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.
Vito Pugliese · Thursday April 9, 2009
Editor’s Note: This column appears in our Frontstretch Newsletter today.
Word has come down from on high at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing that the No. 8 Chevrolet now piloted by Aric Almirola – and formerly by some guy with a goatee and another one with a buzz cut – will be parked until adequate sponsorship can be found.
Is this what NASCAR’s come to?
As if it wasn’t bad enough that Petty Enterprises is no more, the Wood Brothers show up to about as many races as David Pearson nowadays, and Kyle Petty has been relegated to an as yet unconfirmed stint in the Grand Am Series… now one of the most iconic numbers in NASCAR is being shelved for lack of sponsorship. It wasn’t so long ago that this No. 8 team was contending for championships and winning races on a regular basis, becoming essentially the flagship car of NASCAR itself. But after stumbling through a miserable start, they claim there’s no choice now but to submit to a different type of “flag” — the white flag of surrender.
Why has it been so hard for a team whose name is synonymous with the sport itself to struggle to secure funding?
Even last year, the No. 8 very well should have won the Spring race at Phoenix, and was in position to win at Richmond just two events later. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing currently has a personable and competent driver who lacks only seat time in Aric Almirola; but apparently, there is just no funding to be found for what had been the most recognizable race car in all of motorsports.
What gives? Yeah, I know… “It’s the economy…”
Well, enough is enough. I am tired of hearing that same sorry-assed excuse every time a decent race team gets shelved, while mediocre-at-best teams continue to be fully funded and continue on indefinitely. It’s the same unexplainable reason that good TV shows get the plug pulled on them – The Dukes of Hazzard, CHiPs, and Sledgehammer – but stupid ones like The Surreal Life, Rock of Love, and The King of Queens (I’m sorry if you like this show, but it sucks, and Kevin James is not even a poor man’s Chris Farley) are allowed to broadcast on a seemingly constant loop.
It’s just not right.
Also affected by this mess are the estimated 50 employees of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing who have been released due to these sponsorship woes. It was also rumored recently that Almirola’s teammate, Martin Truex, Jr. and sponsor Bass Pro Shops might be on the way out as well. That report was recently denied by EGR President Steve Lauletta, refuting speculation that Bass Pro Shops has an out clause based on performance standards — along with a stipulation that Truex must have at least two teammates. While his explanation was done without reservation, if you look at how things have progressed for this bunch the last few years, the future doesn’t exactly look promising — no matter what has been rebuffed in the public eye.
Let’s just consider the missteps of the last two years at DEI:
Is there anything that the former Dale Earnhardt Incorporated has done right lately?
What’s more, the move to shut the No. 8 team down comes one week before heading to a track where a year ago, they would have won in this very same car had they not made an unnecessary pit stop for fuel with five laps left. With that type of history on your side, why not hang around for just one more week and try to get a good run in so you could possibly secure additional sponsorship? Of all the times EGR should be showing up to the track with this car, it should be now … and they aren’t.
General George S. Patton once said that one must always accept a challenge so that they can feel the exhilaration of victory. Granted, he was talking about shooting Nazis with M1 Garands and flamethrowers while running over them with tanks… but you get the gist of it. And if there is anything that is more shameful than not showing up to a fight, it’s showing up to a fight that you stand a pretty good chance at winning — or at least not getting beat up too badly. There are number of things that are sad, troubling, and disappointing regarding this whole situation. It harkens back to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. being treated as little more than just another journeyman driver two years ago, rather than the son of the man whose name is on the door. Moreover, this is far from a fitting tribute to the Dale Earnhardt, Sr. himself, the man who made the company possible in the first place. Do you really think The Intimidator would bare his throat, stay home, and keep the car on the trailer if he thought they stood a chance at running well?
As if it isn’t bad enough that General Motors is reportedly readying things to file for bankruptcy if need be, even their commercials airing now state that what America (and General Motors) needs is a comeback. Well, here is the perfect opportunity for EGR and what used to be the flagship of DEI to stage a comeback… and they are electing not to race. Keep in mind this is the same organization that not too many races ago nearly won (and as far as I am concerned, DID win) at Talladega with an unsponsored car and a rookie driver, Regan Smith. Now, they aren’t going to show up to a track with the same car that should have won last year?
Once again, perhaps the biggest loser in all of this next to Almirola are the nearly 50 employees tied to the No. 8 car that have been laid off on Easter weekend, making for far less than a Good Friday. And as they leave the building, Tony Stewart’s stinging prophesy of a year ago seems more real than ever before. DEI (now EGR) has now devolved into little more than a museum and T-Shirt store.
Editor’s Note: If you liked Vito’s column, it’s time to subscribe to the Frontstretch Newsletter … because that’s the only place you’ll find Vexing each week. That’s right; you won’t get this unique commentary you can’t find anywhere else on the site unless you click here to get it sent straight to your email inbox every day … FOR FREE!
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I make no bones about it; I wasn’t an Earnhardt Sr. fan (I thought he was a dirty racer) and I’m not an Earnhardt Jr. fan either (I think he is a mediocre driver at best). Sr. would just as soon knock another driver out of a race and then just smirk about it and call it a “racing deal.” Whereas Jr., albeit a rather all around nice guy, just isn’t all that great behind the wheel even when given the best resources available. What he is though is a hell of a marketeer and a hot commodity in the souvenir business. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if we saw HMS and Jr. make another bid for the #8. Just think how much money they could rake in when Jr. Nation has to retool their race gear…..again.
And I don’t think the #8 car is “the most recognizable race car in all of motorsports.” I can think of a bunch more that the average race fan would recognize long before the #8. The #43, #3, #24, just to name a few.
This is just another meaningless BLAH,BLAH,BLAH JR. article. Jr doesn’t even have the most wins as a driver in a #8 cup series car. GET OVER IT!
Now, wouldn’t that be funny as h*ll. All of those Jr. fans with their tattoo’s, now changed to 88, having to figure out a way to change them back?
I’m pretty sure Kyle Petty is racing Grand-Am this year, not ALMS.
I doubt Almirola would have had a good run at Phoenix, compared to Mark Martin, who has always been good at Phoenix.
As for the loss of an iconic car number, eh… I don’t see the big deal about car numbers. People hardly blinked when the #97 went away for Roush shortly after winning a championship. Nobody seemed to care that the Hendrick #25 was shelved so Junior could drive the #88, and that nearly won a title with Tim Richmond too.
I don’t care what number they put on the car, Dale Jr. doesn’t seem to have the fire he once had. Maybe it’s the rock star status he achieved. Something is missing and it’s not just the number 8.
Vito…It sounds as if you’ve given quite a bit of thought to this story. Yet, sometimes just thinking is not enough. The problem with your story revolves around numerous things, but I will concentrate on a couple. One, Dale Jr. and DEI. Two, EGR suspending the 8. As for Dale Jr. and DEI. Most fans and media members seem to always leave out a couple of tidbits when discussing the question of Theresa giving Dale Jr. majority ownership in the company that HER husband built. One is that SHE and Dale started DEI with the idea of creating a successful race team. Prior to Dale Jr even having an idea that he was going to be a racer. They started it so that Dale could focus his love for racing somewhere other than the race track. Dale was the owner, as was Theresa. But, on one fateful day, a day when Theresa Earnhardt went to Daytona International Speedway, just as they had many years prior. The husband that she loved didn’t climb out of the car. She went to the race track a wife and came back a widow. She also came back as the OWNER of DEI. Dale Jr. didn’t return as the owner, he was a driver at DEI, under contract to do his duty in the seat of the NO.8 car. Theresa could have sold the company that she and Dale built together (if you know anything, you know that Theresa was the main reason Dale started copywriting and trademarking his images, signatures, etc.). Theresa didn’t sell, she kept the team running for her step-son and the hundreds of employees that worked there. Now, I truly believe that Theresa and Dale Jr., in honor of Dale Sr. should have and could have found a way to make the ownership deal happen. But, they didn’t, and just like a “what if” in racing. There are many “what ifs” in this story.
That leads into my opinion on the No. 8. There are many “what ifs” associated with Almirola. What if Hornish hadn’t wrecked him with 8 laps to go while running 11th at Daytona. What if a radiator hose had not busted in California, running 21st. Vegas, Almirola has freely admitted that he messed up and wrecked on his own while running 13th. Atlanta, finally a decent finish, 21st. Bristol, the cut-off race for top 35. Almirola was caught in between a wreck that involved about 4 other drivers. He then fell out of the top 35. Martinsville, a bend in the brake vents, from contact caused hot air to be blown directly on the right front tire bead. Thus, causing 5 blown right front tires. Finally Texas, the team just didn’t have it. That happens, but when it happens to a team that doesn’t have full sponsorship it makes things difficult. How much do you think it COSTS to send a Sprint Cup Car and all of the crew members to the race track Vigo? Do your know? Do your fans know? If not, you should investigate. The problem with the available sponsorship dollars out there right now is that you run the risk of undervaluing your other current sponsors. If you sell, lets say 10 races for $1mil, that is $100k per race. You need about $200k to get to the race track. Now, lets say that you have another sponsor that is paying $8-$10mil for 10 races. If you are a smart business man for the company paying $8-$10mil, what are you to do? Personally I would say, “hey I want that 10 race $1mil deal that you gave that guy!” You see the decisions being made are not as cut and dry as the media and race fans think they are. The industry as a whole is scaling back, it will take time, but right now there are teams that are taking deals that have been unheard of in NASCAR for the last 10 years! Just two years ago companies were paying, in some cases, $5mil for 3 or 4 races. This is a business for these teams, and if you start going to the race track un-sponored and paying for it out of your own pocket, it becomes nothing more than a HOBBY!!
The article had nothing to do with Dale Earnhardt Junior – It was taking to task EGR for folding up shop the week before a race that they almost won last year.
Your feelings twoards Junior are well documented at this point, but this article had nothing at all to do with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Not everything does, even I know that.
Thanks, Vito, for another good story about the history of the #8. We who are Jr Nation fans really wanted that number to go with Jr, but the price was just too high. If Teresa had just sold DEI after Dale died, that company might have had a chance to be a prominent competitor. Instead, she has continued to make bad decisions from the day she pushed Ty Norris out the door at the end of 2003. The company went down hill and and hasn’t stopped. And instead of still having the #8 in her control, it is now a Gnassi controlled car. I think Dale would be ashamed of the way she has bespirched his name and the company he built.
You obviously have absolutely no idea of what you’re talking about. Even the most casual of race fans who don’t know a thing about chassis dynos or rear downforce knows that Kevin James is damn funny.
Smartracer – Jr. was not under contract with DEI. That came after Sr. died. Jr. said in his own words that he never needed one with his Daddy.
No matter where you go you still see #8 Jr. shirts, hats and etc. They aren’t wearing that number for anyone BUT Jr. and everyone knows it. When we’ve gone to races there is almost as many red & white Jr. shirts as there is green and blue put together.
I am sorry to see the #8 go the the wayside. Sponsors probably do not want to jump on board the #8 knowing how that number once had the most fans and it is not looked upon so lovingly now. Going from a popular car to disliked by many. Who’d jump on board against those odds. Mark graced it for a while but I never saw a #8 Mark or Eric shirt anywhere. TEI should have known it would not be an easy road for the #8 when it didn’t go with Jr. Common sense. I saw that coming a mile away & I’m not the smart business women she was suppose to be nor do I pretend to be. JMO
Carl D. –
The worst movie ever, is “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”. At one point I said outloud in the theater, “OH MY GOD, WHY WON’T IT JUST END….”
I stand by the story and my statement.
Paul Blart is the worst movie ever? Apparently you never saw a Paulie Shore movie.
I hope you know I was just messin’ with you. I have great respect for your work and really enjoy your columns. Keep ‘em coming. And thanks for the warning about Paul Blart…
Vito, to borrow a phase from President Clinton’s ’92 election, “IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID!” Just one of the first decisions alot of teams will have to make in the months ahead. This article had nothing to do with JR.? HA! Had Jr. not driven the #8, this wouldn’t even be a story. Teresa Earnhardt’s intincts were right, the one good decision DEI made was letting a t-shirt selling “rock star” go. Real drivers “EARN” it on the track.
T-shirt selling “rock star” never had a problem keeping a sponsor nor did the teams under the TEI roof. Jr. gone so is her controlling interest, some drivers, employees, and sponsor. How many people and drivers are now out of a job with her Ginn & Ganissi Mergers/Buy ins our whatever the H she has done to destroy DEI. HOW MANY TEAMS have fallen? Funny how all that happened AFTER your so called rock star left. Sure sounds like she made a great decision. LOL
Lack of sponsorship has NOTHING to do with DEI / Aric / or the #8…at all. Nearly everyone that has a big dollar sponsor, had the contracts PRIOR to last Fall. It’s well known big name sponsors on top cars like Aflac with Edwards, wants badly to sell off some of their races…and I’d guess that’s likely true for 75% of the sponsors. With the economy as it currently is, how can any company justify the huge expense, compared to lousy current profits?…even if the car was winning every week…you simply can’t spend money that isn’t coming in. Stewart/Haas have gotta be counting their blesings, as those deals were signed barely before all this set in. Those big dollar deals will get even harder to come by for the 2010 season…
Vito…Great article, great job. Keep up the good work and keep on tellin it like it is, as you did in this article.
Good article. I am sad to see another team shut down. However I think the loss of the number 28 team is a bigger loss in terms of history. I sure miss the black and orange Texaco Ford.