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 · Thursday April 2, 2009
The drumbeat to the demise of American automakers General Motors and Chrysler is becoming increasingly louder in recent days, as both manufacturers appear certain to either cease to exist or file for bankruptcy to seek temporary protection through the courts as they attempt to reorganize their failing businesses. Curiously, NASCAR remains silent as to what their contingency plans are as the industry they have been intertwined with for decades continues to crumble around them.
At this point, let’s hope silence isn’t an indicator they have no such plan in place … because otherwise, the outcome for the sport could be disastrous. That two of the three U.S. automakers may soon be forced to withdraw their support from NASCAR is not an insignificant matter. In fact, those two manufacturers account for more than half the teams entered in this Sunday’s Samsung 500 to be held at Texas Motor Speedway. A quick count shows 17 of the 25 cars entered will be running Chevrolet powertrains, with another eight sporting the red emblem of Dodge. In the not-so-distant future, those 25 teams may very well be scrambling to find non-existent manufacturer support to stay afloat — or be forced to close their doors as a result.
How bad is it financially for these automakers? Really, really bad – particularly for Dodge’s parent company, Chrysler. Earlier this week, the Obama administration made the determination that the company Richard Petty brought to stock car racing prominence in the 1970’s was not worth attempting to save. With the U.S. taxpayer already committed to approximately $9 billion in loan guarantees for the No. 3 American car builder — and Chrysler back with their hands out for another public funding to the tune of $5 billion — the company was told no, that it would need to find outside help instead to stay afloat.
More accurately Chrysler, owned by the private equity company Cerberus, was given 30 days to reach a financial accord with the Spanish automaker Fiat Group SpA and undertake drastic cost-cutting measures. Talks between the CEO of Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, and Chrysler execs have gone on since the first of the week. Insiders are reporting that Fiat is showing only moderate interest in Chrysler and are not willing to absorb a significant interest in the beat-up car builder. Further, the cuts that are being required by the administration’s auto task force are, especially in Chrysler’s case, problematic at best given the short period of time afforded the company to turn around its business.
So Chrysler is, for all intents and purposes, down for the count… there simply is nowhere else to turn. Absent the support of an administration generally sympathetic to the plight of one of the few heavy industries left in the U.S. and the folks they employ, the government has concluded that any further financial assistance would be nothing more than throwing money down a rat hole. The company is destined to be sold off piecemeal under the guidance of a bankruptcy judge which, in the end, will leave any agreements or commitments to NASCAR, individual team owners, or drivers null and void.
If there is any good news for General Motors, it is that they may simply have 30 days more than Chrysler before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Obama administration nixed $17 billion in immediate aid and gave GM — once the pride of American industry — until June 1st to cut billions of dollars in operating costs and improve its debt-ridden balance sheets.
That means the final chapter is likely playing out for the General Motors Corporation as we know it. Rick Wagoner, the long time Chief Executive Officer, was fired this week at the urging of government overseers, leaving a near impossible set of tasks put before new CEO Fritz Henderson. Henderson has since been given a government laundry list that he cannot possibly fulfill in the time allotted. Among the government prerequisites for continued public assistance is the selling or discontinuation of unprofitable divisions — such as Hummer and Saturn — which have bogged down the company’s profit margins in recent years. And as if those obstacles were not enough, GM must reach an agreement with the United Auto Workers on the funding of a trust to guarantee blue collar retirees their health care benefits — as well as make up some staggering deficiencies in pension funds.
The hurdles that the century-old General Motors must clear are just too many and too high. To satisfy the government at this point would require further renegotiating of wage cuts, plant closings, and reductions in health care and pensions for GM’s remaining employees. All in all, that’s a daunting task with no guarantee at the end that it would satisfy the government, particularly in respect to the significant public backlash that prevails towards further taxpayer funds being used to prop up the auto industry.
As a result GM has now, for the first time, acknowledged the possibility of entering bankruptcy court. A short bankruptcy would give the automaker the ability to wipe out debt, rewrite or cancel contracts, and reemerge as a significantly smaller but less debt-burdened operation. When asked this past Tuesday what the chances of bankruptcy are for GM, Henderson replied it is “certainly more probable.”
What does such a pending financial collapse mean for our sport? Well, rest assured that the bankruptcy courts will do what managers at GM and Chrysler have been hesitant to do … cut off the channeling of funds to NASCAR and individual teams. Though the estimated $140 million dollars that each manufacturer contributes to the sport is, relatively speaking, a drop in the bucket to the billions of dollars the automakers (Ford Motor Company included) have been losing in recent years, it will be an easy expenditure for a court auditor to point out and order eliminated.
In good times, NASCAR racing may be as good as any other advertising venue for a company to get their brand before the public eye. However, given the fact that in spite of their past involvement in the sport, these companies have continued to see market shares decline, it will be hard to argue that a heavy investment in the sport has been necessary or beneficial.
In truth, the argument that “what wins on Sunday sells on Monday” is an antiquated and a difficult to prove philosophy. It may very well have had merit in the days when NASCAR’s stock cars at least vaguely resembled those found on showroom floors, but no longer — a nuance that is not likely to be missed by court-appointed auditors looking to cut costs any way they can.
The slow and steady demise of the once powerful American automobile industry is, and has been, a sad story for American capitalism. Of course, the damage that NASCAR and its effected teams would experience — should a bankruptcy court rule that one or both manufacturers are to renege on their financial and engineering support agreements — pales in comparison to the suffering and pain that thousands of pensioners and employees that are furloughed will endure. But nevertheless, the sport will be significantly impacted.
When the shoe drops for owners such as Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske, and the other Chevy and Dodge teams, it will be chaotic in the Cup Series to say the least. Of course, those mentioned will eventually, due to their great successes and resources, eventually land on their feet. However, how long it will take and who, ultimately, will suffer are big unknowns.
Unfortunately, there is no manufacturer for the GM and Dodge organizations to simply merge with. Of the two car builders that will remain, one, Ford Motor Company, has cut back significantly in its motorsports support to save capital as it continues to suffer heavy losses in its own right ($14.6 billion in 2008). Toyota, though certainly in better long-term financial health than the U.S. manufacturers, also posted its first annual loss ($1.6 billion) in 70 years last year. Perhaps as a direct result of that financial hit, they have made it clear there’s no intentions of further expanding their NASCAR program.
None of this is good news for NASCAR or the sport. But it certainly is a scenario that has been a possibility for some time. The sport has been ravaged by change in recent history and clearly more change, albeit unavoidable, is on the way.
That change, as always, brings questions about what the future of the sport will look like. Will NASCAR revert back to a goodly number of teams running as independents without the benefit of factory support? Or would a situation exist that we’d see a few teams supported by a deep-pocketed Japanese automaker and even fewer teams attempting to compete with what support a crippled American carmaker can provide? Or, is it possible the series might jettison the manufacturer support concept altogether, moving to a generic powertrain and “crate engine” to install in their generic chassis and bodies to offset the loss of viable manufacturers?
In the interim, NASCAR has little choice but to outwardly remain hopeful that GM, Chrysler, and, for that matter, Ford can somehow right their ships. But the chances that will happen are near impossible at this point. Now, by year’s end, they will be confronted with a difficult set of circumstances that they will have to deal with.
Decisions will have to be made. Tough decisions, to be sure.
And… that’s my view from Turn 5.
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Car & Driver did their April Fool’s joke on Dodge and Chevy being forced out of NASCAR by the increasingly fascist Obama administration. The fact of the matter though is that it’s not a joke, it is not only possible, but I’d say probable. If this Congress would create unconstitutional laws to take away contractually guaranteed pay from executives after Congress specifically put in wording to allow them, does anyone believe that this administration is worried about angering a sport whose base leans towards conservative values?
I don’t think that GM or Chrysler factory support will last the season and as long as GM stands for Government Motors, you can bet that I’ll purchase Fords with their garish plastic interiors for my personal ride.
Ren, there is an entire planet of countries you can move your whining butt to if you’re so unhappy with the USA.
What? Are Fords not American any more? I don’t really get where your going with that.
Get ready for what I’ve predicted for years now – “The official car of NASCAR”
Odds are, they’ll sell the rights to one manufacturer such as Honda, Toyota, or maybe even an upstart like Hyundai. They would then provide the teams cars under a lease agreement in much the same way Honda leases engines to Indy teams. The savings for the manufacturer and teams would be in that there would be no heavy development created by competition like there is now between brands. the cars would be the same and the series will truly become the spec series it is slowly becoming anyway. The “Car of Tomorrow” and the on-hold “engine of tomorrow” were just stepping stones to this the way I see it. Even without the economic woes, the greed and laziness (the car of tomorrow was originally just a lazy mans way to get out of actually having to mediate the bickering between manufacturers about rules) of the powers that be in NASCAR have plotted a course toward this anyway.
The manufacture will then probably design some ugly, too fast and too furious car that they can sell on the street with “Official car of NASCAR” decals plastered all over it.
Keep in mind, this is not what I want to happen at all. It’s just my prediction based on the direction they’ve taken the series, and NASCAR in general, over the last 10 years or so, sad as it may be.
Now that Obama is wearing the bowtie Chevrolet is history. Next question is which driver will get the first win in the new “Obamamobile”? Wouldn’t it be ironic if it’s the #88, which would mean the change needed to make him a winner was a new owner at GM!! Many didn’t like it when Toyota came to the party and now Fiat may be knocking on the door.
The COT has already killed any incentive a manufacturer should have for supporting several cars/teams. NASCAR is already positioned to say bye bye to the manufacturers. If they want to advertise in NASCAR it makes more sense for them to just pay to sponsor a car like other companies.
A bankruptcy by either GM or Chrysler would void the contracts many teams depend on and budget for. The support would be immediate and several teams would find themselves suddenly broke with upcoming obligations. That would force them into backruptcy to void the contracts they have with suppliers. It would keep trickling down to other suppliers and suppliers’ suppliers, etc.
I’d need to see details of the financials of these teams before proclaiming doom on them and NASCAR.
I see problems on the technical side, though, as the manufacturers design the engines (at least in their basic configuration) and other parts. Ultimately there may be, like the IRL, one manufacturer supplying engines for the whole of NASCAR.
On the other hand, one of the themes of the year is “adversity breeds opportunity”, so if Honda or another foreign manufacturer wanted to get into NASCAR, this would be a prime opportunity to do so. That may be blasphemy to many folks, but look at your teen and 20’s kids and see what kind of cars are in their movies and in their driveways. My movies or TV shows had black Trans-Ams, black Mustangs, or orange Dodges in them, by way of comparison. Their fast and furious movies feature Hondas, Toyotas, and other foreign makes. Put them in NASCAR and you might attract some younger fans to the sport.
The Past, the Present and the Future……..
National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR)
Now All we Seriously Care About is Revenue (NASCAR)
Now All Simply Created Alike Racecars (NASCAR)
Ah, it is such a sad state we fine ourselves in.
My brother worked for Chrysler and lost his job recently. He’s 55 years old. I’m far more concerned with the fate of thousands of people like him than whether Kasey Kahne will make a million less next year because the manufacturers pull out of NASCAR. Prediction: Racing will continue and may even be better without all the money being poured into wind tunnels and such.
Fiat is actually an Italian company
Someone’s gotta start a series where they race stock Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers against each other on a short track tour. Since they can’t go 200 mph, the short tracks would make them still seem “racy”, and we would know we could go to the dealer and test drive the same car we saw win on the weekend. Oh, and if Toyota doesn’t build a stock car that can compete, that’s too bad.
Plus, if all the cars were “strictly stock”(as it once was…), we’d have that ideal sense of parity that NASCAR is trying to achieve through ludicrous means.
Yeah, teams would be rather unnecessary and they’d be rooted out of the sport since they wouldn’t actually have to “prepare” a car outside of knocking the glass out and installing a roll cage, but I think if someone started a NEW company and could get some kind of television coverage this could take off huge. Bruton Smith could make this work, I bet.
Wow, reading some of the comments shows me that the stereotype of NA$CAR fans. That some people have, isn’t all that far from the truth.
Let ‘em all run as independents; those COT boxes aren’t really manufacturers’ vehicles anyway. The game would then have a much more level playing surface than it does now.
While changing things, eliminate the mega teams and allow an owner to have only a two-car team, thus giving little guys a chance again.