Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 "Sold" Off
posted by Thomas Bowles
Wednesday April 23, 2014
After a week of uncertainty, Swan Racing’s two teams will show up at Richmond Friday night after a combination of mergers and acquisitions have kept the two teams up and running. The moves, announced in a press release Wednesday will keep rookie Cole Whitt behind the wheel of the No. 26 while J.J. Yeley moves into the No. 30, replacing Parker Kligerman effective immediately.
The solution for Whitt was rather simple: Swan co-owner Anthony Marlowe merged his portion of ownership into a deal with BK Racing. That team will now expand to three cars, with Whitt running full-time (for now) alongside fellow rookies Alex Bowman (No. 23) and Ryan Truex (No. 83). The move will also keep former Swan employees working full-time, rehired by BK as enough money was gathered up to keep the No. 26 up and running. Whitt, who has a best run of 18th this season (Fontana) will remain competing with his crew essentially intact.
“I respect Brandon Davis and everything he has done for the Swan Racing Company,” said Marlowe in the release. “Looking forward, my mission is to ensure Cole Whitt races in every NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season. My friend Ron Devine and the BK Ownership group really stepped up to enable me to keep the No. 26 on the track. Cole and Randy [Cox, crew chief] are off to an auspicious start in 2014 for a new Cup Team and we are gearing up for Richmond. In addition to the No. 26 team’s performance so far this year, the new ‘win and you’re in’ system and qualifying rules were motivating and positive factors in my continued investment in NASCAR.”
As for Swan’s No. 30, the equipment has been sold to Johnathan Cohen and his Xxxtreme Motorsports operation. That team, which has yet to make a race this season with J.J. Yeley will now run that No. 30 with their own Chevys before switching to the new Swan equipment (plus their old number, 44) beginning at Talladega. It’s an opportunity for them to gain speed and perhaps run a full race. Xxxtreme, with patchwork funding has yet to run more than 66 laps in any Cup event, start-and-parking in every race it’s made since making a go at NASCAR’s top level in mid-2012.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity in our organization,” Cohen tweeted after the purchase. “But today, made a big step in the right direction.”
Co-owner Brandon Davis, who had been MIA before Tuesday’s public announcement praised both Marlowe and Cohen in helping keep the equipment, former employees, and one of his two drivers afloat while Swan searches for funding to keep racing.
“Anthony and Jonathan are both young and ambitious NASCAR enthusiasts,” he said in a statement, later reiterating those points on SIRIUS XM Radio. “It is important to keep them in the sport for the long term. I am very relieved to know that the Nos. 26 and 30 teams will be in good hands and will continue to compete the remainder of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Most importantly, most of the team members have the opportunity to continue their employment in the sport and to support their families. This was critically important to me.”
So what happens to Swan’s other rookie, Parker Kligerman? Davis has retained Kligerman’s contract, and while the team has officially suspended operations he’s actively searching for funding to get the No. 30 back on track. Should it happen, it’ll be a one-car program with Kligerman at the wheel despite an ugly start that left the first-year driver 38th in series points.
“We are encouraged by the response we have received from interested parties,” Davis said of Kligerman. “Parker continues to be one of the most talented young drivers in NASCAR. He brought this racing team one of its strongest results in his first race with us [18th at Texas], and we are certain of his success in the future.”
The driver, in his response left the door open to run for other programs. Swan, which has partnered with celebrities like the NFL’s Bill Romanowski and rapper 50 Cent may be able to parlay those connections into funding that gets Kligerman into another car in the meantime.
“Although it’s unfortunate we are having to scale back, I look forward to the future and the exciting things that I’m confident we will accomplish at Swan Racing or with another team,” said Kligerman. “I value the relationship that I’ve had with Brandon Davis and am very grateful for him giving me an opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Whether I continue to race with Brandon and Swan Racing or end up with another team, I will always give it my all on and off track to be the best I can be.”
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Daniel Suarez to Make Nationwide Debut for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday April 22, 2014
Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday morning that NASCAR Toyota Series and K&N Pro Series East driver Daniel Suarez will make his Nationwide Series debut in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Sponsorship will be provided by Silent Circle, a global service that allows for the sending of encrypted communications and Telcel, a Mexican telecommunications company.
Suarez is thrilled to have the opportunity to race for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to make my NASCAR Nationwide Series debut,” Suarez said in a press release. “I want to thank Telcel and Silent Circle for believing in me and making this a reality. I can’t wait for Friday night in Richmond.”
JGR President J.D. Gibbs is very excited to have an up and coming talent such as Suarez in the fold.
“Daniel is certainly someone that has proven to have a lot of talent and we are thrilled this was able to come together and allow him to make his debut at Richmond,” Gibbs said. “I think it’s exciting when you look at the young talent our sport has right now and we certainly feel that Daniel is going to be part of the future for NASCAR.”
For Suarez, the 2014 season has been very successful so far. He started tke K&N Pro Series East season with two wins in three days in New Smyrna Beach, FL and Daytona Beach, FL (as part of the UNOH Battle at the Beach). Despite a crash at Bristol, Suarez still ranks second in points behind Ben Rhodes. In the Toyota Series, Suarez came from behind to win the season opening Toyota 120 at Phoenix International Raceway in front of all the Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams. Another win in Chiapas and a second-place finish at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’s oval gives him a nine point lead over Antonio Perez.
This will be a very busy weekend for Suarez. With the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown moving to South Boston Speedway this year, the K&N Pro Series East Blue Ox 100 will be held immediately after the conclusion of the Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250. In addition, the Toyota Series will have their fourth race of the season at the Autodromo de Monterrey in Suarez’s hometown on Sunday.
Gene Haas' Formula One License Application Accepted By FIA
posted by Phil Allaway
Friday April 11, 2014
This morning, the FIA announced that the license application submitted by Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas had officially been accepted. As a result, provided that everything comes together financially and technically, Haas’ new Formula One team will have a spot on the grid at the start of the 2015 season.
Upon receiving the news this morning, Haas released the following statement.
“Obviously, we’re extremely pleased to have been granted a Formula One license by the FIA,” Haas wrote. “It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to Formula One.”
“Now, the really hard work begins. It’s a challenge we embrace as we work to put cars on the grid. I want to thank the FIA for this opportunity and the diligence everyone put forth to see our license application come to fruition.”
Haas’ team would be the 12th team on the Formula One grid for the 2015 season if all the current teams return. Much like the failed USF1 team that Peter Windsor was involved with, the team would partially be based in North Carolina with an additional European base.
Stewart-Haas Racing is setting up a press conference for Monday to further discuss the move. We’ll have more information here at Frontstretch as soon as it becomes available.
Speeds Approach 220 MPH At Michigan Test
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, Goodyear held the second and final day of their tire test at Michigan International Speedway. The overall goal of the test was so teams could come up with a solution that would encourage better racing on the two-mile, D-shaped oval, while at the same time allowing for a compound that would not blister.
Much of the headlines from the test seemed to stem from high speeds reported. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. tweeted a computer readout that stated he reached 215.2 mph. Clint Bowyer went a little bit faster at 217 mph, which Bowyer later described as “whites-in-your-eyes fast.” Greg Biffle told ESPN’s Shannon Spake on NASCAR Now that he reached 220 mph and a 204 mph average.
Despite the high speeds, the drivers who tested Tuesday and Wednesday believe that there will be better racing this year in the Irish Hills. Michigan winters are a bit harsher than in most locales on the Sprint Cup calendar. As a result, there is more weathering from year to year.
Earnhardt Jr. appeared to be quite happy with the track.
“I enjoy racing here,” the two-time Michigan winner said. “It’s a fun track. The asphalt is really aging well and it’s just going to keep getting better and better over the next couple of years.”
As is the norm for Goodyear tire tests, no official speeds were announced. However, Earnhardt Jr. stated in the Media Center that while he was going anywhere from 212-215 mph at the end of the frontstretch, he was only dropping down to 180 or so in the turns.
Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman echoed Earnhardt Jr.’s sentiment when asked about the track surface. They expect the track to support multiple grooves for racing when the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return in June.
As for track management, they definitely appear to like the high speeds. Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis spent part of Wednesday retweeting top speed posts. However, Curtis understands that going fast is not the only thing that matters.
“The drivers are posting 200 mph. That’s awesome,” Curtis said. “The fans get very, very excited about that. But at the end of the day, on Sunday when the green flag drops, the numbers ‘two zero zero’ they’re not anywhere in the fans’ minds. It’s lead changes, it’s the competition…”
Since the track was repaved prior to the 2012 season, the number of lead changes at Michigan International Speedway has been relatively flat with the years before the repave. However, the number of cautions are up as well, which can skew the lead change numbers a little. Complaints have come more from a rock hard tire compound, made by Goodyear for safety reasons which has made passing more difficult and actual “wear” (which leads to speed dropoff) hard to come by.
Sherwin-Williams To Sponsor No. 51 Cup Car At Darlington
posted by Phil Allaway
Thursday April 10, 2014
On Wednesday, HScott Motorsports announced that Sherwin-Williams will serve as the primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier’s No. 51 Chevrolet this weekend at Darlington Raceway. The No. 51 will primarily be advertising the automotive finishes division, in addition to the AWX Performance Plus Waterborne Refinish System the company makes.
Allgaier is very happy to have Sherwin-Williams onboard.
“I’m thrilled to have Sherwin-Williams on the car at Darlington,” Allgaier said in the press release. “They are a big supporter of HScott Motorsports and NASCAR. I can’t wait drive the No. 51 with the Sherwin-Williams colors on it at one of my favorite tracks.”
Sherwin-Williams has a fairly extensive history in NASCAR. They currently serve as the “Official Automotive Paint of NASCAR.” Prior to that, the company served as a primary sponsor for a number of cars in what is now the Nationwide Series.
As for Allgaier, Saturday will more than likely be his first career Sprint Cup start at the historic oval. However, in five Nationwide Series starts, Allgaier already has two top-5 and three top-10 finishes. His average result is an excellent 9.8.
Bass Pro Shops Primary Sponsor For Austin Dillon In Two Cup Races
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
Announced Tuesday in a ceremony and car unveiling at their Concord, NC location, Bass Pro Shops and Richard Childress Racing made it official that the national outdoor sports retail giant will be the primary sponsor of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet SS for two races during the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Talladega (May 4th) and Daytona (July 5th).
Bass Pro Shops has been associated with Dillon’s career dating back to 2010, when they sponsored his No. 3 Chevy Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and also followed Dillon to the Nationwide Series as a sponsor for his No. 3 Chevy Camaro for RCR. The two won a pair of NASCAR championships together, and the retailer has also served as an associate sponsor for Dillon’s car in the NSCS this season.
During the announcement, Bass Pro Shops noted that the retailer has been involved in the sport of NASCAR since 1998, when they became an associate sponsor of RCR’s No. 3 Chevy Monte Carlo driven by legend Dale Earnhardt.
Now, the sponsor is back on the Cup level, paired with the No. 3 once again and hoping to elevate the program to Victory Lane. Already, Dillon has one pole to start the season at Daytona, where he posted a ninth-place finish, his best result to date during this rookie campaign. 21st at Texas last weekend, he’s currently 11th in the Sprint Cup championship standings.
For the Bojangles’ Southern 500 this weekend at Darlington, Dillon will have Dow Chemical on board as the primary sponsor for the No. 3 car.
Ruud To Sponsor Buescher, No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
RAB Racing announced that Ruud, heating and cooling brand, will be on board the No. 99 Toyota Camry as primary sponsor this weekend at Darlington for the VFW Sport Clips Help-A-Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The brand joins Rheem as a primary sponsor of the car during the 2014 Nationwide Series campaign. Ruud will also sponsor the No. 99 of James Buescher in several other races this season, according to a team statement.
Buescher, the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, is driving full-time for RAB Racing and making the transition from the Truck Series to the NNS this year. The No. 99 team was recently penalized by NASCAR at Bristol for a P3 penalty (illegal weight added to the car improperly, which was lost during the race), which led to crew chief Chris Rice being fined $10,000 and placed on probation until December 31st. Car chief John Guerra was also placed on probation by the sanctioning body for the incident.
Sitting ninth in points thus far in 2014, Buescher’s best finish this season has been 12th at Phoenix. The 24-year-old, Plano, Texas native has one career win and 14 top-10 finishes in the NNS since his first start in 2008.
Five Sprint Cup Teams Test At MIS For Goodyear
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday April 9, 2014
After a long winter in Michigan, five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams visited Michigan International Speedway for a Goodyear Tire Test taking place both Tuesday and Wednesday this week. To prepare for the test, MIS reported having to use the track’s jet dryers to clear and melt snow and ice from the two-mile track.
Due to the snow melt, frost, and rain on Monday night, MIS had to delay the tire test for most of the day because of weepers around the track’s surface. The track crew worked throughout the afternoon to dry up the moisture so that testing could get safely underway. Finally, Greg Biffle took his No. 16 3M Ford Fusion to the asphalt at MIS around 4:00 PM ET as the first driver on track.
In addition to Biffle, Goodyear has scheduled drivers Clint Bowyer; Trevor Bayne; Ryan Newman; and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to take part in the tire test, which is open to fans from 9 AM to 5 PM today.
Michigan International Speedway is in for a busy summer in the Irish Hills as the track plays host to the Quicken Loans 400 on June 15th, then the Pure Michigan 400 on August 17th.
Logano's Four Tires Triumph Over Jeff Gordon's Two At Texas
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday April 8, 2014
Joey Logano would overcome Mother Nature and a green-white-checkered restart with four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon to win the rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano, with his trip to Victory Lane Monday afternoon also became the seventh different Sprint Cup driver to win in 2014 in as many races.
Logano, who led a race-high 108 laps on the afternoon, appeared to be on his way to a dominating victory until two laps to go. That’s when Kurt Busch blew a left-rear tire on his No. 41 Chevrolet, spraying debris all over the track.
“When you got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop, you got a pretty sizable lead, really all you’re thinking is, ‘Where is the white flag? Where is the white flag?’” Logano said after the race. “Then, you go into turn one, you see the [No.] 41 up against the wall. You’re like, Please no caution, please no caution. Boom, it comes out. You got to be kidding me. You get so mad you can barely control yourself.”
This incident, the third for Busch on the day would set up a decisive yellow-flag pit stop before the final restart. Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team then rolled the dice, jumping from sixth to first with only two tires while Logano and his Penske teammate Brad Keselowski would take four. Keselowski, who was second coming in would then get caught speeding while exiting pit road, eliminating him from contention. The Penske Racing driver, after leading 85 laps in his own right dropped to a disappointing 15th on the afternoon.
“That last caution was a shame,” Keselowski said, who lost a chance to become the series’ first two-time winner. “I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road, wanted to get us out front to be able to win the race and tried a little too hard.”
That left Logano dealing with Gordon and Brian Vickers directly in front on the restart. As the cars accelerated, he wasted no time dispatching Vickers for second and set his sights on the bumper of Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet. On the white-flag lap, Logano was able to take advantage of his four fresh tires to get underneath Gordon, clearing him by the exit of Turn 1.
“I mean, coming in sixth, you’re in that position that you can gamble,” said Gordon, who did earn a consolation prize — becoming the Sprint Cup points leader for the first time since the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 (see below). “You’re not going to win it with four tires, you’re not going to win it with none. I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off.”
After clearing Gordon, Logano was able to cruise to his fourth career Sprint Cup Series win, his second with Penske in a little over a season with the team. The driver’s confidence is high, stemming from crew chief Todd Gordon whom the 23-year-old was quick to praise after the race.
“He (Todd Gordon) made a last-minute decision to put fuel in it, gave me better balance for what I needed and the guys made the ‘money stop,’” Logano said of the ending. “I was the first guy out with four tires on.”
Behind Logano and Gordon in the top 5 were Kyle Busch in third, followed by Vickers fourth and rookie sensation Kyle Larson in fifth, the only rookie to run inside the top 20. Greg Biffle was sixth, Matt Kenseth seventh, while Clint Bowyer earned his second top-10 result in eighth. Paul Menard earned his fourth top 10 in five races, running ninth while pole sitter Tony Stewart rounded out the top 10.
Monday’s race started in bizarre fashion, under a rare, green-yellow flag condition for ten laps to ensure that the 1.5-mile quad-oval was dry and fit for racing. Jet dryers were still on the track during this period to help the process. Unfortunately, the air from the dryers managed to get inside the wheel wells and affect the hood and roof flaps of several cars. Keselowski’s Ford actually ended up with a damaged hood hinge, resulting in four pit stops during this period for repairs. Many additional cars came down pit road to fix the flaps as well. NASCAR allowed the cars affected to make their stops without penalty, provided that they not add fuel or change tires in the process.
Then, shortly after going green Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s day ended prematurely after just 14 laps when he misjudged his positioning and clipped the grass in Texas’ quad-oval. The miscue resulted in the car digging in, popping a wheelie and shooting the No. 88 Chevrolet straight into a SAFER-less wall, resulting in a fiery crash. Not only did that ruin Earnhardt’s day, but it also impacted the race of Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson. Johnson wound up with windshield damage and a bent left-front corner of his No. 48 Chevrolet. Losing multiple laps for repairs, Johnson ended up 25th on the day while Earnhardt Jr. was scored dead last (43rd).
“You can’t run through there they way they have these cars on the ground,” Earnhardt said of the incident. “Just a mistake on my part. I just didn’t know I was that close to the grass, and made a mistake.”
Kevin Harvick had another fast race car, one capable of going up and taking the lead away from teammate Stewart on Lap 25. However, Harvick’s run of bad luck continued after blowing an engine just a couple of laps later. Harvick ended up 42nd, sitting just 31 points inside the top 30 needed to make the Chase after his win at Phoenix.
A look at the Duck Commander 500 by the numbers. There were 18 lead changes among nine drivers, while seven cautions for 49 laps slowed the pace to 134.191 MPH.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to legendary Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. The Green flag is scheduled for 6:45 PM ET on Saturday night.
Keselowski - Busch Feud And Other Martinsville Sidebars To Follow
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Monday March 31, 2014
Keselowski, Busch Feud
Two former Penske Racing teammates didn’t play the part Sunday, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch starting a feud that almost kept the latter from Victory Lane. It all started during the competition caution, on Lap 43 when the two cars made contact on pit road. Keselowski claims Busch turned into him, breaking the front suspension on the Miller Lite Ford in an accident that also included Kasey Kahne.
“I started to check up and I just barely got in the back of him and Kurt (Busch) just accelerated and drove through us, absolutely drove through us,” Keselowski said inside the garage. “I tell you what, I’m about tired of his recklessness.”
So Keselowski went back on-track, found Busch’s No. 41 car and promptly slammed into its right side. Trying to flatten tires, it seemed the endeavor ultimately failed but still fired up Busch to the point he started ranting inside the car.
“Welp, guess we’re going to get in a fight afterwards,” Busch said. “I’m going to **** that dude’s ****ing face!”
After that, Busch got focused, starting a drive that would end with him in Victory Lane. Keselowski, meanwhile ran 38th and still remained frustrated after the race.
“Tell him come here. I’m right here,” he said when told Busch was OK with fighting. “He knows where I’m at. Leave Victory Lane and we’ll go.”
“He does awesome things for charity and he’s probably the most talented race car driver, but he’s also one of the dumbest, so put those three together.”
Busch’s response, initially was to downplay the incident. But when pressed in the media center, post-race he finally broke down a bit. Calling the contact by a damaged Keselowski a “punk-ass move,” Busch said he’d be enacting revenge at a time of his choosing.
At press time, Keselowski had calmed down a bit, claiming he wasn’t trying to wreck Busch on Twitter and that the rivalry would not continue into Texas. No penalties from NASCAR, by the way occurred during the race or are expected for either side.
Crafton Claims Rain-Delayed Kroger 250 Victory
Due to Saturday’s complete washout, the Camping World Truck Series held their second race of the season immediately after the Sprint Cup Series’ STP 500 wrapped up. With a 5:30 PM start time, some feared the race would be called early due to darkness. Ultimately, that was not a concern.
In a quick event, Matt Crafton took the lead from local favorite Timothy Peters on Lap 209. From there, Crafton held off the rest of the pack through two green-white-checkered restarts to claim his first career Martinsville grandfather clock.
In the scrum on the final restart, Darrell Wallace, Jr. rose up to second, while rookie Ben Kennedy was third. Johnny Sauter finished fourth while using the front end of his Toyota Tundra in a manner similar to a battering ram. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-5 finishers.
For more on Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race, please check out Kelly Crandall’s Tracking the Trucks race recap at Frontstretch.
Tires Fail To Adhere to Track
Goodyear tire engineers stated Sunday that it takes a track temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order for their tires to lay down a proper groove in the turns. On Sunday, the track temperature never reached that point during the race. As a result, tire wear was very high on Sunday. Rubber chunks would shear off, early during green-flag runs and gather just outside the racing groove.
Drivers would ask for new tires every 20 laps or so. If there was a caution, nearly the entire field would come in for fresh rubber. There were examples of
“The track conditions today were extremely challenging with the marbles,” said Kenseth, who recovered to run sixth while Stewart wasn’t so lucky (17th). “They just wouldn’t clean them up — I don’t know why. If you had warm tires and you got pushed up in there then you were going to lose 15 spots sometimes — it was that bad.”
If the story sounds familiar to readers, it should. Last Fall, track temperatures struggled to reach 80 degrees through much of the race. However, the tire issues that resulted were not quite as severe.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
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Thomas Bowles · Monday November 4, 2013
What is that phrase? Everything’s bigger in Texas? Well, if that’s the case you’ll find a whole lot of fans refreshed at the airport this Monday morning. What a wonderful story they’ll tell, of a place down in Fort Worth where they fought through traffic to pay for the best “durn” nap of their lives. Even Jimmie Johnson’s two-gun salute, from Victory Lane moments after the checkered flag fell at Texas couldn’t wake them up. Posing for pictures, at the intermediate track he finished shooting into the stands a race trait scaring race fans straight towards the exits…
All right, so let’s call a spade a spade; the No. 48 threw up a stinker on Sunday. No amount of mystery debris, lapped traffic, weird restarts or pit road penalties could keep the Lowe’s Chevrolet from stomping the field. They even tried to stub their toe, in the form of a 17-second pit stop only to slice through traffic as if there was a booster jet attached. Brad Keselowski called it “embarrassing;” in reality, it’s simply part of it. Johnson, as a five-time champion will do from time to time cobbled together one of those magical performances that will land him in the Hall of Fame someday. “Stealing” another victory from second-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr. the Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut was on top of their game, leading 255 laps on a day it seemed like all 334 could have been a distinct possibility.
But Johnson’s performance, up front doesn’t change the stale competition from second on down. During one green-flag stretch, in the middle of this race the top-10 runners didn’t change positions for 30+ laps. That’s right; you could have gone to Subway, eaten your lunch, come back and seen everyone in the same running position. Sunday also marked the fourth Texas race in a row where three drivers combined to lead over 310 of the scheduled 334 laps. In each of those events, it’s become a bit of a runaway at times, those up front building leads of up to ten seconds outside the top two or three cars before a debris caution or timely wreck scrunches up the field.
Not what NASCAR intended? Certainly not with the new Gen-6 chassis, designed to fix this type of snooze-inducing performance on intermediates. There have been glimpses of hope, like at Fontana in March but sadly most of the 1.5-to-2 milers have produced dominating days like this one. The speed of the cars keeps the tires on edge, passing difficult and drivers running in place. Whomever’s up front, already with a handling edge gets that much more of a cushion due to simple aerodynamics. Hope for close competition extends to two areas, then: green-flag restarts and pit crew speed. But a lack of cautions kills the first option; fans (and drivers) need to wait nearly 20 minutes between stops for the second. That amount of down time, for 15 seconds of tire changes just isn’t captivating enough for most without that super smarty pants engineering degree.
Circumstances didn’t help this one, either, Sunday never having the type of game-changing wreck, caution flag sequence or even fuel mileage gambles to muck up the field at Texas. Early on, it appeared tires would be a concern, Jeff Gordon’s wall hit combined with a handful of other drivers complaining their wear went down to the cords. But that wreck, on Lap 79 was pretty much the last time we saw any driver come close to crunching sheet metal. The final 255 circuits were run incident free, with just a debris caution, from Juan Pablo Montoya’s tire and an engine problem for Carl Edwards dotting the resume.
It’s a far cry from what Texas once was. The first few years here, Survivor: Alamo was a race car reality show as spectacular wrecks, mechanical miscues and a narrow line caused Demolition Derbies — it was too much in the other direction. To its credit, the speedway’s pavement has aged, gracefully enough to provide multiple grooves on-track for drivers to race. The goal is for them to be like Atlanta, where those differing lines combine with exorbitant tire wear to create a number of comers and goers through the field. On paper, it all appears headed in the right direction.
It’s just not getting there fast enough. Quick; other than last Fall’s late-race slugfest, between Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski what’s the most memorable Texas race you’ve seen as of late? Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s maiden victory in the Cup Series? That one was all the way back in 2000. In reality, there have been some barnburners; Carl Edwards’ Fall ’05 victory, combined with Jeff Burton’s in ’07 come to mind. But there just haven’t been enough of them, fuel mileage dial-backs and cars running far too fast minimizing the quality of competition. No wonder why the crowd, unreported on Sunday is nowhere close to a sellout.
That’s a shame, because Texas is one of the most important markets for NASCAR to succeed in. The track has a Humpy Wheeler, Jr. of a promoter in Eddie Gossage, always finding a way to keep the track front and center. The facilities are some of the nicest the national tour has to offer. There’s a large population base, many of them hardcore fans that make this market easy.
It’s the racing that’s been difficult to come by at Texas. And, as we saw on Sunday for fans outside of Jimmie Johnson lovers that makes enjoying the day, for all three-plus hours close to impossible. Not the impression you want to leave, as a two-date racetrack with a prestigious place in the Chase, right? Big market – and big money – aside, someone in the sport should spend the offseason fixing this Fort Worth facility before the crowd flops any further.
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Don’t you just miss the “the good ole days” when the winner shared the lead lap with one or two other cars or was the only car on the lead lap, maybe even 2 or 3 laps ahead of second place?
Seldom is the rest of the story remembered after a race, it is only the bottom line. There may have been (rarely) only a few cars on the lead lap, but all day they had to miss the lapped cars, etc. It may have been a badge of honor to finish on the lead lap. Richard pop pop Childress only finished on the lead lap one time when he was driving. New ideas only receive scorn, it is just a shame, NASCAR is stuck in a rut lower than a snakes belly in a wagon rut.
Who says a driver can’t pass in the Gen-6 car? That 48 car can pass any car at any time. Amazing.
Too bad the 48 car seems to be the ONLY car that can do that.
I really would like to go to a Texas race next year but this race makes me think twice about spending that money.
Tom Bowles, your disrespectful and unnecessary tweet after the wreck that ended Jeff Gordon’s race at Texas has made me reconsider the kind of writer you are. Until that tweet, I considered you one of the best and unbiased that I read on the internet, but no longer.
Texas? Well, I can tell you that I would never waste my $ and vacation time to go to Texas or many of the 1.5 ovals that are in the chase. Yeah, the 48 seems able to pass at will and everyone else is simply standing still marching in place. Guess my brother will be getting 6% off of his purchases at Lowe’s soon.
As a commenter who’s gone back and forth with me for years, I am so confused what got you so angry about that Tweet. I understand and respect that you are a lifetime Jeff Gordon fan. Everyone has their strong allegiances, part of what makes this sport so wonderful to cover.
I believe the Tweet you are referring to is “Jeff Gordon in the wall! Caution out — 24 headed to garage. Title bid, possible asterisk… it’s all over.” You can only say so much in 140 characters. All I’m saying there is his title bid is over, and NASCAR officials are breathing easy because the risk of a possible “asterisk championship” is gone. That’s all; it’s no different than anything that’s been said the last two months by me.
No question, had Gordon won the title he would have earned it through some amazing performances in the ten-race playoff. But the title would have always come with that asterisk, by some as he wasn’t even IN the Chase until the Friday before. Adding a 13th driver, at that late date was like throwing a 7th wild card team in the NFL playoffs. It’s unprecedented and, fair or no would cause the title by some to be viewed differently. In my opinion, that’s totally fair.
How you’ve turned that into an insult on Jeff is beyond me. Jeff didn’t do anything wrong… he was as innocent a victim as Truex. But circumstances, and the way this situation unfolded through NASCAR officiating (and the actions of Michael Waltrip Racing) will always make his 2013 Chase unique. Gordon made the most of the opportunity… but there are some who will always believe he should have never had it in the first place.
For the record, not all of us engineers find this exciting either.
I guess I was fortunate that my daughter and her family came for a visit at about lap 20 and left when there were 2 laps to go. I saw the beginning and the end and apparently I didn’t miss a thing. I used to hate it when people came to visit during a race. I now look forward to it.
You are 100% correct about Gordon and France’s decision to put him in the chase.
Without the tv money I think that yesterday’s race would have lost money. That crowd was anemic just like Charlotte.
Brian France is destroying all of the work his father did to grow the sport. You can blame the economy only so much then you have to look in the mirror.
Nice pic. I haven’t seen a cowboy that happy since the Village People sang “Macho Man” back in the 70’s.
Tom, thanks for that explanation. I apologize if I misunderstood but as you say, I am a long time fan of Jeff’s and having this opportunity end in the wall was a real sore spot just then. When I read your tweet, it sounded dismissive of the efforts the 24 team had made BEFORE Richmond and since the start of the chase. Yes, BZF did add him into the chase and surely they thought about the possibility that he could win it all. More than Gordon winning it, for NASCAR, the worst thing that could happen would be Bowyer winning it, although I’m sure Bowyer’s fans would disagree.
Of course as far as I’m concerned ALL of the Chase trophies come with an asterisk as none of them are full season championships. Do I want Gordon to have one anyway? You bet and having a tire failure screw this good opportunity up had me really ticked off.
Sorry that I took it out on you and thank you again for the explanation.
So glad I missed this race. Thinking about taking a break from Nascar until Jimmie retires.
Texas is the poster child for glutting the Cup schedule with 1.5 cookie cutters. SMI bought and closed North Wilksboro to give it its first date. Then they sued NASCAR and ISC to get its second date. The settling of that suit led to Darlington losing the Southern 500 on Labor Day and Rockingham being sacrificed to give Texas its Fall date. I’m not saying NASCAR wasn’t happy to do it at the time or that North Wilksboro and Rockingham didn’t have their issues, but Texas Motor Speedway began the trend in the 1990s of building 1.5 mile cookie-cutters in new markets where seating capacity became more important than providing good racing.
Jeff Gordon should not be in “The Chase” and that race was boring as hell, sadly.
Sully, if Gordon doesn’t belong, neither does Bowyer.
You folks don’t want stock car racing, you want theater. You want to see a play not a race. On Sunday, you saw what perfection on the race track looked like. Instead of marveling at seeing a 300 game in bowling or a pitcher throwing a perfect game in baseball, you idiots sit around complaining how boring everything was. You call your selves “fans”, nothing could be further from the truth. You want excitement, go to a WWE event, they have everything planned out for your enjoyment. PS, I’m a Kenseth fan and I was on the edge of my seat the whole race.
Gina, you are delusional if you think Brian France added him to the Chase because he thought he could win. France could care less about that. Gordon in the Chase was far more lucrative for him than Jeff out, and he found a way to get him in.
Just look at all of the decisions France has made since he’s had the reigns. All based on money, which is why Nascar is in the poor shape it is right now.
By the way Tom, its not the tracks that are the problem, its the car. Texas is not the only place that has single file borefests disguised as a Cup race. The trucks put on a decent show every track they go for the most part, so its not the track.
The chase is just a hokey publicity stunt. It should be called “Chase for the big pot of money”. The point system has the same problem the Latford system had. It is a welfare system to make everyone close. There is almost no advantage to win. You can lose a ton of points but you can only make them back one at a time. Asterisk, big deal.
Gina, you make it personal, its your favorite driver(extremely obvious with your bias glasses always glaring in your posts, thats o.k.). I have never been a fan of Gordon, but that’s my cross to bear. With that said however, you do not change rules in the middle of the game no matter who it is, no matter what happened. It weakens the integrity of the sport. What sport does that? That action solidifies the opinion of many that BZF and Nascar has a special relationship with HMS, to the exclusion of other teams. And this is one example. I don’t care about Bowyer or Newman or my mailman in this instance, it was wrong period and the sport looses credability all around.
Steve, no, I’m not delusional, I know that BZF didn’t add him out of the goodness of his heart or “fairness”. He added him because of the $ that Gordon in would bring in from all of his “bias glassed” fans. Yeah, Sully, I hear you and I’m aware of it, but I’ve taken a lot of heat for my choice of favorite over the years and I am not going to give it up now.
Once upon a time, having a favorite driver and caring a lot each week was what MADE NASCAR interesting, along with the racing.
Jim, no I don’t want theatre, I want to see an actual race – with passing – not a follow the leader event or one where there is only 1 great car – which is what NASCAR Cup races have become. The rivalries on the track made it interesting – now the drivers are all “team mates” or buddies. Yuck.
I watched the “race” during NFL commercials. It was all about the chase not the race. They only focused on a few cars and left most of the field uncovered. It amazing that 2/3 of the field can maintain sponosors. ESPN has also started showing the in car shot of the driver which gets boring in about three seconds. Why not show a second shot of someone further back?
Get rid of the chase!
After what happened yesterday, the Circuit of the Americas should be a shoo-in for a NASCAR Cup Series race.
“only to slice through traffic as if there was a booster jet attached”
It’s been like that for years. But it is “Brian legal.”
FedUp, I agree with you. Heck they even started earlier this year, they started talking Chase at the 500 in February, then they talk talk talk about it. It’s just the HMS drivers in The Chase that they talk about mostly. Heck Logano knocked off a few top 5’s and two times they did not interview him and he got a small nod yesterday, and the nod was that they were not talking about him and they said it, he ran up front all day. Matt gets a mention because he is Jimmies “rival” Silly stuff.
Brian and Rick made sure all of the HMS drivers were in the Chase and that’s who they concentrate on. It’s not good for the economic health of the sport.
@Jim R…GREAT post!
Thank you, HankZ!!
Gina, There was lots of passing going on. Johnson passed a lot of the field several times. Now I will concede that if the field starting a race was 30 cars instead of 43 cars, there would be a lot less passing. I think the rules packages currently in effect makes the cars pretty much equal. It is what the teams and their driver do with those packages that can make the difference. I agree with you that multi-car teams create certain “situations” that detract from the real purpose of the sport and I would prefer seeing a maximum of two cars from the same owner but that will never happen as long as sponsors contribute the money.
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