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 July 30, 2008
The latest news out of Petty Enterprises, Inc. has Chad McCumbee penciled in to drive the No. 45 Dodge in place of Kyle Petty at Pocono. This is the second unscheduled absence in as many weeks by the 30-year NASCAR Cup veteran, and very possibly an indication that his career as a driver may abruptly be coming to a close. The 48-year-old Petty, who for the second year in a row took six races off to be a color analyst for TNT’s Sprint Cup broadcasts, had also been scheduled to race last week at Indianapolis. Instead, two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte — who relieved Petty during his TV sabbatical — drove the car in what was an apparent last minute decision by team management. Neither Petty nor the organization that he once ran as well as drove for has seen fit to publicly comment ever since, apart from a schedule released Tuesday that put Petty back behind the seat of the No. 45 at Watkins Glen. But Labonte was also revealed as a substitute for Michigan the following week, with future driving plans for the program left up in the air. At the very least, the son of stock car legend Richard Petty appears far from a lock to drive for the team in 2009 — or even for the rest of 2008.
Petty Enterprises, Inc. partnered with Boston Ventures earlier this year, with the private equity firm acquiring controlling interest of the two-car organization. Previously, PE had been a family-owned and operated race team for almost 60 years. However, just last month a Board of Directors was put in place along with an infusion of cash from the new partner, and they are now responsible for the team’s business decisions — not the Pettys themselves. That management change — while good for the long-term health of the program — may very well have sealed Kyle’s fate as a driver.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this turn of events is that Kyle Petty may not be able to leave the sport as he would have liked. It would have been preferable for the well liked and respected wheelman to be able to leave the seat of his beloved No. 45 under more dignified circumstances. Instead, it appears that he will leave due to a cold and dispassionate business calculation, abruptly pushed aside as part of a corporate reshuffling — a cruel reminder of the state of the NASCAR Cup Series today.
But business is business, and in the boardroom you have to be able to showcase successful results on the race track. That’s a problem for Petty, who has yet to score a Top 20 finish in nine starts behind the wheel of the No. 45 this year. Indeed, years of driver struggle have made it no secret that his long career was growing shorter. Even Petty himself seems to have been fully aware of that fact all along, testing the retirement waters as a television personality and busying himself for a number of years with the establishment and expansion of The Victory Junction Gang Camp, a charitable endeavor for children with serious health issues. It’s a project that Kyle, along with his wife Patti, embarked on in honor of their son Adam, an aspiring Cup driver killed in an on-track accident in 2000.
Cynics may argue that Kyle’s departure from NASCAR’s highest ranks is long overdue, and point to his relative non-competitiveness as a driver over the years as justification. In their defense, Petty has not distinguished himself on the track in well over a decade. Armed with the numbers that show no wins since 1995 and only eight wins in more than 820 starts since his first NASCAR Cup race in 1979, those people certainly have a point behind their pointed criticism. In fact, Kyle Petty has not cracked the Top 10 in points since a pair of fifth place finishes in the season ending drivers’ point standings in 1992 and 1993, respectfully. Automobile racing to the average fan of the sport is about winning; that is the bottom line come race day. To that end, it is virtually inarguable that Petty has not measured up to those expectations, and that he should have already been sidelined for a more competitive driver. As late as the end of last season, when a litany of late stumbles left Petty hanging on the ragged edge of the Top 35 in points, there were rumors he would hang it up before the beginning of 2008.
But he didn’t, and this season has been no better for Petty and his team. Twice this year, at Martinsville and Phoenix, the veteran has failed to qualify for races after losing his battle to hold onto a “locked in” qualifying spot within the Top 35. And in the nine races that Petty has competed in, his season’s best finishes are only a 27th at Richmond and a 28th at Bristol, a performance trend that is far worse than even his more recent years of struggle. Presently, the No. 45 car is mired in 41st in the owners’ championship standings, and is more than 270 points out of the coveted Top 35.
That’s put the organization itself in a difficult spot; for no matter how popular Petty remains off the track, his team needs to put far more acceptable results on it. NASCAR Sprint Cup racing is big business, and it requires huge infusions of sponsorship dollars to teams for them to be able to compete. Lucrative sponsors are almost impossible to come by when a team cannot demonstrate an ability to qualify for races and run competitively. Like it or not, that is the harsh reality of modern day Cup racing — and Kyle Petty simply has not convinced the new management at PE that he is the driver capable of putting the No. 45 Dodge where it needs to be to attract the needed financial support.
But there’s nostalgia and sadness surrounding a decision you never want anyone else to have to make. Until recently, Petty Enterprises was first about a family of racers. It was a shop in Level Cross, NC, next to the family homestead where Kyle’s grandfather, father, and Kyle were able to do what they loved to do. It’s a family racing business that, had he lived, Adam Petty would have one day worked and drove for. Maybe as a frontrunner…maybe not. It’s unfortunately a mute point now, and in that regard, NASCAR could be on the verge of losing the last true historic bridge to its past. Kyle’s grandfather, Lee, was around at the very beginnings in the late 1940s, rising to prominence with three Cup titles and the first ever 500-mile victory down in Daytona Beach. That famous connection continued through his father’s record setting career and up to today — with Kyle continuing to represent the family in the sport of American stock car racing with class, dignity, and unquestioned honor.
Kyle Petty has never come close to equaling either his father or grandfather’s on-track accomplishments. But what he has done is continue the long tradition of honest, hardworking drivers, like his namesakes and others that the sport has built its clean-cut family friendly reputation on. In doing so, he’s played perhaps the most important role of the three — helping to catapult it into a major sports entity in America. Should his time as a Sprint Cup driver come to an end, it will be the end of a legacy for NASCAR that has always seen a member of the Petty clan competing as a driver every year since their inception in 1949.
Statistics aside, NASCAR is better off for having had Kyle Petty behind the wheel, and all that he brings as a good citizen and gentleman to the sport. He’s had a long run… one that some may say was way too long. But no one can claim that Petty has not become a first class example of how a man should conduct himself in good times, trying times, and tragic times — with his life a series of intense ups and downs.
Unfortunately for Kyle, one of those downer moments is right around the corner; because now, PE must move on or be left behind by its competitors. Owners already have come to the realization that to survive in NASCAR, you have to put the best driver available in the best equipment that can be provided at all times. The sport is more unforgiving than ever, and brownie points for owner loyalty to a driver alone will not pay the rapidly mounting bills at the shop. The bottom line these days is all about performance, and let’s face it: Kyle Petty has not performed.
Should this be the end of this man’s racing career, there will be no need for remorse on his part. Kyle Petty’s been fortunate to have been able to do what he so clearly enjoys to do for so long; and for the sport, it has been great to simply have him around. But for the man himself, he may have no choice but to finally read the writing on the wall — two words, in large black letters, the likes of which no athlete ever wants to read out loud.
And…That’s my view from Turn 5.
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Kyle deserves better than this. Yes we all know his career is winding down, but after all he’s given to the sport, he has earned the right to end it on his terms. NASCAR needs Kyle Petty more than Kyle Petty needs to drive a race car, and I understand that, but… I don’t need to see him do a silly ‘Victory Tour’ or a ‘Last Call’… It would just be nice for him to say, “This is it, guys. Its been a blast,” and get out on his terms. Will NASCAR go on without him? Of course. Could he have done better if he’d put more effort into racing than his other interests? Maybe. But I think the world would be a lesser place if he had. Thanks Kyle. You’re the man.
As has been said of other drivers over the years , Kyle retired from racing years ago , he just didn’t tell anyone . His heart hasn’t been in it for some time , and who could blame him . But over the years he has won races , been competitive and has been a good guy all the while . Not a bad legacy to leave behind . Now he goes into the broadcasting side of the sport . One of the more entertaining and colorfull colorfull drivers in the sport , he has already transfered those qualitys right over to the booth .
I’d like to see him race New Hampshire and then call it a career.
He has served as one of the true Goodwill ambassadors of NASCAR through his and his family’s inspirational work at Victory Junction Gang.
He came into the sport with some gigantic shoes to fill. Amazingly he has filled a different pair of shoes with his charity work, broadcasting work, and of course who can forget his country album?
I have a feeling Petty Enterprises will have less and less of a Petty feel within less than 5 years, as they will render the King “officially unofficial.”
one of the worst articles ever Kyle is so much more than what people give him credit for and the networks dont help when they only show who they think is everyones fav. driver
It’s sad to say, but in today’s tough climate, There’s no room for loyalty. By either drivers, or owners. The tail wags the dog, & sponsors have no loyalty to anyone, because of the money involved. If a driver stays in second rate equipment, as Terry Labonte did with Billy Hagen. He might be kissing his career goodbye. If the sponsor wants a driver gone. Either the driver’s gone, Or the sponsor is. The business world has always been pretty cutthroat, Unfortunately, with the mega money needed to run a team now. The NA$CAR world has been forced to operate that way also.
Whether in the car, in the booth, or on a Harley, Kyle has always and will continue to be an excellent ambassador for racing, and for Christianity. He owes no explanations to anyone, and I for one wish him well wherever his future takes him.
This sport has given him the greatest of joy and the worst of sadness. If anybody has anything negative to say about Kyle, that shows more about their nature than it does about Kyle. Well Wishes.
Kyle, Your work outside of the racetrack has always been more important than your results on the track. Its a shame that your days are numbered as a driver, but who wouldn’t like to see you racing at Rockingham one more time, with the checkered flag waiving and you driving into Victory Lane? Thanks for all the memories and being courteous and displaying loyalty toward every fan that ever approached you. Good luck in all your new adventures, you are a success in everything you put your mind to.