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.
NASCAR was looking to be in rough shape towards the end of last season. Ratings were consistently down, attendance figures were beginning to wane, and the general feeling amongst many fans was that the Cup Series party was over. Pessimism, not optimism, was the order of the day; the sport that had thrust itself into the American lexicon to become as mainstream as the NFL was sputtering as it began to crest. Things were looking bleak; not as bleak as, say, living in Michigan where this scribe resides.. but clearly, there was cause for concern.
So, what happened? The powers that be at NASCAR began to realize that, and for 2008, vowed to take action.
During the sport’s preseason media blitz, one of the recurring themes from NASCAR President Brian France was his insistence that the sanctioning body make an effort to regain the patronage and trust of the one entity that helped the sport get to the level it had achieved: the "core fan."
That wasn’t an easy task, for to say these fans were skeptical of the younger France's promise was putting it mildly. To many, France represents the Captain Ahab (or Kwame Kilpatrick for those of you in the mitten state) of NASCAR, and his words are usually taken with a grain of salt — no matter the circumstances.
Well, considering how most feel about the sport’s CEO, I can’t do any worse by throwing my two cents into the mix, can I? After all, I was exposed to the sport early in my life and decades ago, having attended my first race at five years of age. I didn't really start getting into the sport until the late 1980's and early '90's, mainly because I did not have cable television; but once I did, I developed into a "core fan” long before I received the added bonus of writing about the sport I love.
So, seeing as I am a self-appointed expert on everything, have spent countless hours (or hour) in deep thought and solemn reflection on Brian’s challenge, figuring out how NASCAR may preserve the sport of big-time stock car racing. The following is the product of my contemplation.
Just The Tracks, Ma'am: There is an old saying in real estate: Location, Location, Location. Nothing could be more true when it comes to NASCAR racing; in short, there needs to be some serious consideration as to when and where the series travels. How many people — particularly the "core fan" that the sport is suddenly so concerned about — bemoan the loss of iconic institutions such as Rockingham and the running of the Southern 500 at Darlington? In fact, there are countless numbers of fans that are still bent about North Wilkesboro not being on the docket anymore; did you realize it's been over a decade since a Cup car last dropped a tire off into the dirt there?
Today, the Southern 500 is not run next to a minnow pond, but to what once resembled a toxic waste dump. The race also draws just about as many spectators and as much interest as a Head Lice Convention; there is a reason that the camera doesn't pan out and show the stands, you know. The abomination continues West of the Mississippi, as Phoenix gets two dates a year and Chicago — with an attendance capacity that rivals Monster Jam in the RCA Dome — hangs onto one. Someone might want to break out an atlas and realize the complexity and irrationality behind having California and Las Vegas on back-to-back weekends to start the season while we're at it. The bottom line is the schedule needs some geographic realignment; and that’s putting it mildly.
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime: The practice of Cup drivers infiltrating and dominating the Nationwide Series has got to stop. It is diluting that series into little more than an extra few hours of Cup practice, while affording Cup regulars the opportunity to pocket more money and sell more merchandise in the process. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a class warrior and am all for capitalism â€” Viva Adam Smith! There are, however, long-established teams who helped sustain the series for many years that are being pushed out, unable to compete with satellite Cup teams with better technology, drivers, and resources. The same goes for the Craftsman Truck Series to some extent, as well.
How do you fix this? NASCAR could require drivers in the Top 35 of Cup owner points to declare a series in which they will compete for the year, limiting them to five appearances throughout the season in a lesser division. They can still run select races, but cannot run roughshod through what are essentially the minor leagues of professional motorsports.
Time Is On My Side: Is there a reason we can't get the show on the road (literally) before 3:00 PM EST? Seriously. This has gotten out of hand, particularly during the summer. OK, fine; I understand that the networks and the sport are trying to cash in on the West Coast markets, which are three hours behind the heartland. But having said that, why do the rest of us have to suffer?
I like to watch Formula One races on Sunday. So, you know what I do? I get up early, watch the race in Monaco, and crash on the couch later. Is that not an option in California? It is, after all, a small price to pay for living in paradise. I'm not a meteorologist, but the hottest part of the day is in the mid- to late-afternoon, and as much fun as it is to get all beered up and bake on an aluminum cookie sheet posing as a grandstand, it makes for a long day and an even longer ride home when at the track. Here's a wacky concept instead: Ditch the useless hour-long pre-race show, and talk to the drivers after the event has actually been completed. They can still work in sponsor plugs, but will not be able to lie and say that they, “got a real good car today.” If it was terrible, fans will all know it, and they’ll want to hear about just how bad it really was.
Ken Squier, Where Art Thou?: Can someone please explain to me how CBS and ESPN were able to cover racing better 20 years ago with only three cameras at their disposal? Why did the in-car cameras back then show so much and give a more vivid depiction of the action than today? I'm sure lots of people think that Jeff Gordon's car is pretty, but it is not the focal point of action on the racetrack 90 percent of the time. There is rooting, gouging and â€” God forbid â€” racing in the middle and the back of the pack all race long. Why not show it?
Memo to Fox: that camera you jammed in the pavement were there a long time ago, dating back to ESPN's Thursday Night Thunder sprint car races and even in the mid- to late- 90's at Indy when ABC was covering The Brickyard 400. What does it show? Nothing. Tape that same camera to the side of a guy's helmet or stick it in the headrest. And putting it on the roof accomplishes nothing, either. The driver is not sitting on the roof, he is inside the racecar.
Also, is it so hard to ask a legitimate question to a driver after an unfortunate occurrence? What are you really trying to elicit when you ask Tony Stewart after crashing out of an event, "Tony, you almost won the race but smashed your car into a wall. How do you feel about that?" And just for the record, "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity" does not bother me as much as Jeff Hammond saying, "basically" and "kinda like" each time he is charged with explaining why a tire is no longer inflated.
Out of Stock: Henry Ford's theory on participating in auto racing was "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday." Sell what? Grill stickers? Let's remember what NASCAR stands for. Literally: National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Yes, I know; the days of "stock cars" racing died about the same time Mama Cass was crushing a ham sandwich. But is it so much to ask that they at least look like stock cars â€” or at least not be identical to one another? There is nothing worse than a spec-racer series, and a reason why, like communism, they always fail miserably. The Car of Tomorrow is safe; but did they really need to make it look so painful to look at? There is nothing endearing about this vehicle cosmetically. In fact, it's repulsive.
While NASCAR saw fit to hamstring teams with a rulebook that has templates for every nook, cranny, and decal on the machine, could it not have at least made templates to make them look like stock machines? Sure it's a brick, but at least make them glue a Camry, Charger, Fusion or Impala nose onto it. Get it off the ground, put some soft tires on it that actually offer something in the form of traction and the name of the series may once again carry some semblance of legitimacy.
Manufacturer identify used to be a part of the sport. Chevy guys hated Ford guys, Ford guys hated Chevy guys, and Mopar guys hated everybody. That is missing from the sport today, and it's desperately needed â€” as much for the fans as it is for the manufacturers to have a reason to remain involved. Otherwise, they make take the millions they are pumping into the sport each year and spend it elsewhere.
Did you know which team Gene Nead landed with this week after leaving the famed Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford? If the answer is no, that’s because you don’t get the Frontstretch Newsletter. Click here to correct that problem, ASAP; it’s the fast, easy way to get your Frontstretch fix delivered straight to your inbox for FREE, as well as the latest NASCAR news and information you need to stay on top of your favorite sport.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Yet another fine summation! Great job!
I will add only one comment: If the “advertised” change in NA$CAR’S thinking about the “core fan” being important, and this has resulted in the increased TV ratings, then this should be a downward trend as really nothing has changed! Nothing of importance anyway!
NA$CAR is one and the same!
I have trouble believing the tv ratings are up unless it is because of prices and some of those people who aren’t in the seats are watchig on tv. I don’t believe it is new fans. Then, again, NAXCAR has faked cautions and just about eveything else. Why not TV ratings?
I’ve been checking out the ratings for this season and although they’re up versus last year, they’re all on the decline since Daytona.
Brian France use to boast about there being 75 million fans and yet only 33.5 million watched the Daytona 500 this year, which was down from the 37 million high point they had a while back. So I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody was juggling the numbers they way they’re juggling the races with the mystery debris cautions.
If they’re so concerned about the core fans, why not lower the ticket prices to where they were when all of the core fans came on board as fans?
As they also found out with IROC and spec cars series, one car does not fit all. At least the IROC cars looked like street cars which is more than can be said for the CORN/SPOT/COT/POS or whatever you want to call it.
Good call on #2. I can’t stand watching Nationwide races anymore because it’s nothing but Cup drivers! Call me crazy, but I thought the Nationwide series was for up and coming drivers trying make their way to Cup, not Cup drivers looking for more practice time! I completely support your idea – there should DEFINITELY be a limit to the number of Nationwide races a Cup driver can race. Leave the Nationwide series to those guys we should be “watching for” and get back to the good ol’ racing it used to be!
Cut the field in half since there’s only about twenty competitive cars anyhow!
The location of race tracks has far less to do with common sense and much more to do with population centers . In the old days race tracks were built where ever a piece of land could be had cheaply . There was no particular thought to the placement of Daytona , or Darlington , the land was cheap . Potential sites with lots of nearby ticket buyers are getting harder to come by
Boy, if you ever get a chance to watch any old coverage of CBS or ESPN “back in the day”, you really miss those wide angle shots down the backstretch where you can see 10 or 15 cars going at it. Somewhere between then and now, some brilliant TV producer came up with the idea that they should narrow the camera focus on the front 2 cars. But there should be far less of that view than the wide shot. Basically NASCAR now stands for “too many, too much”. Too many folks in the booth, too many folks in the infield in “hollywood hotels” and the like, too many cameras in ridiculous places, too much pre-race blabber, too many nebulous rules, too many cautions, too many useless folks hanging around in the pits and garage,…ah, you get the picture. I guess we should be happy to have what we have, because one thing is for sure – it ain’t never going to be what it was, no matter how much crying and hand-wringing we do. You cannot dig up Bill Sr. and Bill Jr. and short of that, it will never be the Nascar we knew and loved “back in the day”!
Hey Margo L., my take on the manufacturers not causing a ruckus about the introduction of the “cookie cutter car” is that there was not that much correlation for the past ten (10) years or so, of, win on Sunday, sell on Monday!
Those days left us long ago!
So now the only thing the manufacturers are concerend about, is the publicity & advertising associated with NA$CAR, not really the results.
Very, Very seldom does one hear of ‘Manufacturers points”, instead all we hear are “top twleve in points” (for the chase), and “owners points” for the “guaranteed” starting spot!
I would be very hard pressed to say which manufacturere “won” the manufacturers championship last year, and who came in second!
I think the public has learned long ago, that the car on the track is NOT the car you buy in the showroom!
My take on it anyway!
another excellent article , all with good points , too bad none of will make NA$CAR any more money and thats ALL they care about !For all those who are sick of what the sport has become …skip watching one race ..send a message ..that or force them to REALLY stretch their lies about viewership
Great job summing up the reasons for NASCAR’s decline. I personally think the only reason for the so-called increase in ratings is the curiosity factor of the unlikely Dale Junior/Hendrick alliance. And that is only if you can even believe that the ratings are really up. (Since NA$CAR is fully capable of manufacturing the appearance of better ratings, but I digress…
The only other thing I would add is that NASCAR needs to stop focusing on the same drivers. Many fans are sick of getting the same drivers (no names needed) being pushed into our faces week after week, year after year. COVER ALL THE DRIVERS. Interview them, show them on the racetrack, have the guys in the broadcast booth show a little interest and excitement when someone besides their golden boys do something noteworthy on the track.
Max, you are correct about the race broadcasts of the past . They were able to do so much more with so much less than the mess we have now . The reason that the director now only uses narrow shots of one or two cars is that the sponsors of certain cars ( we all know which ones ) pay to have their cars on camera . The more you see of a particular car , no matter what position he’s in , that sponsor has paid the network to ignore your favorite driver and put the paying one on screen .
Brainless Brian france is clueless and if NASCAR was a public company he would have been fired 3 years ago!!!
Great article, Vito. I couldn’t say it better! Well done!
In regards to the tracks, I personally still don’t see any reason why they should race at any track more than once a year. I’d love to see 36 races at 36 different tracks. Try some new venues – Iowa, Mid-Ohio, etc. – and bring back some old ones, too. Bring the races to the people, because with high travel costs and a poor economy people won’t want to travel far, or may go to just one race a year instead of two. I think those dynamics are a big reason why the stands seem empty, but the ratings are up. People can’t afford to travel and/or they can’t afford to go twice a year, so they settle for watching on TV.
Hey Travis Rassat!! Oh NO!!! NOT! Mid-ohio!!!
WAY TOO NARROW! It’s great for MGB’S and such, but not the BIG CARS! I know, lotsa of laps there in a GT-1!
If they widened the course, come back and see me! As it is now, just no room to race!
1. Sh*tcan the stupid and insulting chase.
Until these things happen, I’ll never watch or attend another one.
Amen brother nascar needs to can Mike Helton what a bozo, can Daryl Waltrip, start all races at 12 local time, can the top 35 guarante starting field if cant make the race go home, no top 35 cup cars in any nationwide races, stop waving the caution for every car that spins out but hits nothing hell the other day a car was dropping junk all over the track after hittimh the wall but since it was near the end of the race they waited a couple of laps before throwing the caution,I could go on on this all day Fire Mike Helton
Vito..Another article I can only evaluate with calling it a perfect 10. Can we get rid of “CRANK IT UP”. It sounds similiar to a group of sportbikes on M-21 going by my house recluctant to shift out of second gear. It in no way makes the “never been to a race” NASCAR fan watching at home feel like they are standing a foot from the catch fence as the field goes by full bore. But thats just my opinion.
Boring races until the last 20 laps,,then they race? Lets get back to the cars we drive,not the C.O.T? Can’t stand to watch a race on ESPN,where did the announcer’s come from? A football player and Rusty Wallice? Last but not least,same teams in the top ten every week? Why not say Hi to the other 33 cars in the field?
You all don’t know how pathetically boring the races were “back in the day” heck most of you were nothing but a gleam in your parents eyes, when Richard Petty regularly trounced the “others” by laps not car lengths during his hey day. David Pearson did the same, as did Bobby Alison and Cale Yarbrough. Of course if you were a Petty/Pearson/Yarbrough/Allison fan it was great. Has Anyone ever heard of Hank Schoolfield? If there ever was anyone who was the “John the baptist” of the sport it was Hank, he spread the “word” through out the land on NASCAR keeping us yanks informed, with his little newspaper Southern MotoRacing, it is there I followed the career of Dale Earnhardt, basically from start to his tragic death. I just read in the May issue of Stock Car Racing that Hank passed away this last January, and thus the sport has lost another member of its storied past.