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 · Tuesday May 8, 2007
A week may have passed and the media furor over Talladega may have died down, but race fans in attendance at the Aaron's 499 still have every right to be insulted. Their emotions still raw, they are rightfully angry at being put in harm’s way by the act of a good number of moronic individuals. However, after time has passed and the facts have come out, it is important to understand that the responsibility for the melee that immediately ensued at the conclusion of the race was entirely the responsibility of the International Speedway Corporation. The owners of both the track and the sport, the France family, need to be held responsible for their inability to control the actions of a select few that should have been selected for the nearest county jail as quickly as humanly possible. Any such charge the disgraceful and dangerous behavior was the fault of “fans” of any driver, and “fans” of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in particular, as have been reported elsewhere, are erroneous and were opinions formed without fully considering the issue.
I feel confident on speaking on this issue due to my unique situation of being part of the conflict firsthand. Taking time to appreciate the NASCAR side of racing as a fan rather than a columnist, I witnessed the hooligans’ actions from the Gadsden Grandstands, lower level, Row 20. Rest assured that the true scope of what transpired was not covered by the television broadcast or in NASCAR's subsequent press statements that were nothing more than attempts to minimize the events; even my eyewitness report cannot in itself adequately describe what happened in its entirety, due to the enormity of the grandstands at the 2.66 mile track and the frequency of the delinquent behavior happening around it.
First, some background. With my girlfriend and seven-year old grandson in tow, I opted to stay at a campground in the Talladega National Forest in a conscious effort to avoid the more adult activities that traditionally take place at the campgrounds provided on racetrack properties throughout the NASCAR circuit. Adult activities that are best left to the adults and believe prudent to not expose a young child to, and I was hoping the weekend would prove a wonderful experience for my grandson to end up exposed to the best parts of the sport we all love. Unfortunately, I was not able to protect the first of my grandchildren to attend a NASCAR race from perverse behavior that far surpassed anything I have ever witnessed in the generally good-natured party atmosphere of trackside campgrounds.
Shortly after the start of the race, it became apparent to me that there was potentially a serious problem brewing, as Jeff Gordon started challenging for the lead. As he continued leading the race, the profanity and accompanying hand gestures from those in attendance were at an all-time fever pitch. No doubt about it, agitation continually increased at the mere thought Gordon might win. Perhaps sensing the tension, on several occasions, the public address system announced that the throwing of anything on the track would not be tolerated. Though the announcement lacked, in my opinion, the needed assertiveness, it comforted me at the time to know that the tracks managers were aware of possible problems, especially with the increased agitation reaching a crescendo. It also signaled to me that as a result of past uncontrolled incidents at the track, they were prepared to prevent a repeat of past actions.
I was wrong.
As the race ended under a caution due to a wreck on the backstretch and it became clear as the leaders rounded turn four that Jeff Gordon had indeed won, a barrage of debris began to rain down on those us of us in the lower grandstands. Looking to my right towards the tri-oval grandstands and beyond the amount of debris being tossed from the crowd was truly inestimable, but staggering to observe. Only a very small percentage of the projectiles, in large part partially full or full beer cans, actually landed on the track. The vast majority of objects being thrown were landing indiscriminately into the lower seats. At no time before or during the mayhem was there any visible show of security executing any plan to prevent what occurred or quash what was a dangerous situation.
After being initially stunned by the developing pandemonium, we were able to safely gather up my bewildered grandson and make our way with many others to shelter under the upper grandstands. Unfortunately, that sanctuary was a short-lived when some of the disorderly thugs in the upper levels began emptying what I assume were beverages and ice onto the crowds seeking safe haven below. We then quickly exited the grandstand area with no thought of returning for any post-race activities, thankful to be away from what had been a truly unpleasant and potentially harmful experience.
So, who were these despicable and crude people that acted in such a repulsive manner? Were they fans of the Earnhardt Nation upset that Jeff Gordon had not only bested Junior, but also surpassed the seventy-six wins total of his father, Daleâ€¦ and no less on his birthday? No, they were not. From my vantage point, while I saw a large number of the offenders (certainly not all) wearing attire and otherwise displaying their supposed preference for the numbers 3 and 8, it is important to understand that these kooks are no more fans of the Earnhardts than they are fans of stock car racing!
To associate these louts with the Earnhardt Nation would be as unfair as observers outside of the sport wrongly correlating their behavior to that of NASCAR fans as a whole. These people are not unique to Talladega or NASCAR, they are of the same ilk that have infiltrated and gave glaring black eyes to virtually every sport in America at one time or another. Like the punks and gangsters that have adopted the colors and logo of the Oakland Raiders, they are no more stock car or Earnhardt fans than those criminals are fans of either the Raiders or professional football. Instead, they are nothing more than troublemakers hell-bent on being disruptive and displaying their complete lack of civility.
Looking back, the blame for the ugliness that tens of thousands of spectators were subjected to rests firmly on the backs of track managers. They were not unaware of the potential for bedlam in their race facility, as evidenced by their announcements throughout the race; as a result, they were ethically and legally responsible to protect their patrons. The ignorance was surprising considering the likelihood of trouble anticipated with a Gordon wni; in fact, Junior himself said during the week leading up to the race that he had told Gordon, “You win this one and I ain’t coming into Victory Lane this time,” referring to a much tamer display of poor sportsmanship that occurred a week earlier in Phoenix when Earnhardt did publicly congratulate Gordon to a cascade of boos.
Although Earnhardt’s warning should have been more than enough, track officials shouldn’t have needed it; they have had significant indications since at least 2004 that changes were needed at the track to ensure a safe environment for race fans, when a shower of debris rained on Jeff Gordon that year after a late race caution ensured him another win at the superspeedway. Since then, they have failed miserably to respond to fans’ requests for greater safety, and this was the worst example yet of their poor performance.
Nevertheless, Grant Lynch, President of Talladega Superspeedway, would have you believe that the situation was handled appropriately. And he insists that, “Additional security was brought in for the grandstands and we had a plan in place should such actions take place." Really? And this additional security was only able to identify fourteen of the hundreds that participated in the riot? The few identified were not arrested, but merely detained and punished by not being able to purchase tickets under their own name in the future? That’s quite a plan you had in place there, Mr. Lynch!
Perhaps now suitable security measures at Talladega will be taken to maintain order at future race dates, as there will should be changes implemented possibly only for reasons of legal liability than for any sincere concern for race fans. In the end, though, the ones that will be inconvenienced by policy changes will be the tens of thousands of responsible spectators that historically visit the superspeedway. The culprits responsible for the more restrictive policies will not care, as they will have moved on to a new stage to display their idiocy. The legacy they left behind, however, will not fade for several events to come.
Truthfully, it seems that by simply watching from the grandstands I made an error in judgment that could easily have resulted in serious physical harm coming to those that I hold close to my heart. I was fully aware that there was a potential for serious troubles in the stands should Jeff Gordon win the Aaron's 499, but wrongly assumed that those in the "know" were even more intuitive than I, anticipating and preparing for any eventuality. In hindsight, I realize that I was wrong to trust the track's management to protect us while inside their facility. Luckily, none of my group, and miraculously, if reports are to be believed, no other spectators were badly injured. But I cannot trust the safety of my loved ones to luck. And I never will again.
But I know who is to blameâ€¦
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Great report. I was in Moss-Thorton Tower. Had the race been officiated differently the fans would not have re-acted the way they did. Letâ€™em race!
I experienced the same thing you did at the 2004 race that Gordon won under caution. As a result I will never go back to Talladega again.
I have been to Richmond, Dover, and Charlotte and have never seen behavior like I witnessed at Talladega. Maybe NASCAR should yank their race date and give it to someone who will actually care about the fans experience.
I was sitting in Gadsden as well in row 19 in the section where there was hardly anyone sitting. I stayed out there for a while and I saw that one little boy did get hit in the head but luckily only had a small bump on his noggin’, I feel these people or the result of B.F. catering to a new crowd. The traditional fans wouldn’t have considered endangering fellow spectators as well as competitors. So my blame goes to the powers that be in upper management of NASCAR.
Bull!!! I’m sorry, you are 100% wrong!! It had nothing to to with NA$CAR rules at all. The one and only reason those low lifes threw stuff, was BECAUSE JEFF GORDON WON!!! No other reason at all!! I would bet 10 billion dollars if it had been Jr in the exact same situation, that croud would have LOVED it cheered and been happy as can be, and not once single thing would have been tossed at the track at all!!!
I think I should start with my background. I have been attending races at Talladega since the 1970s and have had tickets to the spring and fall races since 1987. I don’t know exactly, but I am very comfortable saying that I’ve probably attended 50 cup races at the track. I’ve also attended numerous races at Atlanta, Daytona, and Darlington.
I didn’t go this time and I may not go in the fall.
Talladega has always been ‘edgier’ than most tracks. In the 80s, the infield easily got an NC-17 rating. Everybody knew it, and I really think it provided part of the allure. Things started changing in the 1990s and for a good while it became a nice environment.
Things have changed. After the last few races, I have felt unsafe. No, that’s not right, the environment has been unsafe. I really feel like it is one drunk’s punch from a riot. I’ve had the honor of meeting Grant Lynch and he’s a good man but I just don’t think he grasps how serious the situation has become.
I think your observations are right on track except for one. The current problem IS the Earnhardt nation. You can sugarcoat it any way you want but the folks causing the trouble are the ones wearing black and red. It was already bad before Sr. died and has gotten worse since that day. The really sad thing is that they’re tarnishing Dale Jr, who seems to be everything they’re not: Classy, articulate, and professional.
I hope the track officials wake up by the fall but I have my doubts. I would advise anyone considering Talladega to at the very least leave the kids at home. I hate to tell people to stay away from a place I’ve loved for all these years, but that’s how it looks from the Talladega grandstand.
Could someone confirm or deny the fact that Na$car, oops I$C was still selling beer in CAN$ right up ‘till the end of the race? That would explain how after an entire morning and afternoon of sitting in the stands these hooliagns still had that much “ammo” left over.
We were not at the race but we still got angry at Nascar for not throwing the caution when the 00 blew up throwing oil all over the track. Which by talking with many friends that was what they were angry about. The caution flag did not fly until Nascar had their pet in the lead. Even the anouncers were even saying no caution yet? The 00 was at the top of the track with a cloud of oil behind him not on the bottom of the track and out of the way. I wonder if some of the oil on the track was part of the reason for the wreck under green white checker. JG is great driver who is capable of winning many races w/o Nascar fixing it for him. Because of this we are talking about finding another hobby instead of watching the races. The commercials are also a big turn off.
In response to Connie:
MayBe after Tony Stewart’s comments they are going to go to the other extreme when it comes to throwing cautions
Richmond case in point
The problem is there are fans out there behaving like spoiled brats and because of their numbers and Bully mentality feel they can throw a tantrum anywhere they please no matter what the cost or who gets hurt.
Simple way to solve it…Ban people bringing in their own beer, have it sold in cups and cut it off 2 hours after the start of the race…To bad responsible people have to pay the price because of a few morons…
Yes, lets just blame Jr.‘s fans for all of this. You know, every other sport cuts off the selling of alcohol at a certain during an event. Maybe at ‘Dega they need to do the same. And actually use the security. You cannot sit there and tell NASCAR didn’t see that coming when little Jeffie won?? Get the security in place. I’m sorry I agree with article. I’m SICK TO DEATH with all of you self rightous people blaming the Jr. nation. I was NOT there. My sister(a fan of the 19) WAS there and said that a Tony Stewart fan near had great aim and his can actually made it to track.
I guess no other racer has fans that are feeling a little bummed out over HMS’s domination? Nope it’s all our faults.
Don’t bother replying to me….I’m through with this subject.