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.
Vito Pugliese · Tuesday March 30, 2010
Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin is off today. Vito Pugliese filled in … look for Matt’s thoughts on the race to pop up a little later this week!
The Key Moment: On a green-white-checkered restart in overtime (Lap 507), The No. 11 car of Denny Hamlin on four fresh tires tagged the back of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet of Ryan Newman, then the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon – and then the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford of Matt Kenseth, clearing the way for him to take the lead and the victory. Teammate Joey Logano scooted by behind him, coming home in second for a one-two Joe Gibbs Racing Finish.
Dramatic Moment: Which one? With four laps to go, Hamlin restarted ninth – five rows back. The next lap, he went three-wide for fourth place, where he would stay until Paul Menard got together with Kyle Busch. That brought out the final caution and green-white-checkered restart – while leader Jeff Gordon was within helmet-throwing distance of the white flag. Then, Gordon got bumped by Kenseth on that final restart, causing plenty of extracurricular activity between them that allowed Hamlin to pass for the win.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week:
All we heard last week from just about every news source on television, print media, and the internet was about the formation of a new independent group so steadfast in their beliefs and deeply held convictions, they would do whatever they could in their power to help bring about and effect change. No, not the Tea Party, the informal ABJ Group: Anybody But Johnson. Well, following Denny Hamlin’s second consecutive win at Martinsville, and third in ten attempts, the potential stands that there might be an ABH Group forming shortly. It’s probably for the best they don’t, though; that acronym is already taken. (If you have ever watched Gangland on The History Channel, you’ll know what I’m talking about…)
Might Casey Mears get a shot at driving one of the best cars in Sprint Cup Racing next week at Phoenix? Very possible, with Monday’s rain-delayed race delaying Denny Hamlin’s scheduled surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in a basketball game early this year. But should Hamlin not be able to go, or need to be relieved, Mears would be climbing into a car that has been hard to handle at flat tracks. And Mears’ career at Phoenix hasn’t exactly been stellar, either. With an average finish of 27.2 at PIR, he has to be wishing that surgery could have come a week later at Texas (where he has four career Top 10s and a pair of Top 5s). Then again, considering the sled he has been trying to get into races this year, he’d probably feel just as fortunate driving a Fed Ex truck.
If there is indeed any truth to the rumors Martinsville is in danger of losing a date to Kansas or Kentucky, please NASCAR, come to your senses. Use this race as witness to the glory of short track racing, as it was easily the best we’ve had in quite sometime. Time and time again, the old tracks never disappoint, and today – on NASCAR’s sole original track remaining from 1949 – was no exception. If there is anything more beautiful than the sights and sounds of 43 unmuffled, 900-horsepower stock cars pulling off the second turn at Martinsville amid the greenery on a crisp, sunny, spring afternoon, these four eyes and two ears have yet to feast upon it. Then again, producing one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history at Rockingham in 2004 did nothing for The Rock to free its melon from the unrelenting guillotine of “progress…” so stay tuned. Attendance Sunday was listed at 58,000 (10,000 short of capacity), and Monday’s crowd was estimated at 40,000 – even though the stands looked less than half full. Those are the worst attendance numbers for the 2010 Sprint Cup season to date.
If it wasn’t enough that he didn’t win for the fourth time in six races, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus were heard to be – gasp! – disagreeing with each other on the radio early in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. Under caution, Johnson asked Knaus for some assistance getting into the pits, to help him avoid pushing the envelope too far and getting busted for speeding. Surprised, Knaus responded repeatedly and emphatically that Johnson was to absolutely not try and slow his entry down at all because: “it is impossible for you to get caught speeding in that section!” And to think some fans actually dare to raise the specter that it’s anything less than honorable the way Knaus and company have managed to win those 50 races and four championships. (Or is that 48 races? Knaus was suspended for two of them for cheating with an adjustable rear window during Daytona 500 qualifying in 2006. Whatever.)
It appeared there may be another entry into the Brad Keselowski saga after Keselowski’s No. 12 Dodge, sporting the new corporate logo of two diagonal slashes (apparently a long-horned sheep just didn’t resonate as Chrysler’s performance icon) bounced off the curbing in Turn 4 and into Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Aflac Ford. But nobody was put on their lid this week, and when informed of Keselowski’s apology, Edwards responded, “That’s fine.” So all appears to be forgiven between these two… until you remember that driver of the No. 99’s still on probation. Remember, Edwards took responsibility for the Atlanta incident right before sending Keselowski skyward.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and crew chief Lance McGrew were both pleased with the performance of the No. 88 AMP Sugar Free Chevrolet during practice this past weekend. But come race time, the car was again not quite right and just a tick off the pace in coming home 15th. A pit road problem was once again the key to self-destruction, with a call by McGrew to pit closer to the box costing Earnhardt precious time on a caution flag stop; it dropped him well outside the top 10, and while stuck in traffic the duo was never able to work their way back up. That left them stuck with a mixed bag result in what’s typically been a mixed bag season to date. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is still in the Top 10 in points, 159 markers out of first. However, he is also less than 100 points out of 19th. Maybe McGrew should accuse him of something heinous again to help spark his tone up a little. You know, April 15th is fast approaching; he should probably mention something about him driving like he cheats on his taxes. Even though the whole world doesn’t need to be hearing that…
While Matt Kenseth and A.J. Allmendinger have both campaigned this season in cars dressed in the Valvoline paint scheme that was ran by Mark Martin from 1992-1995, it’s Martin who has seemingly regained his luck from that era. Three consecutive miserable weeks have stymied a strong start to his 2010 season that saw a pole win at Daytona, followed by back-to-back fourth-place finishes at California and Las Vegas wiped out by hitting a wall (literally) at the short track swing of Bristol and Martinsville. But fans of the Little Guy need not worry – it was at this point last season he came to life with a dominant win at Phoenix, and that just so happens to be the next track on the schedule. Through the slump, the performance of the No. 5 team has not been in question… only the propensity for bad things to happen to them at the most inopportune time. But the mental toughness that Martin credited as being his greatest asset and contribution to his new team last year is being put to the test early on in 2010.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune:
Jeff Gordon was within all of 100 feet of crossing the start/finish line as the white flag was displayed, only to have it be replaced with a yellow rag as he drove under the spotter’s stand on lap 499. At least the legion of No. 24 fans will have somebody else to kick around this week instead of Steve Letarte – who, by the way, called a fantastic race and had it all but won if not for the Kyle Busch/Paul Menard incident behind them. By not pitting and staying out, he still stood the best chance they had at winning after leading 92 of 500 laps. And if third place finishes are disappointing… you have got to be doing something right.
Kevin Harvick need not fret over leading the Sprint Cup standings by one measly point, as did entering Martinsville. While running second on lap 106, the rear brakes disappeared on the Shell-Pennzoil Impala, sending him to the garage area for repairs. Harvick would return but 33 laps down, eventually falling 100 laps back by the end of the race in a finish that cost him the points lead. But he would not be the only contending RCR machine to suffer problems this day…
Mark Martin once again had a car capable of a Top 5 finish for the third straight week – and capable of winning for the second week in a row – only to be felled by a blown right front tire with 21 laps remaining. That, of course, happened after scrambling from 24th to sixth over a 100-lap period, following a pit road penalty when the air hose was snagged on a bowed out lower quarterpanel extension. The extra four inches of sheet metal hanging down was the result of mandated body modifications to help maintain aerodynamic sideforce, a result of the addition of the new spoiler (which replaces the former wing’s side plates.)
Kyle Busch had tumbled back as far as 34th in the early going, but was in line for a top 10 finish late when Paul Menard slid into him entering turn three. Busch smacked the wall between turns three and four, ending what was a Herculean effort to rebound from what appeared to be a disaster in the making (and it was, joining Hamlin for a “scratch your head” pit stop call he could never recover from).
Juan Pablo Montoya should just give up and quit at this point. I don’t mean that sarcastically, or to cast aspirations on Montoya or his team. Sometimes, the world just really is out to crush and destroy you. His day at Martinsville was proof positive, as he blew a right front tire on lap 126, sending him headlong into the frontstretch wall. Upon completing repairs to the Target Chevrolet, he returned to the track, only to have the same thing happen – at the same place. So unless the ghost of Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock was concealed amongst the shrubbery in turns one and two and picking out his Goodyears, Montoya was the recipient of either some really bad luck, excessive front camber, brake heat, or something cutting into his tire for it to happen with the kind of regularity one would expect from a tablespoon of Metamucil.
Jeff Burton had perhaps the one car that was capable of keeping pace with Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota – and passing it. The RCR driver was poised to claim his first win of the season – and in a year and a half – until he, too, suffered right front tire detonation on lap 491, causing the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet to plow into the Turn 4 wall like an Israeli bulldozer through a terrorist compound on the Gaza Strip. (With that being said, I’d also like to wish our Jewish readers a Happy Passover today.)
Jeff Gordon may have had a sure win snatched from his grasp about two seconds before crossing the stripe on the white flag lap that would have ended the race – but at least he didn’t blow a tire like Matt Kenseth did coming to the white flag. He just helped cause it, after contact with Kenseth in turn 1 of that final restart kept both cars tangling with each other instead of Victory Lane.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Denny Hamlin showed why it isn’t often you restart with four laps to go five rows deep and are suddenly in contention to win a race. (Unless you’re Kevin Harvick at the Daytona 500, or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the Daytona 500.) I guess that’s the whole point of the green-white-checkered finish: expecting the unexpected, predictable uncertainty, and organized chaos.
Joey Logano, in keeping with the Jewish holiday theme here, saw Denny Hamlin as his Moses, parting the Red Sea for the orange Home Depot No. 20 to sneak through for a one-two Joe Gibbs Racing Finish. It was his best ever run at Martinsville (and first top 10 in seven short track starts) which is really not all that surprising; after all, the kid is all of 19 years old and has raced here on just two other occasions – his previous best being a 12th place run last Fall.
Marcos Ambrose succeeded in running into just about everything except the hot dog carts, bringing home what was left of the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota in 11th place. With the alacrity of his spins, swipes, and spastic actions on the .526-mile paperclip today, the Tasmanian Devil lived up to his nickname Monday afternoon. However, at Phoenix or Richmond in the coming weeks, don’t be surprised to see his car being delivered to the garage on a flatbed early in the going, by way of retribution from at least five drivers who had reason to be angry at his tactics.
Paul Menard continues to hang on to a Top 12 points performance by way of a 14th place finish, his sixth top 20 in as many races. But his steady-as-she-goes persona was shaken a little bit by a number of incidents that saw the nose of his No. 98 Menards Ford looking decidedly Martinsville-ized by days end.
Martin Truex, Jr. and crew chief Pat Tryson finally have a strong finish (fifth) to reflect the number of solid runs the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing team has assembled this year. Clearly, the results have not reflected the effort or the performance thus far in 2010. But rest assured, while Truex may be struggling for camera time on the track, the U.S. Navy can set their atomic clock with the consistency that his NAPA commercials air each and every commercial break. He may not know how to get to the moon, but when it comes to pressing Mute, I know just what to do.
What’s The Points?
Kevin Harvick’s brake issues put the brakes on him leading the standings. Jumping up two spots, Jimmie Johnson takes over the point with his top 10 finish Sunday. Greg Biffle is second, 14 back, while Matt Kenseth is two points behind him in third. Kevin Harvick (dropping three spots) and Jeff Burton round out the top 5.
Kurt Busch jumped up a spot to sixth, while Jeff Gordon’s strong performance bumped him up four spots to seventh. Tony Stewart dropped three positions to eighth, while Clint Bowyer moved up three to jump from twelfth to ninth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dropped a pair of positions and currently rounds out the top 10.
Further back, Paul Menard hangs on to a Chase bid in 11th while last year’s Cinderella story Brian Vickers is 12th. Among those on the outside looking in this early in the season include Carl Edwards (14th), Denny Hamlin (15th), Kyle Busch (16th), Mark Martin (17th), Kasey Kahne (20th), Ryan Newman (22nd), and Juan Pablo Montoya (25th).
Overall Rating (on a scale of one to six beer cans): In honor of Wrestlemania XXVI being held this past Sunday, and my two buddies Justin and Jason in attendance (both clad in Rowdy Roddy Piper “Hot Rod” T-shirts), I am going to give this one six beers, with two of those six consumed while simultaneously crushed together (a la Stone Cold Steve Austin.) Can I get a “Hell Yeah!!!” ??!!
Nothing this weekend – it’s Easter! Phoenix is on the docket for Saturday, April 10th, with the Subway 600 being raced at night in the desert. An extra 100 kilometers have been added, which I guess is important – if you are into the metric system and other communist propaganda.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Now tell me again how reconfiguring Bristol into a two groove track made the racing better. Todays race showed what real old skool racing is all about. Now if we could just get rid of the COT and Fox.
Because side-by-side battling (new Bristol) is infinitely better than single-file demolition derbies (old Bristol).
It’s not like Menard had any room to avoid Kyle while they were three wide. If you get wrecked on the outside of a three-wide group at Martinsville, it’s mostly your fault.
I have to agree with Sean. I was suprised at the caution for Kyle on lap 498, it seemed most cautions all day were a little slower then usual, no problem if consistent, and this one was split second, and with Gordon leading to boot. Who has Hendrick ticked off?
Boy , i bet Kenseth watches his back from now on . An enraged Jeff Gordon is a sight that you don’t soon forget . 94 lbs. of fighting fury . Cripes , Gordons’ wife could be far more intimidating than Jeff ever could be .
What a finish! First I thought it was Kenseth’s, then I thought it was Gordon’s, then Hamlin pulled a Ben Roethlisberger and took the checkered flag by force. Once the 11 car got in front we knew what would happen, we were just left watching the details unravel.
And another thing… I’m tired of all these new school fans claiming this “new spoiler” is so great.
You newbie fans will never understand the tradition of the winged car that us old school fans have.
The winged car is the only REAL car in NASCAR. for those of you who just joined us you missed CLASSIC racing requiring crew chiefs to hit the set-up for your team to succeed. The cars handling was so rough you had to WORK to get your car perfect, and passing was at such a premium Friday qualifying was almost as important as the race!
These new school fans make me sick. They’ll never understand the dominant days of old school drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Carl Edwards. Man, in those days if you’re team was hot you could spank the field with weekly consistency!
This “new” spoiler is such a step in the wrong direction for us old school fans. I mean, what’s going to happen to the mantra:
“Win on Sunday, Fly home on Monday!”
It hasn’t been too long ago that Hamlin was deriding the young Keselowski about failing to respect his fellow drivers, and today Hamlin drove just like he has accused Keselowski of driving. Now I don’t mind Hamlin driving like he drove today, but I do mind his lack of introspection and his double standard. So, Keselowski, get back on the wheel and put that arrogant SOB into the wall!
Being and older fan, I loved yesterdays race up until 9 laps to go, and then NASCAR had to remind us that they will do anything within their power to manipulate a finish. People blew tires and bounced off the walls all day without cautions as long as they kept rolling. Jeff Burton’s problems all but guaranteed Hamlin’s win with no challenge so when Jeff Burton bumped the wall with 9 to go, we got a caution from NASCAR to “spice things up”. Now I am a Gordon fan, and I still didnt want to see that caution at lap 9. It was great short track racing. Its a shame NASCAR had to go and try to manipulate the finish. Denny ended up winning anyway, but I guess the ending was better than just watching Denny uneventfully circle the track those last nine laps. So tired of NASCRAP’s crap!
Your foot-in-mouth from yesterday has forced your tongue firmly into your cheek. Still, Hamlin’s win yesterday proves nothing except that he has Martinsville figured out. One track doesn’t make a champion. I’ll give him his due today, though… thanks to a ridiculous decision to pit with only a handful of laps to go, Hamlin had to earn the win, and he did.
Sorry… my previous comment was directed at Dansmom.
You mention Hamlin’s success at Martinsville and in the next paragraph, while discussing Mears driving the car at Phoenix you say that the car doesn’t handle well on flat tracks. They don’t get much flatter than Martinsville.
Jeff Gordon’s “if he hits me I’ll hit him back” attitude don’t fly. How many cheap shots has he given other drivers? Remember the race where he could not pass JJ so he banged on his bumper many times. JJ should have opened a can of whoop a** after the race. I am not a fan of anyone driving for Hendrick and I wasn’t pulling for Hamlin yesterday until I wanted someone to beat Gordon. I wish it could have Burton.
nascrap will DO ANYTHING to control the outcome of races, The WWE is alive and well in nascrap land!!
How did NASCAR manipulate the end of this race? Did they cause the wrecks? NASCAR has been fairly consistent with throwing yellows when cars are wrecking. What more do you want?
And Carl D.:
Where is Denny Hamlin in the points? 19th? Don’t you have to qualify for the chase to contend for the championship?
Vito: you came close to nailing the point with your Chad Knaus comment. But please remember that qualifying was rained out.
The 48 team – who usually qualifies on the front row at martinsville had the 3rd pit stall selection. As a result, the first and last pit stall was taken and they had to use thier third choice. Chad Knaus will ALWAYS take the pit stall that will benifit his team the most, and if he uses NASCAR’s lack of scoring markers to his advantage so what?
Darrell Waltrip said in the broadcast “you don’t race drivers who can’t beat you”. Well, why not take every advantage you can when there is NO WAY you can get caught.
The issue isn’t with the 48 team cheating, it’s NASCAR’s inability to consistenly enforce their rules. And every other team in NASCAR not going to extra mile to find ways to get an advantage.
Back to the main point. Johnson’s 3rd pick, hurt his performance on the track. He would consistently lose positions on the restart after not gaining (or sometimes losing) spots on pit road. Spots he’s used to gaining easily.
Additonally, I’m not a fan of the double file restarts at Martinsville. It’s a HUGE disadvantage to the drivers who retart in the even numbered positions.
Paul Menard’s car didn’t look Martinsville-ized, it looked Menards-ized. After the race, it looked like every other piece of trash vehicle you typically see when you visit a Menard’s store to buy China made sh**.
I’m guessing the definition of “Menardized” is: “a crumpled up piece of metal that used to be a race car bought with Daddy’s money.”
Carl… right on. But can you blame him for being a the lucky son of a rich man? I just like to mock Menards—even though I shop there. So I guess I am also a piece of trash.
once again, nascrap decides a race!!! It’s no wonder more and more fans are leaving the sport! I hope they all do!!! what a damn joke!
I lot of people get where they are because of family money. I don’t begrudge anyone for that. Still, the guy has torn up race car after race car in a career that has never been any better than mediocre. But hey… it’s a free country, and daddy can spend his money any way he damn well wants to.
DansMom , i’ve heard NASCAR called a lot of things , but consistent was never one of them . Their use ( or non-use ) of cautions has been an ongoing joke for decades . The yellows are anything but consistent .
Wow…Im just guessing here but, If DansMom thinks the ‘wing’ is old school stockcars and JJ, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards are “old school” drivers, ‘Dan’ must be an infant or toddler at best!!!!!
Dans Mom has her head up Nascars backside and thinks the racing since the COT and Brian France has been top shelf. She is just mocking the real old skool fans, and I think she is a paid shill sent here from the high offices of Daytona to instigate some damage control. I would not doubt that Dans Mom is actually Brian France himself sitting in front of his computer enjoying a “Soda”, trying to make everyone think all is well in Nascar Land.
Yay! Another writer whos bored and bashes Junior. Look the pitstops sucked, McGrew said so and Junior agreed and that was the end of that…what burned Dale was starting on the outside on those last 3 restarts(despite being 17th for the GWC, NASCAR put him on the outside. someone forgot how to count)
Jr also said he let Biffle in on the next-to-last restart so as to not wreck Greg. Watch the race with a scanner next time
You nailed it Bad Wolf. Dans Mom is Brian France. And I am Mike Helton. If you do not approve of the way NASCAR runs its business then STOP watching. I bet you are an INDY fan anyways.
Hmmm. I kind of thought Dan’sMom’s rant on the wing vs the spoiler was sarcasm. Guess I’ll have to re-read it.
Well, Duh, Sunday’s attendance was because everyone but FOX knew it was going to rain, and Monday’s, gee I wonder if anyone had to work? NA$CAR will just use it as an excuse anyway. Brainless France only cares about the $$$$ and believes his Holy 1.5 cutters will sell out one day. So get ready to say goodbye. Martinsville will be lucky, down the road, to have one date.
Does Dansmom ever say anything worth reading?Does she ever think before putting her foot in her mouth?
Sorry about my wife. She forgot to take her meds again this morning.
SHHHH…She’s finally sleeping.
Matt—-come on man. I was at Martinsville and heard the whole conversation between JJ and Chad. JJ wanted to SPEED up between that section to make up time and Chad lit in to him about how it was not possible to make up that time and he would definitely be busted for speeding.
He wasn’t telling him not to slow down, he was telling him to MAINTAIN his speed.
Jeez with all the 48 hating!
Hey Vito, thanks for filling in for our boy Matt and giving us something post-race to chew on!
I’m not a professional journalist, but I think you meant to say “casting aspersions” not “casting aspirations” in your comments about JPM’s sorry day at Martinsville. He probably has all the “aspirations” he needs…
Old Gal –
Good catch. After sitting in front a computer for 9 hours and then banging out this 3,000+ word monolith to meet a deadline, sometimes spell-check has a mind of its own and my eyes go crazy like Sol Rosenberg. I’m surprised Russ didn’t catch this and e-mail me to tell me what a loser I am…. ; v ]