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 August 11, 2010
While it came as no surprise this week when it was confirmed that Kentucky Speedway would get a Sprint Cup date in 2011 from Atlanta, as well as Kansas earning a second event at the expense of Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway, there was a bit of confusion surrounding the announcement Chicagoland Speedway would be the site for the kickoff of the 2011 Chase for the Championship.
Chicago? You mean the same Chicagoland Speedway that packed ‘em in to the tune of a rather optimistically stated 67,500 strong last month on a warm, summer Saturday night? To put that into perspective, Bristol drew 85,000 fans in March – for a Nationwide race.
Not sure if you noticed or not, but the population density of the Windy City and the surrounding area of Joliet is a bit more dense than Thunder Valley. Then again, the density of those involved in some of the decision-making processes surrounding our sport would be hard to call into question of late. Take Kevin Harvick as an example: he was on hand for the announcement where he praised the unique layout of the trac – as well as the support that the series receives from Chicagoland Speedway and the Chicago area.
Ironically, it was just 48 hours earlier that Harvick suggested there should be standards in place for every track, for everything from safety to attendance.
So while Chicago assumes the point in the 2011 Chase for the Championship, it relieves Auto Club Speedway of its Chase date; picking between these two venues is like picking the leper with the most fingers. How can giving either one a spot in the playoffs solve our problems?
It’s a good thing I’ve come up with a solution. Little things like logic and common sense haven’t slowed down our sport over the course of the last five years, so what follows below is my vision for the ideal Chase for the Championship. Even Jeff Gordon likes the idea of rotating out tracks each year, and so do I; but here’s my best crack at a perfect group to choose from. Note that consideration was given to scheduling, the significance of each track to the sport and to the sport’s history, and the style of racing each generates. My end result creates a well-rounded portfolio of locales that would help rekindle fan interest, determining as much of a true champion that can be crowned after points are reset two-thirds of the way through the season.
Didn’t see this one coming, did you? Since losing its rightful Labor Day weekend date to Auto Club Speedway, of all places, in 2005, The Track Too Tough To Tame has been granted but one date in May – and is forced to call it the Southern 500. Well, since tradition went out the window along with the baby and the Mountain Dew a long time ago, why not meld the NASCAR’s New World Order with the oldest of the Old School?
Darlington actually once was a Chase race in the inaugural – and perhaps most competitive iteration to date – in 2004. True to form, it produced one of the best races of the Chase for 500 miles, starting in the afternoon and finishing under the lights. Some may sneer and want The Lady in Black to have nothing to do with the little bastard that is the Chase – but I bet you can’t make a compelling argument that it’s any worse than Chicago.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Many used to rip on Loudon a lot – myself included – but over the course of the last few years, it has been the site of throwback side-by-side competition, generating some of the best last-lap and late-race battles in recent memory. Whether it’s Jimmie vs. Kurt a couple of months back or Denny and Jeff battling down to a .068-second margin in 2007, New Hampshire is one of the few short tracks left on the circuit, even though it’s technically not one.
NHMS gives NASCAR some presence in the Boston area, and can reliably be counted on to seat 101,000 for the weekend. Besides, if it gets rained out, it has already proven that fans will show up on Thanksgiving weekend to watch a stock car race.
Having secured a second date in 2011, Kansas is poised to become one of the most significant tracks on the NASCAR schedule. Centrally located in the United States like SAC headquarters, it is one of the few destinations where fans in the heartland have a chance to go see a race – and pack the stands they do.
Kansas has produced a few memorable finishes during its brief tenure (Joe Nemechek and Ricky Rudd in 2004, along with Carl Edwards’ NASCAR Thunder 2003 pass attempt on Jimmie Johnson in ’08 come to mind), though it is more likely to spawn a tornado than a poignant Chase moment. Then again, maybe a second date and another 400 miles of competition to wear in the racing surface is what it really needs to come into its own. Besides, they have a big casino now to cater to the vices of red state race fans.
Many fans and those within the sport have been clamoring for a road course in the final ten races, so here you go. If last weekend’s race at The Glen is not proof enough why road courses belong in NASCAR, let alone the Chase, then either you really don’t like racing, or really do just like watching cars go around and around in a circle.
Road course competition has been a part of NASCAR long before Chrysler conjured up the idea of a 426 cubic inch hemispherical combustion chambered cylinder head, and is not some new phenomenon as some would have you believe. All of those championships that Petty, Earnhardt, Waltrip, Pearson, Yarborough, and even Gordon won included points tallied up at road courses.
The October backdrop alone would be worth tuning in for; could you imagine the fiery fall foliage of upstate New York, providing as much color as the cars sweeping past the bright blue Armco barriers that line the 2.45-mile road course? The only thing they may need to do is fit the cars with deer whistles…
Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Queen City has long since been the halfway point of the Chase, and as the epicenter of auto racing in America, it shall retain its spot on my schedule. Many 1.5-mile tracks are coined cookie cutters, but this one is unique, as it’s the one that served as the mold for virtually every track built in the late 1990s and early part of the millennium. That being said, it was also here that the term “levigation” was introduced into our consciousness, and a bit of the track’s character was lost in the midst of the grinding.
But Charlotte still serves as the home of NASCAR, with all but a handful of teams based here, as well as the Hall of Fame, and should remain a pivotal event in the championship Chase. One request, however: lose the yellow walls.
Richmond International Raceway
What the Chase needs is variety, and even more so, short tracks. Richmond at 0.75 miles in length has become what some consider the new prototypical modern racetrack, helping serve as the inspiration for the layout of Iowa Speedway. And running it the fourth week of October would still allow for a race either on Saturday night or on Sunday afternoon should weather rear its ugly head. So long as there is not a Virginia Tech or Redskins home game, it would be the dominant event that weekend, and a welcome addition to the 10-race playoff format. Richmond always welcomes a whole host of America’s heroes to its events, and would make a great addition to NASCAR’s playoff drive.
Short Track: Check. Original track from inaugural 1949 season: Check. Grandfather Clock trophy: Check. Shrubs, trains, and pink hot dogs: Check, check, and check.
If there is a compelling argument for omitting the paperclip from the Chase, I’m game to listen. I’ll laugh in your face and tell you to shut up, but I’ll listen because I’m a gentleman. A half-mile short track with paved straights and concrete launching pads at the exit of the corners is the perfect throwback to a simpler time. Frayed tempers, boiling brake fluid, and crinkled fenders – some drivers might be “pretty boys” according to Kurt Busch, but you still have to get it done on one of stock car racing’s signature racetracks to claim a championship.
Texas Motor Speedway
Another 1.5-mile track in The Chase, but one that reliably brings over 150,000 people in attendance each race. While that alone should not determine what tracks get a Chase date, it should factor into the equation. Seeing as the Dallas Cowboys get umpteen Monday Night Football and Sunday night games, it should still be the main draw on a fall Sunday afternoon, and if it is run in conjunction with what is apparently still America’s Team, all the better. Even if for some reason this race should happen to get rained out, no matter; this spring, nearly 100,000 people showed up on a Monday to watch Denny Hamlin and his bum knee outlast Jimmie Johnson to the finish.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sure, Las Vegas does not have a second Cup date – yet – but few will argue that it’s only a matter of time until it is granted that long-anticipated visit. Either way, it would make sense to have the track as part of the Chase at some point, would it not? Vegas is not exactly the most competitive oval, but it is the entertainment capital of the United States; and, perhaps more importantly to professional organized sports, home of legalized gambling.
The oddsmakers and bet takers handicap racing the same as the NFL, NBA, and MLB, which makes for an attractive destination spot for a race to help pack the stands and drive the economy. While guys handing out bio cards on prostitutes may not exactly be as family friendly as Coca-Cola’s efforts in uptown Charlotte on race weekend, the track can support a second date, and would fit well as the penultimate race in the Chase for the Championship.
Daytona International Speedway
The season starts in Daytona, and thus it should end there. Some may argue that having a restrictor plate race in the Chase is a mistake, and too much of a wild card. Talladega is, for sure, but Daytona is more of a handling track, and if run during the daylight hours, the field will likely be separated and strung out. Besides, look at how many got wadded up at Texas this spring. If the Daytona 500 must finish in the dark under the lights, then the second and final race of the season should be run during the light of day and conclude at a decent hour; the Indianapolis 500 has done pretty well for 94 years running under the sun.
Yes, it might be up against the NFL during a November afternoon, but if NASCAR really wants to compete with the one sport it insists on emulating, then it needs to do so at its signature track and on its grandest stage. You can’t do that at Homestead, Las Vegas, or God forbid, Chicagoland, meaning the final act has to be The World Center of Racing – Daytona International Speedway.
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I appreciate where you’re coming from Vito, but the Chase is going to stink of contrived marketing BS no matter where the races are. And NASCAR deserves to lose ratings and attendance as long as they keep it.
There shouldn’t be a chase!
Your reasoning behind Daytona being in the chase will most likely no longer be a factor. Daytona will no longer be a tracks where handling is priority, as Daytona is being re-paved. It will be just another Talladega.
Road courses represent the worst of the worst in the sport.
They are dominated by drivers who run two races a year.
Why in the name of all that is holy would someone even consider basing a championship on a race of this type ?
This sport is circling the drain as it is and I cannot imagine a scenario worse than this to finish it off.
Get real people !
You forgot Dover. Dover is a much more challenging and exciting track than any of the 1.5’s. I could deal with Charlotte because of history, but Kansas, Texas, Joliet (not even close to Chicago), and Vegas are giant turds devoid of any excitement. Atlanta is the only other 1.5 deserving of a Chase date. In short,this list has way too many cookie cutters, but since Brian France is a mental midget, that’s what we’ll get, replete with C-list Hollywood types and crappy pop-country musical side-shows. There’s no way Bill Jr. is that dudes dad because the apple didn’t fall anywhere near the tree.
For the most part, Vito, your list is not too bad. The one exception, at least for me, is Daytona. There should be no restrictor-plate races in the chase. Talladega can destroy a championship! Bristol would be a much better choice! Start the chase at Bristol, then to New Hampshire, then Dover, then a couple of the infamous and hated “cookie-cutters”, then Martinsville, Richmond, and Phoenix! I’m actually ok with it all ending at Vegas. As for a road course, October can be really nice in New York, or it can be cold and wet! A better choice would be Sonoma!
We don’t need a chase at all. If we continue to be forced to deal with one, it should include a road course and no plate track at all. I’m sorry, but ending at Daytona is a horrible idea. One little mistake followed by one big multi-car crash shouldn’t determine the champion for an entire season.
Here’s my list of 8 chase races (yes, 8, out of 32 total races) which I put together a while back: Darlington, Bristol, Martinsville, Rockingham, Sonoma, Phoenix, Homestead, and Atlanta. Richmond is also a great track but I think it’s in the perfect spot as the last race before the chase.
Man, I couldn’t have said it better myself! You picked the perfect tracks to go to. No second guessing on my part. Keeping a road course in the Chase is truly reflective of where the sport has come from. By puting it in the Chase, it reminds all of us of the history. Thanks Vito!
Amen to all those who say there should be no chase!
If there is to be one, discount all the restrictor plate tracks.
I really don’t understand why some people hate road courses so much. They host some of the most exciting racing. The race at the Glen this weekend was arguably the most exciting race this season in my opinion. And they are a true test of driver skill
I agree with ending the Chase at Daytona. Then Darlington should get the July 4th weekend.