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.
Voice of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Wednesday September 26, 2007
I may be in the minority here (my heritage notwithstanding), but for many reasons, to me this season has been one of the worst in recent memory for NASCAR.
To look back on it that way is quite disappointing – especially since 2007 started out with so much promise. There was the addition of a new manufacturer in Toyota, a new face in the form of a former Formula One superstar, and the network that started the ball of unencumbered growth rolling in the mid 1980's was about to take over NASCAR coverage again. And, if all that wasn’t enough, for the first time since 1981, a new breed of car was about to hit the track.
Then the season actually started.
In all fairness, things began to suck big time before the green flag ever fell on Speedweeks in Daytona Beach. A week after New Year’s, on the 7th of January, Bobby Hamilton Sr.'s courageous 9-month battle with head and neck cancer drew to a tragic close. On January 16th, Benny Parsons passed away in a Charlotte hospital from complications resulting from lung cancer. Losing one of the Truck Series’ fiercest competitors – followed up by one of the most beloved figures in the sport's history just one week later – put a damper on festivities as the season began, to say the least.
But the show went on.
And just as it went on, many competitors went home. After qualifying for the Daytona 500, Roush Racing crew chief Robbie Reiser was sent home, as were all of the Evernham crew chiefs, for creative use of duct tape inside the racecar. To this day, no one really knows for sure who put what in Michael Waltrip's fuel cell. Following the Gatorade 150 qualifiers, Jeff Gordon's car was found to have a suspension "failure" that lowered the back of his car significantly. He was sent to the back of the field, but no further penalties were handed out.
And thus began the year of the make-up-the-rules-as-we-go-along knock against NASCAR. Accusations flew that the sport was devolving into little more than professional wrestling with helmets instead of masks, SAFER barriers replacing turnbuckles, and sponsor mentions replacing personality. This was further fueled by the last lap antics in the Super Bowl of Racing, the Daytona 500. As Mark Martin was headed towards a very nice consolation prize for never having won a Championship in NASCAR's premier series, a wreck of Mad Max proportions was occurring behind him. With cars upside down, on fire, spinning, crashing, and careering into one another, NASCAR, for the first time since the Fall of 2003, did not freeze the field under yellow.
The result was, ironically, a controversial win for a car festooned in Caution Flag Yellow and Race Has Stopped Red.
Speaking of yellow flags, we saw a lot of those early on this year, too. The very next week at California, the term "Phantom Caution" and "NASCAR Yellow" were thrust into our vocabulary. Statisticians dug up numbers that clearly suggested that racing must have gotten a lot more dangerous since 2001, because all of a sudden there was a threefold increase in cautions per race. Of course, you'd be hard pressed to ever actually "see" what or who the caution was for. Things got so bad Tony Stewart actually mouthed off about the subject in April, claiming NASCAR was throwing the caution flag too often and never giving a reason why.
You will note that, amazingly, since then, we've had a lot of green flag racing in 2007, and not nearly as many cautions as we once had.
But most importantly, it’s the development of the Car of Tomorrow and how it’s come along which has made both old and new seasons turn into more of a waste. The CoT was touted as being the machine that would save NASCAR from the pitfalls of ever-rising costs and technology run amok: gone would be the contorted cock-eyed, twisted bodies of today, taking aerodynamics out of the equation and putting control back in the driver's hands. At least, that was the goal. I’m not so sure it happened every time; Kyle Busch won the first CoT race back in Bristol, and his first comments about the machine that he had just made history in were simply, “it sucks.”
Also, when NASCAR developed the CoT, they forgot one key component: aesthetics. The goal was to create a car that looked and acted like a truck: the last time car builders embraced that idea, the results were such abominations as the AMC Eagle, Dodge Rampage, and Subaru BRAT. And don’t even get me started on El Caminos.
Handsome machines, they are not. Just like the CoT.
Moreover, the car seemingly has had just about the opposite effect on budgets and reigning in technology to date. A team may not need a fleet of ten race cars at $200,000, a pop or invest a lot of time in the wind tunnel - but they now are forced to acquire a $3 million piece of equipment known as a seven-post shaker rig, and a crew of engineers to work it, interpret the data, and apply it in a useful form. Roush Racing driver Greg Biffle, following this past Sunday's race at Dover, said the car was set up exclusively from notes gathered on their machine - he offered virtually no input to the car as a result.
In a way, that’s good, because you can't work on these things anymore, either. Tony Eury, Jr., Chad Knaus, and Steve Letarte found that out the hard way. The body is off limits; suspension is limited so much so that on flat tracks, the left front wheel is carried in the air through the turns. And just last month, NASCAR began exploratory testing on spec engines at Martinsville, making IROC-looking race cars a possible reality sooner rather than later.
For the better part of this year, we were treated to a drama that would make “Dallas” look like an episode of “Teletubbies”. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. sparred with his wicked stepmother over the rights to a number. Instead, Junior got a second 8 from Robert Yates, a bunch of new merchandise to sell, and he might actually see a decent cut of it this time around. At least it reached its zenith during the summer; while Numbergate dominated the headlines, NASCAR degenerated into NAPCAR, with little interest or excitement to be had short of the Kevin Harvick and JPM handholding/slap fight in Upstate New York.
Then there's The Chase for The Championship, perhaps the most reviled component of our sport since the restrictor plate was introduced. One Saturday in early September, Jeff Gordon had a 349-point lead over Tony Stewart. Seven days later, he trailed teammate Jimmie Johnson by 20 points. Apparently, running well and winning all year long doesn't mean quite what it used to. Following Carl Edwards' 25-point fine for his quarterpanels being too low (at a track where downforce is king and only by raising them would anything positive result), Jeff Gordon now leads Tony Stewart's armpits by two heading into Kansas…instead of by two full races.
There’s so, so much more. I could go on and rail about ESPN's coverage being a shadow of its former self. There is plenty of room here in this forum left to question how they were able to cover racing better 15 years ago with only a handful of cameras and a distinct lack of cheesy animation to explain something so complicated as "drafting," or air blowing around. What I won't do is ramble on how NASCAR and the networks are going far out of their way to draw parallels to other traditional stick-and-ball sports, in a desperate attempt to lure anyone and everyone from the 18-45 age demographic. But while the new fans have been harder and harder to come by each year, ABC’s new pit road feature will likely split the teams in groups of 11.
You might think I'm wrong, and say if it's so awful; why don't I just change the channel and watch baseball or football? Good question, folks; it's because I live in Michigan. I'm saddled with the Detroit Lions, the worst team in the history of sports; and the Tigers are now officially out of playoff contention. So, now I can likely do both.
But in the meantime, looks like you're stuck with me for the next eight weeks. Like it or not, looks like we’re stuck with the worst NASCAR season ever, too.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Those of us in Michigan can only look forward to the NBA season. The other thing that makes the ‘chase’ an even bigger insult was voiced by Denny hamlin after he plowed into Kyle Petty. Because he felt he was racing for ‘bigger and better things’, he apparently felt that Kyle should have pulled his car to the infield to stay out of his(and the other 11 chasers)way. It seems to me that Kyle actually has more to lose. With a season finish outside the ‘top 35’, getting and keeping sponsors will be extremely difficult. He’s fighting for the life of his livlihood, while Denny is just racing for a bigger paycheck. Being guaranteed a top 12 finish isn’t a bad way to end the season. Kyle doesn’thave that luxury.
Sally…from one Michigander to another…Your comments were the perfect ending to what was a pretty good overview of the season thus far. Vito, at least we still have our Spartans to root for when all else (NASCAR)fails.
I may be wrong but I thought NASCAR stood for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. The stock car portion is gone, doing anything to the body of the car is gone, along with many other elements and now they are talking about everyone having the same engines, come on!!
Hey, Man. Why the knock on El Caminos?
If you want “stock” cars watch either the British or European touring car series.
One thing you can add to this story. The COT was suppose to help the little guy get back in the sport and also make them a competitve right from the get go. Well it’s proof that the big teams like Hendicks is dominating, a guy willing to push the gray area (or Cheat) more than any other team. Look at all the times he was caught this year hes dominating and was caught cheating at Sonoma (WHY) cause thats what he does. So NO there will be no little guy getting into Nascar and have sucess. Look at Petty If he doesn’t get help he will never survive in this sport. Oh and one more thing Dale JR. Hub bub! The media stormed over “WHERE IS HE GONNA GO WHO IS HE GOING TO RACE FOR” who cares!!! he’s just another guy changing teams. Mark martin made a bigger jump and there was not much about that. All I have to say is if JR’s name wasn’t “Dale” people would care… Proof… “Kerry” he’s more like his dale in looks and sound like Dale Sr. but his name isn’t dale so people don’t care!!!! Have fun Nascar Nuts!!!! I’m watching football!!
You go guy! Good article. From my point of view only 2008 could be worse…and it probably will be. It will most likely be the first time in over 40 years that I will rarely follow NASCAR.
With the Irocization of the cars with the COT and the shaker used to set the car up, the cars are the same except for the engine and decals. Wouldn’t it be great if a team sold their ride on a weekly basis to the highest bidder? They could install a Toyota engine and decals and race one week and the next week, they could install a Chevrolet engine and decals, etc. There are a lot of drivers that have similar talents that could be rented on a weekly basis the same way.
If the team could get in the top 35, they could charge a premium for a limited sponsorship.
You forgot to mention how NASCAR is so determined to bring minorities into the sport they are going to drive the grass roots fans out. I have no problem with anyone racing in the series. Just quit shoving the issue down our throats. If NASCAR keeps this stuff up I will eventually stop renewing my PSL’s and camping spot at TMS.
Good points, I would add the top 35 rule into the worst season. To help our NASCAR equate this to stick and ball sports, it is the DH.
Now All we $erioulsy Care About is Revenue – NA$CAR…. get used to it. I’m glad I finally gradulated from their target market group. Now I can get on with my true passion – building ships in bottles. Trust me, when NA$CAR gets done with their permiere sport, my hobby will be a heck of a lot more interesting to watch. remember….last man out, turn off the lights and bring the flag – mrubley
If I may add one thing, let’s not forget the exciting sponsorship pissing matches – Nextel/Sprint/NASCAR vs. AT&T/Cingular and Sunoco vs. Shell.
You may have noticed that all of this began about the time Brian France took over. In his headlong rush to obliterate everything his father and grandfather built over the years , and build a legacy for himself , he has brought us to this mess . I worry about how bad this season is , but i’m more woried about the residual effects in years to come . He doesn’t seem interested in getting input from the experts on these changes . The Cup crew chiefs and engineers should have had much more input on the design of the COT . The owners could have explained to him the danger of losing teams permanatly by implementing the ridiculous top 35 rule. And why would he think he would get top tv production by bringing back a network that he threw out of the sport and even barred them from the race track property ?
Great article. As a huge NASCAR fan its gotten so bad the last race I’ve watched was Watkins Glen. Now I “watch” the race on fox trax on my pc and watch the names move around and the comments. When I watch the highlights later I see I missed nothing. How sad.
Since the subject of living in Michigan was broached we must not miss this opportunity to pile on the Wolverines for rolling over and baring their throats to the Appalachian Americans a few weeks back. I vote that Vito be elected Minister of NASCAR Affairs with full authority to take whatever measures he and his forum disciples deem fit to resurrect the sport to it’s former greatness.
ROB,Just for info. Kerry’s name is Dale. It is Kerry Dale Earnhardt. I also have to agree this has been a horrible year for Nascar. The Chase for the Championship is another of Brian Frances great ideas. (yeh, right). I think he has been one of the worst mistakes Nascar has ever made.
Just when you think NASCAR can’t possibly look any more ridiculous , along comes the news that the new official beer is Coors . Oh , except at Daytona where we make a fortune off of the Bud Shootout . AT&T gets sued because NASCAR has to protect the exclusivity of Nextel , but Coors is just going to have to live with two beer brands being involved at Daytona. You couldn’t make up a story as strange as this one.
Well said, Vito. All you missed was the locked in top 35 teams.
All this since Brian France took over. I wonder if he falls unser NA$CAR’s drug testing/penalty policy.
Thank God the Steelers are 3-0 so far this year so I have something worth watching !
Great column, Vito.
I got my tickets for the Loweâ€™s race the other day and noticed two things.
First, the snazzy tickets with the race cars on ‘em are gone. Now, they’re just generic Ticketmaster tickets. I guess if fans want a souvenir of the race, they can buy an event pin. Second, I paid $69.00 (plus the â€œconvenience feeâ€) for seats in the Diamond Tower in turn 2.
My kids made me a spiffy collage of race pictures and souvenir tickets for Christmas years ago. It hangs in my office. In it is a ticket for the Fall race at Loweâ€™s in 2000, with the Kelloggs, Kodak and Valvoline cars of Terry Labonte, Bobby Hamiltom and Mark Martin on it. The price seven years ago for virtually the same tickets? $88.00. Bobby Labonte won that race back in 2000.
Also in my collage is the 1998 ticket for the same race, with the 50th Anniversary logo and a cluster of cars led by Bobby LaBonte, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt. That year, Humpy Wheeler wanted $84.00 for my turn-2 seat. Mark Martin brought it home first in 1998, ahead of the Burton brothers, Bobby Hamilton and Jeff Gordon.
The good news is Humpy and Bruton Smith have seen the empty seats and are responding with lower prices.
The bad news is that what they (and that bunch out of Daytona Beach) are selling just isnâ€™t worth as much anymore.
I actually was going to bring up the AT&T/NEXTEL thing, but I’m so sick of hearing about it, I didn’t want to breathe life back into it by acknowledging it.
Furjanic – Your Steelers might be 3-0, but you still have to watch the Pirates. ; )
You long time NASCAR people have short memories. Before the top 35 rule was announced, it was still there, just under a different name. The fastest 36 (or was it 38?) cars were locked in, and there were 8 (or 6?) provisionals based on owners points for those who werent fast enough. The only difference is now there are 47 high profile drivers in the sport. Back then there were 40 big names and 4 or 5 field fillers.
I don’t like the chase, but it’s better than how it was, which caused me to leave for a few years. But there needs to be a “champ” for who wins the most races in the season. When I hear “good points day” I turn it off.
Also, I think the COT looks great. Hell of a lot better than the old car.
The best nascar racing is the truck series. That’s what the cup series used to be.
If it wasn’t for my stepson getting me Sirius, I wouldn’t even be here now.
After 30 yrs as a fan….sad.
I still think Nascar should run 2 races during the Chase. A race for the teams not in the chase and a race for the chase runners. Split the amount of laps to run between the 2 races. What other sport has the playoff games include non-play off team?
They are trying to bring “new” fans in that know nothing about racing, and making them watch ESPN on ABC won’t help them learn. Who told Rusty that he would make a good TV guy. Send him back the the Indy cars, at least I didn’t have to listen to him. I agree, the “drafting” cartoon they use is over used. Another thing, making Jr the face of NASCAR may bring people to the race, until he drops out, then they leave. We need race fans not “Jr” fans.Thats my two cents.
P.S. Jr’s over rated.
Great article Vito, couldn’t agree more. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO RACING WHEN A GUY MORE CONCERNED W/ PROFIT MARGINS THAN QUALITY RACING IS STEERING THE SHIP. BRIAN FRANCE IS THE PRESIDENTIAL EQUIVALENT OF DUHBYA. NA$CAR going to a crate motor program = boring. the hard work of guys like Doug Yates will be for naught. In what has to be the most IRONIC AND HYPOCRITICAL COMMENT OF THE WEEK: CHAD KNAUSS WHINING THAT THE 99 NEEDS TO BE FINED FOR CHEATING AT DOVER. THE POT IS OFFICIALLY CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK, HA, HA. HOW MANY TIMES HAS KNAUSS BEEN BUSTED, SUSPENDED, AND/OR FINED? WHAT A JOKE.
hate is not a strong enough word to describe the politically correct management, young arrogant punk drivers, and money driven status of todays Ja$caroc…
Isn’t it amazing how funny the sad truth is? Vito has hit it square on the head. I laugh at how ridiculous it all sounds and then I sigh at the realization at how truthful it all is.
The Great American Race: where the average American cannot afford to go…….not good.
Not intending to dis ABC (yeah I do!), but I heard at least three times Junior was running too close to his future car, the #5. Did ABC miss the press conference (with pictures) of the #25? Let’s let PBS do race broadcasting. About 3/4’s thru the race there could be a mandatory caution for 10 minutes to allow for pledging! Top 35 was a guarantee for sponsors. What if you’re a co-sponsor who ISN’T the main one when the car fails qualifying – only half the money doesn’t care that week.
Finally. A basis of NASCAR was the fans could buy ANY race car parts locally. What parts store sells the cams which show a shock absorber moving back & forth?
Vito, I haven’t watched the Pirates since Roberto Clemente died! If I need a baseball fix, I watch the local minor league team.
Speaking of which:
A virtual MASTERPIECE of writing!
A BIG THANK YOU for providing such an outstanding summary of what used to be an exciting sport!
NASCAR SUCKS!! BRIAN FRANCE SUCKS!!! When is someone going to listen to the fans and start a new sanction in “stock car racing”? When fans have to pay over $100.00 per ticket,(and now most tracks make you buy tickets to all races they have in a year) a year in advance, a camping spot, etc. the race should not be so boring. It is sad that the most excitement comes from a wreck or a confrontation between drivers than the actual race. Vito you are the completely accurate with your statement.
What’s wrong with ElCamino’s everyone should have one (on blocks in the back yard buried in tall grass next to the old refrigerator.) Just kidding the mid 80’s El’s remind me of the CoT, They are nothing like the 59 and 60 El’s, I think a big block 60 El with a four speed would be the neatest thing, in a nice metalic silver. Another name for the Cot should be “carload of trouble”. It’s hard to fix things when your ego is blocking out your vision or hearing. It was nice to see the Steelers win the Super Bowl in Detroit, and a home town son go out a winner. I’m a Steeler fan also (my mom’s family resides in western Pennsylvania, my grand father was a coal miner there.
Oh yeah, one more thing, Back when Howard Cosell was doing the play by play on Monday Night Football, with Frank and Don. Some of the guys in the shop who couldn’t stand Howard would turn on the TV and listen to the game on the radio, I tried it on a race once and I thought they were describing a different race! Enjoy!