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 August 5, 2009
In NASCAR lore, the popular theory has always been that “Rules were meant to be broken.” Drivers and crews, in an attempt to outwit the inspectors checking over their cars, harkened back to the days when revenuers and law enforcement officers tried to shut down their moonshine still and running of contraband liquor through the hills of North Carolina and beyond. However, that romanticized notion has all but been euthanized with today’s sanitary and safe-for-public-consumption racing that has been molded and shaped to fit an ever-increasingly politically correct society, as well as an expanded TV audience who may not be familiar with both the nuances of NASCAR and auto racing in general.
Sadly, in today’s NASCAR it should be written, “Rules were meant to be detonated with a 500-pound JDAM,” as the last two weeks have illustrated so succinctly. These are not rules pertaining to the cars, but the rules of the race itself that in the previous couple of events has proven to require both attention and fine-tuning, either before the Chase begins or for the 2010 season.
These are three in particular I noticed need a major overhaul. Of course, you may have a few pet peeves of your own, so don’t be afraid to add them in the comments section below …
Pit Road Speed Limit:
Let’s take a moment to digest that phrase through the dictionary. “Speed Limit” – i.e., to limit speed; or in this case, the maximum speed allowed in the pits. At the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard two weeks ago, Juan Pablo Montoya saw certain victory snatched away when he was flagged for speeding on pit road during what would have been his final stop of the day. To be precise, he was nicked for exceeding the 55 mph limit on pit road and the accompanying 5 mph fudge-factor by just .11 and .06 mph in two different sections of pit lane.
The penalty saw Montoya relegated to midpack status, a move which cleared the way for the Hendrick Motorsports machines of Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson to duke it out for the win. Following the penalty, Montoya was beside himself, swearing on the lives of his children that he did not speed or exceed the cushion that NASCAR allows for stated pit road speed.
When it happened, I shook my head in disbelief. “There goes NASCAR again,” I thought, being heavy-handed and issuing an arbitrary penalty that in the grand scheme of things would have absolutely no outcome on the race. After all, Montoya’s total time on pit road only eclipsed eventual race-winner Jimmie Johnson by a few tenths of a second – tenths of a second going less than the speed limit on U.S. highways, not 205 mph barreling into Turn 1 – all of this while cruising with a comfortable five-second lead.
But having climbed down from my high horse and given a chance to think about it some more, it seems the blame here is shared 50/50 between driver and sanctioning body. However, the pit road speed limit rule needs to be changed ASAP.
If there is indeed a speed limit… then let’s make it one. 55 mph with no cushion. Let’s not forget, pit road speed limits were enacted for a reason, to protect the crews whose lives are in jeopardy servicing race cars. Tragically, it was a death that precipitated the advent of pit road speed limits in the first place. During the final race of the 1990 season in Atlanta, Bill Elliott’s tire changer, Mike Rich, was killed when Ricky Rudd spun on pit road and collected the side of the No. 9 Coors Thunderbird. The next year saw NASCAR experimenting with not only pit road speed limits, but odd/even pit sequencing based on a driver’s qualifying position. Pitting was, in effect, dictated by nothing more than a colored dot on the windshield of the car.
Furthermore, enough of this cloak and dagger stuff in not telling the drivers where the timing marks are. If NASCAR is going to play Roscoe P. Coltrane and shoot radar from behind a billboard with Boss Hogg on it, then let’s move into the 21st century with it at least. You know those big screens that your local police set up to show you how fast you’re going on the road? Why not have those set up? That way, if somebody is speeding, everybody will know it, with giant numbers flashing up to let everybody know that someone is breaking the law.
It may not be complete transparency… but at least it’s a start.
The Lucky Dog Rule:
While many consider the Lucky Dog rule, allowing the first car a lap down to get their lap back, part of the “New NASCAR” that flies in the face of convention, tradition, and sportsmanship, I actually support it. It helps to create a race within a race for the cars that may not be fast enough just yet, but are making adjustments to get there and are battling amongst themselves, giving the fans and the cameras something else to follow.
With the advent of the double-file restarts (SHOOTOUT STYLE – whatever that means), I have yet to see an exchange of gunfire between cars as one might have predicted (though I would not be surprised to see Robby Gordon sporting a 7.62 mm mini-gun in a recessed compartment this weekend at Watkins Glen). However, cars a lap down have virtually no change of getting a lap back “the hard way” as we have become accustomed to in the past. Therefore, lap-down cars need a way to be able to contend to get their positions back.
That is, cars one lap down… not three. Case in point, Jimmie Johnson Monday at Pocono.
The No. 48 Lowe’s team was in the midst of a Hot Rod Magazine bolt-on bonanza, throwing everything at their inbred Impala as it sputtered and stumbled all the way down the Long Pond straightaway in the first part of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 – a race name fitting with the length of the event. The culprit eventually turned out to be a bad spark plug that left the three-time defending champion three laps in arrears. But, on what could have been a disastrous day at the track whose laps never end, Johnson and team were able to take advantage of being the only car laps down and recovered to post a 13th-place finish.
So, while I am all for the Lucky Dog wave-around, this is one of those instances where it looks ridiculous and takes away from the legitimacy and intent of the rule in the first place.
What happened to the old days of drivers making up laps on their own, eventually coming back to win a race… let alone get a lead-lap finish out of it? Remember Bill Elliott in 1985 at Talladega, making up nearly two laps on his own to win the Winston 500? How about Mark Martin at Bristol in 1993, making up two laps to come back and win the Bud 500, his third of a modern Cup record four consecutive wins? We all saw Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Rusty Wallace do the same thing a number of times, further adding to their legend and the significance of the feat itself. However, when you make up laps simply by being the only car slow enough – or broken – to get overtaken by the leader, that should not entitle you to a handout by race control.
Yes, I realize it’s the same for everybody… but that doesn’t exactly make it sound policy.
The Penalty Box:
Speaking of Robby Gordon mowing down cars, why did he get the crap end of the stick on Monday? After nearly being wrecked by David Stremme coming out of Turn 2 (or what at least I think is Turn 2 … there is really no way to know for sure), he lost it in Turn 3 and got a poke for good measure from the No. 12 Not-Verizon Dodge. After declaring that he would exact revenge on Stremme after righting his rig – and amazingly not getting buried up to the hubs (he is an off-road racer, I suppose), Gordon retaliated with little more than a bump draft going down the backstretch – cage-rattling if you will. Then, following a legitimate pass of the No. 12 car, Stremme went after Gordon, hooking him in the left rear. Following the fracas, both were assessed five-lap penalties for rough driving.
Well, here’s my question; why is Robby Gordon getting penalized for getting wrecked almost three times in one race by the same guy?
There needs to be an objective way of calling these incidents. You have enough radio traffic and video to determine cause and intent, but there is a big difference between nudging a guy a couple of times squarely on the bumper and deliberately turning him in roughly the same manner that saw Davey Allison about decapitated at this very track in 1992.
Rubbin’ might be racin’ at Bristol or Martinsville, but at a track where near-Talladega speeds are achieved, the margin for error and aggression is eliminated.
With that said, if a driver causes a wreck that was premeditated and avoidable, he needs to be parked. If it was in retaliation for something, then five laps would be warranted. But should he bang fenders with a guy or give him something to think about following an incident, then you just gotta let some stuff slide and issue a warning. Although in Gordon’s case, when he comes across the radio declaring he didn’t care if he was parked should he seek retribution, maybe he should be black-flagged before he goes and does something ill-advised. Heck, in the old days they didn’t settle it on the track. Instead, you’d see somebody walking towards another driver with an axle shaft or a ball peen hammer in his hand.
Of course, this was also during time when a crew chief would produce a .38 Special from his toolbox or a driver’s wife would club an assailant with her purse — a purse containing a .38. That being said, we can probably find a way to handle these sorts of incidents before it escalates into all-out warfare at 190 mph.
So to wrap things up, if rules were meant to be broken then at the very least they should be amended. This Sunday, the race at Watkins Glen will likely conjure up a number of reasons why we should run more than two road course races a year, while the rest of you will probably think of just as many reasons why we shouldn’t have them at all.
Hopefully, I came prepared for your comments this week – because I will darn sure need to the next.
Did you enjoy reading Vito’s article? Well all right, do you at least like musclecars? If so, check out his latest review on the Examiner website.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I agree with you Vito. Those rules need to be fixed. I’d like to add another. I don’t think a driver should be awarded 5 bonus points for leading a lap unless it’s a competition lap. It makes no sense to award bonus points for either a) making a strategic move to gain track position, or b) staying on the track because you’re far enough behind the leader that re-starting at the back of the pack doesn’t matter. And to address the problem of lapped cars not being able to make up laps the old fashioned way because the of double-file restarts: Open pit lane for all cars at the same time. This way, lapped cars have the chance to retain there position in relation to that of the leader…maybe even get out in front of him. Now THAT would put some excitement back in the race. Hell, they all pit together at the beginning before anyone is down a lap, so why not thru the whole race?
Thanks for the Roscoe P. Coltrane mention. I am still laughing!! Brian France sort of looks like a taller younger version of Boss Hogg (not to insult the master actor that played Boss Hogg).
Wish I could help you out in figuring out the rules, but for some reason I never got my copy of the NASCAR 2009 Official Rule book that I ordered.
There was never any sound reason for giving a driver a free lap for doing nothing . Racing back to the caution never guaranteed a driver getting his lap back . In fact it often didn’t work . When racing back to the caution was eliminated , the competitors whined that they didn’t have a chance to get laps back . Hence the lucky dog nonsense . Now try explaining to a new or “ casual “ fan that a car can make up three laps by passing no one .
re: Robby Gordons penalty. Sure seem funny that ESPN claims to not have any footage of the incident that NASCAR says they penalized him for.
Raise your hand if you think that there was no footage of the incident.
Hmmmm No hands.
Now raise your hand if you think the reason there was no footage was because it didn’t happen.
Hmmm 1, 2 3, 4 …….
1 free pass per car per race. EOS.
Right or wrong (I think it was wrong) Montoya did get caught speeding.
Whether there’s a 5 mph fudge factor or not, everyone is going to push the rule to the limit; the fact that they KNOW there’s a 5 mph “give” just makes the limit higher.
Knowing the zones might make a difference, I’m not sure if the teams would figure out a way to exploit this. A speed limiter would fix the problem, but that would involve electronics that NASCAR doesn’t want on the cars.
While I’m not in favor of the penalties handed to Gordon & Stremme (I’d rather see the pit fight post-race), from what I saw, Stremme got into Robby off of turn 1, then slid into him while the 7 was spinning off of 3. At that point, Gordon’s radio comments seemed like his usual hotheaded crap. Then Robby proceeds to hit Stremme at least twice on the next run. Sure, David spun Robby on purpose, but they were pretty much equal players by this point. If NASCAR really thought that someone was out of control, beyond a warning or a post-race call to the trailer, then park them for the duration. Leaving them sitting and stewing in the pits is useless.
“You know those big screens that your local police set up to show you how fast you’re going on the road?”
LOL… that wouldn’t work to well with 43 cars all coming down pit road at the same time. You’d either need 43 signs each “tuned in” to one driver or a huge billboard with all 43 car numbers and their associated speeds. I don’t think that is practical. A better method would be to use transponders and gps technology to calculate each driver’s speed and display that on, at least, the television screen.
I’m a huge Robby Gordon fan and think he got shafted at Pocono. So thats 5 with hands in the air. And if NASCAR felt they had to penalize him and Stremme 5 laps for agressive driving why wasn’t Hamlin parked as well. He PUNTED Reuity out of his way. He wrecked two cars and didn’t care cause he was on a mission. And NASCAR looks the other way…again.
Here’s the question:
If Jimmie had been going over by .11 would nascar call it? What about Jeff?
“Well, here’s my question; why is Robby Gordon getting penalized for getting wrecked almost three times in one race by the same guy? “
Easy. Because he’s not a Hendrick driver.
It has always amazed me there are so many Robby Gordon fans on this sight. The guy is just not very good in Nascar. It is that simple. He jumped on board with Toyota and has gotten even worse. We will have to see if he is any better this weekend. He used to be good on road courses but latley he isn’t even good there. There is a reason he is not a Hendrick driver Oldie. He is not good enough. And before you Jr haters start to jump on me, look up the numbers. Jr has won a lot more races in Nascar than Robby. He is a two time Busch champion with 18 Cup wins. Robby is no where near that. I am not a Jr nation member but wanted to put that out there before you all start on the bashing.
Some people writing comments here have a great sense of humor. Congrats! :)
How about enforcing the “you can;t pass before the start/finish lines on restarts? Oh I forgot, this rule doesn’t apply to JJ. How could NASCAR miss him passing multiple cars before he passed the stsart/finish line??? Even better, when in the #$%$ are they going to penelize the #11 for rough driving. I really felt for the #00 this weekend. Oh I forgot, Hamlin was the “feelgood” story of the weekend. NASCRAP you are a joke.
Racing in the pits is the problem. Since pits were “closed” 20 seasons ago, this has been the problem. Why in the hell can’t there be a “tv timeout”, folks can service their cars SAFELY and then line up and race again???? Racing in the pits is a load of crap.