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.
Voice of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Wednesday November 3, 2010
There has been a lot of talk about “change” the last two years — and 12 months — but the anti-incumbent mood is not stronger anywhere in 2010 than Daytona Beach, Florida. That’s right; even with the political landscape having shifted dramatically last night, the ballot issue I’m talking about is not tax cuts nor health insurance, but rather the much-maligned Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. The $4.8 billion dollar boondoggle that was supposed to have propelled stock car racing to NFL stature has instead slowly backslid into a double-dip depression, with ratings and attendance down more so than other sports have experienced.
Those Nielsen numbers are consistently dropping 10-20 percent across the board, pairing with attendance losses that match them at virtually every track on the schedule. Even the better races, including one of the most anticipated superspeedway spectaculars of the season at Talladega, have seen a notable decline.
Further evidence of a burgeoning revolution are the comments and postings on virtually any racing-related forum, website, blog, or Tweet. I have received my own share of email from fans that have had it up to here (I have my hand in a salute gesture at about eye level right now) with what “their” sport has sullied itself to.
This atmosphere accompanied Sunday’s AMP Energy Juice 500, which was not exactly the haunted wild card wreckfest it was purported to be. Yes, Jeff Burton was eliminated, as was fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the result of some overenthusiastic bump-drafting through Turn 4 by the latter. What resulted was a photo finish of sorts, resorting to scoring loops, video, and timing to determine which RCR car was the actual winner of the event. As luck would have it, the No. 33 Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer was deemed the victor, and the crowd went … mild.
Perhaps it was because nobody really knew when the race had actually ended, or what became of A.J. Allmendinger, who appeared to either sit down or fall down next to the ambulance after exiting his inverted No. 43 Ford Fusion. Perhaps it was the convoluted TV coverage; forgive ESPN for being as completely in the dark as the rest of us, but then remember that CBS was able to cover races better 25 years ago with three cameras. The gaffes added up to an overall feeling of confusion rather than satisfaction over an event that had a near-record 87 lead changes, 26 leaders, and enough side-by-side racing to fill a decade of competition at Fontana.
Yes, Talladega has been one of NASCAR’s signature tracks since its inaugural event in 1969, but try telling that to fans who stayed home to the tune of a 14 percent decline at the turnstiles. With ratings and attendance down for the track that virtually guarantees you’ll make it on your local news if you sit near the fence on the frontstretch, it does not bode well for continued viability of the Chase format if a 2.66-mile track pulls in 35 percent less people than it did just a few years ago.
Fan polling and sentiment will support this preaching to the choir sermon from my seat here in western Michigan, but there is something far beyond wrong with this picture. The plot thickens when there is a collective shrug of the shoulders offered by many fans for a title battle that tightened following the race; we’re now down to a trio of teams separated by a scant 38 points with three races left.
What makes it doubly bad for NASCAR and Chase proponents is that if there was going to be one year that the playoff may have gotten it right, it should have been 2010. After all, the three drivers vying for the title are in effect the “right” ones contesting for the championship. Kevin Harvick led the point standings for virtually the entire regular season, while Denny Hamlin rebounded from knee surgery and nagging doubts regarding the wisdom of his decision to get cut open – and then get back into a car that would be involved in an accident in his first race back. Then there is Jimmie Johnson, the much-maligned four-time champ who is criticized either because he seems boring or because his team has figured out best how to work a convoluted points reset system to his advantage.
Rusty Wallace once likened Dale Earnhardt to a John Deere tractor who “just keeps puttin’ along” during his 1993 title run. Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe’s team, which year after year has remained largely intact, operates in much the same fashion, with Glock-like reliability. Much like the fabled Austrian plastic-pistol, it isn’t terribly exciting, does its job with mind-numbing repetition, and does so rarely flubbing an assignment.
When they do, it’s tap-rack-reassess, and fixed either that race or the next.
Three different drivers, three compelling storylines that would drive the off-track conversation as little as five years ago. But what has become glaringly clear is that while the Chase does provide some talking points and opportunity for discussion and prognostication, it still fails to resonate with fans — both the grizzled old diehards, or Fantasy Football Guy, who has just smashed his laptop and changed channels when the Detroit Lions defense has scored a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining against the Washington Redskins.
A number of different NASCAR avenues are at a crossroads. Chief among them is how to decide the champion of the premier series, and moreover, how to make it relevant so that people are interested again.
Where to begin? If the sport’s winningest driver is barely hanging on even in name only, then there stands to be some irrecoverable harm done to the sport. The 43-car field that has been a mainstay of competition is now bearing whispers that it should be curtailed – perhaps to the 36- to 40-car fields that were once the limit during the early 1990s. That may not be such a bad idea. It would discourage the start and park teams from showing up, but then again, how much air time does somebody running 38th get anyway?
The basic laws of economics dictate the answer nobody seems to want to accept: scarcity of product equals increased demand. Cut out a few dates, reduce the cost for teams to compete, and make people hungry for it again.
With the oversaturation in the marketplace of everything NASCAR following the 2001 network and Western expansion, the curiosity of the traveling speed circus was replaced with familiarity, and with the advent of the Chase, has in part bred contempt. The dead horse that the not-so-silent majority has been beating has not quite yielded the windfall of results that many had hoped. There have been cracks in the armor of the obstinate; normal start times, rejection of the wing, and muscle cars now making up half the field of the once-proud Nationwide Series.
The people have spoken, but has NASCAR listened in time? The data suggests that the main issue of contention is that the championship system does not need to be kicked off at the most sparsely attended superspeedway next to the third-most populated city in the United States, but instead, repealed entirely. Viewership and attendance of the final three races should serve as a final referendum on NASCAR’s six-year redistributive championship experiment gone awry.
Will NASCAR heed to the actions of the fans that have spoken louder than a 43-car field ever would, or continue to do things its own way, stumbling down the same path that each political party finds itself doing the same way every eight years or so?
In the arena of sports and entertainment, fans vote with their wallets, ticket stubs, and remotes. The early returns this year were not promising, and in the eleventh hour of this cycle, it’s not looking pretty. That’s kind of a shame, as the three candidates for the 2010 championship have all run respectable races and gone about their quest in decidedly different manners.
Hopefully out of deference to these drivers and teams, there will be more than a few people who stick around to see how this one pans out. But at this point… no guarantees.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Well said, Vito. I don’t think na$car cares how eloquently it is stated. They said the chase is right, good, and proper. brian france is not one to consider admitting that he is wrong.
Well said Vito! (I’ve always wanted to know someone named Vito.) I love racing and I used to love NASCAR, but ever since the Chase made a mockery of what a championship is supposed to be (discovering who the best, most consistent driver-team of the year is) I’ve been losing my interest.
It hasn’t helped that the talented driver that I like most has been shafted a couple of times because of that stupid chase format!
I like that ESPN seems to be getting the message to give us wider shots so we can actually watch RACING and some of the changes to the car have improved things, the Chase is the problem that needs addressing most!
NASCAR is not a stick and ball sport. NASCAR shouldn’t be stuffed into that play-off model either! Look at the Nationwide series! They don’t have a chase and they’ve had some really great battles for the championship (we won’t get into the whole discussion of whether the Sprint Cup guys should be there because that’s another rant).
Bottom line? I agree with all you’ve said and from one Western-Michigander to another, keep up the great work!
Vito said: “enough side-by-side racing to fill a decade of competition at Fontana.”
Was that really necessary, or are you just seeing if I’m still paying attention?
Sherri, pass me some of what you’re smoking while watching the AAA series. There hasnt been a close battle in the Nationwide series since it was Martin Truex vs Kyle Busch. Since 2006, the Nationwide series title has been a yawn-inducing runaway every year.
I agree with everything you said. I just hope at the least they leave the Chase alone and don’t give us something crazier like the proposed “elimination chase”. The biggest problem people have with Chase is that it sacrifices fairness for artificial excitement. NASCAR needs to sit down with its teams and drivers (much like the original smoke filled room that created the sport) and decide what a Cup Champion should look like, and then devise a system that can best achieve that result. Most NASCAR fans believe that it’s the traditional cumulative points system with a new driver point system that rewards winning more.
A team sport playoff doesn’t work for auto racing unless your totally willing to separate the playoff drivers from everyone else. In team sports, playoffs are one on one. In the Super Bowl last year Peyton Manning didn’t have to worry about a Vikings linebacker jumping out of the crowd and tackling him. But, the equivalent can happen in NASCAR (see Busch and Reuterman at Kansas). I hope the drop in ratings and attendance means NASCAR is ready to listen.
5 simple steps to fix NA$CAR w/o eliminating the Chase (let’s face it, the idiot in charge will not eliminate it):
1)*Provide better racing*
2) * Eliminate tracks with poor racing * Eliminate 1 race from Pocono, Texas, Michigan, and can Fontana altogether
3) Award 25 bonus points for each win
4) Run more Saturday night races during NFL season
5) One road course in the Chase (Watkins Glen in fall foliage would be very cool)
1) My main reason here is these tracks are FAR superior in terms of racing action. The main reason they were dropped was because the idiots doing the scheduling couldn’t fathom that watching races in February or late October at said venues was rough at times. And Iowa looks to be a great track, and is in prime racing country.
2) There are too many boring races on the schedule. Pocono is horrid, Michigan/Fontana are only exciting on restarts and when fuel is an issue, and there are too many 1.5’s on the schedule.
3) More bonus pts for winning will quiet the ADD crowd.
4) Recreate the local short-track feel, and only compete against a few college football games.
5) The Chase needs a road course to be relevant.
The fat lady is warming up.
speaking of eliminating race tracks! There is no track on the schedule worse than Indianapolis!A flat,one groove racing facility meant for nothing but open wheel skeeters!!I’d drop it like a rock!
Michigan has great side by side racing throughout the field, They just don’t show it on TV. I know ‘cause I have been there……As far as the ratings and attendance go…Can the “chase” and put the STOCK back in stock car racing and the fans will return…