NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
The Voice of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Wednesday November 4, 2009
Three days following this past Sunday’s most recent unmitigated disaster at Talladega, most of the pundits have by now offered their assessment of what transpired over the weekend. Some dismissed it as just another plate race, others say it is nothing we haven’t seen before, and some are content to brush it off using the most convenient cop-out in our lexicon these days: “It is what it is.”
Having had a chance to let these heightened emotions settle and my elevated Italian blood pressure subside, I’ve had a chance to read all of the quotes, review the race again, and have reached my own conclusion:
Things have gotten way out of frigging control.
By now, we are all familiar with the paradox of racing at Daytona and Talladega. You take off the plates, and risk creating a morose scene of a 3,400-pound car cart-wheeling through the grandstands, killing hundreds of people, while oil, fuel, fire, and 230-degree engine coolant showers those who were fortunate not to be crushed by a sub-sonic stock car landing in their laps. The other option is what we have had to endure the previous 22 years: restrictor plate racing that puts the drivers in harm’s way by increasing the likelihood of a major wreck, confining the casualties to the track instead of the stands.
This weekend, though, everything seemingly came to a head.
In the aftermath of hours of single-file racing, followed by the violent accidents of Ryan Newman and Mark Martin, as much as NASCAR’s yes men took to the airwaves and other forums, trying to quell the upheaval with consoling words and assurances to the contrary, most everybody else that follows the sport is no longer willing to tow the company line. NASCAR has painted themselves into a corner after this weekend, and is just about out of both options and excuses.
It reminds me of that scene in Planet of The Apes, when Charlton Heston gets the fire hose turned on him by his captor, Julius, screaming, “It’s a mad house…A MAD HOUSE!!!!”
So what has brought us to the breaking point that so many fans and drivers feel that we are at with what used to be one of the most anticipated races of the season, but has now become the most reviled?
Restrictor Plates: Contrary to popular belief, these were used long before Bobby Allison’s Miller Buick nearly tore through the catchfence by the flagstand in 1987. Originally used to harness the big block horsepower of 426 Hemi Dodges and Plymouths, as well as Ford’s BOSS 429-based hemispherical engines, it was always seen as an economical, fast, and simple way of reducing power at Daytona and Talladega.
But there was another option that was exercised in the early 1970s as well, when the speed of the wild-winged Mopars was getting a little out of hand; run a small block sporting fewer cubic inches. So with unrestricted engines today cranking out nearly 900 horsepower out of 358 cubic inches, might it be time to look at a smaller engine altogether? Faster cars do not always promote better racing; for proof, just take a look at Formula One. There’s a reason why airplane racing hasn’t quite caught on yet on a major scale…
To me, it’s clear the big problem at the superspeedways, as well as the intermediate tracks, is that these cars are simply going way too fast. While a restrictor plate can cut the power on a bigger engine, it is still a big engine, and whatever horsepower a smaller plate reduces, the engine tuners usually regain it again by the next race. Decreasing the size of the hole into the engine is one thing; decreasing the size of the engine altogether is something that needs to be explored.
Aerodynamics: When Bill Elliott ran his record 212.809 mph lap at Talladega in 1987, he did it in a Ford Thunderbird that looked remarkably similar to the red one my buddy Kevin’s mom had. What on God’s green earth do these cars resemble today? I am not just talking aesthetics, I am talking about what design cues do production cars have that might actually be advantageous to help pull the reins in a little bit? I always like looking at photos of old race cars, and there were a few traits shared over the course of 25 years, from Petty’s Plymouth or Earnhardt’s Monte Carlo. Stock noses, grille openings, stock hoods, and trunk lids, body panels with creases and contours in them that look like the ones in the cars you and I might actually consider buying… instead of the ones NASCAR races now.
But take a look at some of the photos circulating following the Nationwide CoT test at Talladega on Monday of Justin Allgaier’s No. 12 Penske Dodge Challenger R/T. That is the direction the Cup cards need to be headed, post-haste. A stock SRT-8 Dodge Challenger has 425 horsepower, and tops out at 173 mph. That is with a stock body, ride height, 20” rims, and 4,100 pounds of lard to lug around. Not everything has to look like a bar of soap with headlight stickers on it.
Modifications: It used to be that crews and crew chiefs would take a car to the wind tunnel and try to come up with novel ways of tweaking their cars to find the right balance of drag and downforce. At the same time, they’d conjure up a suspension setup that balanced mechanical grip with trying to keep the correct attitude on the front, all while trying to hide the spoiler from the air.
That is still the case today but to an even a lesser extent, as there is virtually no room to work within the current rules. Everything is now measured not with a ruler, but a micrometer. Today, you get state-issued springs, mandated shocks, and remember, don’t get too frisky with those end plates on that big dumb wing!
As bored as Tony Stewart was riding around in cue Sunday, the teams and crews must be equally dispirited and uninspired when constructing these machines.
On-Track Rules: In a publicized Tweeting exchange between Toyota drivers Michael Waltrip (who I have now deemed CincoCinco) and Denny Hamlin (UnoUno – OK, I’m done), the banter back and forth was regarding the heavy hand that came down prior to the race even being started Sunday morning in the driver’s meeting. Waltrip understood NASCAR needing to officiate, but Hamlin wanted some say in how he conducted his car.
Whether they agreed with it or not, though, the message was clear Sunday from NASCAR: No hard bump drafting down the straights, no pushing (Draft Lock, using ESPN’s nomenclature), and daylight between cars in the corners. The yellow line rule was also going to be enforced; you cannot go below it to advance position, lest you be penalized. So what you were left with is a 43-car parking lot, with no way to pass, and now, nowhere to go.
Sterling Marlin once drawled after a memorable Talladega Demolition Derby in 2001, “These cars need to be runnin’ 200 mile an ire. But I guess we’ll jes load ‘em up, take ‘em to Daytona, and wreck ‘em again.”
I have admittedly never driven a car in oval track competition. My experience to any sort of organized racing has been confined mostly to drag racing and autocross, though after 16 years of driving through snow on the moon-scaped roads of Michigan, I’m sure I could give Smoke a run for his money at Eldora.
That being said, everything I’ve detailed above is working in concert not to prevent a wreck, but to virtually guarantee that one occurs every single time. To keep score at home, you can’t lean on the engine, you can’t tweak the body, you can’t really work the suspension, and now you can’t drive the car and do things to get away from the other guy. One-time legendary race car builder Smokey Yunick was concerned that his car was not going to be fast enough to be competitive for a race. His driver at the time, Glen “Fireball” Roberts, told Yunick, “Don’t worry – superior driving ability will solve the problem.”
That is no longer an option.
If everybody has pretty much the same car, and everybody gets the same engine from one of five major team vendors – isn’t everybody going to run pretty much about the same? The whole reason the wrecks happen in the first place is the duration these cars are running in close proximity to each other. There is nothing to break up the packs and separate the fast cars from the average cars – and don’t say that 18-gallon fuel cell, because that just makes them pit quicker and is empty long before the tires wear out.
In previous years, we’ve been content with discounting “The Big One” or airborne stunt as just a part of superspeedway racing. This weekend, though, seems to be the breaking point. NASCAR is out of bullets, so to speak, with trying to control 43 cars from racing in competition at nearly 200 mph. It’s time to change the magazine, reload, and start from scratch. Throwing on a smaller plate and issuing some arbitrary rules about racing hard an hour before the race starts is simply not going to cut it anymore; not by the drivers, and not by the fans.
Sunday, as Ryan Newman’s No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet ground through sheet metal and roll bars, it went airborne and flopped onto its roof on two separate occasions that were eerily similar to the manner in which J.D. McDuffie lost his life at Watkins Glen in 1991. When Martin’s No. 5 Chevrolet violently tumbled over on its side coming to the checkered flag, Robert Richardson was screaming towards him in his No. 36 Toyota, while out of the smoke came the car he drove for the majority of his career, the No. 6 of David Ragan. By either dumb luck or divine intervention, it deflected the No. 36 away from his inverted Chevrolet, preventing it from striking the driver’s side door at 180 mph.
It took the death of NASCAR’s biggest name, and one of the greatest drivers in history, to finally make legitimate strides in racetrack construction and the implementation of ground breaking safety devices. Is it going to take the death of yet another driver – or grizzly injuries to some fans – until they finally make the move to rethink how to race at two of NASCAR’s signature tracks?
As a member of the media, I have had the opportunity to meet these drivers, speak with them, and spend some time getting to know them professionally. They do not deserve to be put in the position they are consistently subjected to, simply for the sake of “putting on a show.”
What I am trying to say is what so many fans are no longer asking, but rather demanding that NASCAR heed: forget your race for a minute, and help keep our guys from getting killed. This is supposed to be organized competition, not some Figure-8-School-Bus-Death-Jump-Through-a-Ring-of-Fire at your local county fair. What used to be one of the most spectacular forms of motorsports and one of the most unique racetracks in the world hosting the most compelling event is no longer.
It has become nothing more than a mad house.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“bar of soap with headlight decals”. nice!
i heard a great interview on sirius radio yesterday that tradin paint did with mario andretti. they asked for his thoughts on the whole talladega contraversy and he gave them. he talked about how when they built daytona they wanted a track where cars could run the same speeds as what they open wheel cars were running at indianapolis. obviously the fendered cars at that time couldn’t get around a flat 2 mile track at that kind of speed so the only answer was to bank the corners at 30+ degrees. so as many people have said this week the technology has passed the race track by. his suggestion was to bring the banking down to somewhere around 22 degrees so handling will play a role. they’re not going to go backwards with the cars. we all know that. and even if they did the engineers and technical wizards that these teams employ today would find work arounds. the track needs to be altered so that you can not just simply flat foot it all the way around. regardless of what they do with the car, with a 2-1/2 + mile track and 33 degrees of banking as long as drivers can just stand on it all the way around and not lift the problem can not be solved. how many times have we heard mark martin say what makes him so good is his ability to make his cars go fast through the corners. well when everyone can run the same speed all the way around the racetrack you are going to have the pack racing and violent wrecks. we have seen racetracks altered quite bit over the years to improve the racing at a particular venue. i just don’t understand why they won’t at least try bringing the banking down 10 degrees? hmmmm…… could it be that nascar likes the spectacular crashes and flips?
Its not the cars or the engine or the drivers. Its the track.
Yes, each of the above contributes a bit (people ought to remember that the COT was designed when engines ran 600hp, not 850+). But none of those is the primary problem.
Talladega is too big, too wide, too fast, and too easy to drive. There’s a reason why the fastest closed-circuit cars — the F1 cars — don’t run ovals. Making them brake to make the turns is the only way to keep them from flying off the track.
And there’s no aero solution to the problem. Even the trucks are running plates (they call it a “tapered spacer”, but its a plate nonetheless), because in 2004 they reached the point of speed where even that degree of bad aero started to fly.
The advances in engine and aero design have simply made Talladega outdated. Its time to reconfigure the track to make actual racing possible.
However, merely knocking down the banking would turn it into another Fontana/Michigan snoozer.
IMO, its time to consider the same solution to having too much power that’s used in F1 — chicanes. Put enough banking, variable banking to create multiple grooves, in the turns to make the racing possible then add chicanes to the stretches to force them to slow.
This would also have the benefit of putting skill back into the equation since the track would become much more difficult to navigate.
Difficult tracks make for the best racing. Fix Talladega by making it hard to drive and impossible to coast around wide open and it will fix the racing.
Meanwhile, the engineers can look at adding some kind of flap or swivel to the wing to deal with the tail lift they’re getting from turning around at the high speeds those insanely powerful engines give them.
Damn dirty Frances, DAMN YOU- DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL. (since we are qouting Planet of the Apes)
Make no mistake, and my tongue-in-cheek comment yesterday about Talladega being dead! It might very well be!
We are spoiled with the speed at Dega, in fact for 20+ years I have told everyone, if they watch one race in their lifetime, it has to be DEGA!
But present technologies have put the tremendous speed Dega offers, at the danger zone!
I don’t care how much, or how little horespower a car has, it will simply ALWAYS BE FASTER TO RUN IN A PACK! THE MORE, THE BETTER!
And on a 2.66 wide open race track this will always be the case, even at 100MPH! It will continue to be, a PACK menatality, out of necessity!
Unfortunately, the ONLY way out of this mess, and still provde “the need for speed”, Is to loosen up the rules, cars and motors, and let the teams/engineers affect how many cars will be capable of running “with the pack”!
I know, I know, the word “parity” comes to mind. But did you watch “parity” in action Sunday!
It was not good!
A good article, all in all, but I’m still laughing—at you, of course—for the comment about giving Tony Stewart “a run for his money at Eldora.” I’ve seen him run there several times, and I’d bet the only question would be how long it takes him to put you a lap down. At this year’s Prelude race, he whipped everyone else handily—with a car he put into the wall—twice.
I bet David Poole would get a kick out of knowing that Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin agree with him on the track!
Yeah well….uh…let’s see him get from Michigan City to Grand Rapids in 22” of snow in an ’04 Pontiac GTO. I did it in Decemeber of 2004.
good article. I don’t want to be reading about the death of a NASCAR driver and hearing NASCAR officials make excuses. There are solutions to the problem available. I used to look forward to watching the race on TV (all the races) or going to a track when I had the chance. Over the last 2 years since the bar of soap with decals became the norm, I find that I’m not that interested any longer. I don’t watch any of the pre-race garbage, I mostly tune in for the green flag (if I can figure out when it will actually be), watch the first 10 laps, go do something else for the rest of the afternoon and come back for the last 20 laps when they actually race. Ryan Newman and Mark Martin were lucky. Newman’s been lucky at the RP tracks a lot — I hope his luck continues to hold. Lots of fans leaving this sport behind because NASCAR has forgotten the sport was built on people and their love of fast cars and the personalities of the people who raced those cars. Hard to be loyal to a decal.
I am sure this has been proposed before, but…
The Nationwide engines are actually the same size as the Cup engines, 358 cubic inches. The difference is the compression ratio and something else I cant remember, along with the “tapered spacer” on the Nationwide engines.
Hey Kevin in SoCal, your kinda right on this displacement thingy.
In my GT-1 days, I ran mostly a 355 with lots of torque, so you set the driveline up accordingly.
Then for the National Championships one year, I decided to build a 310cid. (we were allowed to remove some weight for the record, not much but some), and with re-setting the drive line, gear ratios and such, I went faster with the 310 than the 355.
The hardest thing to get used to was the difference in RPM! With the 355, I used about a 7500rpm limit. With the 310, that jumped to 9200+/-.
So, my point is, one that I have stated before, well, sorta anyway, a mere displacement change might not be enough, but a displacment change along with an RPM limit just might do the trick. Lots of flexibility for the drivers to control at lower RPM, but when that rev limiter hits, say 5500! That’s it! No matter how much torque, no matter how much HP, no matter what gear ratios you have!
THAT’S AS FAST AS YOUR GOING TO GO!
Of course, at this point you must give the teams the ability to use any gear ratios and transmissions to select the gear speeds they feel give them the best race car.
holy moley…Kevin in SoCal and The Turnip finding common ground on a discussion!?!…I think this is a greater harbinger of doom for Nascar than any decline in ratings or attendance could ever portend ;)
Oh my “ConfederateWolf”, your making me blush!
But sometimes differing brilliant minds do not clash!
(just hope it does not become a habit)
M.B. What the heck have you been smoking? Chicanes on an oval? These guys can barely handle them on a road course let alone barreling down a straight only to navigate a chicane twice a lap. I thought the point was to reduce the number of wrecks. Might as well add a Figure 8 while we’re at it.
So how many attempts at changing the car does it take before NASCAR realizes IT AIN’T THE DAMN CAR!!! Answer: ZERO. They know this and they’ve known it all along. Spoiler heights, wicker bills, COT, so many different restrictor plate sizes nobody can remember them all…..
One thing I did omit from my column was indeed the track itself. Daytona is less of an issue because it is considered more of a handling tracking. How so?
Less banking, tighter turns.
In the past I have not been an advocate for reducing the banking, simply because I loved the fact that the track was engineered for pure speed. The cars have turned 200mph laps there since 1970 – and were hitting 200mph long before then.
There have always been massive wrecks at Talladega in years past – often the result of high speeds and not being able to stop, or cars getting airborne after wrecking driving in a straight line.
Now the wrecks occur because the cars are all exactly the same and have nowhere to go. Before it was bump drafting lifting tires off the ground. Now they run into the back of another car going 15mph faster, pushing them out of the way.
If you knock down the banking, I believe they would still be wrecking in the tri-oval and the straights – where all of the wrecks happen now. The cars will still draft, still hit 200mph, resulting in potentially MORE wrecks, due to the higher speeds entering the now slower turns.
They hit 208mph at Michigan going into turn one today – a track more than a half mile shorter than Talladega, and not nearly as wide. If the banking was knocked down, you would have still essentially have a big Michigan – really fast, and lots of room to run – but still, there would be packs of cars going nearly as fast as they do today.
Is knocking the banking down – making NASCAR pay for the latest round of changes instead of the teams – the answer? Coupled with the other items I detailed above it very well could be.
The main culprit of these accidents is not the speeds at the plate tracks – they have gone that fast for years. It is the proximity the cars run in, the rules the teams and drivers are forced to abide by, and the lack of car, driver, or team to have much input in the outcome of the race.
I also believe this new car is a bit of a culprit itself. The back and the front ends are beefy enough to withstand the impacts of bump drafting, so there is little to discourage it.
The wing on the back is acting just as the name implies – aiding lift once a car gets backwards.
If you notice, the new Nationwide CoT does not have a wing, but a traditional spoiler. I assume it will only be a matter of time before the Nationwide CoT – the one that fixes all of the ills of the Sprint Cup CoT – becomes the standard car in both series.
Just a few miscellaneous comments on your latest post Vito!
And I hate to say it (again) is Talladega doomed? I mean lets look at the facts, it was designed and built for Speed! (capital S), we want, we need the speed! But SPEED KILLS, both people, and the racing itself.
So The Dega’ has worked itself into a corner!
Reduce the speed, reduce the interest!
However, as you point out, and as I have stated, allow the teams for flexibility in setting their cars up, get away from the IROC style cars, get back to a “rear spoiler”, to help keep the cars on the ground, and maybe keep the restrictor plates, but allow gear ratio changes and such so the cars are not total equals on the track thus splitting them into varying groups, all by themselves via their individual handling characteristics!
And one final thought/comment!
Can you imagine in your wildest dreams that NA$CRAP would design and mandate a “safe car”, we now call the POS, for good reason, AND MANDATE A REAR WING?
A wing that produces LIFT in the backwards mode, a WING that totally counteracts the effects of the ROOF FLAPS?
Is there any better example of why this car is called the POS?
Is there any better example of the extremely poor engineering and development work done on this car?
Remember, early on, ALL THE DRIVERS COMPLAINTS about this car, even during it’s initial test runs, it’s early races, AND NA$CRAP REFUSED TO LISTEN!
They, NA$CRAP just said to the drivers and teams:
“Here it is boys, it’s yours now, good luck”!
“Psss, hush up, don’t complain publicly about it either”! OR ELSE”!
“Remember, you, (the drivers) need us, NA$CRAP, more than we need you”! as so stated by one Mike Helton at MIS in 2008!
THUS??? We see SINGLE FILE RACING AT WHAT ONCE WAS THE MOST EXCITING TRACK ON THE CIRCUIT!
And if it’s not single file racing, then it is cars flying thru the air, and not “with the greatest of ease” either!
A TRACK THAT HAS NOW BECOME THE MOST TERRIFYING! FOR DRIVERS AND SPECTATORS ALIKE!
Wouldn’t you just love to take that “bar of soap with the headlight decals” and wash out Brain Farces mouth with it?