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.
The Voice Of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Tuesday September 30, 2008
There was a stunning admission made by Patti Petty, wife of NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, reported Sept. 29 in the Winston Salem Journal With a few choice words, she changed the landscape of racing’s royal family, giving us pause to reconsider what, to this point, we’d assumed was a fully functioning unit.
But perhaps functional is no longer the right word to use in this case. It seems Kyle Petty will soon depart from Petty Enterprises — a team he once helped run — but is not doing so voluntarily.
“Maybe I’m the only one here willing to tell the truth,” Patti Petty said, venting her frustration in public to reporter Mike Mulhern. “They haven’t wanted Kyle in the car the last three years. They want a young driver, a 30-year-old, a 20-year-old. They told him at Watkins Glen, right when he was standing there in his driver’s suit, that they didn’t want him in the car.”
Boris Said, the veteran road racer, took over the No. 45 that day and finished 24th — tying the best run Petty himself has had in 14 starts in ’08. It’s one of the worst years of the 48-year-old’s career; but according to Patti, he’s still got both the drive and the financial support to turn things around.
“Wells Fargo, our sponsor, says it’s going to stay with Kyle, whatever he does,” she continued. “I wish Chip Ganassi (a fellow Dodge team owner) would take a look at [him]. He’s got a 12-race sponsorship deal for next year that would be a perfect part-time schedule for Kyle. And Kyle could help mentor a young driver.”
Sadly, that mentorship appears less likely than ever to occur at PE. Kyle Petty had returned to run for the family business in 1997, after having driven for Felix Sabates from 1989 – ‘96, where he scored all but two of his eight career victories. Petty’s last win actually came for Sabates in 1995, at a race in Dover in which the field was decimated after a lap two melee that left only five cars on the lead lap. In subsequent seasons, Petty’s performance has been spotty at best; but at the same time, not much worse than other cars in the Petty camp. His highest points finish since that last win was a 15th in 1997, when he came back to rejoin the race team that was begun by grandfather Lee in 1949. His teammate, the late Bobby Hamilton, finished five points behind in 16th that year.
Unfortunately, the stats would mostly go downhill from there. The last win for the storied organization that has amassed 268 victories and 10 championships came two years later, with John Andretti at Martinsville in 1999. Over the nine years since, the team has shown flashes of future potential; but, more often than not, it gets saddled with a season of struggle. This year has been no exception, with Bobby Labonte in The King’s No. 43 sitting 21st in owner points while Kyle’s No. 45 car has slumped to 40th — decidedly out of the Top 35 provisional cutoff almost all season. Note the “owner/driver” status on Kyle’s resume, however; for while Richard Petty is generally regarded as the owner and operator of Petty Enterprises, it has been Kyle who has been tasked with wearing both owner’s hat and driver’s helmet for the better part of the last decade.
Apparently, even being listed as head of the No. 45 car isn’t enough to keep Kyle Petty in it much longer.
But based on recent history, this move should come as no surprise. Earlier this season at Texas, the decision among Petty Enterprises leadership (sans Kyle) was made to pull the veteran from the April 6th event in favor of rookie Chad McCumbee. Petty, at the time, was not pleased with the move, and made no secret of his displeasure with the decision.
“I told them I’ll do whatever it takes to make this team better,’‘ he said at the time. “They felt [that] was me being out of the car and somebody else being in it. If that’s the way they feel, then that’s their option, because they [Robbie Loomis and father Richard] run the place.”
“Do I think I’m the problem? No, I don’t think I’m the problem, but I’m pretty arrogant on that side…I think we have problems, but I don’t think Kyle Petty is the problem.’‘
Following this statement, the question was raised if Kyle would consider driving for a team other then the one he had poured so much into, particularly in recent years.
“Oh yeah,” he responded. “Even though you think I make a living running my mouth, I try to make a living driving. And if there’s no place for me here, then you’d have to go someplace else.”
Kyle emphasized that his departure would not be made until Petty Enterprises determined what exactly it was going to do in the future. But based on wife Patti’s comments, it appears as if they have already made that decision for him.
So who, exactly, is pulling the strings here?
The answer is probably someone else.
In June of this year, Richard Petty sold a significant portion of Petty Enterprises to Boston Ventures, raising the question of whether or not the new investor is taking a more active role in its new acquisition than maybe some had anticipated. It was not that long ago that specter was raised to Petty, as he took a good portion of the summer off while the No. 45 team used a platoon of drivers such as Terry Labonte, Chad McCumbee, and Boris Said to pilot its Dodges. But it was just last month that Petty tried to put those fears to rest.
“We’re so far back in points, it really is going to give us an opportunity to evaluate a lot of things,” he explained. “Texas was a different deal. We’re all on the same page on this, and everything is going according to plan. I was mad at Texas, and you know I’m not going to hide it if I’m mad about it. We don’t have a shot of getting back in the Top 35, and so when you get to that position, then you can try a lot of different stuff.”
Apparently, trying “different stuff” really means “finding a new driver.”
With Petty on the outs, it has been rumored that drivers under consideration for the Petty Enterprises ride are Truck Series driver and occasional substitute driver Chad McCumbee, Michael Waltrip Racing’s (and Texas Motor Speedway crash test volunteer) Michael McDowell, and recently displaced Red Bull Racing driver A.J. Allmendinger. For an organization that seems to be in a perpetual state of rebuilding, is asking whether a younger driver can do the trick a bad idea for their future?
The answer lies in the car — and specifically, the car’s number.
Many may not understand the importance of the No. 45 machine to the history of Petty Enterprises. Kyle’s son, Adam, drove the No. 45 in the ASA and then-Busch Series, making one Cup start in 2000 at Texas (ironically). Later that season, he was killed during a practice crash in preparation for the Busch Series race in Loudon, NH.
A month earlier, grandfather Lee had passed away from complications following a stomach aneurysm. Kyle’s heart was crushed, and to this day he maintains a piece of him died that day as well. Since then, he runs his car with a black paint scheme when the series heads to New Hampshire, as a remembrance to the tragedy that will affect him the rest of his life.
Regardless of Kyle’s performance, Petty Enterprises had been on shaky ground to begin with this year. An offseason move to Mooresville, NC, was supposed to be the first step in yet another rebuilding process for the team that was forever situated in Level Cross and, some might say, still living there to cling to past successes and days of faded glory. As a result, Petty Enterprises had come dangerously close to becoming little more than a museum filled with old Plymouths and Pontiacs, and needed to move closer to the epicenter of NASCAR where nearly all the top teams were aligned.
A few months after this move, word came down that longtime sponsor General Mills announced it would be jumping ship to Richard Childress Racing’s fourth entry for 2009. With Patti Petty’s statement that sponsor Wells Fargo will be going with Kyle wherever he may end up (would you really want to be sponsored by a bank these days?!), that makes two sponsors and a driver — who coincidentally happens to have his name on the door — that Petty Enterprises will have lost in the last three months.
Not a good start for the new investment team.
Might it not make sense to add a third car to the stable for a younger driver instead? All the Dodge teams have been struggling this season, so it isn’t as if Kyle has suddenly forgotten how to drive a race car. Clearly, he’s getting just about all out of the equipment as there is to be gotten. Couple that with the fact that no Petty car has gotten a whiff of a win since Jerry Nadeau blew a rear end out with three laps to go at Sonoma in 2002, and the stats tell the story: Petty Enterprises isn’t exactly Hendrick Motorsports.
What it all ends up looking like to those on the outside is that this is a situation of nepotism in reverse. We’ll know more in the weeks to come, but what we’ve got to work with now is new money clashing with old racing — and the new money winning out. While the Roush Fenway arrangement seems to be working quite well and the Gillett Evernham merger, despite a rumored move to Toyota, is business as usual, there appears to be something else at work inside of Petty Enterprises.
There has been a palatable rift between Kyle Petty and Vice President of Operations Robbie Loomis ever since the Texas debacle that saw Petty essentially being benched in favor of McCumbee; who, by the way, failed to qualify for that event back in April. The McCumbee move, along with the incident in August at Watkins Glen, is part of what publicly has been deemed an “evaluation.” And with Patti Petty’s comments published yesterday, it raises a question that Kyle Petty had likely asked back in April:
“Et tu, Robbie?”
The answer will likely tell us who’s in control at PE; but one wonders if, at this point, it’s anyone related to who started the whole thing up in the first place. And such is the price to play in NASCAR today, where even the sport’s royal family is chained to the demands of corporate cash.
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A better comparison of success in NASCAR would be Petty vs RCR . Childress has seen far more success than Hendrick .
I’m reminded of a column Kyle used to write for AutoWeek. Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s.
Kyle has always been pretty honest, & blunt.
I don’t quite think Kyle is washed up, but driving the level of equipment Petty has it would be hard for anyone to win. A dramatic point is look at Joey L (sliced bread) in good equipment he looks like a good up and coming driver, put him in the 96 and he is a back marker 2-5 laps down. You could put Robby Gordon and others in this group, good/great drivers in the best equipment, Warhorses ready for the glue factory in equipment that is what seems like light years behind the best.
Kyle returns to PE to save the family business, and does his best to do so. He takes the worst equipment they’ve got to race, and in return, he’s now made out to be part of much bigger problem in an attempt to bring in new money. It’s Corporate America doing what it does best. Blaming people for failures beyond their control and decisions being made by people that don’t seem a clue. It’s a shame.
Sadly, being a longtime Petty fan we now have to realize that with Kyle possibly out and at some point Richard as well what will it be called at that point? There will come a time that there aren’t any Petty’s associated with the 43/45..and won’t that just be strange. I agree though that on the tech side the Petty’s are still on a learning curve it seems. If Bobby can’t get out of mid-pack then that should give you a clue that the car has troubles so therefor Kyle’s car is maybe even worse.
What can I say, Kyle ever since he started driving for Petty he got the junk. Remember “magnum farce”, he could qualify, but had to run at the bottom of the track out of everyone’s way, heaven forbid he steals any of the “kings thunder”. It wasn’t until he started to drive for the Wood Brothers that he started to shine. The turning point I believe in his career was when Gary Nelson left Sabco to run NASCAR, he never got back to the consistent performance he had, sure he won races, but not on a consistent basis, much like Dale Sr. when Kirk left RCR or Jeff when Ray left. Don’t throw him under the hauler(bus)yet, Kyle has some wins left in him he needs a good team with some good engineers. Patti mentioned Ganassi that’s his old mentor Felix’s team, could be a make or break deal, at least Kyle would know if its him or the car, still I think with a good car and some luck he could win Daytona.
I find it unbelieveable that many fans believe it’s an equipment problem if a team/driver sucks. Guess again, this isn’t how it works!
You can look at the 18 car as a perfect example to illustrate the point (there are many others example that could be used also). Steve Addington didn’t just become a great Crew Chief, and the Gibbs teams didn’t just start sharing information with the 18 car. All the Gibbs cars share their info with each other, it’s in their best interests and would be more expensive not to! JJ was a 25-30th place driver and Kyle is a 1st-5th place driver IN THE SAME EQUIPMENT (I recall Kyle Busch was top of the board in the 18 car at last year’s Atlanta COT test when he was still driving the 5, and JJ was way way down the sheet). The results speak for themselves. Kyle will only get better, as he did this year, and JJ is history.
In the Cup series (and only the cup series) the paridy between teams is so close. You could have Jimmie Johnson jump in the 22 car and he would check out just the same! This sport isn’t about setups anymore, it’s 90% who you have behind the window net. It’s time everybody figures this out.
Although Kyle Petty is a great guy and has done alot for people, he can’t get out of his own way on the race track… He’d do the same in a Hendrick, Gibbs or Roush car.
Sorry Trick, but it’s almost all equipment. If you’re correct then please explain Bobby Labonte in the 43. Won a championship with Gibbs, but barely in the running with the 43. Did he forget how to drive? No, It’s always been the equipment at Petty once their heyday was over.
How about Jeff Gordon? With Ray Evernham the 24 was nearly unbeatable. Now, they are just an average top 25% team. Did Gordon forget what it takes to win? Nope, once the team was broke up, the chemistry wasn’t there and the setups were never the same.
Kurt Busch. Won a ton of races in Roush Equipment. Kinda won a Championship too. Now… Well, I guess the anesthesia from the ear pinnings must have affected his motor skills. (Actually, everyone else learned coil binding.)
Even if you’re right about the 90/10, if the 90 is at it’s best, it can’t make up for a 7 when all the other teams are building nines and tens.
About time you figured that out.
“If you’re correct then please explain Bobby Labonte in the 43. Won a championship with Gibbs, but barely in the running with the 43.”
I will! Bobby won the championship 8 years ago, 8! The guy who won it the year before is long gone and hadn’t been competitive for sometime before he left. His name is Dale Jarrett. In BL’s last year with Gibbs he didn’t win a race and was 24th in the points all while Tony won the championship – in the same equipment! BL has been better in PE stuff all three years than his final year at Gibbs!
“Did he forget how to drive? No, It’s always been the equipment at Petty once their heyday was over.”
Comparing cars from today to those of 20-30-40 years ago is totally a mute point.
“How about Jeff Gordon? With Ray Evernham the 24 was nearly unbeatable. Now, they are just an average top 25% team. Did Gordon forget what it takes to win? Nope, once the team was broke up, the chemistry wasn’t there and the setups were never the same.”
JJ has been a friggin machine for the last 5 years in the same stuff. And Gordon was exceptional last year… Some years are better than other, likely do more to circumstance. There is no reason that the 24 couldn’t win 3 race in a row starting next week! Ray Evernham didn’t make Jeff Gordon, Jeff Gordon made Ray Evernham! I’ll add this. Look at the 5 and 88. Casey Mears is a decent 2nd tier driver, and is performance shows it. Dale arguably ran better last year! His engine problems stunted his results. What was it 8 DNFs to blown engines in 2007? Plus Haas is a satellite team using the same chassis and engines…Do the math.
“Kurt Busch. Won a ton of races in Roush Equipment. Kinda won a Championship too. Now… Well, I guess the anesthesia from the ear pinnings must have affected his motor skills. (Actually, everyone else learned coil binding.)”
Kurt Busch has been pretty consistent for the most part over the last 6 years. Winning 2 – 4 races a year with the exception of this year and 2006. The coilbinding issue you refer to affected Newman not Busch. He wasn’t dominant the year he won the chase, he just ran better than the other 10 drivers in the last 10 race.
“Even if you’re right about the 90/10, if the 90 is at it’s best, it can’t make up for a 7 when all the other teams are building nines and tens.”
The part that isn’t understood is that the spread in car developent between teams is so so close. There are no 7’s in the field with the exception of the 08, 09 and 34 when they make races.
“About time you figured that out.”
You are clearly not an insider.