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.
The Cockpit and Beyond · Toni Montgomery · Thursday July 27, 2006
David Green, the 1994 Busch Series champion, has been a staple of the series for a number of years. With the Cup drivers grabbing the majority of media attention this season, Green has spent his year flying under the radar with the No. 27 Kleenex Ford, but he still has some things to say before 2006 is done, and is very much looking forward to a possible return to Victory Lane. Green talked with Frontstretch about growing up in a racing family, some ideas for the future of the Busch Series, this week's race at Gateway, and the great fans of NASCAR.
Toni Heffelfinger, FS: Tell us a little bit about growing up in a family with three racing brothers. Are you guys super competitive?
David Green: Absolutely. Even from the very beginning. Tricycles, bicycles, go-karts, and then the local tracks. Mark and I are like 13 months apart where Jeff is a little bit younger, but Mark and I were in the same class in go-karts and such. Mark was the first one to get into stock cars back home, and then Jeff and I followed. Jeff was in another class, so Mark and I were probably the most competitive early on…but once Jeff got up there into adult classes, it was a three way battle. Very competitive…but all that was good, I think, because as we grew up each one made the other ones more competitive. We always felt like Mark was the best driver, but just never got the good break it seemed like Jeff and I got.
We're very competitive, but very supportive, and I think it's kind of cool and unique that out of all the hundreds and hundreds of drivers everywhere that not only did the three of us get opportunities to run the Busch and Cup Series, but that we were able to win championships. That's really cool from the family side of it.
Toni: What do they put in the water in Owensboro? What's the secret?
David Green: Well, I don't know if it's the water because we're better known for barbecue, so I've always said it's the barbecue! Seriously, I think it’s since there was a local track, Kentucky Motor Speedway, and Darrell (Waltrip), way back when, kind of paved the way, or at least got the road laid out for us. And then Jeremy (Mayfield), Michael (Waltrip), and the three of us, plus a lot of crew guys just kept following that dream. The city and community were supportive of racing, and I think that was generated in Darrell's days. We also had Nashville close by and Louisville and Indy, plus a lot of go-kart tracks that we could all go to in the radius of Owensboro and be able to race with a lot of different people and become competitive. That, I think, is the key, and the bottom line is none of us ever gave up. We just kept digging.
Toni: You're heading to Gateway this week. How do you feel about your chances for a win or a good finish there?
David Green: It's always been a good track for me personally since we started going there. I ran some Cup races those first years that Gateway appeared on our schedule, but ever since I've gotten to run there, it's always been a really good track and I've had some really good runs. It's always one that you mark on your calendar. It seems like in the past, this has been the time of the summer when we've really hit our stride and gotten going. A year ago we were able to win Pikes Peak about this time of the year, so we went in to Gateway fresh off a victory. I know this particular week we're taking one of my favorite cars, and it's one of our best cars.
If history repeats itself, we'll be a contender, but this year has been full of a lot of disappointments. A lot of little things that each and every week have seemed to pop up and detoured our progress…we've had to work really hard at getting back on track through the course of the event. With the competition level the way it is right now in the Busch Series, you can't have any kind of detours or hit any stoplights. You have to hit them all on green, you know? So we hope we can shake some of our bad luck. I know Saturday night at Gateway, if we do our job as a team, we can be a contender for the win.
I'm excited about going there. It's always cool and exciting to get there because our series sponsor is based there, and we're celebrating 25 years for those folks being involved in the series. This series would not be what it is, which I still say is better than the Cup Series because of the competitiveness and different venues we go to, without Anheuser Busch. It's great that they've stuck with this series and never ventured off into Cup, just like my sponsor, Kleenex, who has been in the sport for 13 years and has never said they'd like to go off and do something in Cup instead. They're a true Busch Series sponsor, and it's kind of cool that we can bring those folks in on the celebration as well. We're due for a good run, and I'd really like to do it there. It's kind of close to Owensboro, just a couple of hours away, so there will probably be some extra friends and family there as well. We're ready, and we want to shake all the disappointment we've had in the last month and turn it into a victory.
Toni: Let's talk about the Busch Series in general. If you could be in charge of the series, what would you do with it?
David Green: I think, for the most part, it was headed in the right direction. The last three or four years, with testing in Cup being limited and now no longer allowed, it has really brought the Cup owners and drivers into the series. I'm not by any means saying that's bad, because to be the best you have to beat the best. Even though I think some of the best drivers are in the Busch Series, it's always good to welcome those other guys. But what I would like to see happen is to make room for new Busch Series teams and drivers, just like I was able to get my start and Jason Keller was able to get his start. We were able to use our talent and abilities to get in the series and not use somebody's checkbook to get into it, so to speak, or have a sponsor that took us right into it. We had to earn our way in.
I think the big picture of things nowadays, I keep hearing there's a driver shortage, there's not a good driver pool, and I don't see who thinks that's true because there are several drivers, not just in the Busch Series, but in the Truck Series and other series that can do the job. We've almost kind of strangled the system that the Busch Series was made famous for, and that was bringing new owners and new drivers into the sport. The Busch Series brought new people into NASCAR, and then, as they won races and championships and elected to move on to Cup, they had their good training ground (in this Series). We've just strangled that now because we have twentysome Cup drivers attempting a lot of these races, and it's basically just pushing these new teams and new drivers out the door. It's taken about three to four years for this to become an issue, but it's now an issue.
I think if we have too many people at a (Busch Series) race, the ones that need to go home (should be) the slowest of the Cup drivers. What a race that would be…if cars don't go fast enough to make the race, don't send the Busch guys home, send some of those guys home.
Toni: That's a really good idea. I like that suggestion.
David Green: Yeah, they won't listen, butâ€¦ You know, a perfect example is Charlotte. There were 25 Cup drivers and 50 cars showed up, so we're going to send seven home. That's 25 Cup drivers out of 50 cars, half the field. So to me, the seven that should have gone home are the seven slowest of those 25 Cup drivers. No matter where they ended up qualifying, the seven slowest should fail to make the race. That does two things: That allows those seven Busch teams that got sent home to now participate, because this is the Busch race. It's not the Cup Series…it's the Busch Series race, so they get to participate. Those seven that went home will naturally get stronger and if they attempt another race, they will hopefully get in, because they're not running a full schedule, so they can bounce their races around. The other thing is, by sending seven home, that still leaves 18 (Cup drivers), if my math is right, in the race. I still will bet my paycheck that the bulk of the people sitting in the grandstands will not get up and leave when those seven Cup drivers fail to make the race, because there are 18 more of them.
If you do it this way, it keeps everybody happy. Those seven that went home can't be mad because they're not Busch regulars, they're Cup Series regulars, and they would just rebound and get stronger and come to the next race. It would be a race within a race for the Cup guys to make the field. It also keeps the Busch Series people happy because if they had a rule like that, it would safety net the Busch teams. I, and a lot of other people, would not hesitate a second to start a team because we know we would be covered. We have signed up to run all the races, and we know there would be a provision in there that will basically keep us in the race.
Another thing is, why does the Cup Series lock in the Top 35 in points when the Busch Series only locks in 30? I think the reason is if we locked in 35, then that would lock out five Cup teams from having the opportunity to get in the race. Maybe that's all we need to do. Maybe NASCAR just needs to say, “Hey we're going to bring that number up to 35.” Now, all of a sudden, five spots will be more than likely filled by a Busch Series team because they're going to be there every week trying to get into that Top 35. I think the bottom line is we just need to take care of the Busch Series teams that have elected to compete because it is the Busch Series. If we were over there trying to make the Sunday Cup race, we would not expect any kind of provision to make sure we got in the race, and there won't be. We just have to roll up our sleeves and do it. It's all about preserving the Series the way it is, but not excluding those guys because Tony Stewart would be the first to say there is a law saying you have to give everyone the opportunity to compete.
We're not saying you can't compete, we're just saying there has to be some guidelines because this is the Busch Series, not the Cup Series, and we have rules too. That's what I'd like to see happen.
Toni: Would you be in favor of changes to the Busch Series cars in order to help give the series its own identity?
David Green: A body change would be OK, but as soon as we talk about changes, we start talking about the money that it would cost to make changes. Now, the argument I have is why not just change the Cup cars? And they are. The Car of Tomorrow (CoT) will be the biggest benefactor to the Busch Series in a long, long time. If we can institute the CoT sooner, that will knock out some of those guys wanting to double dip, because now there's no comparison (to the Cup cars). I'm almost to the point of saying, why should we change our cars? Why tell the Busch Series owners that have smaller budgets that now they have to spend another couple hundred thousand dollars to change all your cars. That's not fair.
But what I'd like to see done is maybe a different tire. Tires cost the same, so why don't we just run a tire that's totally different. A Goodyear tire from the year 2000, maybe. Let Goodyear make those tires for us, and oh, they might be a little bit cheaper by the way. Not cheaper in construction, but cheaper in price, and then let the Cup guys run whatever they want to run. That way, there's some differences in the cars. When I started in the series in '91, we had the sixes (six cylinder engines). We had the same bodies, but different engines. The wheel base has always been different, but the engines alone kept a lot of the drivers from double dipping just because they didn't learn anything with the V-6s.
We didn't run as many companion events either, which I think is good in a way, but it's also not good because we need to go to the big markets, too. We need to reap some of the benefits of the big purses. But do we need to run all those big venues? No, we need to keep running tracks like Gateway, and even Martinsville, and IRP. Pikes Peak was on the schedule last year and now, all of a sudden, they dropped it. It was a nice little race for the Busch Series. Anytime we're separate from the Cup guys, it seems to make it a little bit harder for them to get there, a big number of them anyway. In Gateway, with the off week, there will be the typical seven that are running, and to be honest, at this point in the game it's not about knocking those seven out of the field, because they have elected to support our series 100%. In a way, yes, they are Busch regular drivers.
Now, as we take it further, eventually we would get into a discussion about those guys because they have all their Cup personnel that's supporting those teams which is still a big thorn in our side, but first things first, and that is to get our car count back up with Busch Series teams and drivers. When that all happens, then we can go a little deeper into it. If I were to put myself in the place of a Nextel Cup owner and I had an established team and driver that was winning, do you go risk the chance of that driver getting hurt, or keep your focus on your Cup program? I'd say (the Cup program) is priority. I don't think there's a problem when someone like Robert Yates Racing puts Stephen Leicht or Matt McCall in a Busch car to help him learn. That's no problem because there you have an inexperienced driver that's trying to learn, but it gets a little bit tough when there's 25 Cup guys that show up at a Busch race and they're all probably in the Top 35 of Cup owner points or driver points.
It gets a little bit lopsided on the playing field. I think it's a several step process, but again, what I said earlier about our Busch Series owners and drivers getting in the race, that's step one. Once we get that nailed down, we'll go a little bit deeper, but there just needs to be a difference in the series to where we can generate new owners, drivers, and crew members, and then as they get to that point, they can graduate to the Cup Series. It's almost like going to high school or college and going straight to the 12th grade. There was never any process along the line to establish yourself to that point.
Toni: Do you think it should be allowed that drivers can run for championships in both the Cup and Busch Series?
David Green: That's probably step two in the process. To answer your question, no. I think it's going to be awful odd and strange to the race fan. It's not going to be so much to us, because we're in it every day. But how's it going to be when the Busch Series banquet might have to be delayed if it's on the same weekend as the Cup banquet, because the Cup champion or the Cup driver that finished in the Top 10 in the Chase can't jump on his jet and fly to the Busch banquet because he won the Busch championship. The banquet would have to be delayed because the Cup driver isn't there yet.
I'm kind of joking about all that, but I do feel for the Busch Series, for Anheuser Busch that we have to share that. It should be simply that here's the Busch champion, and one day he might move to Nextel Cup, but now it's going to be diluted.
I'm not giving in and throwing in the towel. Obviously, we don't have a shot at the championship this year as a team. Is it fair? No, it's not fair to the fans that don't understand it, and it's not fair to our series sponsor and it's not fair to our series that this happens. Maybe they'll address it, but bottom line is they'll say that David Green's complaining because he can't beat those guys, so he just wants to run them out of there…But I'm telling you, the biggest satisfaction in the world is to beat Kevin Harvick or Carl Edwards and Reed Sorenson and those guys, and we welcome that every week. But is it really fair? It's the Busch Series…are you a Busch Series driver or are you a Cup driver?
That's just my opinion. It's not going to affect me at this stage in my career; in a way, it's more of an impact on my team. My team is based out of Kentucky…we're a Busch Series team and we have no affiliation with a Cup team, and I don't see us doing that in the near future even though I think we ought to. It's tough on my team to compete on the level that we should be competing at. In 2003, we won four races and came within 14 points of winning the championship racing against Brian Vickers in the Hendrick car. Since then, we've lost grasp of that just because the series has been diluted with all of these Cup teams. We can do it, it's just a matter of getting the playing field back to equal.
Toni: Now that we've talked about the heavy issues, it's time for some fun questions. What kind of things do you do in your time off for fun?
David Green: I don't know that I get to do a whole lot. I've got a nine year old daughter and a five year old son and they're fun, but, as you can imagine, it's a lot of work. Maybe if there's anything I can put into being fun, it's just spending time with them, whether it's Kaylie doing her cheerleading competitions or Austin's riding a go-kart now and doing some go-kart stuff. Eventually some day maybe he'll want to follow in Dad's footsteps. I'm a big drag racing fan, so whether I watch it on TV or get to go be at a drag race, Greg Anderson is a good friend of mine that runs NHRA Pro Stock. That's probably my only hobbies I get to do that are relaxing, but that kind of gets diluted as well because things are so busy with everything else and keeping track and being in a frustrated mood after a frustrating weekend.
Toni: What's the most unique fan experience you've ever had?
David Green: Things have been pretty quiet on that end of it. I really can't think of anything that steps out of bounds, other than maybe signing a person's arm or a leg and then come back a race or two later and they've had that tattooed on their arm or leg. That's maybe the most far-fetched I think I've seen. But speaking of fans, the thing I'd want to say more than anything is besides being extraordinary like that, how much support they have not only to a particular driver, but to a sponsor/driver relationship. Dating back all the way through the Slim Jim days and Caterpillar days, AFG Glass days, Timberwolf days, and now Kleenex/Kimberly Clark days, the fans are 110% supportive of not only me and our sponsors, but they seem to really be able to put a direct relationship between the two. To me, what really drives me more than anything is the presence of having the fan support there that in turn flows over into our sponsor's day to day activities. There's nothing greater, obviously winning races is cool and very satisfying, but there's also a lot of satisfaction knowing and hearing fans say, "Hey, we're making sure we're buying Kleenex. We like your team, and we like you, and you're a good spokesperson for Kleenex." To me, that's a grand slam, and winning races are home runs, but the sponsor relationships are grand slams and we can't do it without them. That, to me, is the most special part of it.
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