Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Voice of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Tuesday October 7, 2008
I am going to forego the normal flowery introduction to this week’s column with a decidedly blunt statement: Regan Smith got screwed out of a win Sunday at Talladega.
As I see it, the rules are pretty clear… even if the interpretation is not. You can’t go below the yellow line unless you are forced below it — and that’s exactly what millions of fans saw unfold. Smith faded high coming to the checkered flag in the tri-oval, and Tony Stewart drifted up to block him; when he did, Smith turned down the banking and got a fender inside of Stewart’s quarterpanel. Stewart then turned down in an effort to block once again, made slight contact with Smith, and knocked him below the yellow line. Stewart then continued to run down to that yellow line itself, preventing the rookie access to the racing surface he needed to make a “legal” pass. But Smith continued on his path, coming back up onto the track inside the yellow line, and made it to the flagstand first with some awesome moves on the apron. Stewart, however, was flagged the winner instead.
How on earth is this possible?
The whole situation is fraught with more irony than a Mark Twain novel. Here you have Tony Stewart, wheeling a Toyota in a state where they build Hondas. And he’s is not all that popular at Talladega — fans not wanting to forget his “Obnoxious Talladega Race Driver” T-Shirt following his taunt of “Obnoxious Talladega Race Fans” from a few years back. As happy as he was to visit Victory Lane for the first time in central Alabama on Sunday, Stewart dedicated his win to his fans in attendance — a move that led to a chorus of boos and only a small smattering of applause. And the man was not driving his familiar orange car on this day, but rather, a yellow one — one promoting sandwiches that advertise their propensity to promote weight loss. Suffice it to say by Smoke’s generous girth, they only make an appearance a couple of times year on both his car and his dinner plate.
On the other side of pit road, we had Regan Smith. Driving an unsponsored DEI machine, Smith is one of DEI and Mark Martin’s protégés, having split time with the veteran driver last season in the No. 01 car. They started together as the new drivers for the then-Ginn Racing operation, before that franchise went Wachovia and was absorbed by DEI in the summer of 2007.
Martin’s first race in the No. 01 wasn’t much different than Smith’s. Making his debut for the team in the 2007 Daytona 500, that race marked the first time since 2003 that cars were allowed to race back to the yellow flag amid the mayhem and devastation of a green-white-checkered finish in The Great American Race. But as virtually the entire field was involved in a fourth-turn calamity, the No. 01 of Martin was clearly ahead of Kevin Harvick’s mustard yellow and hemorrhoid red Monte Carlo when the caution flag should have come out. Keep in mind that during this time, Clint Bowyer was on fire, sliding shiny-side down along the frontstretch while flipping and flinging sod. But Martin made a move to get ahead long enough for the yellow that never flew; so, Harvick nosed him out at the line instead once Martin checked up just a bit too much.
Of course, the reaction from NASCAR Nation wasn’t exactly all that great. Fans groaned and tilted their heads in confusion like your dog does when you change his food on him. But that’s to be expected.
Now, this time around it was the same car, same number, and the same wishy-washy interpretation of NASCAR’s loosely-stated litmus test. Had they not capriciously applied the rules in regards to which driver would be affected best by the outcome, Smith would indeed have been the one “doing burnouts out there,” as he flatly stated after the final decision came down from on high. Burnouts aside — assuming the Goodyear tires didn’t go Fat Man and Little Boy and Ginsu a corner of the race car — it is even more of a disaster for Smith, as his car is in desperate need of sponsorship to keep afloat for 2009. And what better medicine would there be than for an unsponsored DEI car to win at a track that is nearly synonymous with The Intimidator, with his final, and arguably most impressive, win coming at the 2.66-mile superspeedway? As it is, following yesterday’s cruel and crass decision, the only products that could now fittingly be applied to the flanks of the No. 01 car would be what can best be described as “personal” lubricant or any number of prophylactics.
While this injustice was taking place at the head of the pack, about a quarter of a mile behind the Stewart/Smith saga was a race of quiet competence. Jimmie Johnson soldiered on to a ninth-place finish Sunday, fourth among the championship Chasers at ‘Dega. But more importantly was how he got there… and who among the other six he eclipsed.
Johnson started the race in the back after an engine change following Saturday’s qualifying session. Unfortunately, the new engine was just as flaccid as the old one, and although he was able to avoid trouble early in the event, Johnson promptly lost the draft and was overtaken by the field and lapped on the 25th circuit. But starting in the back probably wasn’t all bad considering the carnage that ensued on Sunday. After all it was Johnson, who, for all of his success, still carried a bit of a stigma for being involved (if not the cause) for a few “Big Ones” in his restrictor plate tenure. However, Johnson battled back with a car that was lacking some steam under the hood, as the nut behind the wheel had his game as tight as always. As a result, Johnson was seemingly dodging wrecks and tire carcasses all day, including the “Big One” on Lap 175 that left main rivals Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards sitting in the garage. Chalk it up what you will: destiny, divine intervention, or driving with your eyes closed; but the fact is that the No. 48 car seems to have what the No. 24 car had in its heyday of the mid to late ’90s… Dumb Luck.
No matter what the Chad Knaus-led crew does or touches these days, it turns to gold. If they aren’t winning their 10 races a year, they’re contending for wins in races they had no business competing in. If they aren’t doing that, they are taking a car that was an absolute sled — like the one they had all weekend — and have it missing wrecks and detonating tires en route to manageable Top-10 finishes. It’s the little things that win championships in this sport, and yesterday was a prime example. This team will get their wins, poles, and Top 5s, to be sure; but they can also take a bummer day and still get a respectable finish out of it.
Surprised? Don’t be. Keep in mind that Knaus was one of the original students at the University of Evernham, and Johnson is cut from the same mold as Jeff Gordon. Together, they are orchestrating a three-peat season that has not been accomplished since Cale Yarborough and Junior Johnson did so in 1976-1978. It’s a performance that is punctuated by preparation, persistence, and luck not seen since it started pouring after Jeff Burton knocked the wall down at Darlington while leading in 1999.
Yes, this weekend was an exercise in the study of two drivers on decidedly different ends of the spectrum. On the one hand you have Smith, the hard-luck case that became the stock car incarnate of Charlie Brown having the football pulled on him by Lucy at the last second. His ride in jeopardy, a win in his unsponsored DEI car would have certainly gone a long way towards retaining the seat for him in 2009 — or, at the very least, landing a decent gig elsewhere. But that was ripped from him by another NASCAR eye-roller of a judgment call, one that favored a popular Chase driver who is in danger of going winless as he moves on to start his own team next year.
And on the other end of the spectrum you have Johnson, the driver who is California cool and unflappable in seemingly any circumstance. Johnson had it all on display yesterday as he threaded through the eye of the needle on two occasions, thereby preserving, and ultimately extending, his points lead over the Roush Fenway duo of Edwards and Biffle.
If only Smith had a sliver of the good racing fortune that Johnson has. Perhaps he can pick some up at a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse the next time he’s there; because chances are after Sunday’s result that dropped him from a win to 18th, he might end up working there next year. And, it’s safe to say, he won’t be seen shopping at The Home Depot anytime soon.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I’m sure Reagan Smith appreciates your concern over his loss , but i’m sure there have been many times this season when he could have used some mentions from you . Had you and other writers paid any real attention to him over the course of the season he wouldn’t be on the verge of losing his ride for lack of sponsorship . Where were all of the writeups that would have caught a sponsors eye ? Truth is , until Talladega , Smiths name was only mentioned in passing . Now suddenly hes your one and only concern . Along with hyping Jimmy “ i think i’ll just ride around and points race “ Johnson .
From your description of the end of the race , i suggest you watch the tape again . You missed a lot . But the only fact that bears on the pass by Smith is that he was below the line when he did it . The rule does not deal with how Smith got below the line . The rule states that once hes down there , HE CAN NOT PASS ! He had other options , he just didn’t use any of them .He passed Tony and was penalized for it . And other than Johnson , every other driver in the race sure seemed to know the rule . Its been around for a number of years .
Nicely stated! And I add two (2) points everyone is seeming to miss:
1. according to the drivers, such as JJ, at the morning drivers meeting it was stated, and then verified by NA$CAR, “that when the checker is in site, anything goes”! (in response to drivers questions re: the below-the-yellow-line-thingy)
So, NA$CAR says one thing, yet does another!
(and remember, generally in racing your allowed one move to block, either up or down, but cannot go up and then down to block, in an IRL race, Helio was immediately penalized for weaving down the track blocking, at least the IRL has guts to do what the rules say)
2. It “is” totally a GOODYEAR responsibility to supply tires that do not explode! Has nothing to do with the ARCA series, or HOOSIER, or anyone else!
GOODYEAR has contracted for, and paid for, the right to supply CUP tires!
And they have proven over the years they know not what they do!
I’m glad Marshall was able to paint a black and white interpretation of NASCAR’s rulebook. Those of us not drinking the Kool-Aid are questioning NASCAR’s subjective interpretation of their own ambiguous rules.
I don’t understand how so many fans can put up with this—this is why I only watch a handful of races a year anymore (in Cup), and every damn race I do watch has some bullshit like this. Smith was robbed, pure and simple—France was shitting his pants worried that a no-name, no-sponsor rookie with some (gasp) TALENT was gonna beat one of his golden boys in the Chase, and waved his magic finger to say “NO.” It doesn’t MATTER what the rulebook says one way or the other, because NASCAR has ignored the rule book arbitrarly for the last half-dozen races at this track in all three classes. Complete bullshit. And worse YET, they drop him to 18th. The hell with NASCAR.
From what I can see, the only people that don’t feel there was any problem with the call NASCAR made are Stewart fans.
From a post on NASCAR.COM this morning:
In February of 2007, after a Truck Series race in Daytona, another prominent NASCAR spokesman, Ramsey Poston, went on a Sirius radio show and was asked by hosts Marty Snider and David Poole about a three-wide finish in which Johnny Benson went below the yellow line and passed Travis Kvapil for second in the event won by Jack Sprague (watch video). Poston’s response appears to be, at least in large part, what fueled the belief of some drivers that “anything goes” on the final lap of events sponsored by NASCAR.
I rest my case.
nascar has left the drivers with only one choice…punt the other driver into the fence and let the cars fall where they may.
John, its great that Poston took the time to fill everyone in . But first , it was concerning a truck race , not a cup race , same rules , maybe , maybe not . More important , it is not now or has it ever been Postons job to make , or enforce the rules . He is an overpaid press agent for NASCAR . He has no authority to interpret the rules and the racers know that . And the fans should know that too .
“will the real NA$CAR please stand up”?
Is this why NA$CAR has “various” spokesman, because they can then go back and say “he did not have the authority to say this” when it becomes inconvenient to NA$CAR?
Douglas , i’d say thats a very good possibility . Or , it could well be that these underlings are so full of themselves ( i speak for the great NASCAR , bow before me ) that they just naturally feel the need to pretend to be in charge .
And, as I scan various writings on Jayski, it appears now, (see, give NA$CRAP time to think and they can come up will all kinds of things, and people actually believe this crap), anyway, NA$CAR now says, “Smith could not see the checkered flag, so his pass was illegal!
HEY MR. IDIOT NA$CAR!
Ever heard of spotters? A known, constant commodity at every race informing the drivers whats going on?
“spotter to Smith” “the checker is out, go for it”!
Maybe NA$CAR needs to eliminate the spotters now!
So, in NA$CAR terms, a spotter can tell a driver the yellow flag is out, but cannot tell a driver the checker is out!
I hope ya’ll are not falling for this BS!
I see in my crystal ball a new rule being written for the spotters!
Come on man!! Admit it, this is a circus!!
Maybe they will have a pre-race fence climbing, back flipping competition for all the drivers. Maybe let them qualify on who can do the best burnout (the dumbest damn thing I’ve ever seen in sport).
I’m sure Vince McMahon IS Brian France’s TOP advisor!
NASCAR has become a laughing stock!!
First off NOTHING was mentioned in the drivers meeting that anything goes on the last lap. It was clear in the drivers meeting that you cannot pass below the yellow line. Regan just assumed since he heard it during a truck race that it was okay. Well that was stupid on his part.
And second. Tony Stewart won the freaking race. END OF STORY!!!
So we are to assume that you were present at the driver’s meeting since you seem to know everything that was discussed there?
Also, for those that really care about this sport, this is not the end of the story.
Melissa: I believe JJ Yeley specifically stated after the race that HE heard in the driver’s meeting it was okay to pass on the last lap. He was quickly shut up of course. This is run just like the Bush adminstration… Say something, then say something completely the opposite. Deny, deny, deny and then shut anyone up that dares to speak against you. This isn’t a racing series, it’s a dictatorship.
By the way, everyone might want to check the NASCAR website. They have a poll at the bottom of the front page on who should have won. I just checked and it was 56% – 44% in favor of Regan Smith. Maybe I am just being a little hopeful, but this poll might be a way to try to send a signal to NASCAR about how the fans actually feel.
On Raceday they played Hoots talking about the yellow line. Nothing was mentioned about anything goes on the last lap. And Jimmie Johnson even said it was not mentioned in the drivers meeting. here is the link to that if you do not believe me.
Didn’t Andy Petree say “anything goes on the last lap”, and Dale Jarrett countered with a pretty much “I don’t think so”.
You would at least think NASCAR would provide the network with their lastest version of the rules, say sometime during the last 50 laps or so….LOL…LOL…LOL
C’mon Jeff G , when would you ever pay attention to a paid shill . Do you expect that Poston or Hunter is ever going to tell the truth about anything . And again , Poston does not have the authority to make rules interpretations for NASCAR . No more so than Jerry Punch does .
Umm, Melissa, you wouldn’t be a Tory Stewart fan would you? This is quote is from the very same source you reference:
JIMMIE JOHNSON: “Here’s what happened. Yesterday it was brought up in the Truck Series race. Everybody was watching it. Everybody said, Oh, all right. Everybody went off and asked their questions where they needed to and kept that advice and that knowledge in their back pocket just in case they were in position to win the race.
Evidently Regan Smith knew what the deal was and went for it. He saw the truck race, did some research today and made a move he felt was going to win the race. Where the argument comes in, what I was told is from where you can see the flag. That is a question of where this all falls in place. It’s when you could see the flagman, anything goes. That all started this morning. Like wildfire it went through the garage area. Everybody was kind of worrying about it, keeping it in their back pocket.”
I’ve placed my vote—but NASCAR hasn’t listened to fans in 10 years, why start now?
Marahall got it right: The rule says they can’t pass under the yellow line—period.
Stewart did the same thing at Daytona in, I think, ’01, and he got busted for it—no win.
It seems to come down to this: If you don’t like Stewart or Toyotas, it was a bad call. If you don’t have that petty prejudice, it was a good call.
Dale Jarrett said that passing below the yellow is illegal and has been at restrictor plate tracks. He’s right. History shows that’s true.
I suggest that all the whiners get over it and move on. There’s a race at Charlotte this weekend; focus on that.
As Lady Macbeth said, “What’s done is done and cannot be undone.”
NASCAR does not pay Jerry Punch to speak for them.
NASCAR DOES pay Hunter and Poston TO SPEAK FOR THEM.. If you can’t believe a paid NASCAR spokesperson, then who do you believe??
Maybe the circus should have a meeting with all their clowns and discuss who can say what when… LOL..LOL..LOL
AND, you also agreed Dale and Andy were not on the same page.
Again, I didn’t care who won. NASCAR just has a REALLY, REALLY, bad history in the consistency department…..
Congrats nascar bit by bit your bumbling has eroded my desire to be a fan of your series.I’m sure im not the only fan who feels this was and no i wasn’t a casual fan . Iv’e only missed one race on tv in the last 7 years and that was because i was at the brickyard 400 in person
Wow , interesting how many fans Regan Smith had that never spoke up . I suspect that until this incident , the majority of responders here couldn’t even spell Regan Smith . Nice guy , has some talent , hope he stays with it . But lets dump this pretend outrage over a guy you never heard of before .
We are not outraged because it is Regan Smith. We are outraged because NASCAR screwed up again and decided the winner of this race by making up their own rules. We would have been outraged no matter which driver was involved.
Nice try Jeff G. , but when NASCAR puts Poston and Hunter in charge of interpreting the rules , then i’ll listen to them .
1. according to the drivers, such as JJ, at the morning drivers meeting it was stated, and then verified by NA$CAR, “that when the checker is in site, anything goes”! (in response to drivers questions re: the below-the-yellow-line-thingy)
Nothing I have read on any NASCAR site suggests “anything goes during the last lap” was said during Sunday morning’s drivers meeting. The only place that was said was by Ramsey Poston after the 2007 Daytona truck race.
Before Regan Smith passed Fat Tony below the line, Fat Tony forced Regan Smith below the line. If the sanctioning body had an iota of integrity, that would have sent Fat Tony to 18th place and Regan Smith to Victory Lane. And, if frogs had wings….
You’ve got to give it to ol’ Tony. He’s got Mike “Fat Bastard” Helton and his little band of whistle-swallowing weasels thoroughly intimidated. With Goodyears popping like popcorn kernels, they no doubt were terrified that the Petulant One would once again wallow out of the Orange Pumpkin (OK, YELLOW Pumpkin in this race) and snarl at the Official Exclusive Tire Supplier of NA$CAR (never mind that Tony’s favorite tires—Hoosiers—had just put a humongous dent in the bank accounts of a bunch of struggling little ARCA teams; we didn’t hear so much as a peep out of him about Hoosiers, did we?).
So, far better for the denizens of the NA$CAR hauler to—ahem—“interpret” their every-changing rules and send Fat Tony to Victory lane for his much-coveted ‘Dega win, than to call a fair race, send Terrible Tony into a frothing-at-the-mouth hissy-fit, and cause The Brian any more unpleasantries with a corporation that sends the France clan an occasional check.
The lessons for rookie Regan (if he can find a sponsor and keep his ride)?:
(1) next time, hold your line and wreck the field, it’s your only shot, and
(2) act like a spoiled two-year-old brat. Heck, the worst that will happen is that you’ll get put on double-secret probation.
Apparently the “interpretation” doesn’t end at NASCAR.
Everyone seems to “interpret” what Jimmie said as being stated by NASCAR in the driver’s meeting and yet he said that it was a “rumor” going around, NOT IN THE DRIVER“S MEETING. In fact, it has been confirmed on many sites that in the driver’s meeting, it was said “this is your warning, you cannot advance your position by going below the yellow line”. No mention at all that “anything goes” once the checkers are waved. Regan Smith said that NASCAR says every week that you can pass below the yellow line on the last lap… yet the rule only applies to restrictor plate races, so my guess is that Regan was a bit confused by the rule itself.
I don’t know how many times, we are told during restrictor plate races that below the yellow line is OUT OF BOUNDS. I knew that, my friends knew that, geez, I think even my dog knows that. If Regan Smith, an actual driver in the Cup series, does know that, perhaps there are bigger problems here.
As for other quotes from NASCAR officials about Johnny Benson and such…as far as I know, the CUP series and the TRUCK series are two separate entities and probably should be treated as such! I’m sure there’s more than one rule in the Cup series that doesn’t apply to the Trucks and vice versa.
We may not agree with the rule (although, personally I think an “anything goes” rule for the lap last would be very, very dangerous!), it is a rule and Regan violated that rule. Unfortunately he had to pay the price.
Melissa, go get Michael “Nascar ALWAYS makes the right call!” Waltrip a beer. I wonder if I’m too old to become a football fan. Thank god for the motorcycle racing on Speed!
Scott B, You left out the most important part of JJ’s comments and that is “it was not bought up in the drivers meeting”. Bottom line is JJ or regan should have spoken up and asked NASCAR during the drivers meeting. It is STUPID to trust that a rumor is true. And it is STUPID to assume that something that was said during a truck broadcast by an announcer was what is allowed in a Cup race.
The truck NASCAR spokesman was a PR guy and not a competition official.
And since when does six inches of a bumper equate to getting a fender on someone.
He should have just spun him. Then the 15 would have gotten his 1st win…
Back up the truck here. It isn’t as if Smith dove below the yellow in an attempt to skirt the rules (or the apron) – he was ran down there at 195mph by a fat guy in a Camry. You’re going to find this hard to believe, but these cars – particularly these COT sleds – do not change direction very quickly at that speed, especially when you’re ran down from banking to the flat part of the race track. Using that logic, you can legally run anyone down off the track below the yellow line and cause a wreck in the process. The No. 20 car seems to have a habit of doing this. Just ask Matt Kenseth at Daytona in 2006.
As much as you cannot advance position going below the yellow line, you cannot repeatedly block or run other drivers below the yellow line.
What it ammounts to is a judgement call…and in this instance, I believe NASCAR made the wrong decision.
Don’t be silly . Of course he went below the yellow line to skirt the rules . HE WANTED TO WIN . The “ mean old Tony forced poor little Regan into breaking the rules “ just doesn’t fly . One last time , no matter what the reason for going below the yellow , a driver cannot then proceed to pass another driver . If he was forced down there by Tony , Regan needs to learn how to race . But no matter what the reason , Smith had the option to back off slightly and stay alongside Tony , thereby ensuring himself a second place finish , or he could have backed off and tried to get back in line . Again , no penalty . Either option was open to him , he took neither .
We call this situation “crawfishing”, (around statements and the facts”), as best we know them anyway.
As I read what JJ “originally” stated, it WAS discussed in the drivers meeting that morning, and various drivers questioned NA$CAR directly about this issue and were told that if the checker is “in site”, then go for it.
Now, my assumption is, NA$CAR has issued yet another directive to the drivers to clam up! (please note I said my assumption), but all interviews and such re: this issue now appear “tainted”!
And, as the original article here that started this mess said: “Smith had a bumper under Tony when he was forced down”.
And folks, always in NA$CAR, if your car has a bumpers edge on the inside or outside, such that if the car being passed would hit or clip you if he moved over, YOU RIGHTFULLY HAVE THAT PART OF THE TRACK!
Everyone seems to think, or at least are stating, that a mere bumper does not count, your car has to be totally passed the car ahead.
So? Who is right? And who is wrong? All I know, it is typically NA$CAR and their dastardley method of rules interpretation!
FORCED is FORCED!
What don’t we understand about this fact?
And, I don’t care what drivers are/were involved, I have no particular ties to any of them I just want to see a winner be called a winner! Be it John Jones or Sam Lewis!
AND!!!! Didn’t Jr. “WIN” a race this way a few years back, and NA$CAR afterward, like the next day, state that yes, he was wrong, but they did not want a riot on their hands by taking the victory away from Jr. Me thinks my memory is correct on this one!
Whether or not he was pushed or drove below the line is immaterial. You CANNOT improve your position below the yellow line. The rule has not changed since its inception.
He should have pushed Stewart aside, or got back behind Stewart and raced him from there.
He didn’t…he got penalized…In the CUP series, which has nothing to do with Truck, or Benson, or the phases of the moon.
The verbatim language is: “This is your warning: Race above the yellow line. If, in NASCAR’S judgment, you go below the yellow line to improve your position, you will be black-flagged. If in NASCAR’s judgment you force someone below the yellow line (in an effort to stop him from passing you), you may be black-flagged.”Regan Smith was robbed because of NASCAR’s subjective interpretation and application of their own statement.
attn: marshall needed at the nascar hauler for check pickup.
checking up while everyone is running flat would have caused another big one
smith should have just run over stewart on his was to a win(or not…most likely nascar would take that away too)
How would checking up cause a wreck . Smith was the only car down there .
The next restrictor plate race(Daytona)is going to have a hell of a wreck at the start/finish line on lap 199. I like Tony Stewart, but he forced Regan below the line. It would be nice for Regan running 2nd in the 2009 Daytona 500 at the end. Hmm, I wonder who he will wreck to win the race.
Just wondering guys… Why do you think the rules are different for the trucks than they are for the cup cars? Several people here have pointed out that there is a difference.
If this were a truck race and the VERY SAME drivers (TS & RS) finished the VERY SAME way would Smith get the win?
As MiK pointed out “you CANNOT improve your position below the yellow line.” But! that doesn’t seem to apply to the trucks. Do you agree MiK?
Please, someone answer this not as a fan of any driver, but as someone looking at NASCAR and how they “explain” themselves….
A quote from Jeff G. “Please, someone answer this not as a fan of any driver, but as someone looking at NASCAR and how they “explain” themselves….”
The oceans will part before anyone can explain why NA$CAR does what it does, or decides anything!
Smith in no way should be considered the winner. He broke the rules.
However, one could argue that Stewart did to, and they BOTH should have been black-flagged, and Menard should have won.
However, its tough to tell if Stewart intentionally forced Smith down there.
I have been a baseball fan longer than I have been a NASCAR fan.
I played orginized baseball from age five. I played in college. That was as far as I made it though.
One thing was consistent. At EVERY level the rules were the same. From little league, to the major leagues, the rules are the same.
I guess the stupid (maybe dumb) people that run NASCAR just don’t understand consistency at ALL levels of their sport.
Regardless of what I think about the ruling, “fat guy in a Camry” is the most appaling comment I have EVER read from a media member. Any valid points you made in your article have been underminded by the lewd, immature, “school yard” name calling.
You have the right to your own opinion, but I believe a two-time champion, winner of 33 races on the Cup circuit deserves a little respect.
Unfortunately, you have lost any you had! I expect more from a so-called journalist!
There really isn’t any difference between the two series’ rules. Just application. The rule is the same in both. Just as in baseball, difference umps make different calls-same here. Benson got away with one last year in Trucks, and Mr. smith didn’t Sunday. No relation to each other-no matter what these blind bats squeak.
Mr. Smith would have been sent to the back in a truck race, too. Unless the Ump blinked.
“You CANNOT (all upper case!) improve you position below the yellow line” (that ump must have had a lot in his eye to blink so much) Or, how about “In the CUP series, which has nothing ( wonder why you didn’t put nothing in upper case?) to do with Truck, or Benson, or the phases of the moon” ( are you saying NASCAR considers the moon in making calls?)
So now, after you make a statement saying the CUP series has nothing to do with the Truck series, you are TRYING to say they both have the same rules???
I guess you are also stopping by the NASCAR trailer to pick up your check…lol…lol..lol..
Max Fan –
Hah, appalling??!! Please – it was a joke. I happen to like Tony Stewart – one of the reasons is because he himself pokes fun at it, addressing himself as a, “fat kid”…so lighten up.
Hah, no pun intended. :v p
One thing for sure is…Tony didn’t drive a straight line to the checker. It was plainly obvious that he was driving with the rearview mirror…something that he himself has bitched about other drivers doing. I know this because I’m pretty fond of Tony but on this occasion Smith should have taken him out. But…then he would have been the worst no driving SOB on the track had he done that. It appears he would have been a loser no matter how he handled it. I can’t fault Smith for doing what he did. He was forced down and he’s not paid to back out of the gas. If he had backed off then his desire to win would have been in question. The only way to put an end to this stupidity is to do away the yellow line rule on the last lap. Here’s a scenario worth thinking about…Cars 1 & 2 come down the stretch well ahead of the pack…car two attempts to pass but car one moves to block and is clipped. Car 1 careens into the outside wall before the line…car two goes sliding through the grass but still manages to cross the line before the field. Clearly car 2 has advanced his position below the sacred line…does car 2 win?
By the way, there was not an engine change on the 48 car. They “took a look inside.” NASCAR said they could look but would have to go to the back it being an impound race.
what a bunch of panty waists! If big E was still around and raced like that, everybody would be cheering him and yelling what great racing that was. give me a break, get over it. it is what it is. with the momentum and angle that smith had coming down across the track, i doubt he could have stayed off the apron anyways.
Don’t know what the broadcast post-race winner’s speech was like, but on HotPass Tony clearly stated to Phil Parsons that he made Regan Smith go “where he couldn’t go.” Sounded intentional to me.
Oh Flaherty, at least someone seems to recognise the OTHER part of the rule. If a driver forces another below the line they are subject to penalty. The lack of enforcement of this part of NASCAR’s “rule” shows their favoritism of select drivers and their desire to make it appear the “Chase” is working. Those who choose to only interpret part of the rule are as biased as NA$CAR in favoring a driver.
And I’m a Tony Stewart fan, btw.
that was odd…. I posted a followup to my comment and it REPLACED the comment… that followup was after saying that Tony IS a fat guy in a Camry, sponsored by a fast food chain that’s trying to promote weight loss. The irony is delicious.
marshall: why would smith go down the apron(did so because he was forced to) and check up? that would let everyone pass him. If he checks up(holding his line) when tony threw the block, he would have been ran over.