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.
The Voice Of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Tuesday September 18, 2007
“The Car of Tomorrow sucks.”
No, that's not Kyle Busch's quote. It's not even Tony Stewart's.
I hate the Car of Tomorrow. I physically hate it. As British automotive journalist Jeremy Clarkson might say, "It is wayward, its front splitter is utter rubbish, and the rear wing is stupid." A series that once celebrated and thrived on ingenuity, differentiation, and brand identification has now devolved into a bastardized IROC series, starring the ugliest thing this side of an El Camino. While NASCAR's premier division continues to plod along, refusing to input changes to a wholly unlikable car that have been pleaded for by competitors, there was some question as to when the CoT would make its way to the “middle” division in NASCAR, the soon-to-be-former Busch Series.
By the grace of God, there appears to be relief on the horizon, in the form of some familiar shapes that have made their return as of late. Everything old is new again, and such is the case with the likely replacement for the existing crop of NASCAR Busch Series race cars. In 2009, that NASCAR series is rumored to be making a switch to a new breed of horsepower. No, not the Car of Tomorrow; rather, the car of yesterday - Pony cars. The reborn Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang are the likely replacements for the current crop of cars for 2009.
For the uninitiated, Pony cars came to prominence during the muscle car heydays of the 1960's. They helped fill the gap between smaller trendy European sportscars and the full-sized Detroit iron that dominated the boulevard, drag strips, and circle tracks of the country. The Ford Mustang was the leader of the pony car revolution for 1964 (even though Plymouth's Barracuda beat it to to the showroom floor by two weeks), followed by the Chevrolet Camaro in 1967. Dodge was a little late to the game, but good things come to those who wait – the Challenger and its E-Body cousin, the redesigned Plymouth Barracuda, arrived just in time for the high-water mark of American performance in 1970.
Although the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger aren't generally thought of as NASCAR racecars, back in the late 60's and early 70's, they were part of a racing phenomenon that actually threatened to rival NASCAR - The SCCA Trans Am Series. It was a novel idea if there ever was one: a road racing series for muscle cars. The cars that competed in 1969 and 1970 were the inspiration for the reborn retro rides of today. The Trans Am series didn't have a driver's championship per se, but was focused mainly on the manufacturers. It was a series that combined visual excitement, as well as a connection to a wildly popular series of vehicles at a time when America was hip-deep in horsepower, making for some memorable races, race cars, and race car drivers.
Now, Americans love nostalgia, and few more so than race fans. How many of them carp and whine here weekly, reminiscing about "the good ol' days?" For some, that was the early 1990's, others the mid 1980's, and for the pioneer fans who built the sport up to what it has become today, it was the late 60's and early 70's, when factory involvement in motorsports was at Def-Con One. The cars as much as the drivers were a part of the face of the sport: Big Block Fords, Mopars with 4' tall rear rudders, and running 210 mph headed into turn 3 on the backstretch at Talladega in the draft was no big deal.
That is sorely lacking today.
The Car of Tomorrow, safe as it may be, holds all of the drama and intrigue of a stale rice cake. The cars look virtually identical, save for their cheesy manufacturer-specific headlight and grille stickers, and bear even less of a resemblance to anything sitting in the rental lot at Hertz or Enterprise.
From the front splitter that seems to prevent more passing than it creates, to that Erector Set abomination stationed on the rear deck lid, it is an aerodynamic slug and mess-terpiece of engineering. I'm sorry, but a $200,000 race car shouldn't be arbitrarily belching out plumes of smoke in the middle of a turn on three wheels. With NASCAR's mandated limit on suspension travel, they stumble into a corner as if on stilts - so stiff legged that one would think the shocks are actually 42-ounce Louisville Sluggers.
It is time for a change, and what better place to start than the Cup Series’ former feeder class, the NASCAR Busch Series.
The Busch Series, which is in dire need of a new title sponsor, has seen attendance and viewership wane in recent years. A trend of smaller Busch teams being pushed out by Cup operations has resulted in Busch races looking more and more like a short Nextel Cup event. In fact, Busch Series companion races have degenerated into little more than extended Happy Hour sessions, a way for Cup drivers to make a nice chunk of change while pedaling some more die cast cars and gaudy T-shirts. While the CoT effectively squashes any sort of tangible transferable data from Saturday to Sunday, cutting down the importance of Cup drivers racing the series, a new design of car (one that is attractive), could help breathe new life into the struggling division altogether.
Aesthetics aside, a switch to this style of car would also help add some legitimacy to the "SC" in NASCAR. No, any future Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge will not be a true "stock" car, but at least it will be based off of a car that is front engine, rear wheel drive, and comes available with the correct number of doors, cylinders, and a manual transmission. There is a good portion of the "core fan,” as well as skeptical motorsports enthusiasts, that have always been turned off at the notion of 4-door, 6-cylinder grocery-getters, having their names emblazoned on the front of what have been muscular-looking racecars (i.e. – the old Ford Taurus). When I think of memorable race cars, I think of ones that had some personality to them: Richard Petty's 1974 STP Dodge Charger. Dale Earnhardt's snarky yellow and blue 1986 Wrangler Monte Carlo SS. Mark Martin's swoopy red, white, and blue 1993 Valvoline Ford Thunderbird.
Unfortunately, I cannot get as excited over Denny Hamlin's purple 2007 Chevrolet Impala Car of Tomorrow, with a big dumb wing on the back of it.
Public reaction to the reborn pony cars so far has been resounding. A racing series that caters to them would do well to raise the interest level for both the vehicles themselves as well as the series for which they compete in. When the retro Ford Mustang debuted in 2005, even base models were selling at sticker; the Shelby Mustang is still garnering up to $10,000 over MSRP as you read this. Dodge's 2008 Challenger graced the cover of every car magazine on the planet following its public unveiling at the 2006 Detroit Autoshow. And when word came down that Chevrolet was going to resurrect the Camaro name plate which was retired in 2002, study halls across the country where churning out doodles and scale drawings of the future muscle machine.
It's one of the few things that the American automakers still do better than anyone, having the market cornered on it for the last 40 years. It's also been quite awhile since "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" meant anything. Give Blue Oval, Bow Tie, and Mopar guys a chance to fight it out over something, they'll jump at the opportunity. For Big Three manufacturers that are weighing whether or not they need to be involved in motorsports, this is just what the doctor ordered.
The Trans Am cars of the Pony car era were no less famous or memorable than those of their NASCAR counterparts of the day: Parnelli Jones and George Follmer in their Bud Moore-prepared BOSS 302 Mustangs. Mark Donahue driving the dark blue No. 6 Sunoco Camaro Z/28 for Roger Penske. Dan Gurney and Swede Savage in their Plymouth AAR â€˜Cudas, and Sam Posey in his No. 77 Sublime-green Dodge Challenger T/A. Street versions were made of each of these vehicles in limited quantities to meet SCCA requirements. They were wildly popular back then, and today, prime examples of these cars can fetch up to $100,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction.
Try that 35 years from now with a Toyota Camry.
As much as the drivers are the ones that help fuel this sport, it has also been the cars and manufacturer rivalries that kept it afloat. As politically correct and watered down as the personalities have become, so have the vehicles in which they compete. With the switch to honest-to-God, actual performance cars being the basis of race cars again, it may help generate some interest and excitement into what has become quite a boring, stagnant racing series, its current point leader being a Cup driver who enjoys nearly a 1,000 point advantage over his nearest pursuer. With the onslaught of iconic American muscle cars potentially heading to the Grand National Series in 2009, that type of scenario just isn’t going to happen anymore. Both the fans, and NASCAR, stand to benefit greatly.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
The “ car wars “ of the past were legendary.It’s hard to believe that we have ended up with the COT. Or a brick on top of a cinder block as it has been called. But this could be the opportunity for NASCAR to send the sport off in a great new, but old direction.The new and improved Busch series needs to reflect the real world of automobiles in the US. Along with Camaros and Mustangs, why not all the other cars everyone drives. Open the series up to Buick, Cadillac, Mercury, along with Toyota, Nissan,and Mazda. Why not Mercedes, BMW, Volvo ? And there are many others. Keep the bodies stock appearing. All of these manufacturers have V 8 engines and models that would be comparable in size to the Camaro and most of them race in series all over the world already.
I am all for it. I recall that back in the 1960`s or early 70`s Bobby Allison drove a Mustang in the NASCAR Sportsman division. If I am correct that eventually became the Busch Series. The Bible says nothing new under the sun and how true it is. Lets go racing.
What will NASCAR do if the “New (?Busch?) Series” with Pony Cars becomes more popular than the CUP Series? It could happen, (no) thanks to the COT concept.
Outstanding rant! Rack him!(As those familiar with Jim Rome and The Jungle will recognize). I love the dispassionate opinions on todays aero-clones. I couldn’t agree more. Keep on shouting the truth, Vito. Maybe someone “upstairs” in NASCAR will heed your wisdom. Mike and Robert. You are both on target.
Great article, couldn’t agree more. It’s hard to get excited about Camrys, 4-door Monte Carlos, Avengers and Fusions. The COT is an abomination that should’ve been buried behind the design office next to the Chase paperwork. It has the handling characteristics of a school bus, and last time I checked, the big teams are building track specific COT’s, so it doesn’t save squat. Leave it to Brian France to screw up what his predecessors worked so hard to cultivate.
GREAT NEWS for the “BUSCH” series!
I don’t watch much Busch racing now but if they bring back the “Pony” cars-I will watch.
I cut my teeth on automotive racing during the “early days” that included Trans-Am and others. I saw and even visited with many of the drivers you mentioned as I worked as a timer and scorer for many of the events they drove.
Hoping they bring back the “PONIES”:
by far the best nascar related article of the year…i am in complete agreement- i hate the cot and the constant talk of toyota…hopefully this comes to fruition…camaro’s, mustang’s, challenger’s- i will abandon the nextel series immediately!!!
Couldnâ€™t agree with you more, on ever aspect of your column.
This is not the 1st time NASCAR and the â€œPony Carâ€ have been together. Back in the late â€˜60s NASCAR ran Pony Cars. They were called â€œBaby Grandsâ€ and one of the races they ran was at midnight before the Firecracker 400 at Daytona. They ran on the road course. They were also the fill-in for the 1st race at Talladega in â€™69 when the then Grand National driverâ€™s union refused to run. They had run the day before in their own race and were held over to race again on Sunday mixed in with the few Grand Nationals that remained. Richard Brickhouse won the race in a winged Dodge Charger Daytona.
The Pony Cars and NASCAR resurfaced again in the mid â€˜80s when NASCAR was considering adding street races (you read that right, STREET RACES), to the schedule. At least 2 test cars were built, one by Banjo Mathews and one by Mike Laughlin to test. Unfortunately, the plan was scrapped. Now that would have been exciting, NASCAR stockers racing through the streets of downtown hometown USA!
I totally agree..I could even see myself watching the Busch series over the Cup series given the choice. The SCCA series was pretty cool in its day with Camaros, Cuda’s and the like on the track and it would be good to see cars on teh track again that I could actually tell you which make was which. I had said when the COT was first discussed that the Cup series would pretty much become the IROC series and it seems the drivers, (as well as fans), are now voicing that issue. Great article…
do you think brian france will read this?i would hope so,but it would fall on deaf ears.im glad im not the only person feeling this way.
Pony cars would be great. And they would look great for the first race. Then someone says “the mustang slopes too much as has a downforce advantage” and a change is made. Then the Camaro sits to high and theres a change. And then slowly over a couple of years you migrate to…the COT and your back to a sticker. I’ll tell you what if I was Chevy or Ford I wouldn’t waste my money on NASCAR. Why spend millions to place stickers on your car. Your better off advertising on the car like Dodge does. I still read all I can but rarely do I ever watch a race anymore. How sad.
You’ll never get this to happen as long as Brian France is in charge! He is from a different generation and just doesn’t get it about car makes and loyalty. That was what made Nascar, the competition between the car makes and Brian for whatever reason cannot get it. I think it would be great to see these cars in the Busch Series and Nascar might be surprised at what happens with the series with cars looking somewhat like a factory car. Heck, run them in Nextel Cup too and i’ll bet you’ll see more fans at the track and more viewers tuning in to watch races. I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating, when Nascar gets to be a Toyota Show will be the day I quit going or watching Nascar. Look at the Chase this year, you take a guy who’s led for like 22 races and put him in the chase in second place. I still think a true champion should perform for 36 races instead of 10 or 12. There is a lot of bad luck involved in racing, if you happen to lose an engine or get caught up in a wreck that’s not your fault you probably won’t win the chase. Even this out for 36 races and you have a better chance of winning it. It may not be as exciting but in my opinion basing a championship on 36 races intead of 12 is more of a true measure of a champion.
Hold your horses guys. All is not as it seems in the ‘pony’ show. Yes, they will run stickers that say ‘Camaro’, ‘Mustang’, etc, but, BUT, the cars will be on the exact same COT chassis as the Cup cars and will be under common template rules. Yes, the same wheelbase, greenhouse roll bars and everything. A team running ‘Busch’ and Cup will only have to decide which body to build on a chassis for it’s intended venue. The dumbing down of our sport continues……..