently leads me to conclude that all they’ve done is opened yet another can of worms. But then again I’m biased.
I don’t blame NAPA for booting MWR. I wonder how much bonus money NAPA would have had to pay for making the Chase. It’s stealing from your employer and being fired is the punishment.
Let me just add that while I stand by my assertion that this is Nascar’s mess, MWR is guilty as hell for what they did and they deserve both the punishment and the sponsorship fallout for their actions.
Looks like Mikey’s NAPA KNOW HOW back fired on him and it could not happen to a more deserrving person.I feel sorry for the MWR people that this fall out can hurt job wise as well as Martin Truex as I feel he knew nothing of the BS going on at the end of that race.
I think Truex and NAPA would make a nice package deal for another race team. Maybe FRR to replace Kurt Busch and inject a little more cash into the self sponsored team? I do feel sorry for the MWR employees that could possibly lose their jobs over this. Their only transgression was working for an idiot owner.
Well NAPA has lost yet another customer. MWR did the same thing teams have been doing for years. Let me hold back and let my teammate lead a lap so that he can get points. That too is manipulating the points. Why wasn’t they penalized and fined?
I guess I’m not on the Debbie Downer Train…not that I see much good coming from all this…but that I’m hoping it will be a new start for NASCAR. I think we all have to ride out the rest of the season..then step back and be ready to start 2014 with a clean slate. There’s alot to look forward to in 2014… Stewarts return and his new team mates..Newman at RCR..how will Furniture Row do sans Busch..will AJ help the 47…will Truex want to or get to stay at MWR…and many more stories. No…we can’t undo whats happened … It happens in ALL sports…but you can add murder, dog fighting, steroids, and an assorted list of other felonies..to a large number of the other sports. To me it’s the die hard fans..and their reactions to whats happened who will designate what happens to NASCAR. I would bet a big reason NAPA will leave MWR was fan reaction..and the same fan reaction may bring in other sponsors. Hopefully the drivers, teams, owners, AND NASCAR itself has got the message and ALL will give 100% to our sport whether they are on the track or in the officials headquarters.
This could possibly be the best thing for NASCAR! NASCAR has consistently ignored the fans and ruled from the ivory tower. You’re seeing lower attendance and a lowered profile in the mainstream as the result of inconsistent calls, arbitrary “everything”, and a general perception that the sport is being reduced to a WWE-like show. For anything to improve, it had to come from the outside. The lifeblood of any racing is sponsorship, and the real power is wielded by money. Money just spoke.
What comes to my mind about this whole issue is that the words “cheating” and “sleazy” are very strong words for describing Nascar racing.
However, when I sit back and think about Big Bill and Little Bill and how Nascar got started, I don’t think it is far-fetched to say that things have been done over the many years that we fans would find questionable at best, blatant cheating at worst.
Nascar stepped in it big-time by allowing multi-car teams, something that should have never been considered ever, and a “points system” to award consistency, which should not be adapted to auto-racing, as this encourages ‘sand-bagging” and race manipulation.
NASCAR brought this problem on itself when it combined a race-team structure with the Chase point system. For years NASCAR has tolerated lots of team-first behavior, especially at the restrictor plate tracks. This tolerance included obvious point manipulations like allowing a teammate to lead a lap or not passing a teammate who needed the extra spot more than you. A point is a point, whether gained at Richmond in September or Las Vegas in March.
Allowing the start-and-park teams also plays into the same culture. They don’t even make a pretense that they are racing. If you’re going to tolerate that kind of behavior at the back of the field, why not the front?
Cheating in Na$CRAP? Oh yeah! Michigan June 20008 – Dale jr. passing the pace car 3 times and allowed to win. NG sponsorship for the 88 is no lock in 2014. Drivers ordered to give 100%, guess that explains why Dale Jr. has only won 1 legal race in nearly 8 years.
I believe it’s only the beginning of a NASCAR sponsorship collapse! With Nationwide and NAPA announcing in the same week that they will be exiting their respective sponsorship positions, will Sprint’s new Japanese ownership, a nationality always concerned about “face-saving and appearance,” be comfortable with NASCAR’s incompetent leadership going forward?
Again, I find the moral outrage extremely hypocritical. What the heck do you people think you are watching (if you watch at all) week in and week out? This is much ado about nothing. I dare wonder how Nascar is going to police all strategies played out 1000 times a race and deem by dictorial decree which is cheating and which is not, when before Richmond it was business as usual for ALL TEAMS. Guess who is going to come out smelling like a rose as usual. The pitchfork and torches crowd should be this vocal about demanding positive change in our country..Kardashian momemts abound in this fiasco. No No Napa for me.
When NASCAR called out MWR for artificially altering the outcome of a race I just had to LOL since it was a classic case of “The Pot Calling The Kettle Black”. What in the heck has NASCAR been doing all these years with their mysterious cautions.
Tim you are right about the sponsorship money and money just spoke. However, NASCAR really doesn’t care about the what NAPA or any of the team sponsors do or don’t do. You want to get NASCAR´s attention! Let the TV networks and Sprint do the same thing NAPA just did.
Ah yes, multi-car teams. The bane of NASCAR since 1955. Isn’t that right, fellow Anybody-But-Kiekhaefer fans?
100% correct JER.
I love the fact that some of the people asking about Nascar and who aren’t Nascar fans seem to have no problem with athletes shooting up steroids or spending 4 years in college and still are barely literate. No mention about the innate corruption in the progression from high school to college to pro, where getting an education is an after thought as long as they have star potential.
The worst part of all of this is na$crap has been adjusting races for years is anyone suprised that the teams started doing this now ???????????????????
We might be missing the boat on what really happened here. How can we be sure it was team orders handed down from MWR management? Could it have originated from an overzealous TRD rep, perhaps a TRD rep with his own office at MWR bent on packing the Chase field with as many Toyotas as they can get in. Might have helped smooth over that earlier and somewhat embarrassing lightweight connecting rods deal only they got caught again. What’s more, the Japanese culture is highly regarded for honor, integrity and ethics and one just wonders in amazement how did all of this manage to happen?
NASCAR has brought so much of this upon themselves. Giving a bonus point for leading a lap encourages manipulation. Having the 2 “wild card” spots played a role in Richmond’s chicanery. Then, there is NASCAR’s direct manipulation of races by throwing those mystery debris cautions late in the race to bunch up the pack. Suddenly, a driver who was cruising to victory can find himself running 5th at the end or, worse, crashed out.
Why is it Ok for NASCAR to manipulate the race and not other teams?
I for one am not to sure that what MWR did was so wrong. Is not NAPA an associate sponsor of the 15 and 55. Would it not have benefited NAPA of Truex was in the chase? If there was a rule against it NASCAR would not have had to use their catch 22. Anyway what is done is done. I for one will not shop at NAPA. Had the media not made such a fuss, would NASCAR have penalized MWR. Or better question had it been Jr that was trying to get in and Gordon and Johnson helping would there had been such an uproar about it?
I would not be surprised to see NAPA as the title sponsor for the Nationwide series when they leave after the 2014 season.
Just for all those talking about everybody does it. When it comes to allowing a teammate to pass or dropping a couple of positions to help a teammate, I will stop short of saying that I am OK with it but I accept it as a loophole or flaw in the whole points system.
Where I draw the line is the spinout to purposely bring out the caution. NASCAR didn’t have the balls to call it like we all saw it… an intentional spin. There will never be enough proof to say it definitely was intentional but I know what I saw and apparently a lot of other folks feel the same way. (and it was obvious Menard did it a couple of years ago to give Harvick a crack at getting another 3 points before the chase started). So just be clear here, in most people’s eyes it was the spin that crossed the line. And yes the stupid chase does make people do things they don’t want to do (Jarrett 2004).
And yes NASCAR is the top dog at manipulating races with bogus debris cautions to foster “better television” at the expense of better racing. I hate it but the only recourse to penalize them is to stop watching. In due time. I am only watching now out of loyalty to the 24 team, any loyalty I had to NASCAR “the sport” has been slowly evaporating with each year that Brian’s reign of terror continues.
Most of us who have watched Nascar for a long time knew that some of these shenanigans were going on.And while not really comfortable with it, unless it benefited your guy of course, we by and large looked the other way. After all its hard to believe that something that you have invested a lot, emotionally as well as financially, is merely a facade. But now the very technology that Nascar was counting on to connect them to a new younger market of people willing to hand over their money, has exposed the sport for the corrupt old boys club that we secretly knew it to be. Corporate America has a decision to make just like we did. Do they accept it as it is and continue to finance the “show”? Or, do they move on to other things? I suspect I know the answer.
I think if MW had fired Ty Norris on the spot, NAPA may not have left. But no, he chose to stand behind him which pretty much says that cheating is OK.
And what a comedy of errors that whole plan was. The least they should’ve done was had a team meeting before the race and discussed the scenarios.
I’d like to think that other sponsors don’t believe their drivers/teams cheat. Or, if they do, they’re clever about it ;)
How fortuitous for Mark Martin to be driving for SHR right now.
NAPA is leaving because MWR cheats stupid and their tagline is Know-How. Jet fuel and spinning on the track is amateur hour.
If they cheated like Hendrick with crabbing cars, magic shocks, movable windows, ie innovative solutions to the grey area of the rule book, NAPA would be slapping them on the wrist in public and high-fiving each other in private.
The Waltrips have always been clowns and NAPA finally realized that works great in commercials but not in the boardroom.
You guys talk as if big businesses don’t look for every exploit in their own rulebooks. Pot met kettle and realized it was just a better kitchen implement. No more, no less.
And when a football fan-boy asked me about Nascar and WWE I asked him about steroids, beating up women, and shooting people.
And the point was not to put down football but to point out one shouldn’t throw rocks in a glass house.
Too much drama over this controversy. WAY TOO MUCH.
I posted the day this happened that Napa would leave mwr and that they would go to a gov motors car Rick the fomer FELON Hendrick was where I said or one of his satellite teams Steward hass Chips team.With dodge coming back The Zero whats Toyota out so dodge can get a good team.Watch was starts to happen to JGR next
What a mess. I feel so sorry for Truex but NAPA did the right thing. NASCAR should have gone further in their punichment. Waltrip should have been suspended from coming to the track for the rest of the year; Boyer should have been suspended for the year;if not suspend Boyer then force him to forfeit his earnings to a charity. Finally, Fox Sports needs to let M. Waltrip go. How can they continue to allow him to be associated with their telecasts given his history of cheating?
Dot, I think if Michael had fired Ty Norris on the spot, Ty would’ve sued him because I suspect the plan came from higher up i.e. MW himself. Norris and Bowyer were probably only doing what they were told to do. That still doesn’t make it ok, but I think Michael knew if he fired Norris, he’d lose a couple million dollars in a law suit and everything would be exposed.
To JD in NC, I based what I wrote from what I read after this debacle happened. Maybe Ty is the scapegoat, and that’s why he’s still with MWR?
I don’t think MW/MWR has to worry about a lawsuit from Ty Norris, but they might with Martin Truex Jr. This scandal just screwed him out of a ride. Who knows, Bowyer & Vickers (2014) could be rideless too.
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