NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thompson In Turn 5 · Tommy Thompson · Tuesday June 26, 2007
Saturday night's Busch Series victory for Joe Gibbs Racing at the Milwaukee Mile has unfairly become a win the organization would just as soon forget. Since that fateful race, the team’s PR department has been inundated with flack over their decision to relieve substitute driver Aric Almirola with Nextel Cup driver Denny Hamlin during the event. Almirola, who had set the fast time in qualifying in the No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet, led 43 of the first 59 laps of the race before eventually falling to third in the running order. Still running well, he was called to the pits for a driver swap shortly thereafter, with the team deciding to put Hamlin in the car for the rest of the event…a race Hamlin wound up winning going away. Visibly upset at the team's decision to put Hamlin in the car, the 23-year-old refused to be interviewed and apparently exited the speedway before the event concluded.
In my opinion, that was the wrong course of action to take, for Almirola’s team made the only decision they could: the right one.
Before any controversy began, it should be noted that Hamlin had been scheduled to start the race that evening. Almirola, a native of Tampa, FL and under contract to drive for Gibbs, was asked to practice and qualify the car in Hamlin's absence earlier on Saturday while Hamlin practiced his JGR Nextel Cup car in Sonoma, CA. However, due to an already tight schedule and a snafu that prevented the helicopter from landing on the track’s helipad, the quickly rising NASCAR star couldn’t make it to the race before the green flag dropped, leaving Almirola in the car for the start of Saturday’s event. Once Hamlin made it to the ground, however, circumstances clearly changed, and Almirola was sent to the sidelines before 25% of the race was even complete.
That Aric Almirola was upset and disappointed by not being allowed to finish the race is understandable. However, irate motorsports fans’ baseless charges and complaints against JGR's management for deciding to put their ace driver in the race car are not being made with full consideration of the circumstances surrounding the events in Wisconsin. One-sided accusations of unfair treatment of Almirola by the race team are being leveled with little regard for just how well Joe Gibbs Racing has treated the 23-year-old developmental driver, seemingly with little interest or regard to the importance of satisfying team sponsors.
Also lost in the driver swap controversy from the moment the checkered flag dropped in Milwaukee was the fact that Denny Hamlin drove one hell of a race. After losing a lap on pit road to facilitate the driver switchout, Hamlin charged through the field, putting on an awe-inspiring clinic in passing to eventually take the lead with 78 laps remaining. It’s a lead he would lose only after a round of late pit stops relegated him back to the fourth position. But even then, with 13 laps to go, Hamlin made a daring three-wide move to the outside of former Cup drivers Scott Wimmer and Jason Leffler entering Turn 1, successfully retaking the lead and, ultimately, the win.
The move was so amazing, Jason Leffler said of Hamlin's race-winning pass, "Denny set us up like a couple of bowling pins and drove right by us."
However, the significance of winning seems to have been dismissed in the barrage of criticism against JGR. Winning is important to race teams; I'm not intending to be condescending here, but that is the ultimate goal. And the win isn't just about the driver; that victory validates the performance of both the over-the-wall crew and the many employees back at the race shops, whether they are engine builders, fabricators, or engineers. Winning builds confidence throughout an organization, and it serves as a handy tool for a team’s marketing department when negotiating deals with potential future sponsors.
When you look at things strictly from a competitive argument, the race team clearly made the correct decision to put Hamlin, presently second in Nextel Cup points, behind the wheel when the opportunity presented itself. Though losing a lap in the process had to be of concern, the results serve to indicate that the calculated gamble was a wise one. Joe Gibbs Racing simply gave themselves the best opportunity to win the race by putting their better driver in the car. Critics of the driver change who claim that Almirola could have just as easily won the race, and thus, was treated unfairly, are simply crooning nothing but unsubstantiated speculation. Who knows what would have happened if Almirola had stayed in the seat? In contrast, Hamlin possessed the driver history and expertise that validated him as a driver who could get the job done.
There was no malice intended on the part of Joe Gibbs Racing towards the promising young Almirola, who, possessing Cuban heritage, was one of the first participants in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity Program. It’s a program that Joe Gibbs Racing has generously supported, one that is designed to give talented minorities the opportunities they’re looking for in stock car racing.
J.D.Gibbs, president of JGR and son of founder Joe Gibbs, openly expressed the organization’s commitment to their budding young prospect the day after the Milwaukee race.
“I've known him for over four years,” he said. “I know his family. I know how much this means to them. He's a huge part of our future. We've invested a lot in him, time-wise and financially, and more important, just getting to know him. No one wants to see him succeed more that we do.”
I, for one, have no reason to doubt that everything that J.D. Gibbs said is the absolute truth. The Gibbs organization is known within NASCAR circles for their commitment to operating both above the board and with the utmost integrity. It is a standard in business operations that Joe Gibbs, currently head football coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins, insists on.
At the same time, Denny Hamlin flew from California to Wisconsin to pilot Gibbs’ race car, driving as a special gesture of thanks to their longtime sponsor Rockwell Automation. Not only did the company support Hamlin in his formative days as a rookie in the Busch Series, but they’ve proved a valuable revenue source for Gibbs. Based in the Milwaukee area, the sponsor viewed Saturday night’s race as the "home" event for both employees and extended business associates of Rockwell's, many of whom were in attendance. Understandably, the team wanted to reward their sponsor with a win, if at all possible. J.D. Gibbs instructed the No.20 team, "â€¦If you think Denny can get in the car and win the race, Let's go. Let's do that. If you don't think he can do that, let Aric run it out." Well, the team thought Denny could win, and he did just that.
Not surprisingly, some are saying that JGR took the "low road" and kowtowed to their sponsor in the face of such a team decision. These people claim the organization should have been noble, disregarding their wishes and focused on Aric Amirola's feelings. Yeah, right. Who needs sponsors anyways? Well, race teams do! Their money fuels the sport. It's money from Rockwell Automation and dozens of other companies like them that are allowing teams to compete in NASCAR's higher ranks of racing. Without their support, there likely would be no driver development program as we know it today, let alone a well-funded fleet of cars on the track each weekend. Additionally, without the money of a sponsor like that, it is equally doubtful that Aric Almirola would be sitting behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Busch car at such a young age.
No matter how people want to tell the tale, there are no true villains in this story. Rockwell Automation, no doubt, wanted to see a premier driver in the car with their company logo on the hood. But they didn't demand it. Denny Hamlin, without question, is blameless; he made it clear he was hesitant to relieve Almirola. In fact, Hamlin was so against the idea he was actually standing by to possibly relieve another driver, Steve Wallace, who was feeling ill and thought he may not be able to finish the event.
Finally, it’s important to note Joe Gibbs Racing certainly has not treated Aric Amirola shabbily at all. The young man was picked up from virtual obscurity and has been supported by JGR through Late Model Racing in his home state of Florida, as well as the Craftsman Truck Series and now in the Busch Series. That support has come with promises of even bigger and better things in the future should he continue to progress but no one said anything about withdrawing that support in the face of the young man receiving his first Busch Series “win.”
So, before enraged fans charge the walls of the Joe Gibbs Racing facility, they need to take a deep breath and truly consider what transpired in Milwaukee. Although the driver changed, in the end, the team won. The sponsor, evil as sponsors areâ€¦saw their car in Victory Lane. And Aric Almirola, though disappointed in not being allowed to finish the race, has seen his stock as a race car driver skyrocket immeasurably overnight.
What’s the harm in that?
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Well since you put it that way…
PS: Could you also make me feel better about Iraq, global warming, and life in general?
PSS: Aric Almirola got the shaft, no matter how it’s spun.
I donâ€™t believe that a development driverâ€™s gratitude to his team needs to extend to bending over to have a â€œkick meâ€ sign attatched to his rear, lying down to be walked on, and then getting up to give a happy-face interview about how wonderful it is to be treated like dirt.
If its justified for one driver to be pulled mid-race for no other reason than that a star became available then its justifiable for ANY driver to be pulled from ANY race to be replaced by ANY bigger star.
So, lets see Truex or Menard pulled in to be replaced by Dale Jr. next time he blows and engine and goes out early. Lets see Denny himself replaced by Tony Stewart if Tonyâ€™s the one with the blown engine.
In either of those cases the sponsor will get a bigger star in the car so youâ€™ll approve that too, right?
If Denny had run up to the car at the last moment as they started to roll off on the pace laps it would have been fine to put Denny in. But once Aric started the race he should have been allowed to finish it.
Gibbs and Rockwell Automation took a gamble that Denny would be able to make the long-distance commute. They lost. Their refusal to accept that the world didn’t deal them the hand they wanted had all the class and grace of a child’s foot-stomping tantrum about how if he can’t play shortstop he’ll take the ball and go home.
As for Denny’s performance, ... so what? What else would you have expected him to do in a field largely devoid of Buschwhackers.
Just as it would have been unthinkable for Almirola to say, “My contract said to practice and qualify. Its not my problem that Denny isn’t here on time,” it should be unthinkable for a team to pull a perfectly healthy, perfectly competent driver out of the car in mid-race.
Sponsrs are just that, Sponsors. Get them OUT of the pits!
No matter what you say or how you spin “it”, Gibbs screwed Aric when he took him out of the car.
That incident just goes to show other drivers and fans that NOTHING IS FAIR WHEN IT COMES TO MONEY in NA$CAR.
Well thought out column. Aric knew he was a back-up driver for that race. He also knew he was in the backyard of Denny Hamlin’s sponsor. Aric had a chance to be part of a unique TEAM win, and instead of participating in it, he ran off and sulked like a spoiled kid. He is fortunate to be with an organization like JGR and he should probably start acting like he realizes it.
The problem with the entire situation goes much, much deeper than what JGR did Saturday night. The teams and NASCAR have allowed the Busch Series to evolve to the point where the sponsors are dictating the drivers in the sport. When the #20 car came into the pits and did the driver swap, a lot of the frustration of the fans came to fruition. It does not matter to us that the #20 went on for the victory. To me, that’s irrelevant to the bigger issue.
If NASCAR doesn’t do something about this Busch Series, in my opinion they just need to shut the Series down and save the Cup teams money. It isn’t the development series that it should be by any stretch of the imagination, so why have it? I would much rather watch a Truck Series race than a Busch Series race, especially if the teams keep pulling this crap.
Once again, fine article. As much as we don’t want to believe it, sponsors do have a great deal of power in racing. Given ALL the unusual circumstances involved with this situation, the best decision was made here. Actually, I’m quite surprised we have not heard a formal response from Aric. Have to wonder how Rockwell Automation feels about that.