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.
I’m proud to introduce Frontstretch’s newest column, “Frontstretch Phone-In.” Every week, one of NASCAR’s biggest and brightest stars will call us up for an interview to talk about what’s on their mind. Topics can go all over the place, from how their season is going, to some of the major issues facing the sport today, to what their biggest strengths and weaknesses are on the track and why. It’s our hope that these Question & Answers will allow you to go more in-depth and find out what you really want to know from the drivers you follow week in and week out on the NASCAR tour.
Our inaugural “phone-in” driver is Scott Wimmer from Bill Davis Racing. After a rookie season that saw him finish 3rd in the 2004 Daytona 500, Wimmer has struggled to find the type of results he and the team were expecting for 2005. And with the added burden of being a single-car team, the driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge for Bill Davis Racing has found himself facing an uphill battle, although it’s one that he’s appeared to have taken in stride.
In a lighthearted and engaging 20-minute interview this week, Scott opened up on a variety of topics : everything from who he’d like to bring back to drive against one more time in Nextel Cup, to the challenge of being the father of a newborn son. And while he hasn’t had the season he’s hoped for, it certainly appears Scott is enjoying more than ever the opportunity to race at NASCAR’s highest level.
Tom Bowles: First off, congratulations on the birth of your son Hayden a few weeks ago. How does it feel to be a father, and how has it changed your outlook on racing?
Scott Wimmer : It was really exciting. Being so busy, being out of town so much and having such a hectic schedule, (Hayden) was hard to plan for. We were just fortunate enough (Hayden) settled on a weekday to go and have a successful birth, so I was able to spend a little time with him before I had to leave.
Tom: How often have you been able to see him?
Wimmer : You know, it’s probably about three times a week. Usually, I get home Sunday night, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the only times we’re around town, so I get to spend some time with him then. Hopefully, in the next few months we’ll start taking him to the races, and we’ll get to spend time with him there, too.
Tom: Well, I have to ask before we get any further, my editor Nikki Krone wanted to know if you had any parenting advice, as she’s just about to have her first child in a couple of months.
Wimmer : Well, tell her the biggest thing is to get the sleep now because there definitely isn’t much when your baby’s born! Our sleep has really gone out the window, it seems like. We’ve been able to get quite a bit when me and my wife are in town, but when I’m gone she’s got to take care of everything, so it’s a little tough for her to get some sleep then. But"¦it’s a great time for both of us right now. We’re really enjoying it! I never thought…sometimes you think you’re not ready for a baby. But it’s been so much fun.
Tom: Alright, let’s turn to racing for a little bit. How would you describe your season to date at this point? You guys have certainly dealt with your fair share of bad luck this season, that’s for sure.
Wimmer : Yeah, we definitely have. You know, I don’t think our season is where we wanted it to be at all. We’ve had struggles and we’ve had ups and downs. I think we’ve had real good cars at times, but just haven’t been able to make it to the finish of a race and had some sort of mechanical problem or something like that. But that’s really what keeps us going; we’re encouraged by the runs we’ve had, and we know we should have had better finishes. I’m excited about the rest of the year and going into the Chase races. We’re not going to make the Chase, but I think we’re a car that can contend for wins, I think we’re a car that can run in the Top 10. It’s just a matter of getting up there and doing it.
Tom: Now, you mentioned mechanical problems. When you guys do have something like that, or certain incidents on the track that are out of your control, how do you go back and motivate yourself for the next race on Monday? Does Derrick (Finley, crew chief for the CAT car) take the lead there, do anything special to pump the guys up?
Wimmer : Yeah, he tries to. I mean, it’s been tough this year because at one stretch there, I think we wrecked six times in a row. When you have a wreck one week or two weeks, it’s a little easier to overcome than a long string of ‘em so… you come back to the shop, and Derrick’ll talk to the guys and get them fired back up. We know we can do it"¦we know we can run up front. We just need all the things to fall into place for us to do that.
Tom: Now, in NASCAR you know you’ve heard the term “sophomore slump” kicked around for a lot of drivers through the years. Kasey Kahne, Scott Riggs, and yourself are among the second-year drivers who really have not had the seasons they expected in 2005. Is the "slump" a superstition you believe in, and do you think it’s harder to race in Cup your second time around compared to your rookie year?
Wimmer : Well, I just think every year the competition gets more intense. We’re getting better teams and better sponsors around us"¦everything just gets elevated every year, and I think that’s what a lot of people are saying. I think the sport’s changing so much, and the competition’s elevated so much, and that’s really what you’re seeing year after year. I don’t think it’s necessarily a "slump." I think the competition might have been a little easier the year before, and it’s just harder to get your car to run up front. I don’t really believe…I’m not real, real superstitious. I used to be, and then I thought “Well, maybe all my superstitions are making me not run so well,” so then I kind of threw them all out the window.
Tom: Now, of course you guys are only a single-car team for the most part on race weekends. How does that contribute to your success or failure this year? Having a second car part-time, is it as good as having a full-time teammate, or do you struggle having that second car roll into the racetrack, only not to appear again for another month?
Wimmer : Yeah, I think it (being a single-car team) does hurt us. It’s something where we’re seeing teams add 3, 4 cars, and in some cases 5…and it’s just more information you can bring in. As far as having a teammate on a limited schedule, 5, 6, 7 races, it’s tough because with the new points structure and having to be in the Top 35 to be guaranteed into the race, my teammates are always going onto the racetrack and concentrating on qualifying. All they’re going to do is try and get in the race, while with us being in the Top 35, we don’t really have to go into the race looking at that. We are more concerned about the race setup. So, that’s one of the things that I think hurts us a little bit, is we can’t go and share more of our notes on what we’re going to be using in the race. A lot of teams want more and more cars and more and more things, and I think it’s something that hopefully we’ll overcome. I know they’re working real hard on getting a second car up here, and getting a full-time driver in place that I can work with, and he can work with me and just get more information. That’s the big thing about this sport now; the more information you can bring in, the more you can look at, and the more you can make changes on the car.
Tom: My thoughts exactly. And something I’ve been thinking of with single-car teams, what else might affect them more than others"¦is the impound system. Do you feel that as a single-car team, one of the drivers that doesn’t have the resources of the multi-car teams, that the impound helps or hurts you guys?
Wimmer : I think it hurts us a little bit, basically because of the practice time we lose. It seems like on non-impound weekends, we have practice before qualifying, and then we have two practices after qualifying. Whether it’s Happy Hour or a practice and then Happy Hour, we are just on the track a lot more (in non-impound races). But it’s kind of one of those deals, you think it’s better one way, or better the other. I do really enjoy the impound races, basically because it does give the guys a little more of a break. They don’t have to work quite so hard on the cars to get them ready.
Tom: Let’s turn to your brother for a minute. How has Chris’ career been coming along? He’s gotten some starts in the CTS lately for Green Light Racing (#07/08). Do you think it’s been harder to bring him up in this day and age then when you came up the ranks a couple of years ago?
Wimmer : Yeah, I definitely think it has been. I was very fortunate when I got into this sport. It was more about what you did on the racetrack. Nowadays, it’s a lot about sponsors; if you can bring money to the team, or if you can offer the team something other than driving skills. When I got into it, I just went out and won a couple of races, and that was kind of the start of my NASCAR career. Nowadays, it seems that if you can bring in a big sponsor, you can get a shot. It is real tough. We’re trying hard to get him something. We’re getting him rolling in the Truck Series, but if you’re not with a top team, it’s hard to get real good seat time there. Hopefully, in the next few years we’ll get him something. I know he’s starting to get to the age where he’s getting a little worried about people not taking a look at him anymore. So, hopefully in the next year or so we can get him in something solid, and he can show what he can do.
Tom: Do you think it’s gotten to the point in the sport where even if you’ve got a “Wimmer” or “Bodine” or "Wallace" last name it’s no longer worth anything if you can’t find the proper backing to fund you?
Wimmer : Yeah. I mean a lot of kids are talking about Jimmie Johnson’s brother (Jarit Johnson). You talk to Jimmie, he says "He needs a lot more time, he needs a lot more laps." Just because your brother or your father is racing in the Nextel Cup Series doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll make it there. It’s a tough sport, it’s a tough business, and it seems like every year it’s getting tougher to get into these top rides and have a lot of success in the series.
Tom: Some of the biggest news in the sport recently has dealt with drivers breaking contract. You’ve seen Kurt and Jamie and their situations; how will their actions affect the sport in the future? And how comfortable is it for you to have the long-term backing of Caterpillar"¦ is it nice to not hear your name thrown around the rumor mill?
Wimmer : Yeah, I mean I made a commitment to Bill Davis when I came up here and started driving the Caterpillar car. I was going to drive it for three years, and that was the contract. A lot of these drivers trying to get out of their contracts early, I think it really hurts the race team. You know, I don’t think you should really be shopping around until your contract’s up, or you got six months left or something like that. So it’s a different way now about going at getting out of your contract, and you know I’m sure some car owners aren’t real happy about it. I just think it’s a thing we’re going to have to deal with the next few years of this sport. Contracts are always an issue; it seemed like owners could always get out of their contracts real easy, but drivers couldn’t get out of theirs. So I think that’s going to change a lot now.
Tom: Alright, now for some fun questions! You’re racing me, one-on-one on any Nextel Cup track on the circuit. I would assume that you would beat me, although it’s said I drive a mean go-kart. Where would you want to race me at, and how would you beat me (what’s your biggest strength on the track)?
Wimmer : The place I’d probably most like to race you at would be Dover; it’s a track I just really enjoy racing at. I got my first Busch win there a few years back, and just love that racetrack. It’s fast, and there’s not a lot of room for error. It seems like if you mess up a little bit, you’ll hit the outside wall, and then automatically go down and hit the inside wall after that. It’s a tough race track to get around"¦really, the major strength that I think I’ve got is getting the car to the end of a race. We’ve got to run these cars so on the edge every lap. You’ll see drivers that are able to qualify real quick and have a good qualifying lap, but they can’t make it quite through the race without either falling way down or having problems or things like that. I think my biggest strength is being able to get the car better throughout the race, and ultimately making it to the finish.
Tom: If you could pick one driver that you could race against one-on-one, past or present, who would you want it to be and why?
Wimmer : I had the chance to race with the late Dale Earnhardt at Atlanta when I made my first Cup start there back in 2000. I was leading the race, and I looked in my mirror and he was running 2nd. That was really a special moment in my life. It was an unbelievable feeling to have such a great race car driver behind you. Trying to hold him off…you know, it wasn’t for the win, but it was for position, and being my first race (it made it special). Didn’t get to race with him after that, but certainly if I could race one-on-one with him one more time, especially with all the experience I’ve got now, I’d like to see with what I’ve learned over the years if I could still stay ahead of him.
Tom: And finally, if you couldn’t race anymore, what would you have done for a career?
Wimmer : Well, my father was in the construction business for many years. Actually, when I got out of high school, I went to work for him. I worked for him for a couple of years before I decided that was too much work. It was a lot of long hours and long days, but that’s the field I would have chosen. I would have followed my father’s footsteps, gotten into his company, and did some sort of role there. I still enjoy it. My dad’s still got a couple of pieces of equipment and got some jobs around our hometown, so I like to go in the off-season and work for him a little bit. It was a good business for our family, and we still have a lot of friends in it and family in it and it’s still a lot of fun for me.
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