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.
Tony Lumbis · Monday June 29, 2009
Summary: On Friday afternoon, it looked as if the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 weekend would be a special one for rookie Joey Logano. The 19-year-old was returning to his home track, which was also the site of the of his Sprint Cup debut back in the Fall of 2008. The adrenaline appeared to be working early on, as the team went to the top of the charts during the first practice session of the weekend. However, when the green flag waved on Sunday, the superman cape quickly fell off and was replaced once again with that inexperienced yellow stripe.
Logano struggled early in the event, as has normally been the case this season. The rookie could not break into the top 20 from his 24th starting position and, in fact, was battling just to stay in front of leader Jimmie Johnson by lap 140 — a battle he would eventually lose. Following what appears to be the protocol for the No. 20 team in 2009, Logano and crew chief Greg Zipadelli continued to make their car better as the event wore on, positioning themselves for the “Lucky Dog” on lap 169 when New Hampshire’s seventh caution flag of the day waved.
Just 19 laps later, though, the New England native suffered another setback when the rear tire on his Home Depot Camry blew out in turns three and four following contact with both Ryan Newman and David Reutimann. Unable to react in time, Logano hit the spin cycle and then pit road after coming to a stop right outside of the pit entrance. With the help of a subsequent caution, the entire team was able to work on the race car and get it back onto the track without losing an additional lap. Adding insult to injury, Logano would be penalized to the tail end of the longest line after both pitting before pit road was open and speeding on entry. But those penalties would prove to be a small price to pay as four laps later, another spin allowed Logano to get the Lucky Dog and get right back on the same lap as the leaders. During that caution, Logano made a pit stop for gas and tires as he was going to start at the back of the lead lap, anyway; it was a crucial stop that would make a major difference several laps later.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was hardly heard from during the entire rest of the event… until lap 264. That is the moment where Newman sputtered onto pit road with an empty gas tank, handing the lead to Logano — who was also stretching his fuel mileage. Just four laps later, the skies opened up and the final caution of the day was waved for Mother Nature. As the rains came down harder, yellow turned into red and then black and white atop the flagstand, making Logano the youngest winner ever in Sprint Cup history at 19 years, one month, and four days old. Not only did that beat Kyle Busch’s previous mark by over one year, it was actually the freshman’s first career top 5 finish as well as his 13th rookie honor of the race.
Quote: “Yeah, this is so special. I think your first win — no matter where it’s at — is huge. Obviously, it’s not the way you want to win your first race, in the rain, but 20 years down the road when you look in the record books, no one will know the difference. I’ll take them any way I can. This is my home track and where I watched my first Cup race. And Zippy, all of the guys, a lot of the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing are from the northeast, so it’s cool to get a win here.”
Summary: It seems all Brad Keselowski has been able to do lately is find a way to finish in the top 10 — although it didn’t seem like it would end that way early on. For virtually the entire race, the No. 09 Impala raced under the radar, even falling a lap down to the leader early on in the race. But while the chips may have been down for team Miccosukee, they were certainly far from falling out of the game. Pit strategy and the wave around rule allowed Keselowski to gain his lap back without the aid of the “Lucky Dog.” As he has done so often this year, the rookie slowly and methodically worked his way to the front, positioning himself to make his final pit stop of the day later than everyone else. Crew chief Marc Reno’s strategy could not have worked any better, as the team had not yet stopped for fuel when the rains fell and, as a result, they were credited with the sixth place finishing position. The part-timer has now finished first (Talladega), seventh (Darlington), and sixth in his last three appearances, with a DNQ at Dover being the only blemish on his recent track record.
Quote: “We played the strategy [card] the whole time anticipating this. We kept pitting under the yellows to top-off, even if we didn’t need it. We had probably a better car than where we were running. We kept pitting to make sure we were covered for this situation. And, low and behold, we got a break when this situation came up. We put ourselves in position to take advantage of it… and here we are.”
Summary: After a gut-wrenching DNQ last week at Sonoma, Scott Speed and his entire Red Bull team rebounded by making it into the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 on Friday once qualifying got rained out. However, making the show would be the only positive thing for this team in the Granite State. While mired back outside of the top 30, Speed was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the No. 19 Dodge of Elliot Sadler got into his Camry, sending him into the No. 55 of Michael Waltrip. The rookie did not make it through the wreck entirely unscathed, however, as the NAPA Camry clipped the side of the No. 82 car. However, Speed was able to continue without much damage, and the rookie soldiered on as best he could.
Speed slowly started to make progress, breaking into the top 30 by the event’s halfway mark. But luck, or lack thereof, would once again be the Achilles Heel of this team as the California native became a victim of circumstances for a second time on Sunday. On lap 189, his Toyota sustained heavy contact with the outside retaining wall in turn one after contact with another car, ending the rookie’s day. His most recent 37th place finish means that Speed has not had a top 30 since the Coca-Cola 600 over one month ago.
Quote: “I spun out. I think the car behind us got into us a little bit, obviously, and spun us out. Other than that I really can’t tell you. Maybe Brian paid someone off for yesterday, I don’t know. We did good all weekend, honestly. Obviously we were in a pretty reasonable spot. We’ve got to keep our head up because we had a great weekend. Both cars, the Nationwide car and this car, ran really well all weekend. Can’t really change that, I mean that’s just up to fate. We’ll keep pushing on.”
UNOFFICIAL Raybestos Rookie standings:
Joey Logano 199
Almost Rookie Recap:
Following a weekend of attention as one of the favorites to win at Sonoma, Marcos Ambrose fell back into the category of “average” at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway; but for him, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. From the beginning of the race, crew chief Frankie Kerr knew that his car was not yet fast enough to be a contender, so he called his driver in for service when the first caution flew on lap 16. Pitting off sequence did not prove to be enough to get the No. 47 Camry to the front, as he rode around in about the 20th–25th position for a large portion of the race. At one point, Ambrose and company needed to utilize the new wave around rule just to remain on the lead lap — a move that worked out in their favor when Paul Menard wrecked on Lap 171, allowing the No. 47 to get back on the same pit sequence with the leaders. By the end of the day, Ambrose was able bring home a very solid 23rd place position, coming back down to Earth following a top 5 finish last weekend.
Finally, one can’t say enough about Greg Zipadelli, who has now managed to get two drivers into Victory Lane during their rookie seasons (Tony Stewart in 1999). Whether he’s got a hotheaded driver behind the wheel or a young, quiet kid who has been thrown into a pressure cooker, Zipadelli gets the job done and that should not go unnoticed — no matter how he gets his team into Victory Lane. With that kind of braintrust atop the pit box and considering that we’ve just barely begun to see what Logano can do in the driver’s seat, there is no telling what this team can do in the future.
I also have to say that if a victory had to “fall into someone’s lap”, it could not have happened to a better person. Logano has been given every reason to become an arrogant punk. Let’s face it, you can’t blame a guy for becoming just a bit cocky when he is told since he was 15 that he is the greatest thing since “Sliced Bread” and will be the next Jeff Gordon. But despite the accolades he’s received throughout his young career, Logano has remained modest, good-natured… and most of all, he has remained real. When he had to look at his uniform to remember his sponsors, that wasn’t an act. No, that was a 19 year-old who is genuinely excited about the opportunities that he has had to date and wants to ensure that he does not miss a single person or company that has made it all possible. NASCAR has its villains, and I think that that is a good thing for the sport. But for every villain, there has to be a good guy, and I think that Joey Logano will successfully fill that role for years to come.
Who Wasn’t Here?:
UNOFFICIAL Driver Points Standings
18th – Marcos Ambrose (+2)
Note – The discrepancy between the driver’s standings and owner’s points for Scott Speed is due to the fact that John Andretti fell behind Speed in driver’s points after missing two events due to Indy 500 commitments, but his No. 34 team remained in 35th because of the efforts of Tony Raines during that time period.
Qualifying Next Week: Scott Speed’s bad luck combined with John Andretti’s 16th place finish means that the No. 82 team has fallen even further behind the top 35 in owner points, meaning they’ll have to qualify on speed once again at Daytona. Max Papis will also need to time his GEICO Toyota into the field as well, while Brad Keselowski will be making his second consecutive start for James Finch as he looks to win his second consecutive restrictor plate race following Talladega in April.
Next Up: It is the first “return trip” of the season this Independence Day weekend as the Sprint Cup series heads back to Daytona for the Coke Zero 400. While most of the rookies have been looking forward to racing at a venue where they have prior experience, they should refrain from getting too excited just yet — Daytona under the lights in July is a much different track than it was back in February. Also, we all know that for the most part, the drivers are just along for the ride at this track where restrictor plate engines level the playing field for all. The one positive note is that most of the rookie contenders have much more draft experience under their belt at this point of the year, which will certainly help on Saturday night. For the most part, however, their strategy will be to stay out of trouble and try to be in contention at the end, where anything can happen…just ask Brad Keselowski.
Rookie Prediction Poll – Just over 60% of you believed that Marcos Ambrose would use last week’s third place finish to start a hot streak of his own and beat the rest of the rookie contenders last Sunday. While Ambrose did not have a bad day, it certainly wasn’t great as he finished behind both Logano and Keselowski. Only 16% of you thought Logano would finish best at his home track. It looked like most of you had the right idea… until the final segment of the race.
Daytona Prediction – It was a rough kickoff to the season for the Rookie of the Year contenders in Daytona earlier this year, as Joey Logano finished dead last and Scott Speed did not do much better with a 35th place finish. Marcos Ambrose did better as he was sitting in 17th when it began to pour. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski missed the show, while Max Papis did not even attempt the Great American Race. So, how much does experience matter at this place? You can weigh in by letting us know which group the highest finisher will come out of: Logano/Speed/Ambrose, who ran the Daytona 500, or Keselowski/Papis, who have not.
Tony’s Rookie Prediction: I had confidence in Logano and his ability to pull off a good finish at the track that means a lot to him personally. While it wasn’t quite in the fashion I expected, the rookie did, in fact, beat Keselowski, Ambrose and Speed, allowing me to pull back within one point of you.
As for this week’s prediction, I am going with the Keselowski/Papis group next week due to Keselwoski’s recent abilities to find a way to be near the front at the end. His recent hot streak combined with Finch’s record at superspeedways will certainly put this duo on everyone’s radar Saturday night, despite the driver’s lack of experience at the two and a half mile tri-oval.
Rookie Poll Points: Readers: 8, Tony: 7.
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Good to see Joey win,Hope there are a lot more on down the road.
O.K. A win is a win but this one is a COMPLETE FLUKE. That car was not good all day. They got lucky with the rain. That is plain and simple. Logano may be a good guy and especially when compared to his two teamates, Busch and Hamlin, but he was lucky. I personally would have rather seen Bobby LaBonte win if it were going to fall into someones lap. He is a good guy too, and it has been a while since he won. Just my take.
Who cares if the #20 team’s win was a complete fluke. Joey has bested Kryle for the youngest winner record. That’s what really matters to me, and just about everyone else out there still watching this garbage once in a while. Also it’s good to see Kryle struggling to just get top ten finishes. Maybe a few wrecks and a blown engine and he’ll not be in Brainle$$ France’s cha$e B.S. If that was the case maybe I’ll watch all ten races. Ha Ha Ha. Screw you Kryle, just go away and be a pain in the a$$ in some other racing series.