NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday September 6, 2007
Hometown: Timmonsville, South Carolina
Last weekend’s race at California Speedway was again largely reviled not because of what it was, but for where it wasn’t. The Southern 500 traditionally ran on Labor Day weekend from 1950 to 2003. The Southern (California) 500 has consistently failed to live up to the hype or the legend of the race at Darlington. Is it the location? Is it the lack of excitement provided by the track, other than when Brad Keselowski isn't trying to go Cale Yarborough at Darlington in 1965, and exit through the first and second turns? Speaking of which, Yarborough and Darlington Raceway always made a pretty good pair. The Timmonsville, South Carolina native won the late summer classic five times during a storied career which produced 83 wins, four Daytona 500 victories, as well as the only winner of three consecutive Winston Cup Championships. As amazing as his career was, it was an even bigger surprise that he lived long enough to experience it. This week we take a look back on Cale Yarborough and not only his accomplishments, but his uncanny abillity to cheat death as well.
William Caleb Yarborough was born the son of a tobacco farmer on March 27th, 1939, just outside of Darlington, South Carolina. Later on in life, Cale would raise not tobacco but turkeys. He had little interest in the product, but more so what was happening down the road. 1950 was the first year of the Southern 500, the first super speedway oval specific to NASCAR, and one of the first to feature banking. Cale didn't have a ticket, so he slipped through a break in a chain linked fence to watch the action. A few years later he attempted to make the race, lying about his age to gain entrance. His first start at the track would be in 1957 driving a Pontiac for owner Bob Weatherly. Starting dead last, he'd only improve two positions to 42nd, a failed hub ending his day, but not his desire to race.
The fact that he even got this far is a story in and of itself. When he was seven years old while walking through his yard, a rattlesnake bit him. His father rushed him to the hospital, and he was violently ill for nearly a month. Not long after he recovered, he was standing in his house, looking out the window as a thunderstorm that was rolling in. Suddenly a bolt of lighting struck the ground in front of the window, and then blew it out, striking Cale in the chest, knocking him unconscious. When he came to, he smelled something burning. Luckily, it wasn't him.
Cale had another memorable incident involving airplanes a year after his first start in 1958. Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is never advisable, but working as part of an air show, it was his job. For nearly 2,000 feet he fought with a malfunctioning parachute that would not deploy. Seconds before impact, the chute released, but he was going so fast, the chute blew apart. He had enough chute material remaining to slow him down; so when he landed in a muddy field he was left with only some scrapes and a chipped elbow.
During this time, Cale was not only fostering a burgeoning racing career, but was quite an athlete who aspired to play football. He was the back-up fullback for the Sumter, South Carolina Generals. It was around this time that he also suffered a leg injury. No, not from some 300-pounder rolling over him on, but from a gunshot wound. While on a date with high school sweetheart and future wife Betty Jo, Cale got into it with a guy who was making lude comments. Things escalated when the guy pulled a gun on him, and fired a shot into the pavement in front of him. The bullet ricocheted upwards and went through his calf.
And they say racing is dangerous.
With those pesky near-death experiences behind him, Cale embarked on a racing career. After making a few one-off starts for Bob Weatherly from 1957 to 1961, he got his first real shot at the big time driving for Herm Beam in 1963. His No. 19 Fords would post seven Top 10s in 14 starts, finishing no worse than 17th. He would race with Beam again through 1964, eventually moving to the Ford team, Holman-Moody towards the end of the season. A year later he would drive for a number of different car owners, finally notching his first win at a half mile dirt track in Valdosta, Georgia for owner Kenny Myler, in his No. 06 Ford.
Cale would only make 14 NASCAR starts the next season, but he made one other important start..in the Indianapolis 500, where he qualified 24th and finished 28th. All told, Cale would make four starts in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, his best finish coming in 1972, with a tenth place effort.
For 1967, Cale would move to another Ford team that has become synonymous with the Blue Oval. Driving the Wood Brothers famous No. 21 Ford, he would capture his first speedway victory with a win at the 1.5 mile Atlanta Motor Speedway. A second triumph would follow at the biggest track on the circuit at the time, with a win in the Firecracker 400 in Daytona, outlasting Dick Hutcherson to claim career win number three.
The 1968 Daytona 500 saw the Ford Motor Company's "Total Performance" campaign in full swing. The Ford Torino and Mercury Cyclone were the first salvos fired in the aero wars, as Dodge showed up with the new Charger that looked fast, but was an aerodynamic nightmare. Plymouth's new Roadrunner was a shapely as a cinderblock, and had a vinyl roof that would rip loose at speed. It was thought that the dimples in the roof would act much like a golf ball to speed up the air going over the car.
Not so much.
FoMoCo showed up with a roster of drivers so stacked, that it reads as a who's who of racing legends today: David Pearson, Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough, Lee Roy Yarbrough and Donnie Allison. Andretti, Yarbrough and Yarborough in Mercury Cyclones, Pearson, Foyt, and Allison in Ford Torinos. Lee Roy Yarborough led late in the event in his Junior Johnson prepared Mercury, as Cale was battling back from clutch issues suffered at about the halfway point of the race. He lost a lap, but made it up with about 20 to go, ripping off lap times faster than the rattlesnake that nailed him earlier in his life, striking harder than that bolt of lighting that knocked him out when he was seven.
With three laps to remaining, Cale pulled even with Lee Roy, passing him with relative ease, and pulled away by nearly a second to win his first of four Daytona 500s. It was the first of six wins for 1968, which included wins at Atlanta, Martinsville, and another Daytona triumph in July, and his first of five Southern 500 victories at his home track in Darlington, South Carolina. The only two cars on the lead lap were Yarborough and David Pearson, with Cale holding off The Silver Fox by about 50 feet.
In 1969, Cale would only make 19 starts, but posted victories at Michigan and Atlanta. It was about this time too that Cale was beginning to establish a reputation for being quite a qualifier. He claimed six poles in 1969, which translated into an average starting spot of fourth. After winning just four poles in 1970, his average dropped to fifth.
As the 70's progressed, Cale's past came back to haunt him. After enduring several years of not facing mortality, that all changed. During the 1973 spring Talladega race, the first recorded "big one" took place. It eliminated over 20 cars, and by races end, only 17 were running. That may sound like a normal Talladega big-one but this one was different.
60 cars started the race.
As Ramo Stott exited turn two, his big Mercury disemboweled itself, spewing oil and smoke everywhere, leaving the 45 plus cars behind him blind and out of control. As the cars spun and scattered to the infield, plumes of dust obscured the vision of the rest of the drivers, resulting in a mÃªlÃ©e of spinning, flipping cars that looked like something out of a video game. Buddy Baker had narrowly avoided killing Stott who had exited his machine but dove back in it as cars came through the smoke and dust. Buddy's car struck Stotts car, tearing the engine clear out of his car. As he sat in a plume of dust he heard the sound of a screaming engine. It was Cale Yarborough sailing overhead, his car launched "as high as a telephone pole" in the air according to Baker. Buddy ran to see if Cale was okay, which he was. The two, thankful to be alive hugged each other.
About this same time they saw another car spinning out of control headed right at them, threatening to permanently put an end to the touching Broke Back â€˜Dega moment. They dove out of the way over the inside dirt embankment, narrowly avoiding meeting their maker. Several drivers were injured in the wreck, including Wendell Scott, the African-American racing pioneer who suffered a broken pelvis and broken ribs.
This would not be the only time that Yarborough would nearly die while outside of a racecar. During the May 1979 race, Yarborough and Baker would tangle as Baker had a left rear go flat and lost control of his car at over 200mph at the Start-Finish line.
Yarborough struck Baker in the passenger side door as he hit the outside retaining wall head-on. This triggered another "big one" that was every bit as violent and spectacular as the accidents we've become accustomed to seeing today. Things turned ugly when Yarborough exited his car. He was struck by Dave Marcis, Cale pinned between the two cars, with Marcis' machine hit by another car driven by D.K. Ulrich. Yarborough was in shock, and was sure that he had lost his legs. He was too afraid to look and had to ask Marcis to tell him if they were intact.
Of course in between these two life-threatening accidents, Yarborough managed to win three consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup Championships, under the new Latford Points system that was introduced in 1975. 1976 and 1977 were nine win seasons, giving him the title by 195 points over Richard Petty in 1975, and 386 points over The King for 1977. His third Championship in 1978 was the result of a ten win season in 29 starts. Cale claimed "if we were going to win three championships in a row, he wanted to do it in style." They never backed off or ran conservatively all season long, winning their tenth race of the year at Rockingham by two laps over Bobby Allison. He won the championship by 474 points over Allison, leading car owner Junior Johnson to remark that the team was the best ever.
After winning three consecutive titles by over 1,000 points, it's kind of hard to argue with him.
Yarborough and Johnson were poised to make a run for an unprecedented fourth title in 1980. In 31 starts, Cale and his No. 11 Busch Beer Chevrolet would combine for six wins, 19 Top 5s, 22 Top 10s, and 14 poles. In the final five races, Cale would post a pair of wins, two third place finishes, and a second, but could not close the gap to the eventual champion, Dale Earnhardt. He would lose the title by a mere 19 points, proving yet again that the best championship chases, are Chase-less. It would be the last full-time season for Yarborough, who would run a partial schedule over the next eight years, yet still racking up wins each season; including the Superbowl of Motorsports.
Cale's next really scary encounter was during qualifying for the 1983 Daytona 500. Chevrolet had introduced it's snarky new Monte Carlo SS. It's pointed nose piece allowed the car to knife through the air, but also produced a quite a bit of front downforce, pinning the car at the nose. The notchback rear window and tiny rear spoilers laid flat as they were back then, made for a lot of turbulence, as Yarborough found out the hard way.
Coming through turn four to complete his second lap, a 30mph gust of wind caught his car, and it spun sideways. With no side window, side skirts, roof rails or flaps, as we have today, the car filled up with air as air got under the car and flipped it upside down. It was tossed like a toy against the turn four wall, sending it tumbling down the track and smashing the glass windshield out of the car. Cale was okay, and would start the race in the dated and odd-looking Pontiac Ventura. No problem. Cale still went on to win his third Daytona 500.
In 1984, the Monte would keep all four tires planted on the ground as he became the first driver to qualify at Daytona at over 200mph. The speed didn’t stop there, as the CBS in-car camera captured a fist-pumping Yarborough celebrating his fourth win in The Great American Race. While being interviewed by Ken Squier in victory lane, his emotions overflowed after having won back-to-back Daytona 500s.
Cale's final victory would come at the fall Charlotte event in 1985, edging Bill Elliott out by less than one second. Cale would continue to compete in the now familiar white and orange Hardee's machine; though the No. 28 team, which he won two Daytona 500s with, would be purchased by Robert Yates and become the ride of a second generation driver Davey Allison. Yarborough would start his own team, taking No. 29, and make selected starts in 1987 and 1988. Although he was still competitive, scoring Top 5s and Top 10s, things changed when fellow long-time competitor Bobby Allison suffered career ending and near fatal injuries at Pocono in 1988.
Betty Jo said it was time to stop driving. So he did.
Yarborough would find modest success as an owner, winning the 1997 Pepsi 400 at Daytona with John Andretti driving the No. 98 RCA Ford Thunderbird. Yarborough was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993, the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Court of Legends at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1996. He was named as one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998 and an attempt to start a competing series to NASCAR a few years ago never quite got off the ground.
With Cale's past experiences involving leaving the ground, maybe that's not such a bad thing afterall.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Cale was the best of the best. If he were racing today, he would be right up at the front. There was only one way to drive, Wide Open and Half Turned Over, and boy was it great. I miss those guys Cale, Richard, David, and Bobby