Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Vito Pugliese · Monday April 2, 2007
If there was one redeeming value gleaned from the 1990 motion picture disaster "Days of Thunder", it was the now tried and true phrase, “rubbin's racin' “. There have been some great battles over just the last few years that really captured that notion. Ricky Rudd and Kevin Harvick in the closing laps of Richmond in 2001, Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch at Darlington in ’03, and Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson at Atlanta in ’05 are just a few of what have turned out to be impressive battles up front. Of course, it’s one of the most exciting and interesting things about a stock car race : when they're coming to the finish line, you have two guys who are leaning on each other, beating and banging not just to get to the checkered flag, but respecting their space enough not to take each other out. Sunday's Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville was another great exampleâ€¦luckily. While rubbin' is racin', there also is a tendency among some drivers to just move a guy out of the way to get a win, regardless of the repercussions. Jeff Gordon actually tried to do that on the last turn of the last lap on Sunday; however, the heartiness of the new Car of Tomorrow thwarted that attempt.
Jeff Gordon has had a very successful career and will go down in history as one of the greatest drivers in history. 75 wins, 4 championships, 4 Brickyard 400s, and 3 Daytona 500 victories are nothing to sneeze at. He has spent his entire career in the same car and with the same team owner; No. 24 and Jeff Gordon are as synonymous as Dale Earnhardt and No. 3. Jeff has a reputation as being a great talent behind the wheel…but he is also a practitioner of the move deemed, "The Bump and Run." This is accomplished not by gaining position on the opponent and getting under him, or rooting him up out of the corner to get alongside of him. Instead, it is performed by running into the back of them in the middle of the turn, upsetting the car and driving under them as they struggle to regain control of their machine. As the No. 24 stalked the No. 48 for the final 15 laps yesterday, Gordon never really got next to Johnson and gained position on him to execute a pass. Instead, he followed him, about a half car length off his bumper, waiting until the last possible moment to use a move of questionable ethics he has used several times in his career.
Entering the 3rd turn on the final lap, Gordon closed quickly to Johnson's 6 o'clock. He hit him once in the middle of turns 3 and 4, but Johnson didn't waiver. He then quickly hit him a 2nd and 3rd time, harder than the first hit. Johnson's car slipped a touch, but did not move off the bottom. Gordon did get a fender under him coming up out of the turn, and then proceeded to drive into the side of Johnson a couple of times coming to the finish line. Following the race, Johnson said the shot was hard enough that it shoved his helmet back into the seat. He also commented that in the old car, he probably would have lost it, but the way the bumpers are lined up in the CoT, it doesn't lift the rear tires off the ground as the old car did. Gordon expressed amazement that he wasn't able to move Johnson as hard as he was hitting him. He actually admitted on television that he was deliberately attempting to run into someone (his own teammate nonetheless) hard enough that they would lose control, several times, in an effort to move them out of the way for the win.
I might be in the minority here, but even for a short track race, that seems less than honorable to me… even if Gordon’s team did give Johnson’s team the setup that won the race.
Gordon first used his move of drilling someone in the middle of a turn on the last lap of Bristol in 1997. Rusty Wallace had led most of the event, and Gordon got to his bumper the last few laps. In the middle of the 3rd and 4th turn on the last lap, Gordon popped Rusty in the bumper and sent him skidding up the track as he went on to victory. Later that same year, at Darlington, Gordon made a swerving maneuver at Jeff Burton as he cleanly pulled alongside in the closing laps of the Southern 500. He ran into Burton quite hard, shoving him down out of the grove and nearly onto the apron of the racetrack. Gordon went on to win the Southern 500 and the Winston Million Bonus. In 2002 at Bristol, again chasing Wallace, Jeff Gordon again ran into the back of Wallace in the middle of the turn with a couple of laps left, soldiering on to take the win.
To which I ask: Is it really worth it?
At Richmond in 1997, Gordon was the recipient of a Wallace payback from the Bristol incident. Midway through the race, Wallace clipped Gordon in the middle of turns 1 and 2. Jeff, attempting to execute a 360 spin by standing on the throttle, spun the car around headfirst into the 2nd turn wall to the delight of the crowd. That may not sound like a big deal, wrecking on a short track (who hasn't done it?), but that year, Gordon barely won the Winston Cup by 14 points over Dale Jarrett, and for much of the final race at Atlanta was not the Champion. What if that Bristol win had actually cost him the Winston Cup? Is winning a race really worth pushing a guy out of the way and burning some bridges? Gordon has also had a few run-ins with Tony Stewart for not yielding position when maybe he should have. At Atlanta two weeks ago, he was involved in a hotly contested exchange with Juan Pablo Montoyaâ€¦..and Gordon was one lap down. Juan has shown thus far that he is respectful of his fellow competitors, but also doesn't leave much room for error, either. Is establishing a rivalry with a relative unknown the best way to go about winning a 5th career Championship?
Last week at Bristol, Jeff Burton on new tires had every opportunity to give Kyle Busch a little bit of a shove, drive under him, and into Victory Lane, and the fans probably would have cheered in approval. He opted to take the high road, saying that wrecking someone to win isn't really something to be proud of. The week before at Las Vegas during a Busch race, Kyle Busch actually ended up wrecking himself in an attempt to keep from running into and wrecking Jeff Burton as they came to the checkered flag at his home track. While it may have been "just" a Busch race, Kyle Busch's actions may have actually won him the race that mattered…the Nextel Cup race two weeks later at Bristol. It's another old adage, and one that applies to the Cup series more than perhaps other series; guys will race you the way you race them. You get what you give, and nowadays, you don't really see too many drivers moving out of Robby Gordon's way.
Tony Stewart has a rule. He'll follow you for a few laps, and if you keep blocking him or cutting him off, he'll lightly nudge you out of the way and move on. But he does it early on in the race, not waiting until the last possible second to perform some cowardly maneuver, to avoid any sort of retribution. Dale Earnhardt's spin to win in the 1999 Bristol Night Race against Terry Labonte was one of his most memorable moments, but also one of the least popular. Fans showered the racetrack with beer cans, pop bottles and other debris, along with greeting him with a loud chorus of boos and "No. 1" gestures upon his exiting of the car in Victory Lane. Casey Atwood "earned" his first of two career Busch wins in Milwaukee of 1999, by running into the back of Jeff Green on the last turn of the last lap. That didn't exactly earn him a whole lot of respect among his competitors, or endear him to the fans. Last season at Chicago, as Gordon was catching Matt Kenseth in the closing laps, he again opted to run into the leader from behind in the closing laps, this time in an apparent retaliation for something that happened months earlier at Bristol. It's ironic that the incident between Kenseth and Gordon at Bristol was reminiscent of the moves Gordon has made several times throughout his career at the very same race track.
While rubbin' is most defiantly racing, wrecking is most defiantly not. I know Martinsville has a really nice clock they give away, as do a lot of the other tracks that have their own special trophy. Is that really worth the risk of getting repaid later on down the road in the midst of a Championship run, as well as raising the ire and disapproval of the most passionate fans in all of sports?
In all fairness to Jeff Gordon, he didn't wreck Johnson, and it isn't like he has a reputation for running over guys coming up through the field. We all watched a great short track finish instead that proves that there are more reasons to keep both Martinsville dates besides the hot dogs and the train. While the Car of Tomorrow has its share of doubters and critics, one thing it can apparently do is fend off attempts to move it out of the way by running into it from behind. While Johnson was able to hold onto the win yesterday, Jeff Gordon's attempt to resurrect the past by waiting until the last turn of the lap to run into the back of the leader will hopefully be just that: A thing of the past, courtesy of The Car of Tomorrow.
Now, if they can just keep that foam from burningâ€¦..
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Good job Vito, I noticed there wern’t as many wrecks through out the whole race because of someone getting under someone and lifting them, most of the cautions were mainly due to over heating the bead on the right front due to lack of cooling ducts on the brake calipers,but I like what Kyle Petty said about the c.o.t. “just shut up and drive it” like it or not we had the two best short track finishes in the last two weeks since I can remember,
I agree with you 100%. I blame this style of racing on Earnhart Sr. and NASCAR. He was the one that started it all and NASCAR let him get away with it. They let it get out of hand and they can’t get it back under control. After all, if the great Intimidator could do it, why can’t I. I know this will piss of a lot of people because to many he was God, but to me, he was a good driver, but also a dirty driver. Unfortunately, the fan base has also changed to a younger crowd who not only accept this as racing but want it. Just look at any pole that asks if one driver should use this tactic to win and “yes” always wins. I have to agree with Burton last week, if you have to wreck someone to win, than it isn’t winning. I’ve been around the sport since 1967 including being on teams back during the Earnhart Sr. days before it became a show instead of a sport. Back then you could even tell what make of car it was withouth having to search for a decal to tell you. Now that was racing!
Remove the rear view mirrors from the cars and you will see better racing. Mirror driving/blocking isn’t racing. If you have a faster car and are being blocked intentionally, the blocker should be moved out of the way.
Good article, just wanted to mention that it was 98 that Rusty wrecked Jeff at Richmond, and that year he won the championship quite handily.
Vito my friend, you need to get your Facts straight before you push the send button! “I might be in the minority here, but even for a short track race, that seems less than honorable to meâ€¦ even if Johnsonâ€™s team did give Gordonâ€™s team the setup that won the race.” Sorry, Steve Letarte gave Chad Knaus the setup not the other way around! Makes me wonder if you checked some of your other Facts….......Hmmmm?
Thanks for pointing out the error. That simple name switch was missed by both Vito and the editing bunch; we’ve corrected the mistake for future readers.
Thanks for writing in!
Sorry for the mix up ya’ll; I meant to say Jeff (his team/Steve Letarte) gave him the set up.
I did however manage to get the people he has wrecked in the past correct. ; )
Decent article. I have read only a few of your stories and it seems obvious to me that you are one the many Gordon detractors. If the “ole” black #3 had done this, I think I would be reading how the 48 deserved to be moved because it was “obvious that Sr. had the better car. Bottom line is the 24 did all he could to win without taking out his teammate. The 20 also uses his bumper quite often to get to the front. This is what the sport has become. It makes for exciting finishes witch is what the network excecutives want to see to hopefully increase the sagging ratings.
I wouldn’t say I’m a Jeff Gordon detractor. I am certainly not a Gordon-basher; I hope it didn’t come off that way. I always found in odd that NASCAR was the only sport where someone at the top of their game would be reviled and disliked because of it.
He must be doing something right, because when it’s all said and done, he will probably be 3rd or 2nd on the all-time wins list, and still has a very real chance to tie Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with 7 Championships.
Regarding his sometimes rough-house antics on the last lap, well, he WAS taught by this guy who drove a black Chevrolet…..
Vito, do you honetly believe that Jeff was unable to move the 48 car out of the way thanks to the amazing stability of the COT? Really? That’s gonna come as a surprise to Tony Raines; he must have been a in a different kind of car when Montoya moved him. No, Jeff Gordon put on a good show, but if he really wanted to move Jimmie, he could have.
I think the Montoya/Raines incident was a little different situation. Raines was hit pretty hard (or drove across Montoya’s nose really hard depending on your view of it) in the left rear corner as he was entering the corner under braking. If you get hit in the side….you’re going around. When Jeff nerfed Jimmie a little, he hit him square in the back, bumper to bumper.
It was a great finish to the race, don’t get me wrong. I just feel that the intent was there to do more than what resulted due to the inherrent stabillity of the new cars.
Jeff admitted as much in his post race interview saying that he couldn’t believe he didn’t move as hard as he was hitting him, and that any harder and he would have wrecked him.