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.
Thompson in Turn 5 · Tommy Thompson · Wednesday March 26, 2008
One of the biggest U.S. motorsports stories of the last two decades occurred late last month, with the announcement that the Indy Racing League (IRL) and the Champ Car Word Series (CCWS) had agreed to merge. The news, however, garnered little more than a cursory nod from the stock car community which seems reluctant to even acknowledge that there is another form of racing in this country, let alone one that outshined NASCAR for many years back in the day. But if the newly invigorated IRL plays its cards right, auto racing enthusiasts will begin, en masse, to pay attention once again towards an open wheel series based in the United States. Of course, the key for the IRL in rebuilding the series to prominence in large part will be to pattern themselves after their brethren in American auto racing â€¦ NASCAR.
There are also lessons that can be learned as a result of the nasty split in 1995 between the IRL and CART; ones that not only the IRL should never forget, but also that NASCAR should make note of moving forward. Let’s take a look at some of the big themes to take away from the open wheel experience:
A house divided cannot stand! – Certainly, when Abraham Lincoln delivered that statement, he was speaking on an issue of much greater importance than that of auto racing; yet, the sentiments are equally true for both sanctioning bodies. NASCAR need only to observe the disaster that the open wheel split caused to know that should they find themselves in a similar situation, it is imperative to the health of stock car racing that the problem(s) be rectified by the sanctioning body before team owners decide to take their show on the road.
Nothing truly positive resulted from the ensuing years of the two open wheel organizations attempting to carve out their own market share at the expense of the other. Both CART and the IRL suffered from a water-downed pool of driver talent and equipment; in the end, CART (eventually renamed Champ Car) went bankrupt. And the eventual successor to CART, the CCWS, likewise was believed to be in its last days of financial solvency. The IRL was not in much better shape, though continuing to operate under a cloud of impending financial ruin.
When a series purports to be the best of its kind, it darn sure better be. NASCAR is the best by far at staging stock car-like races; no one can argue that. There are no rivals in the quality of venues, driver talent, engineering, or showmanship and public relations. These are all very necessary ingredients to maintaining a position of No. 1 in its respective part of the sport.
But a NASCAR divided would not fare much better than did their open wheel counterparts. Fields would be made up of feuding factions, becoming increasingly agitated by promises that their sanctioning body of choice would be unable to fulfill due to dwindling fan support. The lost fans, of course, would be a result of the divided fields not being able to put on the show that they had been accustomed to in years gone by; but in the end, the reasoning won’t matter. They will simply find other professional forms of sports entertainment to support … many to never return. Just ask CART or the IRL about that.
Buy American - OK, this is a touchy one, and one that doesn't sit well with the pseudo-cosmopolitan crowd. But what the American open wheelers should be starting to understand now is that trying to be international in drivers and race venues doesn't sit particularly well with the average race enthusiast from Terre Haute, Indiana. Heck, when it comes to Americans and sports we won't watch Wimbledon unless there's an American in the finals, nor will we watch the World Cup at all – because Americans are never in contention. And to schedule a race in some fancy sounding country halfway across the world does not particularly impress us, either. Bottom line, there is a reason we Americans have been rated amongst the lowest nations in the industrialized world in geography test scoresâ€¦we don't care!
But that is a lesson that the American open wheel scene has taught us, and NASCAR needs to pay attention to. Even before the final parting of ways of Tony George (IRL and Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and CART, an influx of foreign drivers, flush with sponsorship money or from wealthy South American families had wrestled many rides away from American drivers that had developed their skills in the lower American open wheel ranks.
John Bickford, stepfather to four-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jeff Gordon said, "Regardless of what you think, the system was broken."
Bickford, who also is Gordon's business manager, continued, "Jeff and I went door to door to all of the CART teams in the early 1990's with his impeccable sprint car rÃ©sumÃ© and everyone's response was, â€˜how much money can you bring?' Well, we didn't have the money, so we had the doors slammed in our faces. Drivers with far less talent than Jeff were getting rides because they came with financial backing we simply couldn't compete with. So, we went to NASCAR, where talent was still the most important factor in getting a ride."
The fans were not deceived, either. While CART tried to market names like Arie, Mauricio, Roberto and Adrian to the American audiences, NASCAR took larger and larger bites out of their market share with names the likes of Dale, Rusty, Darrell, and Bill. This was no coincidence; listen up, NASCAR!
Another American thing that the IRL will need to stay bought-in with is oval track racing. That's what puts the crowds in the stands for NASCAR on 34 of 36 race weeks, plus exhibitions. Circle track racing is just plain American; people like it. That’s not to say there isn't room for a few road course events to prove that their drivers can turn right, but it's important that neither series gets carried away. If they do, they run the risk of becoming as popular as the SCCA.
Somehow, the IRL will need to get the attention of American automobile manufacturers while finagling long-term commitments for sponsorships and engineering support to their teams. Crazy at it seems, Americans also like to root for Chevys, Fords, and Dodges … not necessarily Hondas and Toyota. It is doable; NASCAR has for all intents and purposes moved to a generic chassis and body, but still manages to get manufacturer support. That will take time, but the sooner the Honda "crate motor" is phased out in favor of American branding, the faster "gear heads" will warm up to the series.
You know, there already exists an auto racing series that schedules events in far off, exotic lands and thrives in its international look and appeal: it's called Formula 1. And they are tremendously successful; just not so much in the U.S. In fact, they no longer have a race within its borders … and few are losing any sleep over it.
As for me? I will be watching and rooting for the IRL to rebuild American open wheel racing to at least some semblance of its former glory. I don't know if they can ever get back to the days when it was the Indianapolis 500 and not the Daytona 500 that was the most prestigious race in America; but they don't need to. Equaling it in standing would work fine, too.
And as for NASCAR, I will continue to hope that they do not stray too far from the things in the sport that allowed them to obtain so much success in the last two decades. When in doubt, they only need examine the mistakes made by their open wheel counterparts to stay on the right path.
Andâ€¦that's my view from Turn 5.
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Nice column this morning. I like your reference “If they do, they run the risk of becoming as popular as the SCCA”.
Been an SCCA member for over 46 years, still trying to figure out what they, the SCCA are trying to accomplish!
I agree about the Honda “crate” motors – the IRL needs to introduce other brands and market themselves as a series full of innovation and technology, rather than be a spec series.
I like technology, especially if it’s road relevant and could show up on a street car someday. While F1 and ALMS cars don’t resemble anything on the street, at least they provide a technological testbed for potential street-related technologies, particularly in safety and efficiency. I think the IRL could benefit greatly (particularly with sponsorship/partnership dollars) from being a “technology” series.
What a dilemma! “TECHNOLOGY” vs. “RACING”!
F-1 is way too “technical”, remember the days where a gallon of F-1 fuel was over $2,000, and it was top secret what was in it? Traction control (of course that is now gone), and all the sophisticated electronics?
Of course the IRL needs more diversion! But to become a “technical series” would be a major mistake! The cost would go up exponentially!
You are stupid just like the rest of you rednecks that score low on the geography tests. Ignorant and stupid. Not only do you not know anything about the world outside of the US, but most of you don’t even know where Indiana, Pennsylvania or even Alaska is…
Where did this jer*, err, “guy” come from?
What in the world is he ranting about?
Ahmm, what is an “Indiana”???
I’m not sure what rock that guy came out from under, but he sure hasn’t been paying attention to the demographics shift as to who makes up the fans of NASCAR.
With the current leadership doing it’s best to drive away the core fans since 2003, it has become a house divided. And with the cars moving closer and closer to being spec cars, the time for a new series which actually runs something that resembles “stock cars” isn’t too far away. I think somebody in Concord NC is just waiting for the other shoe to fall before he starts the new series.
I’m going to try to respectfully disagree with your comments, which while true on some level, are also quite slanted.
CART was THE series back in the 80’s and early 90’s. Why? Great racing and personalities. The split clearly caused damage that needs to be repaired but I disagree with you on how it should be done.
Open wheel-and sportscar racing for that matter-have always been international sports. That is why there are international drivers in series like the ALMS, IRL and Grand Am series.
I agree with you-up to a point-about having American drivers. However, most of us-I would venture a large amount-who are open wheel/sportscar fans care as I said earlier about talent, not nationality. That will need to be helped by American companies actually helping American drivers the way industries in other countries help their drivers get rides. You have to adjust to what is-not what you want it to be.
In regards to American engine manufacturers, had you done your homework you would have knownt that GM WAS in the IRL in the beginning with their engines first badged as Oldsmobile and then Chevrolet. GM left the IRL after getting their butts kicked by Infiniti, Toyota and Honda. It should also be pointed out that Chevrolet was founded by a Frenchman, Louis Chevrolet, again something a little research would have turned over. Maybe they will come back, Honda has always stated that they would love to have competition.
I also VEHEMENTLY disagree with you about basically turning the IRL into NASCAR without fenders.
Let me ask you an honest question. Have you EVER actually watched any other type of racing besides NASCAR? I doubt it. That would certainly explain your one-sided, uninformed views. I would encourage you to do so. It might free your mind if you allow it.
The truth is, before NASCAR became prominent-which had a lot to do with the split, Dale Earnhardt’s death and 9/11, CART and open wheel ruled this country. I’m not saying it will again, but it can certainly be better than it has been, but that will never happen if the path you advocate is followed. Luckily, the open wheel/sportscar community is made up of smart, broad thinkers. I’d be extremely worried if they thought like you do, but thankfully that is not the case.
I find Bickfords version of things to be interesting . Yes he and Jeff did shop around for a ride in the indy cars . But the lack of sponsors had nothing to do with Jeff not getting a job . Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon got Indy car rides with absolutely no sponsor money . They did it by driving talent and the resume Bickford mentions . Jeff Gordons’ accomplishments in racing have been blown way out of reality by the media , and by Bickford himself . The truth is , Jeff Gordon was not the racing talent of either Tony or Robby . They both got rides , along with many other drivers, without bringing money to the team .
Margo, Jeff Gordon was looking at CART before the IRL was even created. Tony Stewart got in the sport via the IRL, because it WAS cheaper. Jeff did not get in CART because the TOP teams had really good drivers already, and the back of the pack teams needed sponsors and money. Jeff wasn’t going to bump out the top drivers, nor did he have the money that the low end teams needed. THAT is why he ended up in Nascar where you have 43 cars in Busch and 43 cars in Cup. Lots of possibilities. In CART, you had about 24 cars, period.
To the author.