Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Sunday August 14, 2005
Truth be told, this was not the greatest of weeks for the NASCAR faithful. No need to go over Kurt Busch’s shocking announcement to move from Roush to Penske in 2007; it’s been well documented. On the heels of Jamie McMurray’s 2007 departure to Roush, the two signings have started a disturbing trend of drivers attempting to sign with other teams well before their contracts are up. Drivers and owners must now beware, as 2009 or 2010 may no longer mean a thing when a team goes through a bad season in 2006.
But what’s been even more surprising, and borderline immature, is the uncanny ability of grown men to take hurt feelings and hide them behind simple pieces of paper. Suddenly, signatures that took two seconds to sign are being used by hurt owners to pin their drivers in situations they clearly don’t want, when they’ve already asked to leave. It’s almost as if owners are giving their drivers the only punishment they can give for breaking their hearts and tearing their teams in two. Make no mistake, in this age of twentysomething drivers that go a dime a dozen, middle-aged owners are taking their backstabbing “sons” and giving them a harsh lesson in who increased their value from a 10-cent coin to a million-dollar prospect. The question is, whose lives and what teams are they costing with their hurt feelings and broken hearts?
On some level, I’m sure Ganassi himself was a bit surprised some reporters were turning his 2006 driver lineup into some sort of shocking announcement. Ganassi’s been saying for weeks that he was going to pick up Jamie McMurray’s option for next year, and sure enough, he stuck to his word. Jamie’s silent protest was perhaps a futile effort to get Chip to see what he thinks is an awful decision, but those words (or lack of them) fell on deaf ears. The cold reality appeared to have set in by the end of the weekend; it appears more than ever that Mark Martin is resigned to taking over the 6 for one more year, and an emotionally drained Jamie is beginning to wish he looked at those final option years back when he signed that contract as an unknown youngster back in 2002.
And it’s because of who he was when he signed with Ganassi that I understand, on some level, Chip’s resistance to letting Jamie go. Ganassi mortgaged the farm on Jamie when he signed the driver for 2003, turning down experienced veterans like Bobby Hamilton and Ricky Rudd while convincing Texaco a green Busch Series driver with no wins at the time was ready and able to take their Cup program to the next level. Of course, Ganassi was immediately rewarded with that Charlotte victory in October of 2002, with McMurray wheeling Sterling Marlin’s car to the winner’s circle in only his second Cup start. It was Chip who put Jamie on the map, and with his 3 teams struggling all around him, Chip may feel it’s not a wish but an obligation for his best young talent to help him turn things around instead of jumping ship.
And so Roush, on the heels of Chip Ganassi denying him his driver for 2006, has turned around and done the same thing to Roger Penske with Kurt Busch, holding him to his contract for 2007. And on some level, I don’t blame him, either. Roush also takes Busch’s decision as a bit of a slap in the face, and with all the success Busch has enjoyed under the Roush banner, in some sense it certainly is. Roush is the only team Kurt Busch ever drove for in NASCAR’s top three levels, a career that blossomed only half-a-dozen years ago when Jack plucked him from the Southwest and groomed him into a star. Certainly, Jack didn’t create Busch’s talent, but he put up with his at times immature personality, and took great care in putting Kurt with the right people that would ensure the boy would eventually grow into a man, a sometimes reckless racer into an honorable champion. Who knows what would have happened if Roush hadn’t come calling for Busch all those years ago? Chances are both Kurt AND Kyle might still be working to make it big, racing around at local tracks in Vegas.
Still, at some level these owners have to put their egos aside. Yes, Kurt and Jamie shouldn’t be negotiating for 2007 when they should be focusing on 2006. Certainly, what they’ve done can clearly been construed as a backstabbing of the highest order to the teams that made them who they are today. But the bottom line is, keeping them in a “lame duck” situation doesn’t just punish them, it punishes the dozens of cast and crew who work on these cars day in, day out. How can a team rally around a driver they know is leaving for a whole season, especially when the driver’s clearly stated he thinks he can do better somewhere else? How can you put 50 people in a position of catering to a driver when he’s clearly going to be pretending to care? Cause if I was in Jamie or Kurt’s shoes, I wouldn’t give 110%; why should I? Fair or not, I believe I’m being held against my will, and people who are backed into a corner don’t usually perform for those who put them in that position.
I guess part of this whole deal revolves around there being no “stepping stone” teams for young drivers to move through on their way to a top-level team. In the past, there were independent outfits like Junie Donlavey and Bud Moore’s old cars that took young drivers like Schrader, Rudd, Bodine, and others and turned them into contenders worthy for driving for Penske, Hendrick, and Roush. But now we’re in a new age, where the independents are gone and no sponsor can afford to be labeled second-rate. Everyone’s gunning for the top, and as such there is no “stepping stone” for young drivers to get their feet wet in Cup. They’re thrown into the deep end with a top-level team, and if they don’t like it…well they can sign with another “top-level” team, or work their way back into the Busch Series. And because every team has to pretend to be the best nowadays, owners like Ganassi will feel like they’re stabbed in the back by those moves even though their teams have struggled to remain competitive with everyone else’s.
But the battle lines have been drawn, and no compromise appears to be in sight. So what we’re left with is drivers pretending to care. McMurray and Busch spent all weekend trying hard to remind people how much they love their current teams, how much they’re gearing towards future success even though that future is ticking down by the day. But look behind the tired lines on Jamie McMurray’s face and you can clearly see he’s not as motivated. Finally in position to sneak into the Chase, he’s handling it with a subtle type of ho-hum attitude that, to me, states he clearly wants to be somewhere else. And Busch’s first week as a “lame duck” Roush driver ended with a disastrous finish, one that throws him into more of a scramble to make the Chase rather than be comfortably in control of his own destiny. Even Mark Martin, thrown into a position of ultimate loyalty, has begun to spread a reminder of how much he would prefer not to be back full-time, in the face of a cold reality I’m sure on some level he never thought would happen.
No matter what happens the rest of this year and next, it’s certainly a shame it had to come to this with some of NASCAR’s top teams. But hurt feelings and bruised egos shouldn’t put in people in positions where they have to pretend to care. The crews, the media, and most importantly, the fans…will see through it. It’s because of that, most of all, that I hope everyone will come to their senses.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I definitely have an opinion about this, and itâ€™s a long one!! I donâ€™t think Ganassi and Roush are being anywhere near immature in keeping their drivers. They are being business men and contracts still mean something to some people. Even if they are doing it to be spiteful, they have the right because they both took big risks signing the relative unknowns and the drivers should be held to the contracts they signed. Particularly Ganassi, who took a Busch Series driver who had never won a race and one that not many cared about, and gave him a chance to be a Cup Series winner and a NASCAR star.
Unlike McMurray, I really believe Kurt Busch when he says he will remain 100% committed to the team if he has to stay. Kurt knows that he can win races and a championship with both teams. He knows heâ€™ll be competitive regardless. I think his team also knows that they have a shot to win back-to-back, and possibly â€“to back NEXTEL Cup Champions, and that will be enough to keep them strong, motivated and on a winning track. Besides, I donâ€™t think Jimmy Fennig will allow anyone on his team that isnâ€™t 100% committed and 100% ready to win, regardless of whether or not Busch is staying beyond 2006. Busch seems genuinely happy with his team at Roush and I personally donâ€™t think its anything personal. Itâ€™s for the money and a change of scenery.
McMurray, on the other hand, is OBVIOUSLY upset and has made no bones about it. He does not want to be there and finds it odd that a team owner would keep a driver that doesnâ€™t want to be there (maybe a hand-in-mouth comment since his future team owner is probably doing the same thing). I think McMurray and team are going to find it harder to remain focused and competitive next season.
And the comment you made about a signature that took two seconds to sign being used to are being used by hurt owners to pin their drivers in situations they clearly donâ€™t want, too bad. They signed a contract. If they arenâ€™t held to their contracts, then pretty soon everybody will be doing it (I guess they are already) and what good is a contract?
Letâ€™s not forget that owners need contracts to secure sponsors. They need to be able to go to a sponsor and say, â€œSo and so is with us until 2007 and will be your man, can you give us millions of dollars?â€ In Roushâ€™s case, I definitely can understand not wanting to let Kurt go early. He is the 2004 NEXTEL Cup Series Champion and I have to believe a ton of sponsors came on board based on that fact, and they knew heâ€™s be with Roush through the 2006 season. Iâ€™m sure Jack made plenty of deals based on that fact. So what, now heâ€™s suppose to call them and say, â€œKurt got a better offer, heâ€™s leaving at the end of 2005 and you guys are screwed!â€
Busch and McMurray need to suck it up and deal with it. Both drivers are in great equipment with big money teams. Maybe they need to be a little more careful about what they sign this time. What is sad is that this is becoming a trend in NASCAR and in all sports. The days of a driver spending a career with a team is definitely over. Everyone is looking for the next best thing and loyalty is out the door.
I am NOT a Jack Rousch fan, but I feel that he has every right to hold Kurt Busch to his 2006 contract, whether Kurt likes it or not. In other pro sports (and college coaching), a contract has become a meaningless scrap of paper that does little more than provide reason for a press conference when signed. Rousch has sponsor committments and contracts that are predicated on the fact that Busch would be the driver through 2006. As expensive as the sport has become, he certainly cannot afford to jeopardize those sponsorship dollars.
On the other hand, Ganassi seemed to be playing it pretty close to the vest in announcing his 2006 drivers lineup. If he wanted McMurray so bad, why not exercise his option sooner? If Jamie didnâ€™t know Ganassiâ€™s plan for him, I donâ€™t blame him for firming up a 2006 deal.
The funniest part of the whole mess, is how â€œthe Catâ€ has to be feeling. Iâ€™m sure that he never imagined in his wildest dreams, that one of his drivers (especially the defending NEXTEL champ), would ever jump ship, putting him in the same position that he put Ganassi in. He may be well served to get some type of extension wrapped up with Kenseth before he loses the whole package (driver, crew chief AND sponsor) the next time!
This is a very interesting subject and I can see both sides of that coin. I am sure we have no idea the full story behind all the jossling (sp), and quite frankly it is none of my business. I feel that each side has the right to exercise their options so to speak. Yes the drivers have signed a contract and they should be held to that. I do feel that each driver has the right to seek employment else where keeping in mind their current obligations. Its a messy situation all around and no one will suffer except the fans in this one. Either driver is capable of tanking their responsibilities, but the real question is are they man enough to step up to the plate and full fill their obligations? Being an older adult, I find the younger generations have little or no work ethic and feel that things ought to be handed to them without working for things. They also feel that certain things are entitlements that those of us oldies were brought up seeing as benefits of hard work.
No matter what happens not a dollar of either deal will end up in my pocket so why should I even care? Once againâ€¦just my humble opinion.
I agree that a deal is a deal. The other teams shouldnâ€™t be allowed to approach a driver unless they are in the final year of their contract. But what really has me scratching my head is what was Roger Penske thinking when he hired Busch to replace Rusty? Sure Kurt is an awesome driver with tons of talent, but heâ€™s no Rusty Wallace. Rusty is a sponsors dream and Kurt is a public relations nightmare. And I really doubt that Newman and Busch will play nicely together either. Both of them have egos the size of all outdoors. I have all the respect in the world for Roger Penske, but this time I just donâ€™t get it.
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