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 · Thursday April 1, 2010
With the Martinsville race pushed back to Monday, it shelved Voice of Vito for this week. I know, all of you are crushed… I don’t blame you, since not only am I single and devastatingly handsome, but I can also wield a keyboard like Bill Jordan could a Model 19 Smith & Wesson. All kidding aside, (except the single and really, really good looking part…) it did give me an extra day to think about my lone off-week topic. With the series headed for Easter break, let’s take a break of our own and look at some of what NASCAR needs more of — as well as decidedly less of — after six races of 2010:
What NASCAR Doesn’t Need: Goofy Aerodynamic Devices
I know that myself and many others on this site have railed against this for nigh on three years now, as has just about any other race fan worth their salt. The CoT itself was always a bit confusing to me. It seemed as if the more logical approach would have been to make the driver’s compartment slightly larger on the original car, and do away with the cock-eyed body offset, making it square and true as one would expect a road course car to appear.
That aside, the wing always reeked of a shameless attempt to pander to the Fast & The Furious crowd – the same bunch that equips a 1.8-liter powered Honda Civic with a 4” Folgers fart can muffler, dragon graphics, and the aforementioned erector set wing. There was never really a cut and dried explanation given for changing something that is not used in any other NASCAR Series (Grand Am doesn’t count), so its demise has been a welcome one.
What NASCAR Needs: A Reminder of Real Race cars
This statement in itself is a bit of an oxymoron, because in just about every other racing series, a NASCAR stock car is considered anything but a “real race car”. That being said, it is very heavy, uses pushrod engines with a carburetor, the suspension and rear end from a Ford truck nearly half-a-century old, 15-inch wheels, and 10.5-inch wide tires. Whatever. Nothing else sounds like a pack of 43 of these bastards wide open coming around to take the first lap at Talladega, or decelerating into Turn 1 at Martinsville. Seeing the traditional blade spoiler back on the car last week at Charlotte as well as in race trim at Martinsville was a step in the right direction. The splitter, I guess I can live with; I don’t particularly like it, but it seems to work OK in the Truck Series, so it is somewhat palatable. Back in action Monday, they looked like real race cars again, and not somebody trying to be something that they aren’t, in a feeble attempt to impress somebody who really doesn’t like them that much anyway.
What NASCAR Doesn’t Need: Ugly Race cars and Paint Schemes
There is nothing worse than a car with a poorly executed paint scheme. The CoT has been a tough sell as it is, but mix in unappealing colors and hues, and it can make a Sunday that much more painful to endure. So as bad as I felt for Matt Kenseth first getting nudged from behind by Denny Hamlin – and then body slammed by Jeff Gordon – when his tire blew, sending him skittering up the track and into the wall during Monday’s Green-White-Checkered finish, I was glad to see that putrid purple Barneymobile out of contention.
That car is so gross, Grimace wouldn’t be caught near it. Also, is it that hard for M&M’s to design a car that doesn’t look like a colorblind 8-year old designed it? Yeah, the animated M&M’s that look scared on the back of the car are getting old. Why not just make it brown… like a bag of M&Ms.
Another one that readily comes to mind is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s No. 88 AMP Energy Chevrolet. I remember early on when he joined Hendrick Motorsports, he said he had a lot of input into the design and look of the car. Uh, sorry bud, but I would have probably kept that one a little closer to the vest. I realize the intent was to hearken back a bit to Darrell Waltrip’s Mountain Dew No. 11 that he drove to Winston Cup Championships in 1981 and 1982, but this one missed the mark. Why not just run that old scheme to begin with? The new one clearly isn’t working out, and is making these miserable seasons that much harder to deal with. There is an easy out here, and we all know what it is… but it’s probably a road that Earnhardt doesn’t want to drive down. At least just not yet.
What NASCAR Needs: Good Looking Race cars and Paint Schemes
Speaking of DW, seeing Darrell Waltrip’s No. 11 Junior Johnson & Associates Mountain Dew Buick at the NASCAR Hall of Fame also sparked a flashback of sorts. Back in 1982, I was 5 years old and attended my first race at Michigan International Speedway. I can still remember riding my Big Wheel in the infield, and catching a glimpse of the cars as they flashed by, sitting atop the makeshift scaffolding in the bed of my dad’s 1976 Dodge Powerwagon. It was back then that catching a race on television meant hoping that our local CBS station didn’t black out a race for a Tiger’s game, or head over to Grandpa and Grandma’s, because they lived where cable was actually available. But I digress … seeing those type of beautiful schemes in person helped get me hooked long before I finished kindergarten.
Some other examples of beautiful stock cars of the past that come to mind? Pretty much anything Richard Petty drove, but particularly his 1964 Plymouth Fury, 1971 Plymouth Roadrunner, and his 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2. The latter was a horrendously underpowered pig on the street, but in race trim looked downright hairy. I also always rather liked Rusty Wallace’s Miller Lite cars from 1997-2000, while his dark blue machines from 2001-2005 were instant classics. Dale Earnhardt’s 2000 Monte Carlo was a fresh shape at the time, and combined with the proper GM Goodwrench emblem on the hood – with a more discrete “Service Plus” underneath – it was a sight to behold as he just barely nipped Bobby Labonte at the line in Atlanta that year. The black scheme was also there for the improbable charge from 18th place to first with only five laps remaining at Talladega (and he didn’t need multiple do-overs to make that happen.)
Mark Martin’s Valvoline Thunderbird from 1992-1995 was another iconic car of NASCAR’s most recent “golden era” – so much so that it is being run on other Valvoline-sponsored cars this year driven by A.J. Allmendinger and Matt Kenseth.
If only several other drivers would get the hint…
What NASCAR Doesn’t Need: Boring Racetracks
Certain tracks lend themselves to putting on a good show, while others – and there are more than a few of them – do not. Which is why many are fearful that there will be an announcement forthcoming that Martinsville (or Atlanta) will be likely losing a date to Kansas. So while I certainly appreciate those fans in the heartland that attend the race weekends in Kansas, I don’t think we need to axe a slice of our sport’s history off the calendar to do so. While Joe Nemechek’s .081-second win over Ricky Rudd was certainly something in 2004, and Carl Edwards’ video game-attempt pass of Jimmie Johnson raised some eyebrows in 2008, the racing itself as a whole has been less than invigorating.
When you think about all of the SportsCenter moments that have happened in Atlanta, a number of mental images cross the synapses like a pack of Black Cats in July: Dale Earnhardt, Sr. over Bobby Labonte in 2000, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon in 2001, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart’s middle finger in 2007, and perhaps the watershed race of this era, the 1992 Hooters 500 that saw Alan Kulwicki beat Bill Elliott by 10 points for the championship in a race that would be decided by bonus points, with the two principles finishing first and second. It was Richard Petty’s explosive last race and Jeff Gordon’s Cup debut, while Davey Allison’s harrowing year would be denied a deserved title by a spinning Ernie Irvan late in the going.
So come on, Kansas. You’re going to sacrifice all of this just for another date? Why not instead just move Atlanta to April or May so it’s a little warmer, and maybe people will be willing to make a roadie out of it.
What NASCAR Needs: Short Tracks, Old Tracks, Maybe Another Road Course
If Monday’s Goody’s Fast Pain Reliever 500 wasn’t confirmation enough that it should keep both of its dates, and that short tracks are still where it’s at for stock cars, then I don’t know what is. Judging by the number of hits and traffic to our site this week, the fans certainly share this opinion as well. Following a day of rain, thunderstorms, and even some severe weather in the surrounding areas, 40,000 people were still able to show up to the track on a Monday. Heck, some tracks are having a hard time making that happen on a Sunday. Sure, the finish was great, but the actual racing that happened all day long, the twists and turns of leaders having problems, drivers rallying back… it was a snapshot of the old days and what made NASCAR take precedence over mowing the lawn or visiting with family members at gatherings.
The Southern 500 at Darlington is now about a month away at NASCAR’s original superspeedway. In my opinion, you can’t get more old school than a track whose design was the result of a minnow pond, and it never fails to provide a great race. One of the best I can remember was when The Lady In Black was host to a Chase race back in 2004, and I would readily sacrifice a date at another track (cough, Chicago, cough) to see one more held in Darlington during the playoffs.
Another road course would be cool, too, I think. I know a lot of fans don’t care for it, but watch highlights of an old race at Riverside, Watkins Glen, or Infineon when they would run the old carousel configuration.
Those are just my ideas. I’m sure you have your own. Feel free to share them with me. We always love to hear from our readers, and if the earlier start times, return to a car that looks more traditional, and letting drivers duke it out don’t catch your fancy, the people who run our sport like to get a gauge of your opinions as well.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I live 300 miles from Kansas Speedway and will never go back. I used to go but got tired of the beat down from the speedway over ticket packages, overpriced consessions and poor racing. One July open wheel race I was at the track temperature was 138 degrees, and Kansas Speedway has only 1 place for free water, which is a horizontal PVC pipe with about 6 spouts where one can refill your bottles. That day there were hundreds of fans waiting in line there for refills, not wanting to spend $3.50 per 20oz track bottled water. The wife and I tired of waiting in line for WATER and paid somthing like $40 for the privlage of drinking bottled water that afternoon.
Kansas was also the first track I know of that started charging the fans for the privlage of standing next to the pit fence in the infield in hopes of seeing a driver or getting an autograph. It’s called the “Fan Walk”, and last I checked most of the tickets are bought up as soon as they go on sale and are quickly listed on Ebay or Stub Hub at highly inflated prices.
Now I just sit back and grin when I see Kansas is not sold out and have not added seating. Karma is a bitch.
Vito, totally agree that NASCAR needs more short tracks and old tracks – I’m not a fan of road courses so I could live without anymore of those. BTW, your are single, handsome, AND you can put two words together to make a sentence! What’s your phone number? lol :)
Less Matt McLaughin, more Vito recapping races in 2010!!!!!
Second paragraph, 1st sentence, next to last word should be ‘nigh’. Neigh is the sound of a horse.
Thanks for that Atlanta in April or May suggestion. I think it will work. I think you are the first one I’ve heard suggest that. I can’t believe they are going to do 2 races at Kansas because of a casino. We don’t need another track like that added to the schedule.
Vito, I fully agree that NASCAR finally came to their senses and sitched that wing! I read on another site that Helton admitted the wing was to attract the “Fast and Furious” crowd, those people will have nothing to do with anything that is basically showcasing North American auto manufacturers, Toyota aside! Now if they will just get rid of that dumb splitter and go back to an airdam. While they are at it, I love the idea that the teams use the exact sheet metal as the stock, street cars! It would be a start to the return to “stock cars”. And I hate to say this, but sooner or later, fuel-injected V-6’s will have to be the engine of choice! I have never seen a V-8 in a Ford Fusion! And as far as i’m concerned, there would be nothing wrong with trying a front-wheel-drive system either! I know this sounds like turning NASCAR into a Touring Car Series like the Australian or British series’, but those races are more “stock car” than NASCAR.
P.S. I actually like Kenseth’s paint scheme! It’s better than some out there!
I always liked Harvick’s 2002 car, the black from the number back looked bullet-like.
Car colors don’t bother me so much as the God awful swooshes (lack of a better term) and curves. A few of Sadlers 2004 cars come to mind.
Is it true that there’s only one guy designing all the cars’ paint schemes? The current crop (includiing the last decade) has run its course.
Re-configure Atlanta back to the way it was – an oval. Dump the dogleg.
Good article, VP!
dead on!forward your suggestions to mr.helton and to Rufus What The F…? Idiot!
Perfect! I agree, more short tracks and race cars that look good! NASCAR shot itself in the foot with a bunch of “new” things that fans didn’t like — they need to keep from screwing up any more by taking away more races from interesting tracks. Love the little paperclip AND racing in Atlanta.
“the people who run our sport like to get a gauge of your opinions as well”
Maybe they should of paid attention to our constant b!tching the last few years instead of deleting our posts and banning us from boards. They made it perfectly clear that the new fan was #1. The $$$$$ start to dry up and now they want us to solve their problems. HA ! No thanks,i’ll pass.
The Orange & White Home Depot car has always been a sharp looking one to me, though as a longtime Clemson Tiger fan I may be a bit biased. Also, Bobby Labonte’s Red & White #71 paint job is a direct throwback to Bobby Isaac’s #71 which is pretty cool.
The ugliest car on the track? Any of them with a Hendrick decal, of course.
Big Toe is 100 % correct
The blatant disrespect is amazing, isn’t it? They actually want us to tell them how they can pick our pockets.
neigh on three years?! I think you’ve got an extra e in there, somewhere, Vito…but this is a Nascar-related column, and alot of those have an extra little e. :)
more matt-less dansmom
The wing is gone! How about the stupid pooper scoop on the front? Interesting tracks – bring back Rockingham and drop one of those stupid California races.
How about using real “race” cars and not bumper cars? Saturday races are always better than Sunday. The Cup drivers must like driving a real racer and not the Car OF Terror. Maybe they should race the Saturday car on Sunday? Oops. They’re going to change the Saturday car to a Sunday car. Smooth move Exlax.
C’mon Vito. Are you just bitchin’ about the colors ‘cause they don’t match your purse and heels? Really? Complaining about sponsor mandated schemes when the teams are lucky to have them. Just wait till Kyle has to drive the pink puppymobile.
Vito-loved reading about your early memories at the track! For a lot of us, racing is more than simply being a fan; it’s visceral—it is the “soundtrack” of our lives. Thanks for being a voice in support of what many of us would like to see happen: more short tracks, cars that look like what’s on the street only better, a respect for history and tradition that transcends the almighty buck.
How about a dirt race? :-)
GW-Couldn’t agree with you more!
nascar needs to stop counting so many caution laps. put a limit on laps counted during each caution
NASCAR went to the COT because they wanted toyota in and the only way they would come if all bodies were equal.toyota did not want to have to spend years figuring out how to beat the rules like the american car companies did.