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 May 20, 2009
There is no way to be polite about this. The United States auto industry is circling the drain.
Two-thirds of the largest manufacturing entities on the planet will have filed for bankruptcy within two months of each other in the next few weeks. First Chrysler filed for Chapter 11, and now word has come down recently that GM is readying for a quick sale to the government, biting the bullet and ripping off the band-aid for good. Sure, Chrysler has always been a bipolar brand, but who would have dreamed that ten…or even five years ago, that General Freaking Motors would be handing the keys over to the government? And while Pontiac gets thrown into the ash heap of automotive history along with Plymouth and Oldsmobile, 789 Chrysler and Dodge dealers across the country are turning out the lights for good.
Is it possible that NASCAR as we know it may not be far behind? Truth-time: Yes. It very well may be.
It is no secret that race cars run on one thing; money. We’ve all heard the old adage of, “to make a small fortune in racing, you must first spend a large one.” The Big Three automakers have, over the past 20 years, been shoveling millions of dollars into motorsports marketing like a Bessemer furnace during the Industrial Revolution. NASCAR has been getting the lion’s share over the last decade; after all, that is where the biggest return has always been. Be it for research and development, assisting race teams, sponsorship, or race promotion itself, it was always seen as a boon to be aligned with the hottest thing on four wheels.
Henry Ford’s saying of, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” may have lost a little steam once the cars stopped baring any sort of resemblance to what you might find on a dealer lot (that was about the same time David Pearson’s wheels fell off his Wood Brothers Mercury at Darlington), but even today, motorsports marketing and NASCAR in particular have still proven to be one of the most effective marketing tools used by car companies to move iron.
At least, it had been. Unfortunately, the traveling carnival that has always been Lollapalooza on leaded fuel could soon be coming to an end.
Chrysler is only a few weeks into their bankruptcy reorganization but is already getting a foreshadowing of what may be to come. The manufacturer had planned to spend $134 million in short-term advertising during the nine week period that their plants are idle and distribution channels shut down. But the current Auto Task Force slashed that figure in half – this, after Chrysler already drastically reduced what they had planned to spend during this same time frame to help move inventory and maintain their brand’s recognition in the public conscious.
While racing budgets may not be directly affected this year, what might this spell for 2010 and beyond? There are already rumblings that Dodge may be on their way out, with their flagship Penske Racing operation repeatedly popping up as a future Toyota team. After getting out of the Truck Series altogether and only having token participation in the Nationwide Series – a total of four Chargers having competed in the last race at Darlington – might Chrysler be preparing an exit similar to the one that played out in the late 1970s?
Apparently, my dreams of finally seeing the Challenger compete in Nationwide CoT trim are going to forever squashed. Sigh…
Yes, we’ve seen this act before. In the early and mid-70s, things weren’t exactly coming up roses for the Big Three either. The dawn of unleaded gas, catalytic converters, and rising insurance premiums coupled with a burgeoning fuel crisis and dearth of anything performance-related rolling out of Detroit brought about the end to factory participation in motorsports, including NASCAR. The sport managed to survive – not surprising for one that has its roots sewn in hauling contraband during Prohibition, then finally going legit in the post-war era when manufacturers stopped cranking out B-17s and Sherman tanks and got back to the business of building cars and trucks. Back then, sponsorship was still available and privateers plentiful, even during the dark days of disco, butterfly collars, and Billy Beer.
It is a different sport today, to be sure; vastly more technical, complex, and exponentially expensive. The circumstances surrounding it, however, are startlingly similar to what transpired 30 years ago.
Back then, America had just ended what was an increasingly unpopular 10-year engagement 10,000 miles away, the economy was sputtering along on seven cylinders, and everybody had a bad haircut. But just as many families did then and are doing now, racing trudged along and made it through the same time period. We have a long and storied history of repeating the past, and are about to embark down the same path as we did a generation ago. Except this time, as far as racing is concerned, it is akin to a cow being lead down the chute at a slaughterhouse. We already have one automaker in bankruptcy, and another – the largest manufacturer in the galaxy – soon to join.
This one, folks, we may not come back from; and it has nothing to do with NASCAR, Goodyear, or the Car of Tomorrow.
All of this is not the result of any true changing trend in consumer taste or a legitimate global disaster. No, the problem this time is more localized – hidden within the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. The higher mileage and emissions standards that have been arbitrarily set by the Obama administration this past Tuesday begin to take effect in 2012, ones that are federally mandated to be achieved by 2016.
These changes will immediately transform the American car and truck fleet to something drastically different than what we have today. The new rules force new cars and trucks sold in the United States to achieve an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg. That means cars and trucks sold in the United States will have to become smaller, lighter, and more efficient. This will have the effect of adding an additional cost of approximately $1,300 to the cost of a new vehicle.
I can hear the commercial now. “Come on down to the new GM – Government Motors where we dictate what you drive, and pass the savings on to you!”
Don’t think this will have any effect on motorsports or NASCAR? I beg to differ.
Read any racing-related website (including this one), blog, forum, or talk to the fan on the street, and they will usually to a man (or woman) declare the best racing to be had is in the Camping World Truck Series. If you recall, this was a feeder series that was created in the mid-1990s to help cash in on the exploding U.S. light truck market. No longer were pickups the sole domain of farmers, rednecks, or the bastion of transients with those weird campers that sit in the back of the bed. Instead, Trucks were ruggedly handsome, useful, and came in rear-wheel and four-wheel drive. With V-8 power and in extended cab guise, they offered much more than any car had to offer.
Pickup trucks were the original sport utility vehicle.
The conception of the series, however, also came at a time when gas was less than $1.00 a gallon and everybody wanted to get a haircut like their favorite character on Friends. My, how times have changed. Gas now fluctuates between $2.00 and $5.00 a gallon depending on whatever doom some Third World despot is promising, and friends don’t let friends get Friends haircuts.
If you want an expert’s opinion, Eric Fedewa, Vice President of global powertrain forecasting for the auto consulting firm CSM Worldwide in Northville, Mich., recently stated in an interview that the changes will make pickup trucks so much more expensive that they will be used almost exclusively for work, not as popular consumer items. While I don’t know if Eric Fedewa has a Friends haircut, what I do know is that if trucks are going to be relegated back to being the stripped out lumbering Clydesdales of hardhats, you can probably say goodbye to the series that promotes their sale in short order. Unless they start racing around on dirt lots and have a bunch of trailers populating the infield area to resemble a job site, manufacturers are not going to be putting forth any effort to sell trucks to the general public.
This, of course, is assuming that the U.S. government will allow any money to be directed towards motorsports at all. If fuel economy standards and greenhouse gas emissions are going to be risen so drastically and so quickly, where do unmuffled, carbureted racecars that get six mpg fit into this Red…I mean, “Green“…equation? Taking all of these radical transformations that have been set forth into consideration, government funded stock car racing could not possibly be considered a constructive or socially responsible exercise.
Or a fiscally sound one, either.
Some may say that these are simply knee-jerk responses and the over-reactions of your resident flag waver who wields a hot-rodded Mustang GT and a 14 mpg Jeep with an NRA sticker plastered on it. Far from it. This is a fairly straightforward nuts and bolts, dollars and sense arrangement. To develop these radically higher standards for fuel economy and emissions regulations, automakers – who are by definition broke and will be owned in part by the government (i.e., you and me, the vaunted tax payer) – will need to invest heavily in a Manhattan Project crash course to research and develop new vehicles, likely revamping and scrapping parts of their product assortment that is already in the pipeline. It will also likely mark the second death of the American muscle car, who, after it’s first brush with mortality in 1971, was resurrected in the mid-1980s – about the same time NASCAR began its meteoric rise to national prominence.
So what we will have are boring, underpowered, expensive cars forced upon a public that can’t afford them – with one proven and effective tool used to market them likely removed or so restricted its impact would be ineffective at best. Automakers will have to direct funds and resources elsewhere away from NASCAR and racing in general, either by necessity or government edict, as two of the Big Three no longer control their own purse strings.
While Dodge will likely fade into the distance with a whimper as they did in the late 1970s, the reduced financial investment of General Motors will have an even greater impact. Might this cause a domino effect where even Ford and Toyota axe sponsorship and investment in NASCAR? It’s like watching somebody play Jenga with the future of motorsports… and it isn’t very pretty.
In the meantime, will the last person leaving Detroit please turn out the lights? And you thought the ’70s were bad…
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
C’mon now! NA$CRAP uses 1950’s technology, I.E. rear wheel drive, V-8’s, CARBURETORS, (can you believe that?), and cookie cutter piles of metal! (called the CoT)
NONE of these items require manufacturers support! You can go to any junk-yard and get all the V-8’s you want, forever! (ok, slight exaggeration but you get the idea)!
So the (poor) product that is on the track right now can continue forever, and I mean forever! (now that’s a chilling thought)
The average fan will NEVER know that a car or cars has not been thru a BIG 3 wind-tunnel!
The average fan will never know or care what the engines valves are made of!
So the ONLY thing that will affect NA$CRAP is the money, but that will ONLY AFFECT King Brians wallet! (mostly anyway, he he will find a way to fleece other sponsors)
So, and very unfortunately, it appears with minor adjustments, NA$CRAP can continue running their CAR OF YESTERDAY, today, and forever! (can I puke now?)
OK, OK, some drivers pay checks will get smaller, but so what? Instead of a driver making $30mil a year, he may have to take a pay cut to say $5mil. BIG DEAL!
Actually, I have not seen a REAL DODGE, FORD, or CHEVROLET race in one heck of a long time!
Remember, decals are cheap! Really CHEAP! (and they can be printed in China)
I guess it’s better to assume the worst and not be disappointed than to be cluelesslly optimistic. Still, a sport that started with a marriage between moonshiners and visionaries won’t completely cease to exist due to a change in the political winds. We may be inside a domed racetrack watching electic cars silently compete for the Google Cup, but there will always be some form of “stock car” racing. It probably won’t be Nascar, but as it has been pointed out numerous times, Nascar has been doing everything it can to destroy itself since long before the current economic mess we’re in.
The real question is how long will a driver have to wait for government approval to be seen by the doctor at the infield care center.
NA$CAR NEEDS to change. From the top. Brian (the man who put the ass, in NA$CAR) France needs to Ride off into the sunset, on his money bags. We now have the big 4 owners, & some bit players. If some of the insane money were to leave the sport. Then it might open things up for more people like Alan Kulwicki. As it is we have the same 6-8 cars winning every week for the same 4 owners. The fact is the product has just gotten stale. Maybe the shake up it needs is coming.
AND! you say: “The United States auto industry is circling the drain.”
Well, King Brian is flushing Stock Car racing down the toilet!
Time for a big change, change the COT into 4 doors, and make it the same shape of the street versions, also make it a v6 or even 4cly, why not, I love the sound of a V8, but that motor is going away with Chrysler and Government Motors, this format will open up our sport to other manufactors like BMW, VW, Hyundia ect, get rid of half of the mile and a half tracks, I TV-O them anyway and fast foward all commercials and half the race, add 2 more road courses, there fun to watch, and alot more passing. Bruton smith wanted at one time to split from NASCAR, nows the time Bruton, do it. Oh on Jeremy Mayfield, I think he is getting Railroaded, no drug list, that means NASCAR can pick and choose who fails and passes a drug screen, you think a top 12 driver will fail, just drivers that nascar doesnt like, like Mayfield
I’m reading this right now from my deep underground bunker underneath my residence, the Naval Observatory. This article is crap. GM has made extremely bad choices leading up to this point. Their cars are not fuel efficient, which is what the modern day consumer wants, and lets face it, nobody likes the HHR except people of color who also love McDonalds. Get a grip you neocon. Vote for me 2012.
When the factories pulled support in the early 70’s teams still went on as Independents. Bud Moore, the Wood Bros., carried the Ford banner competively for years. Not sure about the Dodge teams, but I expect most top chevy HMS, SHR and RCR teams will do the same. Unless you were a Mopar fan, NA$CRAP carried on quite well back then. With the potential of an only Toyota/Ford IROC show, race addentence and TV ratings will drop big time even more. NA$CRAP will be forced swallow their greed and adjust the playing field. As CLUELESS as NA$CRAP is being run these days by BRAINLESS FRANCE, when he gets over his $$$ hangover, NA$CRAP will change their business model. When the auto industry emerges in 2 or 3 years, they probably will be back with some form of support.
It did not cost $25 million to run a season back then – not even in 1974 dollars. This was also during an era when a tobacco producer was the series sponsor, and everbody looked like they were homeless.
As for VP Biden’s comments, GM’s folly is the result of being beholden to the UAW, not making cars that people don’t want. If they consistently compete with almighty Toyota for global sales, they must be doing something right.
The ONLY place on the planet where GM loses money is in North America. As far as building fuel efficient cars, all of them compare favorably with the competition. When gas went back down under $2.00 a gallon, people started buying trucks and SUVs again.
American’s don’t want small cars that will get obliterated by a Super Duty in side-impact. Those of us who live in Nothern climates kind of need 4wd as well.
Stock car racing , and for that matter auto racing of all types , got started because two men who owned cars wanted to see who’s car was fastest . And no matter how little money Detroit spends on racing in the future , no matter whether Brian France actually succeeds in driving Nascar right off of a cliff , and without any input whatsoever from any santioning body or individual , auto racing will continue . Maybe in a modified form from what we see today . But there will always be two or more car owners who want to find out who’s car is faster .
What ever is meant to happen will happen. But know this one solid fact; if it has wheels and there are two of them, then men will race them against each other. It has been going on for centuries.
That might be well and good, but if I want to see racing, I can go downtown on a Saturday night and watch cars race.
If you want it televised for free into your living room and promoted so that it continues unbated, then this is probably going to pose a problem.
If ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ held ANY water at all for the last 25 yrs, then GM wouldn’t be the sinking ship that they are, now would they?
Vito, I’m almost certain that that wasn’t Joe the VP since it wasn’t scrawled in crayon on his monitor.
Seriously though. I’ve bought my last GM or Chrysler product. I don’t buy gov’t surplus.
Amen. Though I am willing to make an exception for the Challenger SRT8. Because it is totally awesome. And by totally awesome, I mean, “Totally Sweet”.
Good riddance to the “Nascar as we know it now”. I guess the teams will just have to learn to struggle along with the rest of us. Just think where they will be; budgets of only 2, 3 million a year, shops of 25,000 square feet or so instead of 300,000 square feet, three or four cars per driver, no more Gulfstreams just Beechcraft Kingairs, and the salaries will drop from the millions to maybe 200 to 500k a year. Maybe some simpler cars..who knows? I’ll bet one thing…the racing will be just as competitive..maybe more so.Feeling sorry? I’m not.
Well, look at it this way…
Vito – for the price of a SRT8, you can get yourself a nice original Challenger or Cuda. No Hemi of course, but still, a well massaged 383 car can show the new guys how it’s done.
J Meyer – Not much chance of that. The UAW is in bed with BHO. That’s the reason for the bail out instead of normal bankruptcy.
I had a REAL Cuda – a 1972 with a 440 and a 4-speed. Old school muscle is still awesome, but so is air conditioning and overdrive transmissions. If you want to know what it is like to drive a stockcar, go drive an E-body around for two hours on a 90 degree summer day. 3800rpm at 80mph on the highway provides the perfect restrictor plate soundtrack.
Having said that, there is nothing better on a summer night than loping around with 500ft/lbs of torque a flick of the foot away.
There is nothing in NASCAR now that resembles anything on the street, so what will changes in car manufacturing have to do with it? NASCAR is in the same mess as the car manufacturers. As for fuel, the ALMS doesn’t run on fossil fuels, nor does Indy car. NASCAR can do the same. If NASCAR fails it won’t be because of the govt. It will be because of Brian France and his minions.
Nascar, racing, as a true nascar fan, is dead and gone!! I dont’t think, to many fans would care! Same, drivers ,always win, to much change, and none of it good.It“s to boring to watch, much, less pay to see it. I quit, going to the races and fast forward, thru, most of it, on the t.v.!!
If Chevy, Chrysler, and Ford are gone, dont you think we have a hell of a lot more problems in this country than if King Brian gets a paycheck. Get real, if we go in the dumper, who gives a crap about NASCAR?
Exactly…which is why I am in utter amazement that nobody really seems to care.
I guess the 1970’s parallels continue, with this malaise of indifference that seems to be surrounding this.
Oh well. Whatever. As long as we get to vote for who wins American Idol or Dancing With The Stars, I guess that’s the important thing.
I know! Let’s (us as taxpayers)just let the big 3 keep going like they were, losing BILLIONS per year! Yeah! Obviously they know what are doing and know how to run their business! Every few years, let’s just give them another handout with out oversight just so idiots can feel good about Ford, Chrysler and GM beIng ‘viable’, productive, worthwhile companies.
The government is setting us up to buy less gas. Whenever we’re set up to buy less of anything, the government makes less on taxes. Since our government can’t do with any less than what it has, wherever we spend less, taxes will increase, and since we’re spending less because of a restriction, our quality of life goes down.
If someone wants a truck and will pay for it, he should damn well have his truck. If you want something in this country, you can usually work to get it. These new mandates, among others, just put those things farther out of reach.
And what about Ford? If the government owns and funds GM, how the hell can Ford compete? Ford employees’ tax money will be funding a company that may help put them out of business and out of a job. Not that Ford’s future is bright anyway, but so long as they’re afloat it still seems wrong.
This country is losing it and is losing it fast. Everyone will be cruising around in Obama-buggies eventually the way this is going.
Prepare for a NASCAR Smart Car division to replace the trucks. Instead of hitting the pits for gas, they’ll pit so someone can turn the giant key sticking out of the trunk some more.
Well, after YEARS as a MOPAR guy, even racing the only pure MOPAR @ Motordrome and Jennerstown for years, I bought a new F-150 this year. I bought the Ford precisely ecause they didn’t take the government poison pill. Rest assured that when I make my annual trek to IRP to see the Truck Series run, it’ll be a change cheering for a Blue Oval, but I’ll be cheering for FREEDOM and CAPITALISM as opposed to Fascism.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned.