Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
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 · Wednesday October 20, 2010
When the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season has come to a close, it will likely be remembered for the actions and success of just one driver.
With five races remaining in the Chase for the Championship, it has become quite clear over the last 10 months who the class of the field has been when it gets down to the big money; who is most deserving of the trophies, headlines, and accolades that he and his team have earned during the 36-week breakneck schedule that is the Sprint Cup Series.
That driver, of course, is Jamie McMurray.
What, you were expecting somebody else? Setting the sport on its ear many times over, we were all reminded again Saturday night why the Chase is merely a formality that is to be endured for two and a half months each fall.
With his third win this season in Saturday’s Bank of America 500, McMurray improved one position upon his runner-up finish at the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend. This year has been special for McMurray for a number of reasons. Sure, he won arguably the biggest single race in motorsports – the Daytona 500 – which he followed up with the second biggest prize at the most famous track on the planet, the Brickyard 400, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Perhaps most importantly, he actually had a ride; something that in the last days of 2009 didn’t seem like it would ever really materialize. In Daytona’s Victory Lane, McMurray was driven to tears. The tears that flowed were those of joy and gratefulness, as well as the relief from the stress of the previous three months – or, more accurately, three years. Well, that same emotion was bubbling near the surface again Saturday evening in his winner’s interview upon exiting his No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, along with a unique perspective on life and racing in general.
It is a positive attitude that has been on display all season for McMurray, who is most definitely aware of how much he has to be thankful of. Back in August when he was on the bubble of making the Chase, he was less concerned about it than other drivers on the cusp of making or not making the final cut of 12 drivers to compete in the postseason. After finishing third at Bristol, he simply refused to get caught up in the – ahem – drama.
“I’ll let Bono [crew chief Kevin Manion] worry about it,” McMurray said. “He certainly is worried about it, [but] I remember the stress that goes along with that, and I’m really fortunate this year that we were able to win those two big races, because if we don’t make the Chase, it’s not going to be devastating.”
If anything, it has been liberating. Having had one of the consistently fastest cars on big tracks all year, as well as having blossomed into arguably the sport’s best restrictor plate racer, the tracks that make up the majority of the Chase are the types of places McMurray and his team have excelled at all season long: 1.5 mile tri-ovals and a plate track in Talladega.
Still, McMurray refused to succumb to the pressures of qualifying for a convoluted championship that the vast majority of fans have failed to embrace. Instead, he has become a bit of a throwback to a different era; drivers who show up not to contend for titles, but simply to run and win the big money races of fame and prestige that in today’s Sportscenter-centric, bullet-pointed, headline news world, carry more weight than a points system that resets itself after 26 grueling races over seven months have been contested.
In a way, McMurray has completely invalidated the Chase and made it less relevant than it was before.
Check the stats on the man this year: wins in the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, and the fall 500-mile race at Charlotte. He came within a whisker of winning Talladega, and was runner-up for the Southern 500 and Coca-Cola 600. Not exactly a bad way to spend your season, winning or nearly winning the marquee races in the biggest racing series in North America. McMurray and his sponsors will get way more press winning those three events than they would have if they did make the Chase – one that is fostering ratings that continue to spiral out of control worse than Maverick and Goose following a twin engine flame out.
By now, most are familiar with McMurray’s story. He burst onto the scene nine years ago with a win in his second start while standing in for Sterling Marlin, who was motoring towards the 2002 Winston Cup before a crash at Kansas left him sidelined for the rest of the year with essentially a broken neck.
A difficult stretch at Roush Fenway Racing saw him take over the reins of a car two years removed from winning the inaugural Chase for the championship format, but then summarily dismissed following NASCAR’s four-team limit. McMurray made his way back to his first home with car owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, who had now merged with the remains of Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
McMurray was getting a second chance at Sprint Cup fame with an 11th hour opportunity. It would be in what was the flagship car of DEI, an organization that gave another long-struggling driver a second chance at a career in 2001 – one that produced a similar result.
So after posting his second win at Charlotte, eight years following his first triumph in only his second start, McMurray once again stole the thunder from those who had been commanding the lion’s share of the attention lately: the 12 drivers competing for the Sprint Cup championship.
While some may have been soiling themselves Saturday night over Jimmie Johnson’s innocuous spin and predictable rebound, McMurray narrowly missed clipping a spinning Kurt Busch by mere inches moments before. McMurray dodging Busch’s Charger at the last possible second was appropriate for a number of reasons, and captured the last few years of his career in the span of about 30 feet.
In Victory Lane at Daytona in February, McMurray was reduced to a blubbering pile of goo, overcome with emotion having just won the biggest race on NASCAR’s grandest stage in a most unlikely fashion. He was a bit more composed following his Indy win, but after Charlotte Saturday evening, he was again on the verge of losing it – remaining composed only to make a point to explain his growth over the last few years, and wins.
“I don’t think I ever really got to explain that, why I cried and what was going on there,” he said in his winner’s circle interview. “I had a tough year last year; I found out the power of prayer and what that can do for you. When you get to Victory Lane and you get to experience this, it just makes you a believer. And it’s something that is obviously very important to me and my family.”
McMurray has basically built a career over the last few seasons of lofting along on a gust of wind, a wing, and a prayer. Saturday night, that was on display at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and is far more compelling than anything the Chase has had to offer thus far.
Sure, there was some intrigue early on with the 150-point fine of Clint Bowyer, and Tony Stewart running out of gas at Loudon, only to thrust himself back into the discussion a couple of weeks later with a big win at Kansas. McMurray’s story, though, is compelling because it is sincere, genuine, real. You can’t fake tears at this level, though after sitting in an unmuffled, 140-degree, 9,000 RPM carbon monoxide mixer, it’s probably hard for even a seasoned veteran to keep his wits about him.
The same, however, cannot be said for NASCAR’s continued insistence on a championship format that virtually everyone — with the exception of its leadership and those encouraged to sell the product — has at best given the same tilted-head expression your dog elicits when you change his food on him. In Richmond, when it was apparent that McMurray would not make the Chase, his reaction highlighted the importance of winning races rather than contending for a hodgepodge of an NBA bracket, the BCS, and the NFL playoffs that is supposed to determine a 36-race season – in 10 weeks:
“There’s no frustration there at all. Our performance has been really good. We’ve just been a little bit inconsistent,” said McMurray. “I think there are a lot of guys in the Chase who would trade with me right now.”
Four weeks later, there are even more drivers who made the Chase that would gladly trade places with Jamie McMurray.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Wow, I don’t know about Daytona. I’m not sure it’s even the biggest race in na$car. It’s not the fastest track (it wouldn’t be even without plates), it’s not the longest race, it doesn’t pay the biggest purse, and it doesn’t crown a champion. Other than being “Big Bill’s Track” and the media hype surrounding the first event of the season, it has long since lost its “SuperBowl” status. At least for me. Ah, maybe I’m just bitter ove Dale’s tragic death.
Jamie’s had an interesting season, but I will remain skeptical about his chances for next season. His consistency has been his Achilles’ Heel throughout his career.
Watching McMurray make a mockery of the chase format has been the best part of the season for me.
This has been the best story all year. In the pre-Chase days McMurray would get even more press. I have always thought NASCAR has two major prizes every year, the Daytona 500 and the Championship. Now with the Chase no one cares that McMurray won the most important race of the year. Like he said after the race, the Chasers with no wins would take his year over making the Chase.
To say that McMurray has made the Chase even less relevant would be to imply that it is relevant in the first place, which it is only in the mind of Brian France and any NASCAR or ESPN employee that wants to keep their job.
Being a jamie mac fan his season could be better, by being in the chase. but with key wins daytona indy and now this= good season. got nothing to do with taking away from the chase. it’s already the jj show until they change up the tracks. enough 1 1/2 milers. throw in bristol, maybe a road course(even though i hate them)not taking anything away from jj and his crew but let’s change the stinking layout by changing up some of the tracks. or maybe all of them. I don’t get chicagoland. boring boring boring, once they get spread out the winner is the guy out front no more competition. should have never ever thrown this one into the chase
I am so happy that Jamie has finally come into his own…I have been his biggest fan for the past 6 years sporting tee shirts, cars, cup holders, posters, you name it, I have it from his # 42, # 26, and now # 1…what a great guy!!!
The nice lady I live with (aka “The Warden”) would fight you like a rabid pitt bull over who’s the biggest Jamie Mac fan. That may not scare you, but I’ve seen her take down wild boar by simply staring at them.
“Relevant chase” is an oxymoron as opposed to a Goldman, AKA Dans Mom, who is simply a moron. McMurray is a class act and the only bright spot in another dismal Nascar season. Maybe some day we will get back to racing for wins.
If one criterion for being in the
(That may not scare you, but I’ve seen her take down wild boar by simply staring at them.)
I dunno what should be done about the Series.It’s clearly declining.Change is good sometimes,but in the Chase’s instance it doesn’t seem to be.
Jacob,you sure the Daytona 500 doesn’t have the biggest purse?The purse was $18.5 million and Jamie Mac and Earnhardt Jr got $1.5 million and $1.09 million,respectively.I don’t think no other race on the grid pays that much for the top 2 finishers. The lowest paid driver Joe Nemechek got $261,424.
People that say McMurray’s season makes a mockery of the Chase system are just misinformed and ignorant. He would be no closer to winning the championship under the old system. How does this have anything to do with the Chase at all, really? If you say he should be in it because he wins races, that’s fine—but it doesn’t invalidate the Chase system any more than any other points system NASCAR has ever used. If anything, you would be asking for an expanded and even more arbitrary Chase. If you think there shouldn’t be a Chase at all, as I already mentioned, then what McMurray has done is irrelevant. He wouldn’t have been very good in points under the old system either.