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 July 15, 2008
Be forewarned: Yes, this is another Kyle Busch article. Yes, that move on the outside of Jimmie Johnson on the final lap of the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday night was nothing short of remarkable; and yes, I will be touting how well he has run this year, the dominance which he has displayed, and the fact that he is doing it all behind the wheel of a Toyota. However, what I will also be touching on is the fact that while in the midst of what should be a roadmap of how to win a championship, Busch’s points lead will be all but erased in about two months.
And that’s a shame.
By any measure, Kyle Busch’s performance this year in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has been nothing short of jaw-dropping — especially in today’s era of the Car of Tomorrow, parity, and the inability to pass another car by way of aerodynamics. Barely past the halfway point, Busch and company have notched seven wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Many credit this to the organization at Joe Gibbs Racing, as well as the engineering machine that is Toyota Racing Development. But it hasn’t been just one area where they’ve excelled — in truth, they’ve won on tracks as varied as Elliott Sadler’s paint schemes, with Busch having a career-defining year at the ripe old age of 23.
Gone is the petulant youngster, thought to be driving over his head 11/10ths of the time, flattening the sides of Rick Hendrick’s No. 5 Chevrolets in the process. It was a driver who, although supremely talented, often took on the appearance of a spoiled rich kid who had just been handed the keys to daddy’s Corvette for the weekend. While I am of the belief such an opinion is wildly exaggerated, there were more than a few instances over the last few years where perception trumped reality with Busch.
The past, however, still acts as a powerful motivator for the younger of the Busch brothers. What should have been an enjoyable and formative tenure for Kyle may have started that way early on… but quickly degenerated. Stuck somewhere amongst the two powerhouse superstars of this generation’s dominant organization — Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and whatever it was the No. 25 team was supposed to be (cough, R&D, cough…) — the No. 5 car was routinely fast, but many times was seen sliding backwards into a wall or arcing around off a corner in a trail of tire smoke. Some may have considered Busch’s antics a cry for help, lashing out for attention, or just a driver aching to break out of his shell and show what he can accomplish if given the chance to be the superstar that he knows he can be.
Regardless, it was a continual quagmire within the organization that left Busch the odd man out for far too long. Couple that with being cast aside in favor of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver on his way out the door, and there is a little extra incentive for Busch to go out there every week and try to not only win, but win big — regardless of what series he may be competing in.
But as Busch lights the NASCAR world on fire, it’s been a jarring change for those who remember a certain previous occupant of the No. 18. Back when the car was primarily the Interstate Batteries green machine, competitors and fans alike had grown accustomed to the manner in which Bobby Labonte would win races. Never making much noise and with little fanfare, he ran a smooth, consistent race, hanging around until the end and putting himself in a position to win — or just killing ‘em with consistency in notching a Top 5 finish.
Nearly every lap is run like a qualifying lap, tails out — with the side plates on the rear wing tickling the wall at the apex of each corner. Hey, these things need sideforce to turn… right? Busch is just doing his part without going all Penske-car on us. And while it’s hard to believe at times, the reality of it all is that this unique driver would be in the midst of a solid championship run — if not for the points reset following race No. 26 at Richmond in September.
So, just how does this compare to dominating performances of years past in NASCAR?
In 2000, when Bobby Labonte won his Sprint Cup championship, he was run roughshod over the competition at the 1.5-mile tracks (“…in his damned Pontiac…” as Mike Skinner once remarked), and as a result, held but a 45-point lead over Dale Earnhardt, Sr. at this same point in the season. At year’s end, that tally would run itself up to 265 — but with only four wins to Labonte’s credit.
When Matt Kenseth won the title in 2003, he had all of one win and a 165-point lead over Jeff Gordon at the halfway mark. When Gordon won his third title during his record-tying 13-win Tour De Force in 1998, he ended the season with a 364-point margin over Mark Martin; but at this same point in the season, the gap was a mere 52.
With that said, in an era before the Chase, this season’s title — although not in the bag — would not exactly be a wide-open affair. Busch currently holds a 262-point lead over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the Sprint Cup standings. Should Busch decide that The Brickyard 400 is a less-than-compelling affair, staying home and watching, say, Earnhardt, Jr. win instead, he’d still have a 67-point advantage. And while Busch obviously isn’t going to blow off the second-biggest race of the year, the likelihood of him opening an even larger advantage is readily apparent. What is even more telling is the near 700-point lead he has over JGR teammate Denny Hamlin in 12th place – further illustrating the absurdity of the Chase format. If the Chase were to begin today, Busch’s lead would be cut to 40 over Carl Edwards and but 70 over the five drivers currently qualified for the Chase that are winless.
Ugh. Just what about a 700-point deficit screams to the sporting world, “Championship Contender?”
Regardless, Busch’s performance to date in 2008 has vaulted the No. 18 car back atop the pecking order in NASCAR – a place where it had been more absent than Barack Obama during a Senate roll call in recent years. What had been the flagship car for Joe Gibbs Racing since their foray into NASCAR in 1992 seemed to be slipping into obscurity and irrelevance since Bobby Labonte last won in it at Homestead in 2003; and that was only because Bill Elliott blew a tire on the last lap. The team that sailed to a 265-point win over Dale Earnhardt, Sr. in 2000 had returned points performances of 24th, 29th and 21st in the three years before Busch’s arrival. But now, 2008 has restored this team to its former prominence among the elite in NASCAR’s top division.
Many have become frustrated with Busch this year, while others readily (and begrudgingly) agree that he is, in fact, talented — but they don’t like his attitude (which I think is actually kind of funny). They also don’t like the fact that he’s blowing the perceived doors (or corporate headlight decals) off their favorite driver, or that he drives one of them rice burnin’ Hiroshima hot rods and not a Shivvy. Personally, I think Busch is a breath of fresh air, and has actually provided us something worth talking about this year, which has been devoid of any real excitement — save for a couple of finishes that were the sole product of green-white-checkered shenanigans.
What is frustrating, though, is the upcoming Chase format which threatens to tear this season completely apart. Say what you will about the excitement or excrement it generates; but for all intents and purposes, it denied Jeff Gordon what would have been a decidedly deserved fifth Championship in 2007. And while Busch and the No. 18 team still have essentially half of the season left to fend off the competition, they are well on their way to winning Joe Gibbs Racing’s fourth Sprint Cup championship since the 2000 season — until the Chase puts 11 other drivers back in their Time Zone with just ten races remaining on the year.
Personally, I think it’s just going to delay the inevitable, making a Championship run that much more satisfying and embarrassing for the rest of the field. But in a season of dominance like the one Busch has had, there’s no reason for it to even be that close.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Those of you who dislike both Kyle Busch and the Chase format are in a paradox. You want to see his points reset, but that would give validity to the Chase. You dont like the way the points reset, but without it, Kyle would run away with the title.
Me, I like the Chase. I would rather see a closer battle for the Cup than see one driver run away with it all and lock it up with a few races left in the season.
Kevin, with that kind of thinking, why not make the Chase twenty drivers and five races? Definitely have a closer battle for the Cup then.
Whoops, don’t let me give NASCAR any ideas.
The Chase is the worst playoff format in sports. I’m not just saying that as a Gordon fan…I hated it from the beginning.
I hate the Chase. I don’t like Busch but if he isn’t the champion this year then it just show (again) what a farce the chase is. All it accomplishes is to make luck paramount in determining the champion and diminishing the role of consistency.
Chase or no Chase, this is one year it won’t matter. I can’t stand Busch almost as much as I can’t stand any of those Hendrick hacks, but even I’ll admit Kyle Busch cannot be stopped. He’ll win at least 5 of the next 7 races leading up to the dreaded Chase, then he will most likely win at least 8 of the 10 chase races. Kyle will be the 2008 Champion, and there is nobody, repeat nobody, who can stop him.
“Me, I like the Chase. I would rather see a closer battle for the Cup than see one driver run away with it all and lock it up with a few races left in the season.” (quote from Kevin)
I have read, and read, and re-read this statement, and still cannot believe ANYONE
If “re-setting” the points is good, then lets do it every three weekends! Or every four weekends!
What a stupid statement and idea that the “chase” is good because it wipes out the leaders points and gives the “also-rans” yet another chance!
DUMB & DUMBER!
Now, knowing that NA$CAR is going to confiscate his points! Maybe we will see Kyle try to win EACH AND EVERY RACE FROM NOW ON, why? Because that is ten, (10) points for the chase, something Brian & his Brian-far*s cannot take away. So the ONLY way to win the Chumpionship of NA$CAR, is to collect as many ten-pointers as possible, BEFORE THE CHASE STARTS!
Kyle has absolutely nothing to lose by taking chances going for the win each and every weekend! And everything to gain!
Hey Kevin-in-SoCal, I’ll bet if someone took 300+ points from you, you would scream bloody murder!
Welcome to the circus called NA$CAR!
Oh, and I sure hope Ken is correct!
BREAKING NEWS FROM NA$CAR!
(or is that simply Brian breaking wind?) Same diff!
NA$CAR has announced this morning (after due consideration of who is leading the points currently), that after the chase is over, ALL POINTS will be erased and the CHUMPIONSHIP will be awarded to the MOST POPULAR DRIVER!
NOT THE BEST!
Todays announcement was felt to be in the best interests of appeasing the most fans, thus the ability of NA$CAR to sell more tickets next year due to the new “FANS CHOICE AWARD” method of awarding the top prize in NA$CAR!
Racing? who give a fu** about real racing! Certainly not NA$CAR!
The chase is a boon, not a curse. I love the “playoff style” format. It’s one of the things that nascar was missing over the stick-and-ball sports, drama for the season championship. Only in rare occasions previously had there been any drama, as the championship was usually signed, sealed and delivered a couple of months before the end of the season.
Championships being essentially wrapped up by midseason are more common historically than battles to the wire.
It’s nice to have races with championship-implications after (what should be) the Southern 500.
I don’t understand how folks can not like the playoff format. Just look at the Patriots and Giants super bowl this year. A little translation: Were the Patriots robbed by the ridiculous “chase” format that the NFL has adopted. They won all 17 races during the regular season…why should 1 loss make them not the champions?
Are there things I would change about the Chase? Sure…mostly around points and schedule, though. It’s surely better than what we had. Prior to the chase, I didn’t really pay much attention to the “championship” and more treated the races as independent entities.
It’s not a shame, or anything approaching any kind of injustice…it is the rules of the game.
If the #18 is that good, they’ll back it up in the playoffs, just like the Detroit Red Wings did this year. Better than everyone from the first game to the last. If the #18 team doesn’t win, it will be because another team steps it up in the playoffs and finds a way to beat them. It’s all good, and everyone competing knew the rules when they punched their ticket.
I don’t think the chase is necessary. You just have to look at last year’s truck championship to see that the points battle can come down to the last race. Mike Skinner led Ron Hornaday by 29 points going into Homestead, and lost by 54.
In IndyCar last year, Dario Franchitti won the driver’s championship only after Scott Dixon ran out of fuel on the last lap of the last race.
In Formula 1 last year, Kimi Raikkonen leapfrogged Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at the Brazilian Grand Prix to come home with the World Championship. This year, they are currently in a three-way tie, with the fourth place guy just 2 points back. Granted, F1 has a much different points scale.
These are just a handful of examples. There’s no need to fabricate the finish with a chase. I think the points scale is key to keeping the championship close. Fewer points should be handed out per race – a max of about 50, tops. I like the idea where only the top 10 finishers get points, with a point bonus for winning the pole, most laps led, and the win. Put a premium on top 10’s, wins, poles, and performance and get guys fighting for these points. Make the pole position actually mean something again. Why reward somebody who stays out an extra lap under caution to collect the same number of bonus points as someone who pushed their skill and equipment to make the pass for the lead under green?
IndyCar has a pretty decent system, in my opinion.
Douglas, I’ve disagreed with your opinion as much as you’ve disagreed with mine, but thru it all, I have respected yours and have never called you names or insulted you. Please give me the same courtesy.
Gordon81Wins, I agree 10 (12) drivers and 10 races is too much. I would much rather see 5 drivers and 5 races. By the time we get down to 5 races to go, its pretty much down to two or maybe three racers anyway. The Chase worked the first year in 2004, and since then, its been a runaway every year. By reducing the number of races to 5, and then resetting the points, you get a much closer battle, in my opinion.
Travis, how often do points battles like last year’s Trucks happen? Not very often. Especially not in Cup or Nationwide.
Sorry, you’re right – my Truck Series example probably wasn’t really relevant to the point that I wanted to make – I probably should’ve just left it off.
What I really wanted to say is that a good points system can result in a close finish without a playoff format. I like a point system that rewards success and punishes for failure. OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh! lol!
Just for fun, I thought I’d look at the close championships over the years. This isn’t very scientific (or meaningful, for that matter – you just got me curious), since I don’t have much time to waste on it. I used 80 points as an arbitrary gauge of “closeness”:
In Cup, from 1975-2003, 16 of the 29 championships (55%) have ended where only 80 points separated the winner from second place. Since they implemented the chase 100% of the championships have been decided by less than 80 points.
In Nationwide, things haven’t been so close – from 1982-2007 only 11 of the 27 championships (40%) have been within 80 points, with a lot of those being total runaways.
In both cases, the close championships have usually only been between 2 drivers.
Anyway, I thought that made for some interesting conversation, at least.
Sorry Kevin, but no harm intended, but of course I get my dander up when anyone speaks highly of the “lowly” chase! I will try to do better!
And how in the world can it be called “the playoffs”? When ALL OTHER TEAMS/DRIVERS are still competing with the “playoff” teams.
I did not see the St. Louis Blues in the NHL playoffs!
If someone wants to call this the “playoffs”!
THEN ALL OTHER TEAMS SHOULD BE AT HOME when the twelve (12) chase drivers/cars settle who is champion!
Come to think of it, The Detroit Lions were not in the NFL playoffs either! But they would have been under NA$CAR rules! Can you imagine the most inept team in the NFL competing in the playoffs? And taking points away from a “playoff” team?
And Chris says: “It’s one of the things that nascar was missing over the stick-and-ball sports, drama for the season championship”!
In no other league, i.e., the “stick & ball sports”, do they erase a seasons record and make EVERYONE compete against the “chumpionship teams”!
NO WHERE! Wonder how the Red Wings would feel if they got stripped of their points at seasons end! A season they worked their butts off to collect those precious points!
Lets see now, we are going to determine who is the chumpion for the entire season by taking his points away and starting all over again!
What a joke!
Oh, and lest I forget to mention it!!! DAH!
The way NA$CAR conducts it’s business! With the chase format as it stands today, a driver such as Kyle, who as a reminder, has WON 7 races so far,and counting, could LOSE the Chumpionship to a driver WITH ZERO WINS!
Ponder that one, oh wise people! And then tell me the chase is good!
Douglas, that’s actually a point where I agree with you. I would like to see more emphasis placed on winning (still) than consistency. A win should be an entry requirement. I felt the same way when it looked like Kahne was gonna miss the chase in 2006 while leading the series in Wins.
however: “Wonder how the Red Wings would feel if they got stripped of their points at seasons end! A season they worked their butts off to collect those precious points!”
I’m not sure I understand your point here. The Wings do lose all their points. Even worse, they are on even footing (disregarding home ice as not relevant) with a team that was at exactly .500 (41 wins, 41 losses).
I wouldn’t have a problem with the Chase guys being on a separate “points system” entirely during the chase.
The fact that the other 31 drivers are out there is just an irreconcilable difference. In racing, every team plays in every event. Complaining that St. Louis wasn’t in the NHL playoffs is sorta like complaining that they weren’t playing in a Devils/Islanders game.
While I like the chase, in comparison to what was there before…I don’t disagree with Travis that they could have solved the problem with a better points system.
Points for only for the top-N finishers works well, but to compensate for the fact that Cup sends cars past-43 home, you’d have to do it a little differently. Points for the top-10, and 10 bonus points to everyone that qualifies (to reward those that qualified vs. those that didn’t)..and then 3 bonus points (or something) for people that attempt to qualify. (to reward those that show up vs. those that don’t)
But, I’m sure some marketing folks (eyes Nextel) thought that a Playoff would just be pure awesomeness.
Some folks will always see it as “contrived” excitement, and you’re entitled to that. But, every restriction on competition, at its root, is contrived to achieve a certain result.
Travis, thank you for looking that up. You have proven that the Chase works to keep at least two drivers eligible to win the title at the last race.
I have an idea on the points and to make for better racing all throughout the event. Give 6 points per lap for leading, 5 points per lap for being in 2-5, 4 points for 6-10, 3 points for 11-15, 2 points for 16-20, and 1 point for 21-25. These points are for EACH LAP. That means, in order to gain points, you must be racing in the top 25 each lap. That will put a bigger effort into qualifying too. The only problem is a 500 lap race will pay more points than a 200 lap race. What can we do about that?
So funny! So very funny!
Trying to explain, trying to understand, trying to change the way a Chumpion is selected in the wide world of NA$CAR!
Hey!!! I have an idea!!!
How about running 36 races and then count the points of the leader at the end of the 36 races!
WOW!! Am I BRILLIANT? Or what?
(please don’t answer that!)
Oh, RE: The Red Wings! The intent was to suggest that by stripping away points, ala NA$CAR! The Red Wings would then have to go back and play Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, and so on! Via the “working” point system in the NHL, those teams DID NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AND WERE NO LONGER “PLAYING THE GAME”!
So if anyone wants to compare NA$CAR to the stick and balls sports, at playoff time anyway!
Some amount of teams & drivers need to go home after 26 races!
Apples to apples!
Or in the case of NA$CAR!!
NUTS TO NUTS!
You Sir, are absolutely correct!
It is a shame that the Silver shovel, fat boy that’s running the show. Has seen fit to churn up artificial excitement, by giving us a 10 race champion. Rather than a season champion. Now there is no way that, say a Jeff Gordon. Can have a fair run at the benchmark that was set by Petty, & Earnhardt.
I’m not going to address the Chase format, but I do offer a reason or why the truck series offers closer points battles.
1) The obvious one is that the competition is relatively close. I’m guessing this is what NASCAR wanted to achieve with the COT but has failed to do so.
2) A shorter season. The truck series only runs 25 versus 35 in Nationwide and 26 in the cup “regular season” and 36 overall. So, there is less time for positions to get spread out.
3) Truck fields are limited to 36 trucks while the Nationwide and cup series have 43 cars. i.e. A truck driver in last place will get 55 points versus 34 in the other series. This means that you can drop 140 points in a race versus 161. Or, a bad race won’t hurt as much.
How do these guys keep getting this wrong?
You know, NASCAR got to where it is by being itself not a wannabe “ball-franchise”, now they call the scoreboard a leader-board? sounds like golf, b.s. to me. To those who like the green/white/checker deal go watch drag racing every race is a green white checker on a quarter mile track, I think if a driver was cleaning every ones clock for the past twenty laps then what the heck finish under the yellow before someone gets killed with the “checkers or wreckers” mentality some drives use.