Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The Voice Of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Wednesday April 29, 2009
As you may have noticed, much of the action that many have become accustomed to in NASCAR has been absent over the last few weeks. Matt Kenseth winning back-to-back races was nice, and it surely did many good to see Mark Martin back in Victory Lane. For the most part, however, this has been a lackluster season, with little to rally around or get up in arms about.
For motorsports writers, when there is a lull in the season, it can be tempting to go to the well for topic and ideas: What’s Wrong with Junior? Why Does The Car of Tomorrow Have To Suck? Why Was Racing So Much Better In 1985? Fortunately, you can always count on Talladega to be a game changer, making you realize why you got so jazzed about this sport in the first place. This past weekend was certainly no exception, as there was more to write about from those 500 miles than the 3,160 that preceded it.
It also brought to the surface a few familiar issues with both NASCAR and superspeedway racing that have endured as long as Talladega itself.
Let’s take something pretty basic for instance, such as the construction of the racetrack. Might it be possible for somebody to actually drive around the track and look at it before they turn 43 cars loose at 200 mph in competition? With all of the talk of SAFER barriers and a commitment to protecting the drivers, why are there walls positioned at nearly 90-degree angles at both the fastest and most precarious parts of a track known for hosting the most spectacular and devastating crashes in the sport’s history?
Recall Michael Waltrip’s slide through along the frontstretch on lap 44. Waltrip did an incredible job of harnessing a car that was out of control – even better than both of the Busch brothers did – and keeping his car from going Kool-Aid Man on the inside retaining wall. But before his flat Goodyears got ahold of something tacky, he was headed for an opening in said wall which was at an acute angle to the direction of traffic. Had Waltrip struck this part, it would have stopped the car both instantly and violently.
I’m not an engineer by trade, but I’m fairly certain that the human body does not respond well slowing down from 190 mph to zero in three feet.
Robby Gordon came closer to an unkind fate in the midst of a lap 181 multi-car pileup on the backstretch. While it still boggles the mind how you can wreck 15 cars driving forward in a straight line, even more incomprehensible to me is how you consciously position a wall opening at a life-threatening angle. Gordon sustained a severe frontal impact that wiped out the first five feet of his Jim Beam Toyota – and he struck the cushioned part of the wall. Considering the Car of Tomorrow is far from a shrinking violet when it comes to structural rigidity, that’s a violent impact. And a few feet past where he hit was the making of a scene similar to that of Jeff Fuller’s wreck at Kentucky in 2006, where his car was effectively taco-ed after it struck a retaining wall tilted at a similar angle.
Of course, Fuller’s impact was at a low-banked, 1.5-mile speedway, traveling maybe 150 mph. He did not wreck at a 200 mph speed-drome constructed on an ancient Indian burial ground … and if he did, who knows if he would be alive today?
For all that NASCAR does to make the tracks safe for competition (and crashing), these are two glaring examples that need to be addressed, and hopefully will before somebody is killed. Which brings us to our next topic: one that, according to Carl Edwards, won’t change until somebody is.
For the life of me, I cannot understand what purpose the yellow line rule serves at Talladega and Daytona. The idea is that the yellow line rule will prevent a driver from passing on the flat part of the apron, only to lose control while transitioning to the banking in front of the pack. But that always seemed to me like a self-policing policy more than anything else. As much as a driver would like to gain position, sitting sideways in a cloud of smoke with 40 cars barreling towards you at 300 feet per second isn’t exactly how they would prefer to spend a Sunday afternoon.
My initial smart-assed cynical response is that it exists to mimic an out of bounds line as found in other sports – a blatant effort to attract the casual fan, so Sportscenter-Guy can draw a parallel between a racetrack and Wrigley Field. Because the funny thing is it hadn’t been an issue the previous 30 years. Following an incident in the 1999 Daytona 500 between Dale Jarrett and the late Kenny Irwin, Jr., as well as a couple of near misses in 2000, NASCAR suddenly decided to institute an out of bounds line for Daytona and Talladega starting with the 2001 July Daytona event.
This same yellow line rule, designed to prevent accidents, served as the catalyst for Carl Edwards’ Fusion to achieve fission instead — blowing apart the catch fence on the front straightaway while nearly valeting with Bob Uecker in the front row. At least eight fans were injured by flying debris (the radiator, carburetor, and PA system had to end up somewhere), which could have very easily became a catastrophic event had the Nimitz -class arrestor cables that keep man from machine failed to perform — allowing the unthinkable to happen.
Thankfully, nothing truly tragic occurred. However, it highlighted quite clearly that the yellow line rule is a failure. In three consecutive races, it has either confounded the outcome of the race or instigated very large crashes.
During the final few hundred yards of the Aaron’s 499, Brad Keselowski maintained track position, making it clear he was not going to be forced below the yellow line. Prior to the race in the drivers’ meeting that was televised on two networks, NASCAR declared that even getting pushed below the yellow line was no longer an excuse. Go below the yellow line and suffer the consequences, they said … so Keselowski didn’t.
In 2008, Regan Smith tried to avoid catastrophe and sending fans to the hospital, and was dropped from first to 18th position as a result. In the process, NASCAR robbed him of a well-deserved win, a great story of a rookie winning a race, and a much needed boost for a once proud organization that has become the Detroit Lions of NASCAR. Brad Keselowski knew about that fateful day … and was determined not to suffer the consequences. So, he went Tears of The Sun and answered NASCAR’s call of “Hold The Line!” And what resulted was a scene eerily reminiscent of 1987, when Bobby Allison’s machine went into low-earth orbit at about the same spot — nearly turning his Buick Regal into the Grim Reaper.
In both instances, the drivers involved did exactly what they should have; and in both situations, the outcome was disastrous. The first car back to the stripe did not win last October, and this year, both driver and fans were placed in unnecessary peril due to rules that appear to be handed down from some obtuse universe. In what other form of racing is blocking encouraged?
Not in Formula One. Not in IndyCar. Not even at your local dirt track. Only in NASCAR.
Which brings up the most common complaint when the discussion of superspeedway racing comes up – the restrictor plates. Since their introduction in 1988, the resounding call has been unanimous: “Take off the plates and let them race!” A romantic racing notion, indeed. Many long for the golden days of the slingshot pass, Petty and Pearson dulling in the closing laps in big-block Dodges and Mercurys, the race car in its purest essence – wide open, flat out, belly to the ground, running as fast as mechanically possible.
It is, unfortunately, an era long since passed and wholly unrealistic though.
Can you imagine what damage could have been done had Edwards and company been traveling another 30 mph faster? These cars get light and generate lift just as an aircraft does — at about 170 mph. But when you’re traveling at B-17 velocities, it might actually just take a rocket scientist to figure out just how far and high one of these cars can travel.
Some say the track should knock the banking down. Um… do you remember Indianapolis last year? How is sending them through flat turns even faster going to help anything? Goodyear has been working for the last ten months on a tire that will work there, and still can’t quite get it right. The late Dale Earnhardt once suggested moving the grandstands into the inside of the track as a solution. I paused for a moment after hearing that and thought, what a brilliant idea!
Then, I remembered – Dale Earnhardt died hitting a wall at about 150 mph, not 230.
In 2004, Rusty Wallace ran his Miller Lite Dodge around Talladega unrestricted as part of a NASCAR communications test. He lapped the 2.66-mile track at well over 221 mph – peaking at 234 mph according to some reports – on the backstretch. That was just one car by itself that was not prepared to run specifically at that track – and not in a pack of 42 other cars in the draft. You can repeal the laws of restrictor plates, but not the laws of physics. A car striking the wall or another car on the track at that speed would make for another year of tears, flags at half mast, and pre-race memorials that could easily be prevented.
Sure, the racing would be exciting – much the same way that getting shot at is exciting. And I don’t see how it would improve the “when driver and fans are getting killed with Metamucil-like regularity” ratio.
With as much that went wrong this past weekend – as well as what could have been even worse – thank God we still have Talladega on the schedule. There are many races on the calendar at some of the newer tracks that barely rate a shrug of the shoulders due to their “cookie cutter,” beige, boring, pre-packed monotony that is to be endured, not enjoyed. Talladega, however, is an animal all its own; one of the few remaining links to our past that is to be celebrated and revered for what it so proudly represents:
Same old NASCAR. Same old problems.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Three things to improve plate racing.
1. Get rid of the yellow line. This serves no purpose.
2. Use engine size to slow the cars down. This will let the teams have unresticted engines. Since the small teams lease engines this will be no more expensive that the present plate system.
3. Make the fences stronger and move the fans back futher away from the track. This will allow more room to control the debris that big wrecks make.
The Talladega races are what NASCAR needs because it keeps your attention for the whole race. No one checks out and it keeps you interestd in the race as it unfolds. But it just needs to be safer for the fans.
Vito-nice to hear some of you guys taking an educated stance on this plate thing.
The plate tracks are obsolete, unsafe and it a matter if time until someone else gets hurt or killed.
Plus, it is a shame that the results of the “big one” skew the point standings
Some variations on Mr. Dedmons ideas:
1) Passing below the yellow only allowed on the final two laps.
2) Five litres (305c.i.) unrestricted displacement on super speedways. Generally same blocks, different cranks..at least on Chevys.
3) Adopt the Indycar blocking rule…you get to block the guy (or woman) behind you once…do it a second time and its a drive through penalty.