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 October 1, 2008
News that driver Paul Menard and his father’s sponsor dollars will soon part ways with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. seems to lend credence to the prediction by many that the company’s demise was inevitable. Old prophecies spurred by DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt’s failure to come to contract terms with her stepson have returned, with observers saying the worst is still to come for an organization which they claim forced the sport’s most popular and bankable personality to leave them behind.
I still believe that the extent to which Dale Jr.’s defection to Hendrick Motorsports has affected DEI’s seeming implosion can be debated. However, the issue of whether the company will experience serious business challenges in the near future no longer can. There’s no question that Tuesday’s official announcement concerning the desertion of Paul Menard and his valuable family sponsorship (Menards) to Yates Racing marks a substantial blow to DEI’s financial bottom line. Couple that with the expected loss of funding by the U.S. Army for the No. 8 team at season’s end, along with the lack of primary sponsorship for their No. 01 car, and the organization’s financial solvency is suddenly in serious jeopardy. At present, the primary sponsorship lineup for DEI’s four teams paints a pretty dismal picture, as Bass Pro Shop’s support of the No. 1 of Martin Truex, Jr. is the only funding set in stone for next year. That’s right; Menard’s departure leaves just one announced primary sponsor for four full-time race teams looking forward to the Daytona 500 in February. Businesswise, that’s not a desirable position for DEI or any Cup-level organization to be in.
At this juncture, smart money would bet on further bad news coming out of the DEI camp in the next several weeks… namely in the announcement of the suspension of operations of one or more of its teams by season’s end. Without a Top 5 finish in 29 starts this season, Regan Smith’s No. 01 is likely the first to be axed. Though the team has run primarily out of the company’s own pockets this season, that’s not an arrangement DEI can or will continue long-term. So far this year, Smith has only had a handful of primary sponsors, with DEI appearing on the hood of the race car for more than two-thirds of all races run. Their estimated $700,000 effort per race to self-fund the operation while continuing to court a full-time sponsor is admirable; but it’s a plan that common sense dictates will soon come to an end should a financial backer not be found.
So, yesterday’s official announcement of Paul Menard and his family’s fortunes move to Yates Racing next season has most assuredly sealed the fate of either the No. 01 or No. 15 team… or both. With so much financial backing left to search for in 2009, a strong possibility exists DEI will scale back to even a two-car operation in the coming months. And that’s even assuming the company can manage to put together enough funding to keep the No. 8 team — the “flagship” of DEI — afloat.
A late afternoon request for a statement from the company by Frontstretch.com to the Menard / Yates Racing announcement received no response; but in public comments to David Newton and ESPN, DEI President Max Siegel tried to make the best of a difficult situation. But at its core, Siegel’s comments suggested that the company is working towards shoring up team sponsorships for 2009, and that further details will be forthcoming. And why wouldn’t they? It’s much like proclamations we hear from struggling teams all the time, regardless of whether there’s any truth behind it.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with staying positive and not giving up; but try as they may, DEI finding two, let alone three quality corporate partners willing to jump on board at this late date would border on being a miracle in even the best of times. And with a $700 billion bailout package for the U.S. Economy being debated by Congress as you read this, it’s clear these are far from the best of times to convince companies to invest in race teams at around $20 million at a pop.
Of course, those teams don’t need a national news flash at this point to know the economy is… shaky, to say the least. With the financial sector meltdowns of the past few months, companies like Washington Mutual, Wachovia, or Countrywide are no longer potential racing partners for investors to get the cash they need. And besides the trouble lenders are now experiencing, many companies that might otherwise be potential sponsor candidates are now circling the wagons to weather the tightening credit supply. Clearly, it will not be easy to convince them in these lean economic times that going “big time” racing is a prudent financial decision.
But that is where DEI now finds itself … begging for help in a climate where companies are looking for help from someone else simply to stay afloat. It’s a tough enough climate to begin with; but the root of DEI’s problem runs far deeper, with a decline in performance of their race teams over the past several years now impossible to ignore. The teams consistently running up front are the ones who are able to obtain and maintain lucrative sponsorship deals these days; but with no cars in the Chase and no wins since Martin Truex, Jr.‘s triumph at Dover last June, it’s no longer as easy a sell for DEI as it used to be. With the exception of Bass Pro Shops, no sponsor is stepping forward to obligate themselves to a lengthy deal with an organization that is by and large fielding also-rans in the final race results.
Instead, this organization is falling into the category of NASCAR’s dreaded “lower middle class” — a group that is quickly watching all their financial support get stripped away by those above them. Note that Richard Childress Racing, with all three of its drivers in contention for the Sprint Cup championship, have taken the valuable Caterpillar support from Bill Davis Racing, another subpar performing team. Likewise, UPS will set sail from Michael Waltrip Racing to the powerhouse Roush Fenway organization in 2009, one that can presently boast of having three of its five teams in the 12-car Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. These companies are both examples of two plum corporate sponsors that undoubtedly never gave DEI a thought, as they pursued the best race teams available in which to spend their huge marketing dollars.
So with the walls crumbling fast and furious, would DEI had been better off had Teresa Earnhardt conceded control of the race team to her stepson as he demanded? The answer is probably yes – at least to an extent. There’s no doubt that the sport’s Most Popular Driver would have been a cinch to continue to attract sponsors to the No. 8 team; but beyond that, who knows? The bottom line is this is a performance-based business; and the fact remains that in 2008, DEI has not performed to the standards of what was once considered a top-tier organization.
And that’s not to say they haven’t tried, either. On the technical side, in a move that Junior endorsed, DEI has partnered with RCR on their engine program over the past 12 months. Facility upgrades and new equipment, as Dale Jr. believed were needed, have also been obtained, in large part through the acquisition of Ginn Racing at what is believed to have been “fire sale” prices. But even with additional resources, it is difficult to predict what Dale Jr. would have contributed to the operation of four race teams that hasn’t now already been done at DEI. In the end, he can only drive one car … and you need four successful teams to have four prominent sponsors at your side.
Indeed, had Dale Jr. succeeded in his negotiations to wrestle control of DEI from his stepmother he would have, as he has with his own Nationwide Series race team, realized that it is difficult for a program to go it alone without outside financial and marketing support during lean times. Like the alliance between JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports he’s successfully constructed today, Junior would likely be doing the same thing DEI President Max Siegel is doing now — searching for partners that would make the perfect fit for this organization.
In one word, Junior would be looking for… help. And with or without his leadership, help is exactly what is now needed at DEI — be it in the form of an even closer partnership with RCR, taking on a co-owner capable of infusing the organization with money and assistance in recruiting lucrative sponsors, or making a shrewd move in picking up a big-name driver — like the rumored comeback of Rusty Wallace that surfaced on SPEED TV late Tuesday night. But even under that best-case scenario, Teresa Earnhardt will still have to make some tough decisions over the next few months. Will she give up her ownership autonomy by allowing for additional investor support, or risk the longterm health of the organization like BDR, Chip Ganassi Racing, or the Wood Brothers have already done? Before Tuesday, she wasn’t in a position where she had to make that choice. But now … it’s definitely an option on the table.
And that’s my view from Turn 5.
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Dale Jr. leaving DEI had very little effect on the team . Jr. wasn’t accomplishing very much anyway . Menard leaving will result in very little change also . Nice guy , but has shown virtually no success at DEI . His fathers money will be missed of course , but remember that Teresa has a pretty sizable stack of millions herself . I’m sure you would agree that there are any number of NASCAR teams in far worse shape than DEI . Bass Pro Shops , Martin Truex Jr. and one of the best engine programs , not to mention one of the best shops in the sport , along with some of the most talented car builders in stock car racing . I don’t think i’d write them off just yet .
What will she do after next year after Martin Truex Jr. takes ProBass and leaves. Just like Tony Stewart said after Jr left, she will be left with a museum! Too bad she wouldn’t let Dale Jr. help her when he saw what was coming. She thought she knew it all, now she can reap her harvest. Nuff said!
It’s sad was it has become, a retail store that instead on preserving “The Legend” is exploiting his accomplishments by pasting his face along side of movie stars and singers just to make a buck. Enough already, cars, candy bars, etc. quit ruining his image. Our collections have lost value by her duplicating priceless items. Focus on your teams, the future, not the past. DEI is collapsing, rebuild the house that Dale built and keep it growing, leave our memories and collectibles alone.
I beg to differ with Michael. Jr. leaving had a gigantic effect on the company. He couldn’t very well finish races with so many blown motors.
He COULD bring in the sponsor dollars though. Granted,he is not, and never will be the driver his Dad was, (who is??)but he is good and has a fan base like no other.
Can you imagine if he were still there and UPS came over as a sponsor? All he would need to say to his fans would be, “use UPS whenever you can”.
I happen to be in an industry that one of our customers IS UPS. I talked to one of their VP’s and he told me that when they signed Dale Jarrett they made ALL (total contract) their money back in souvenior sales the FIRST year.
As for engines and car builders at DEI… Why are NONE of their cars in the chase??
It’s ALL about MONEY!! TEI will not survive. AND Teresa is NOT going to give up her millions!!
What a power-house team RYR will have next year – Gilliland, Kvapil and now Menard. I’ll bet there are lots of teams sweating bullets right now,.
Bill B, you are quite mistaken, what a powerhouse “B” team Jack Roush will have and that is what will happen. You will also see this with Hendrick and Tony’s team. The more teams you can expand engineering costs over the better the group gets as a whole. I would think some of the rumors of Robby/DEI hooking up might be true since that would pull sponsors in on at least one car, drop one of the current cars (Menard’s old one) and that gives RCR a decent full house “B” team. I don’t see RCR letting DEI fail since they are somewhat hooked at the hip now (engine program) just like Roush/Yates. Robby G is a good driver (a bit of a head case) but in good equipment he can drive the wheels off a car. There is no way RGR will ever make it as a solo team and I think by now Robby is fully aware of that. I would also have to agree that went JR left that hurt DEI since they lost a ton of sponsorship and sales revenue.
DEI would not be in this position if Dale Jr was still there. Maybe they would not have been a Hendrick or a Roush type team but still a formidable opponent. I still feel like Junior only wanted a say in the racing side of the company, not the ENTIRE company. He urged for some changes and was ignored. Only after his announcement that he would be leaving did some changes occur. That signals a personal issue with the driver/step-son in my opinion. Dale Earnhardt Inc should be about racing not movies, a face on candy bars and anything else that brings in money. It should be about racing and putting all efforts into that. The way DEI is today is a slap in the face to the reason the company exists. A shame. But Teresa made her bed, she must therefore lie in it.
Rumor has it Yates is staying at two cars, and either Gilliland or Kvapil is out to make room for Menard.
Geez guys . Has it been long enough that you’ve forgotten the blatent power grab attempt by Dale Jr. , pushed from behind by his sister . Those two wanted complete control of DEI , something they apparently thought was their birthright even though Dale Sr.s will specifically left DEI to Teresa . Stop the poor Dale Jr. got screwed out of his fathers company by the wicked step mother . The facts disprove that theory .
Michael there is no “star” power at DEI, Truex will more than likely bail next year when his extension is up so you are looking at who in this group with star power or anything close to star power after Martin T. The legacy only goes so far, take a look at Petty enterprises, certainly the King’s legacy is every bit as strong as Dale’s and Richard is still living to do promotions etc. It appeared that JR felt that DEI was going in the dumper and other than doing what he suggested (combine engine program with RCR) the team itself is heading on a downhill slide. Worse teams excluding one and two car teams maybe BDR and Ganassi might be in the same dire straights as DEI, but again neither of those teams once had the crew of drivers that DEI let go, or have fallen so convincingly when it comes to the win production over the years. Even the most politically correct driver in Nascar (Mark M.) bailed and that should tell you something.
Thank you Michael. It’s beating a dead horse but Dale and Teresa Earnhardt built and own DEI together. No matter what the red army feels, that power grab from the Kelly and the easily influenced Dale Jr. put DEI in the place it’s in now. It was no-win no matter what happened. Kelly should be ashamed of herself and Jr needs to grow a pair and think for himself.
Strange situation, either Jr’s decision had no impact what-so-ever or it put them in the dumper!! Depends on the posts by Michael or Senor, one suggests the door is being beat down by sponsors wanting to be part of the the TEI legacy or the other is blaming Jr. Jr moved on and had a great year, probably no worries that DEI is going down the tubes and racing in better equipment as a result. He moved on, doesn’t seem to toss TE under the bus at every chance and I don’t see him making comments about DEI either positive or negative. The buzzards are circling comments are coming from people within the Nascar group, not Jr.
Q. How many DEI employees does it take to change a light bulb?
A. With our rich history, we are confident someone will change the light bulb for us.
Q. How many MWR employees does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Two. One to break into the RFR shop and steal the new bulb, and one to drive the getaway car.
Q. How many Chip Ganassi Racing employees does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Why bother changing the light bulb, the power company is cutting us off for non-payment soon anyway.
RJ – I agree with you, it is in RCR’s best interest to keep DEI alive and well, although it may be a bit smaller next year.
While DEI did get hardware and “bricks & mortar” for cheap when they bought Ginn out, I think they also assumed a nasty bit of debt and litigation settlements in the process.
That had to hurt!
RCR will probably buy the #01 team to get 2009 points for the #33.
I don’t have any grudges against TE or DEI but enough comments from various sources seem to indicate there is a problem. They have lost Menards, possibly the Army sponsorship, The O1 car has been semi-funded all year. I don’t think Martin wanted to stay but with DEI pulling the option there wasn’t much he could do but 2009 will be a different issue. Mark’s departure creates a major issue since he still has a lot of sponsorship pull and is a well liked driver. I am not a JR fan but I also hate seeing people tossing him under the bus for trying to the correct thing “doing what is needed” to infuse some leadership into DEI. It appears in some recent moves by RC that he has moved some people over to DEI to provide some missing racing leadership.