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!
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 July 2, 2008
This story is about NASCAR’s heart and soul. In a world where primadonna drivers and corporate sponsorships can sometimes reign surpreme, we often forget there’s still one thing, one group still responsible for the sport’s unprecedented growth. Behind the fences lie millions upon millions of fans with unsolicited, passionate love for race cars. No question, NASCAR fans endure a devotion that’s unwavering, through good times and bad — even in times when the direction of the sport is in question, it’s through their love, support, and storytelling of what they love so much which allows racing knowledge and passion to move ahead.
Bob “The Ford Guy” Whitehead was one of those special people, a well known fellow around the internet racing groups — and I am proud to say he was a friend of mine. My introduction to “The Ford Guy,” as he was known in cyberspace, was about seven years ago. Back then, we squared off with opposing views on some long forgotten NASCAR controversy on a now-defunct message board. From that point on, disagreements on race-related subjects became commonplace, but my respect for the man as a human being and NASCAR fan far exceeded any frivolous differences of opinion we had concerning our sport of choice.
At the time that I first became aware of Bob “The Ford Guy,” he was an exceptionally loyal fan of Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates Racing. His loyalty was unwavering, and he staunchly maintained that NASCAR was prejudiced against his manufacturer of choice and favored the Chevrolet brand. Though I, in principal, disagreed with his opinion and argued on occasion with him about it, I quickly learned that when debating a racing issue with Bob, I needed to do my research and be ready for a well thought out argument. Bob knew his racing, his Ford drivers, and NASCAR. He truly loved the sport, and enjoyed discussing it and backing up his opinion with fact.
Through our group interactions, I learned a good deal more about the man beyond racing. Bob was quite a whiz at computers and, in fact, was a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer. He also was a devotee of gospel music and a devout Christian. In fact, often times Bob’s sense of right and wrong in the racing world were very much intertwined with his strict Christian set of ethics. Yet, just when I thought I had the guy figured out, he would advocate that one of his chosen drivers “yank some slack out of his chain” when wronged (at least in Bob’s opinion) by someone else.
After a number of years of discussing and debating racing at different internet race sites, I knew that Bob “The Ford Guy” was one person I really wanted to meet. He quite often left me baffled — in his view, there rarely were gray areas when it came to racing — and his certainty of opinion always intrigued me. Bob “The Ford Guy” applied the same values to racing that he did to living…there was right and there was wrong, and there was no in between.
In the Spring of 2003, I extended an invitation to Bob to join me for a night of local dirt track racing at Southern Speedway in the Panhandle of Florida. Somewhat to my surprise, my offer was, without hesitation, accepted; and thus began a progression in our relationship that transcended that of two guys, passionate about stock car racing, communicating with one another through the impersonal keyboards of our computers.
When communicating through the relative anonymity of the Internet, I was fully aware that sometimes people are not exactly what they purport to be, or they are not how we imagine them to be. As such, I was prepared for the possibility that Bob wasn’t all that I assumed. But that Saturday night — between the roar of the engines and occasional pattering of soil clods thrown into the stands from the dirt cars, I learned that Bob had never misrepresented himself, his character, or his love of racing online. But still, there was more to the story that was his life than he had felt the need to share or burden others with.
Bob was a sick man, and had been coping with serious health issues since he was a teenager. For more than 40 years, he had battled a host of medical problems that had required him to take a number of medications, including steroids, simply to live. At the time I met Bob, the medications had taken a toll on his body, and it was apparent. But even as fragile as his health was, and despite the constant daily battle that he endured to stay at least semi-mobile, Bob did not dwell on his poor health — and on our first meeting, only reluctantly accepted assistance in ascending into the bleachers.
Our first night of taking in the races together was, in my estimation, a success. I knew that I had made the right decision to meet up with “The Ford Guy,” and only hoped that he had enjoyed the evening just as much. If I had just made a new racing buddy that I could enjoy the races with, I would have been more than satisfied; however, I got much more than that. I had spent the evening with a man even more bright, steadfast, and courageous than I could have ever imagined.
Although Bob had gained a love of the sport as a child going to race events at the Nashville Fairgrounds, as an adult he had rarely been able to go to tracks. I was not aware of it at the time of our first meeting, but he had not been to a race of any kind live in many years. Thereafter, Bob and I would take in a local race when we could, and made the December Snowball Derby in Pensacola our annual event. We would even bring along my wife, my daughter and son-in-law, my nephew, or a grandson or two. But every year, Bob’s health continued to decline, resulting in lengthy hospital stays and months of recuperation.
But physical ailments were no match for Bob’s mental passion for NASCAR. Throughout his lengthy illnesses, he stayed in tune with the sport and was, for the most part, able to participate in race group discussions and continue to maintain — with help from his many friends — his own group site. In fact, at one point, Bob encouraged me to write for a now defunct racing website that he had built — an offer that I was honored to accept and still appreciate to this day.
As the years went by, Bob had a real desire to attend a race at the Talladega Superspeedway, but was reluctant due to the inordinate amount of walking that it would require. Barely ambulatory and without a wheelchair, he did not feel confident that he had the strength for 10 hours of driving, all the walking, and four or more hours at the track taking in the competition live. However, my wife was able to secure the use of a new electric scooter for him to make the trip, and that was enough to be able to convince him to go. The look on Bob’s face when he saw it will always be one of my fondest memories.
The borrowed scooter, flying the No. 88 flag and decked out with Dale Jarrett paraphernalia, was officially dubbed “UPS 1” and loaded into a rental van for what was sure to be an eventful and enjoyable one-day trip from Pensacola, FL to Talladega and back. The only thing that I had not considered was the weather. As our group moved northward through the state of Alabama, the clouds became more and more ominous. Still, Bob remained hopeful, as did I. At first, the rain held off just long enough for the singing of the National Anthem and for the cars to make their way onto the track. But just two hours later, the Spring 2006 race from Talladega, Alabama was officially postponed until the following day.
Staying over for the Monday race was just not possible. My wife and another person in our party were scheduled to work the next day, and besides, we all knew that Bob did not have the strength for another attempt so soon. However, Bob did get to go to Talladega and was upbeat and gracious, even in his disappointment. Besides, we could always do it again some other time!
Well, there never was an opportunity for Bob to attend another NASCAR race. Although we did make it out to a couple of Snowball Derbys and caught an ASA race at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway this past year, the last two years “The Ford Guy’s” health steadily declined. He was in and out of the hospital, literally cheating death on a couple of occasions, yet we still spoke of another racing road trip … but I think we both knew it probably would never happen. Nevertheless, neither of us wanted to acknowledge that possibility. We would just wait until he got his strength back.
I was just one of many that “The Ford Guy” could count as a friend. And, as I discovered during his illnesses, a lot of people loved and cared for Bob Whitehead, and the love was reciprocated by him. He had developed friendships through his fan groups with people from all walks of life; folks that would, during his numerous hospitalizations, drive across several states to visit him and let him know how much he meant to them. Others, though having never met the man except through internet discussions, would rally around him, forming prayer groups and sending get well wishes whenever they could. And I witnessed just how much their gesture, no matter how small they may have seemed, meant to Bob.
When Bob Whitehead left us last Friday morning to be with his Lord, a segment of the NASCAR community began to grieve; and they began to support one another in that grief. It was only then that I realized just how much of an impact Bob had made on so many. In his passing, others who have never met one another came together as an extended family that would comfort each other.
Bob Whitehead was not a famous NASCAR driver — he had difficulty at times navigating his own donated electric scooter from the door of his small cottage to the mailbox — nor was he a well known NASCAR team owner. Truth be told, he struggled to just buy his medications, keep food on the table and pay the electric bill. Instead of fame, “The Ford Guy” had the respect of many. Though not a wealthy man, he had his unwavering faith and a certainty of his own eternal salvation. He was a man that had no need to take a backseat to anyone.
Bob “The Ford Guy” will be missed by so many that met him by chance, and only because of a mutual infatuation with the sport of stock car racing. Who could have imagined?
For Bob, I pray that there is stock car racing in heaven… and a Ford always wins.
Rest in peace, my friend.
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I took part in many of the debates Bob had with Tommy. He was a very stubborn man. Once he made his mind up..that’s the way he felt and there was no changing his mind. But never once did he ever make you feel like your friendship with him was ever in question. He would debate as long as you wanted to..or drop it and agree to disagree and laugh it off till the next subject came along. Sadly, he has rested his case and we will debate no more.
He was a warm and kind person that I will miss and remember forever.
RIP my friend, the races will go on..but the online debates will never be the same without hearing what Bob the Ford Guy has to say about it.
I was fortunate to call Bob my friend and to have so many discussions with him about issues that affect our favorite sport, some quite heated, all very passionate. He provided me with an outlet for my racing passion. I always knew that, no matter the issue, no matter how mundane, I could find Bob in our Nascar groups, and he would feel just as strongly about it as I did. He’s one of the greatest Nascar fans I’ve ever had the privilege to know, the true epitome of the diehard Southern racing fan who helped make Nascar the success it is today. He was also one of those rare people who are just so genuine and good. I learned so much from him about being a Nascar fan, a friend, and a good person, because no matter how much we might disagree, Bob never let me forget that we were friends first. And, of course, there was no greater ally than Bob, both in racing debates and in life. Although I and so many of Bob’s “internet” friends never got to meet Bob in person, he supported all of us daily by caring about what was going on in our lives and praying for us. I and so many others have lost a dear friend. Although the Nascar world doesn’t know it, it’s lost one of its greatest ambassadors. Thank you, Tommy, for this wonderful tribute to our friend and to great passionate Nascar fans everywhere.
LOVED THE ARTICLE ABOUT BOB!!!!I feel glad that I got to know him thru the years in the group!!! Tommy you did a great job!!!!!
Here I sit .. in tears again. Thank you for an absolutely beautiful article, Tommy!!
R.I.P., dear Bob…
Tommy, thank you for the article. Bob was an active member of my discussion group, Experience NASCAR. It seemed that he put as much energy into participating in our discussions as he did with his own discussion group. He wasn’t afraid to share his opinion whether the other members agreed with him or not. But, he always did it with respect and it it got to a certain point, he would be the first to agree to disagree. He always made you feel like he was your friend no matter if you agreed with him or not.
We can all take comfort that Bob is in a better place right now. We will certainly miss his presence on the internet. Rest in Peace, Buddy!!
Very nice article about a true fan
Thomas I can not tell you how much this aritcle means to us…You have captured so much of what we are all feeling. I cannot think of a better tribute to our Bob “The Ford Man”.
I just wish I had your way with words…..all I can say is that this is someone I will never forget and will always thank the Lord for blessing me with this very special person.
Thank you for this, Thomas, and thank you to The Frontstretch for allowing you to write it. I echo what everyone else has said. Bob was the very defination of a true race fan, and a truly beautiful person. He will be sorely missed.