Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Voice of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Wednesday March 10, 2010
I received a call around midday Tuesday from Frontstretch’s Owner and Managing Editor Tom Bowles, asking me to change the topic of this week’s column. Not surprisingly, he requested a reaction piece for the NASCAR penalty issued to Carl Edwards following his lap 323 swipe at Brad Keselowski. You may have seen it by now: it was the crash that sent Keselowski’s Penske Charger inverted and imbedded, roof-first, into the frontstretch wall at Atlanta.
(By the way, it turns out that when you have a wing attached to something traveling the same speed aircraft do when they take off, they really do tend to fly away. But I digress…)
So what would be the price to pay for Edwards, exacting vigilante revenge on a superspeedway while 156 laps down, and after (judging from his post-wreck comments) essentially assuming the blame for the early-race accident that instigated his wrecking the No. 12? Would it be a couple weeks’ suspension? Disqualification from the event? A 150-point fine? Surely, some sort of monetary sacrifice would be in order… right?
Hardly. For sending another driver airborne towards innocent spectators, Carl Edwards received all of three weeks of probation. It was equivalent to a slap on the wrist, in my opinion … with the penalty so incredibly light, that slap could have just as easily been confused with a massage.
Wow. As much as I was at a loss for words, they could have just posted a picture of Edvard Munch’s The Scream for my reaction…
Before we get started, know my feelings on this subject are in no part due towards any ill will or animosity towards Edwards. I have always felt him to be a great ambassador of the sport, supremely talented, and a driver you didn’t have to worry about giving NASCAR a black eye. In this case, however, I feel he has done just that, and NASCAR’s decision to do nothing has not only justified it – it’s set a dangerous precedent going forward.
Let me first clear up this misconception that this mess is, in some way, “getting back to our roots” in NASCAR. Yes, drivers have wrecked other drivers many times throughout the past sixty-plus years. Sure, guys would take a shot at each other back in the golden days – but not at 190 mph. Stock car racing also does not have a rich tradition of flipping guys over in retaliation for other incidents on the track – particularly ones in which the driver who is doling out the punishment is, from what video evidence confirms, responsible for causing the initial wreck in the first place. That’s what tracks like North Wilkesboro, Martinsville, the old Richmond Fairgrounds, or the next oval on the schedule – Bristol Motor Speedway – exist for. If you had a grievance, you’d settle it at 100 mph, not at speeds approaching 200 on a superspeedway where somebody – driver or fan – could get seriously injured or killed.
There is also nothing in the storied history of stock car racing that celebrates or rewards intentionally wrecking somebody at speeds nearing the double-century mark. If this is allegedly “getting back to our roots,” then maybe at Bristol in two weeks, all of the cars should be stocked full of some sort of illicit controlled substance, the 250-mile race run through the hills of eastern Tennessee with federal law enforcement in hot pursuit.
(Ehhh … on second thought, maybe that’s a bad example. Because that would be pretty badass. I would totally DV-R that.)
Anyways, what was even more disturbing Sunday is the distinct lack of remorse and utter contempt that Edwards displayed following the incident, as he did not complete his lap after being black-flagged; rather, he turned across the legends track on the frontstretch, then drove backwards up pit road en route to the garage area. During his interviews, he never apologized for his actions, only offering little more than a passing gesture of relief that Keselowski wasn’t ground into kielbasa against the pavement. Later that evening, he posted on his Facebook page the options he felt presented with for dealing with the earlier incident: letting it go, confronting Keselowski after the race, dealing with it in two weeks at Bristol, or taking care of it right then. Well, he sure chose to take care of it all right; and in the process, he put a lot of people’s lives in jeopardy. It’d be one thing if his car was totaled at the hands of the No. 12 to begin with; but remember, Keselowski’s flip was in large part because Edwards pulled into somebody else’s lane a couple hours earlier.
Which, in turn, begs the question… what did Carl Edwards really have to retaliate for?
Going back to Talladega’s near-disaster in April of 2009, it was Edwards who set into action the chain of events that would see him turned backwards, ricocheting off of Ryan Newman’s windshield and flying into the stands – shattering a young girl’s jaw in the process – after driving across the nose of Keselowski’s No. 09 Chevrolet in an attempt to block him from passing as the cars raced towards the checkered flag.
Edwards’ spectacular flight into the catch fence and arrestor cables was shocking indeed, eerily reminiscent of Bobby Allison’s 1987 liftoff at virtually the same spot on the track. Yet the incident that served as the catalyst for Edwards’ retaliation during the Kobalt Tools 500 was the result of much the same action on the part of the No. 99 – driving down from a lane up across the nose of another car. Edwards did not have position on the No. 12 Mopar Dodge, and was not even remotely clear of him before steering down into his path.
As Keselowski said himself, it is not the responsibility of the driver on the inside to yank their car down onto the apron or slam on the brakes to avoid Carl’s aggressive moves early in a race… let alone on a restart. From the replay, Bobby Labonte in the red No. 71 car quickly advances towards the back of Keselowski, showing the driver had lifted in an attempt to give Edwards some space once it was clear he was coming down whether Keselowski liked it or not. It was not a case of the Cup “rookie” driving aggressively that caused the incident – it was Edwards’ blatant disregard for others in his path.
Sadly, it isn’t the first time we could say that about Edwards. Think back to the 2006 Nationwide Race at Michigan International Speedway. In a last lap shootout between Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Robby Gordon, and Edwards, it was the latter who drifted up in front of Earnhardt, Jr., who attempted to lift but made ever so slight contact with the No. 60 of Edwards, sending him spinning. On the cool down lap, Carl went Cole Trickle and slammed into the side of Earnhardt Jr.’s car while he had his hand out the window. Afterward, he confronted him in Victory Lane and grabbed Earnhardt’s firesuit, unhappy with his explanation of that tragic last-lap maneuver. At Charlotte last fall, he got into a garage tussle and choking match with Kevin Harvick after Harvick poked fun of him at Talladega one week earlier.
Then there’s perhaps the worst of all: Martinsville, Fall of 2007. Edwards confronted Matt Kenseth prior to a TV interview, grabbing him and walking him backwards before cocking his fist back as if he was going to punch the former champion. Back then, his teammates past and present were taking issue with his wild mood swings, a private matter that suddenly went public after what nearly turned into a five-second sucker punch that day.
“You don’t know what to expect with him,” Kenseth said, a sentiment that was later echoed by teammate Greg Biffle – as well as then-teammate Jamie McMurray. “One minute, he has so much respect for you, and he’s real friendly and everything’s so much fun. The next minute, he wants to kick your butt and he’s swearing at you. It’s a little scary.”
Also in 2007, former Roush Fenway driver Kurt Busch, who won Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500, reiterated those same feelings. “He is ‘The Carl,’” said Busch, who drove for Roush Fenway from 2000-05. “He seems to not be getting along with some of the other drivers that are over there. I’ve seen it all along with him. He’ll give you that flashy smile, but at the same time he’s got something underneath his breath for you. Now it’s just starting to appear.”
That was readily apparent to anybody who tuned in Sunday, seeing him accept partial responsibility for the initial lap 41 incident with Keselowski only to get back out on the track 156 laps later in a Mad Max-fueled moment, taking multiple swipes at Keselowski before landing the knockout blow.
Taking this documented history into account, it appears Carl “The Enforcer” Edwards has had beef with quite a few people within the garage area – both on his own team and beyond. So what is perhaps most disturbing about this punishment and the failure of NASCAR to issue any sort of meaningful disciplinary measures is that it gives the appearance that they have surrendered all control and authority, letting drivers dictate the rules on the track. By most measures, the guards have turned their backs, and the inmates are running the asylum.
Earlier this year, the decree was, “the gloves are off!” with NASCAR taking a less heavy-handed approach when dealing with the competition side of things concerning the drivers and teams. But getting back to the basics of stock car racing and letting the business end of the sport be handled on the track is in danger of taking a back seat to any semblance of order or sanity with this slap of Edwards’ wrist.
Say what you will about Keselowski’s actions in the Nationwide Series, or some incidents with other drivers – letting him flip with no repercussions sets a dangerous precedent going forward. It essentially states that anything goes, and the eye-for-an-eye mantra of retribution will be tolerated, even if it costs a fan an eye, limb, mobility, or their life.
Mind you, that is not hyperbole run amok, or writing something shocking to garner a few hits or a headline. If this “Boys Will Be Boys” mentality is allowed to prevail, something very bad will happen, as there is now a history of little to no consequences being issued for action doled out on the track.
What happened at Atlanta very well could have ended much worse than it did. Had the No. 12 not contacted the SAFER Barrier at the precise angle it struck the pavement, Brad Keselowski’s brain would have been little more than warm applesauce Sunday. Along those lines, it was particularly disturbing during Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’S NASCAR Now to hear columnist Ed Hinton shamelessly brush off any assertion that fans were endangered in anyway by the flight of the StratoCharger since it landed well short of the fence. Um… it would have only taken a slightly different angle for him to have crested that wall, and the fence at Atlanta Motor Speedway is not as robust as the one separating spectators from stock cars in Talladega.
From my vantage point, the impression given here is that NASCAR, so desperate for ratings, publicity, and to reignite interest in the sport, has catered to the lowest common denominator, effectively devaluing the highest level of auto racing in America to WWE status. I guess it is not completely coincidental, seeing as Edwards hosted an episode of the wrestling program Raw a few weeks ago.
But by not issuing any sort of meaningful punishment to Edwards, NASCAR has sacrificed driver protocol, fan safety, and the integrity of competition. The sanctioning body has now not only given their blessing that anything goes on the track; now, they’ve said that the worst a driver can expect by punting somebody airborne is that they’ll simply be “scrutinized” for a few weeks until all is right in the world again.
Back in 2002, Mark Martin was fined 25 points at Rockingham in the midst of a title fight with Tony Stewart for having a spring that was received short from the supplier, a glitch which caused the car to be a smidge low in post-race inspection. Following the fine, Mark made the statement that he felt like he, “had been given the death penalty for shoplifting.” By sentencing Edwards to what amounts to three weeks of being looked at, and presumably, not flipping anybody into the air, NASCAR has given him a high-five for assault and battery.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
So, why did Carl choose not to confront Brad in the garage after the race? Wouldn’t a good old fashoned melee in the pits satisfy Nascar’s wish for ‘action’ as much as putting other lives in danger? Yet, he chose to use his car as a weapon. I am impressed neither with Carl or Nascar.
well spoken Vito. Essentially Carl has become Russ Wheeler of nascar. While I don’t think Carl wanted to flip Brad, there are better ways to get retribution.
I agree with the previous poster. When Dale flipped over at Dega and was hit multiple times (and broke his shoulder), I believe the A frame held.
The Penske drivers should play “hit the Aflac duck” this week.
slap on the wrist….they were saying this morning on news in atlanta that fans were struck by the flying debris from the wreck sunday. wonder how those folks feel about a slap on the wrist. and it must have flown high cause most of the lower rows of seats at AMS were empty.
the ‘dega incident brad was holding his line…this past weekend, edwards tried once to wreck brad and when he wasn’t successful he tried again, with success.
All I can say, is I agree. Carl acts goody, goody on interviews but is otherwise is a whining cry baby and a big bully. I think he does not choose garage fights because he could not win. His muscles are for “show and tell”.
Carl should be penalized for backflips after victories. Somebody should place a cactus on his landing spot while he is in midair. Prick.
can anybody say ‘roid rage. At least Mayfield was fun at parties. Let’s face it…this is nascar, not the bataan death march. Take it on the chin and hit the trailer.
Quit your crying
Would it possible to take “Jose’s” comment off? Pretty crud and uncalled for! I am curious as to the majority of the driver’s reactions..mostly thumbs up..but no printed reactions from Stewart, J. Gordon, Johnson, Martin, Earnhardt, and some other big guns. I am wondering are they reacting “thumbs up” cause they really believe it..or do they just want to appear “manly” in this boy’s sport? I guess we won’t know until they are on the receiving end …
I’m with Josie. Bump jose’s comment and ban him. So immature.
Great article Vito, I have to say I’m glad I gave up my Bristol Tickets, I would hate to think I payed $120 to watch demo derby and a couple hundred laps of caution, for boys to be boys. I paid that money to watch GROWN MEN race.
Lets break this isue down .
Except for the fact that Sterling Marlin didn’t wreck Earnhardt.
If anything, he got the air taken off his spoiler, and slowed a bit with Marlin right behid him. He bobbled, got it on the apron, and shot up the track head on into the wall. It was kind of ironic that his buddy Rusty Wallace turned his car at the last split second, missing Earnhardt’s bumper by an inch, that would have changed the direction of his car and likely saved his life. Even Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has called such claims rediculous.
When it’s your time, it’s your time.
This ruling, combined with the new 3x GWC rules, make the sanctioning body’s intentions perfectly clear. Shredded sheet metal and a walk to the ambulance is the last gasp for ratings.
What most people do not seem to understand is the fact that Brad went Airborne is something totally separate from Carl’s retaliation. One needs to look back at previous penalties for retaliation to see if it is in line with that. Nascar needs to focus on why cars with all their supposed safety features are flipping with such ease. Had the car not flipped, I doubt there would be so many people so eager to run Edwards out of the sport.
If Brad wants to be inflexible at lap 40 and ruin other drivers days so early in the race so be it. But more and more drivers are going to let him know that there is a time to hold your line and there is a time to use common sense.
Vito , we certainly do dissagree about the circumstances of Earnhardts death . I know what i saw , you know what you saw . I saw Marlin being blocked , losing his temper , and trying to push Dale out of the way . Again , unintended results . Sterling certainly had no intention of hurting Dale . I can’t imagine that Dale Jr. would have any particular insight into the crash that killed his father . He watched it on tv just like we all did . His comment was directed at the idea that Sterling intentionally tried to kill Dale ( a thought that some fans had at the time ) , and he’s right , that is a ridiculous idea . Well , no matter .
Sarah, NO retaliation, no matter what the result, at a 200 mph (the fastest track in Nascar) is acceptable! Besides, the earlier poster pointed out that Brad let up, tried to stay out of Edwards bumper. Edwards was the one who should spend time thinking about how stupid it was to try to make that move that early in the race.
Where did I say the retaliation was acceptable. I asked if the penalty for the retaliation was in line with previous penalties for retaliation.
As far as Brad and his attitude, the drivers who are out there on the track with him are saying it. He will either have learned his lesson on Sunday or he didnt. Time will tell.
It will interesting to see the reaction if Brad “holds his line” against the MPD.
Vito, excellent article with the most good information I’ve read yet. However, you left out a glaring incident. In 2004, when Dale Earnhardt Jr was in the thick of the points race (in 3rd at the time, I believe), near the end of the fall Atlanta race, Jr attempted to squeeze up into a hole that suddenly closed up because Edwards (rookie at the time, just like Brad is now) didn’t lift. The accident ended Jr’s chance at a championship. Finishing first would have put him into the points lead. Did Jr get out of the car and say Edwards should have lifted? NO! Did Jr get back in the car and go after Edwards? NO! Did Nascar and any other sports writers comment on how Edwards should show more respect to veterans? NO! Did Jr even remotely blame the accident on Carl? No, he got out of his car and took all the blame.
From the drivers on the track with him…
“Brad has got to learn that he doesn’t need to prove to the world that he’s a tough guy. He’s made the decision that he’s not going to cut anybody any slack. He’s made the decision that he’s going to race aggressively all the time. Those are the decisions he’s made, and he’s going to have to live with the consequences of that. There’ nothing wrong with giving a little bit, and there’s nothing wrong with taking a little bit. But if you’re going to only take, then you’re going to come out of the short end of the stick more times than not.”
Hmmm Edwards/Earnhardt Jr incident 15 laps to go.
Edwards/Keslowski incident 40 laps in.
I seem to remember a little 4-letter word that contributed to ending Juney’s chance at the championship that year.
That said, I feel Edwards shouldve gotten $$$ and points, but suspension, come on get real people.
HUH? are we watching the same races carl had lots to retaliate for. half the garage wants to retaliate against that brad.
Sarah, I didn’t mean to start an argument with you, but Jr was 1st in points BEFORE he said the 25 pt word and that put him back to third. If he had won at Atlanta (he had a real chance of that) he would have moved BACK into first. At any rate, finishing 3rd would have been MUCH better in the final points than a DNF.
And, as to what the other drivers are saying, I see their point. But, teaching Brad a “lesson” at 190 mph is WAY over the line.
Right as rain, Vito. Lets all wait until someone dies and then point more fingers. If Helton can’t see the “line” that was crossed in this race, then NASCAR’s credibility is totally shot.
Something I read elsewhere today opened my eyes. What happen during the hour that Carl climbed out of his car in the garage and was interviewed, saw the replay, and admitted it wasn’t as he thought. During that hour what or who possibly made him decide he needed to, with only a few laps left, go straight out on track, find Brad and crash him. Did his spotter help him track down his target? I think there is more here than meets the eye. But no need to worry, the WE SAY SO sanctioning body, who will likely benefit in more ticket sales and ratings will get to the bottom of it,NOT.
I agree with Brian! This is such an obvious case of roid rage! They REALLY need to test idiot carl! One of the main symptoms of roid rage is explosive mood swings! I, for one, hope carl goes into the wall every race this year!
it just depend on how you wright the column, which crazies come out “ red mist “ I agree or tunnel vision, or brain fade, does any on remember the kindest gentlest driver in the world of NASCAR, must have been Dale Sr.
Lots of things to address here, so I’ll just make a few points before I get down to the meat.
No audio from Edward’s radio? Even fans have access to that at the track .. so why didn’t we hear it? Or haven’t heard it since??
Suddenly everyone’s on the bandwagon about the wing – now that NASCAR said they’re removing it this year. But where was the media last year pointing out how dangerous it is when a car get’s reversed? Something made abundantly clear at Talledega last year ..
I hope Edwards’ supporters realize what he’s started … hope you like races run under 90% yellow.
Wrecking someone racing for position is one thing .. 150 laps behind against a top 10 car .. and indirectly causing a dozen other cars to get wrecked .. if you think that’s ok, then you need to take a long hard look in the mirror.
But .. ultimately, this is NASCAR’s fault because of the idiotic ‘Chase’ and the resulting points (aka boredom) racing. A car 150 laps down shouldn’t even be out on the track. Ever.
Hey Sara Edwards. The other drivers are pissed because they are points racing babies that cruise for 95% of the race. Now comes this up-start kid who, get this, races for the win the whole race. Damn him and this style of racing. Doesn’t he know he should let other racers in when they want because after all this is a Coca-Cola drinking for the camera, fragile ego parade. I wish all the drivers became “Racers” and raced…what a concept!
Excellent Vito, simply excellent.
Right on Vito!
I really dont get the complexity here; to me its pretty simple. If you take somebody out deliberately, you sit out a race…..do it a second time and you sit out the season. Maybe then we can get back to racing as opposed to motorized roller derby.
Right on Don. Especially taking someone out deliberately that many laps down. Maybe different if going for the win at Richmond. And good writing Vito, much better than that Matt guy I am about ready to stop reading his stuff.
When that car was rolling to a stop, I figured Brad was dead, and that alone will make me hate Carl forever. I jumped on his facebook page and posted ‘sorry, I was looking for the “I Hate Carl Edwards Site, my fault’, and then took my name back off the fans list. I am sure very few people will notice because of all the stupid fans posting ‘Go Carl’
How many times could you wreck like that, before you would be hurt? We might as well give the crews crowbars to fight each other and the drivers a revolver with one round in it to play Russian Roulette if we are willing to take these risks for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON!
If Carl was to ever visit my town in an appearance, I would probably end up going there causing trouble (at least verbally) and be drug out in cuffs.
Didn’t Robby Gordon wreck someone or get wrecked as payback at high speed, Atlanta or something? That is the last high speed payback I remember.
When the wrecks started happening at Talladega at the end of the races, I was very happy actually, because the morons have to quit blocking. Now several races have had wrecks because some idiot thinks they are going to block every single lane on a 5 wide track to not get passed. In that case you have it coming. CARL.