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.
Date of Birth: June 7, 1955
The story of Tim Richmond as a racecar driver and personality is best suited for the big screen. It is so full of triumph, betrayal and tragedy as to capture the interest of not only avid followers of stock car racing, but those that have never followed the sport. In fact, it led to a Tim Richmond-inspired movie titled "Days of Thunder"—though there were some parallels between Richmond and the movie’s lead character, Cole Trickle, played by actor Tom Cruise, the writers elected to follow a largely fictitious story line. The real Tim Richmond Story is one that has yet to be made, and if it is, will be so much more captivating than the 1990 Hollywood blockbuster.
To racing fans, Tim Richmond's emergence onto the NASCAR scene in 1981 required many to readjust their images of the typical stock car driver. Richmond did not fall into the familiar stereotypical gritty, rags-to-riches, rural southern driver that dominated the Winston Cup Scene of that era. Far from it, Richmond grew up a child of privilege in a wealthy Ohio family. He did not grow up fixing up jalopies or racing along the dirt roads of the southeast honing his driving skills and dreaming of one day following in the footsteps of boyhood heroes such as Tim Flock, Junior Johnson or Fireball Roberts. In fact, Richmond did not even become interested in auto racing until he was 21-years old when he took a "joy ride" in a friends Sprint car and became hooked on the adrenaline rush. Driving a racecar provided the dare-seeking Richmond with the thrill that he had sought in other risk-taking sports such as motorcycles, speedboats and airplanes.
By 1978, the dapper dressing driver had won the USAC Sprint Car Rookie of the Year and had become committed to being a professional racecar driver. Two years later, his open-wheel racing career culminated in a ninth place finish in the 1980 Indianapolis 500. Though he ran out of gas in the event, he still earned Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors. During the 500, Richmond caught the eye of Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder and former President of Pocono Raceway, who invited the fast-living open-wheeler to race at his Pennsylvania track against American's best stock car drivers. Tim accepted the invitation and finished 12th that July to mark his NASCAR debut in a D.K. Ulrich Chevrolet. Richmond would go on to win four Winston Cup races at Pocono, including three in a row between 1986 and 1987.
The following year saw the now stockcar-struck Richmond finishing 16th in Winston Cup points as he split time between three different teams. After beginning the 1982 season without a ride, he eventually signed with J.D. Stacey and scored his first win at Riverside and then again won at the now defunct California facility to end the season with 2 wins, 7 Top 5s and 12 Top 10s in 26 races. The NASCAR community was taking notice of the free-spirited newcomer.
Richmond relished in the attention that his driving prowess had provided. Soon stories appeared depicting him as a very different person than the NASCAR fan base of the 80's had seen before. Richmond hobnobbed with actors and actresses, was seen out-and-about late at nights with a striking woman— or two—arm and arm. He was a new breed of NASCAR driver, and fans quickly drew sides as to whether they liked this new guy or not.
Former Atlanta Speedway executive vice-president Ed Clark perhaps described the feelings of fans at the time towards Richmond best, " The WRFX rock-n-roll crowd loved him. Girls loved him. Cool guys loved him. I don't know if the blue-collar guy that worked at Cannon Mills, if that guy ever fell in love with him, but that guy's girlfriend did."
1983 through 1985, Richmond, by now known for his hard-driving and hard living, drove a Pontiac for Raymond Beadles's Blue Max team and captured two more wins, along with 19 Top 5, and 39 Top 10 finishes. 1983 also saw Tim Richmond finish tenth in driver's points for the first time. Richmond's talents behind the wheel caught the eye of team owner Rick Hendrick, who signed him for the 1986 season.
And what a season it turned out to be for the now 29-year old Richmond! Driving the No. 25 Folgers Coffee Chevrolet, he won seven times that year and collected 13 Top 5 and 17 Top 10's, as well. Except for a string of mechanical failures in the latter part of the season, Tim Richmond could have won the Winston Cup Championship. Dale Earnhardt won that year’s championship, with Richmond finishing third, a mere 6-points behind Darrell Waltrip. Already, the on-track battles for position between Earnhardt and Richmond were becoming legendary, and it was assumed that there would be plenty more side-by-side battles between the two as the years went on.
But there were to be no more years of racing. During the winter of 1986, Richmond was diagnosed with HIV and became so sick that he was not able to run a full race again until June of 1987, at Pocono, the very track where his NASCAR career started. He won that race in emotional fashion, crossing the finish line in tears and unable to speak in victory lane. And then he won again the following week, in what was to be his last Cup win, ironically at the same track where he had recorded his first win, Riverside. And by August of that year NASCAR, not knowing the nature of Richmond's illness, a sickness that was sapping his health, concluded that he "was in no shape to drive a car." He then resigned from Hendrick Motorsports.
Tim Richmond chose to keep his medical information private. His absence during the first part of 1987 was explained away as being due to a battle with double pneumonia. Following his return that year, it was clear to most that something was wrong with the flamboyant driver. His energy level was low; he had lost weight and at times needed assistance exiting his racecar. Rumor spread throughout the garage area and grandstands that Tim Richmond had a drug problem. In February of 1988 at Daytona, Richmond was hoping to race in the then-Busch Clash. NASCAR required Tim to submit to a drug test under its newly designed drug policy, a policy that many to this day believe was instituted to remove Richmond from the sport.
The somewhat stronger driver had anticipated that he might be asked to prove that he was not taking drugs and quit taking his HIV treatments in advance to assure that they would not be detected. However, NASCAR announced that he had failed the drug test and he was suspended. Five days later, the sanctioning body announced that Tim's first test showed nothing but over-the-counter cold medicines, and a second test, insisted on by Richmond, was clean. However, NASCAR would not allow him to race again unless they were given his complete medical file. A lawsuit for $20 million was brought against NASCAR, but later dropped.
Disappointed in not being allowed to race at the Busch Clash, Richmond hired a plane to fly a banner over Daytona International Speedway that read, "Fans-I miss you -Tim Richmond." Those close to him said that Richmond contemplated much nastier messages, but in the end decided on the more sensitive message to his race fans—a message that will always be remembered by those in attendance that winter day in Florida.
Sadly, Tim Richmond, who wished to protect his privacy in not divulging the nature of his illness during a time when little was known about AIDS and wrong conclusions were routinely reached by the largely uninformed public, never did race again. But even before he hoped to return at Daytona, many in the garage had pulled away from Richmond and he was by-and-large treated as an outcast by other competitors.
Present day Sprint Cup driver Kyle Petty, reflecting on the lack of support Tim Richmond received said, "It all boils down to AIDS. I don't care what anybody tells you. Nobody knows how to handle AIDS - especially in a sport as backward-thinking on so many things as this sport is."
Tim Richmond passed away in August of 1989 in West Palm Beach, Florida, at 34-years of age. His mother and father stayed near his side until the very end. Few from the NASCAR community contacted or visited with him during his last remaining months.
Voted one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers, Tim Richmond was an original and his tragic and sad death was without a question an immeasurable loss to NASCAR and its fans.
One day his movie should be made. Maybe they are just waiting until they find a movie star with the charm and charisma to play his part.
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You’ve outdone yourself. That was a great article. Accurate, intriguing, and well-written. Good job! I look forward to the movie. :)
Thank you for remembering a great driver . The back story of Tim Richmond shows NASCAR and a couple of it’s drivers as pretty despicable people . Tim was railroaded out of racing by inuendo , outright lies , and by hysteria on the part of Richard Petty claiming Tim was on drugs . And then NASCAR joined in on the drug idea, forcing Tim to take drug tests , and when the tests came up negative , NASCARs’ “doctor “ falsified documents and lied . Any driver deserves better than the way NASCAR handled the Richmond incident . But one thing to keep in mind is , you certainly can’t put too much stock in anything the NASCAR PR department tells you .
Quite frankly, Tim Richmond was the catalyst for the rise in popularity of NASCAR, not Dale Earnhardt.
Tim Richmond left a mark on NASCAR that will never be forgotten.
Can you imagine the state of the sport if Tim Richmond, Davey Allison and Alan Kulwicki were still a part of it?
Thanks again for a great article.
Great article, but something is missing…..As much as a fan I was of Tim’s, I can’t help wondering How he contracted the disease..No one has ever brought this forward..Was it from an infected drug needle as many are claiming? Was it a bad batch of blood used during surgery, although I can’t remember if he ever had a serious accident where he would have needed it? Or was it from his carefree non-racing off track lifestyle? Could someone shed some light on this dark subject…please
It has been confirmed by a number of sources that Tim was infected with HIV by a woman he was dating . He had absolutely no history of intraveinous drug use that anyone has been able to find .
Here is a real story of betrayal and Tim Richmond.
From LaGena Lookabill Greene,
In 1986, LaGena became reacquainted with a friend of six years, Tim Richmond, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. Richmond wooed LaGena with promises of marriage and children.
On the day LaGena accepted his marriage proposal, she engaged in sexual relations with him for the first time. The next day, he simply disappeared.
‘He completely disappeared out of my life with no explanation at all,’ she said. ‘I got a phone call from a stranger saying that he was dying of AIDS.’
Yeah, what a stand up guy. Statistically in that time frame he more than likely got it from Homosexual sex. If not a needle. The percentage of female to male transmission is still very small.
From the incident Mrs. Greene describes I think he was at least a Bisexual who knew he was sick when he slept with her as a sick way of showing he was a “ladies man”.
I lived in West Palm Beach in ’89. I tried several times to get in to visit Tim, but, I wasn’t on “the list”.
Interesting theory Dennis . Not based in fact or reality , but interesting . Sadly , HIV does not need , nor has it ever needed homosexual contact to spread . Nor has it only required a needle . HIV has been spread many ways . And i doubt you could site any legitimate sources for Tim being bi-sexual .
I knew Tim and he was a stand up guy. I was on another crew but like him I wasn’t from the south which pretty much made you worthless back then in NASCAR.
Ms. Lookabill has changed her story so many times its hard to take her at her word. First she said she met Tim at Charlotte but that year Tim was a little busy at Indy that year. Then she said she was deflowered during the 86 New York banquet. Of course nobody who was there recalls seeing her. His mom Evelyn and sister Sandy traveled with Tim constantly and neither of them ever met Ms. Lookabill. Finally the meds the docs gave Tim for HIV leave men impotent.
As for heterosexual transmission of AIDS, how do I put this delicately. It’s not common in vaginal intercourse but can easily be passed if a guy plays the third hole so to speak.
Most sources now say that Mary Frann the actress who played Bob Newhart’s wife in the second Newhart show (the one with the Inne) She and Tim dated for years and she did in fact use needle drugs for awhile.
Excellent article. I was a big fan of Tim back in the day. The man sure knew how to live.
I recall a feature story in The Charlotte Observer about 14 years ago regarding several women that Richmond had knowingly infected with HIV. It would be a shame if that were true. I hope not.
I have an old magazine article that states Tim had a thing for prostitutes.He preferred to “date” rather than date. The article says this was his downfall.
I don’t see the infatuation with Tim Richmond. I don’t think he is a poster boy for NASCAR at all.
I saw Tim pass Benny inside on turn six at Riverside. There was only room for one car to get through that turn, Tim put two through there and came out in front of Benny. I was amazed!!
He was a “wheel man.”
Great article on Tim Richmond. I also read David Pooles book, “Tim Richmond; The Fast Life and Remarkable Times of Nascar’s Top Gun”. Its a good read; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Insofar as Richmond himself is concerned, how he came down with AIDS is so much blather, no one will ever know and as its pretty obvious reading the replies here, what you believe about that will be directly related to what you thought or think about Richmond. One simple fact stands out though, he could drive the wheels off a race car…ANY race car, open wheeler, stock car, sports car. Its our loss that we didnt see him competing for at least another 5 years. The list of cup champions would read a bit differently if he had lived.
Great article, and it’s wonderful to see so many people who recognize that Lagena is less than credible. I don’t know if he got AIDS from Mary Frann, but I do know she died in a very similar way as Tim. I’m still inclined to believe he got it from a prostitute either in Miami, Ft.Lauderdale or New York. He dated some models, and I’m trying to find out if he ever dated Gia, who did die of AIDS