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.
With Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leaving Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, the whirlwind of controversy that has arisen is second to none. Although his departure has not caused the Earth to veer off its axis and send us all hurtling towards the sun (which may happen when he does announce where he will be going), it has created an open seat for one of the more promising Chevrolet teams in NASCAR. While many may argue that DEI is on its way to becoming little more than a museum full of No. 3 memorabilia, it is still one of the most successful and capable teams on the circuit in need of a driver for its flagship car. As to who may be in line to replace Junior in the No. 8 car, well, it's time to speculate a little…let’s examine the racing landscape and see who may be available for the No. 8 in â€˜08.
Kyle Busch: An interesting proposition. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s main goal is to win races and championships, and there's one team that's really, really good at that: Hendrick Motorsports. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson obviously aren't going anywhere, and they're BFFs with Casey Mears, giving him unprecedented immunity in the face of poor performance. That means should Junior come calling, it’s actually Busch who might be the odd man out at Hendrick. Perhaps Chevrolet will establish a “trade,” so to speak, exchanging Busch for Budweiser between D.E.I. and Hendrick. Hendrick actually had ties with Bud from 1994 to 1998, and with Busch no longer sponsoring the Grand National Series, why not sponsor your namesake? Heck, Miller sponsors his brother, so why not?! Just think of the possibility…Kyle Busch driving the Busch Beer Chevrolet for D.E.I. There is a connection here, I'm sure of it…everyone just needs to connect the dots.
Scott Riggs: Evernham as a whole has been running awful this year, but this is the guy who's missing races, which puts him in jeopardy for eventually missing out on a ride. Riggs usually qualifies well and is fast, but he’s wrecked all by himself a little too often for my taste. To his credit, he settled down big time and showed flashes of brilliance in 2006, snapshots of talent that have quickly gone missing during a disappointing ’07. I always kind of got the impression that the No. 10 team is lost in the shuffle between the flagship No. 9 effort and the second factory-sponsored No. 19 team, a program which always seems as if it's teetering on the verge of greatness. With Daimler recently divesting itself of Chrysler, Mopar backing might be left wanting for some teams, so Riggs may be on the outside looking in by the end of the year.
Boris Said: Said has instructed half of the current Nextel Cup field how to properly execute heel-and-toe downshifting and how to negotiate the left AND right turns at both Infineon and Watkins Glen. While he's trying desperately to land a full-time gig in a Cup car, he has been given a few opportunities with Roush's No. 60 satellite operation headed up by friend Brian Simo and Frankie Stoddard. That type of solid equipment was all Said needed to strut his stuff on an oval; he put his car on the pole at the Pepsi 400 in 2006, then raced his way into the 500 this year. He's hungry for a ride and to prove himself, two things D.E.I. desperately needs as they look to fill their giant void. If there is a down side, this man is older than most rookie drivers at 44 years of age; but who else has a legion of fans showing up with gigantic afro-wigs? Imagine seeing the sea of red in the grandstands replaced with those.
Kenny Wallace: Why not? Wallace drove the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet for D.E.I. to substitute for an injured Steve Park in late 2001 and early 2002, nearly winning the fall event at Rockingham. He also had a very good relationship with the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., helping push him to his final win at Talladega in 2000. Again, what D.E.I. needs right now is some veteran leadership to help get them through this transition period, and The Hermanator might be the one do it. He is popular, personable, and easy to sell to potential sponsors; he’s also strong on restrictor plate tracks, facilities where D.E.I. staked their reputation early on. What he has been able to do with the No. 78 machine this season has been admirable, but I can't help but think that Kenny’s never really gotten a fair shake to drive the best equipment and be the lead driver in an organization like D.E.I.
Jeremy Mayfield: Things are less than rosy at BDR for this former two-time Chase participant. Mayfield does qualify well, but he often comes up far short of making the show this year in the performance-plagued Toyota Camrys. Things were once looking up for Mayfield with former employer Evernham in 2005, but then they took his crew away from him and gave it to Kasey Kahne. Mayfield felt disrespected, disclosing his displeasure with Evernham spending too much time with his pet project / gal pal and not his race team during the middle of last summer. That led to another exit in a cloud of controversy for Mayfield, yet he always seems to rebound strong wherever he goes. It happened at Penske and again at Evernham; should he leave BDR, the fourth time might be a charm at D.E.I.
Johnny Benson/Mike Skinner: Why a driver of Johnny Benson's caliber continues to be left out of the Nextel Cup Series is beyond me. The 1995 Busch Champion and 1996 Cup Rookie of The Year, he nearly won the 2000 Daytona 500 in an unsponsored car with a new team, eventually providing MB2 (now Ginn) with its first Cup victory in 2002. Benson has worked with D.E.I. Technical Director and interim Crew Chief Steve Hmiel at Roush in the late 90's. Meanwhile, teammate Mike Skinner has experienced a resurgence and rebirth of sorts by getting off to a great start with three CTS wins so far in 2007. The only thing that might keep these two capable veterans out of the D.E.I. driver’s seat is their relationship with Toyota. Also, why either of these drivers has not been tabbed to help get Toyota into some Cup races (with the exception of one off rides for Benson or Skinner filling in at BDR) remains a mystery to many. Skinner and Iron Head were teammates against their wills at RCR, but Skinner managed to learn from the best while they were both there.
Steven Wallace: If Steven Wallace could find a way to reign in the enthusiasm before his first pit stop, this kid would be hard to handle wherever he goes. It would be nice to see Rusty get out of the booth and on top of the roof to help slow him down some, as without his dad’s support he seems to struggle during the Busch races. However, when keeping his car in one piece Wallace has run well and looked impressive at times; he just has a habit of running into immovable objects or other cars way too soon in a race. Rusty and Dale were competitors, but also had a great deal of respect for one another, giving the younger Wallace what could be his best chance yet for a Cup ride.
Steven Leicht: Currently Robert Yates Racing's driver in the Busch Series, Leicht might be in the driver's seat should a proposed RYR/D.E.I. merger happen. RYR can't be doing that great, and merger talk is nothing new; Robby Gordon had pen in hand ready to sign on the dotted line with them not long ago. Should D.E.I. make the switch to Ford, which seems to be the deal breaker for Yates, Leicht could be on the fast track to a Cup ride.
Michael Waltrip: Hey, at least he knows the D.E.I. company policy, and he's had some time on his hands the last few months. I'm sure they still have some NAPA decals left over somewhere over there.
Danny O'Quinn: O'Really? How quickly one forgets about the Busch Series Rookie of The Year in 2006, a driver that succeeded despite driving for the lowest team on the totem pole at Roush Racing, crew-chiefed by Mark Martin's rear tire changer. After being thrown on the street, he might be working at a car wash; it’s absolutely criminal that Roush dropped this guy while keeping some other “young guns” on the roster. To be honest, O’Quinn is possibly the most deserving driver without a real ride right now, so if there is justice in this country, somebody needs to give this guy an honest shot at the big time…unfortunately, it won’t be D.E.I.
Dick Trickle: Alright, I’ll admit it; I just wanted to see his name in print again. It has been WAY too long.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Good article, but here is a question. Would Teresa really put another driver in the #8 car right now? I think she should put a different number on the track. Think about it, whoever shows up to the track next year at Daytona in a #8 DEI car is going to instantly be hated by the legions of warriors in the Jr. Nation. That’s a given. That would be like putting any of the above named drivers into an RCR #3 car. I’m not saying the #8 is anything like the legend of the #3, but Jr’s fans are very loyal to him, and are not going to take kindly to anyone jumping into a car with “his” number on it.
Missing from the line up is the one sure way to go down swinging with a true “racer”, Mr. Excitement himself, Jimmy Spencer. He supported Teresa in the battle with Junior and can still bull his way to the front.
If DEI would not spend the money to keep the “HARDT” of its company in the fold what makes you think it will spend the money on a “body” that is on life support? While there may be some drivers looking to “step up” to a better team, how many will think they can get DEI to spend the money to be competive on the track, when they would not open the bank for the son of the man who started the team? If I were a driver looking at DEI I would question the companies commitment not only to the drivers but to its ability to be competive.
I don’t really have a good idea of who DEI should put into the 8 (I’ve heard rumors that it would be Kerry — as a caretaker until his son is ready but that could be wishful thinking on the part of some Earnhardt fans), but I think Hendrick would be nuts to dump Kyle Busch.
As a Danny O’Quinn fan, I’m grateful to see the shout-out even though I agree that the chances are right up there with the possibility of the oak tree outside my window suddenly turning neon pink.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to even attempt to drive the #8? Step up to the plate Teresa. Let Junior take it with him. It’s not yours…it was his grandfathers!!!
I liked the Dick Trickle idea…...I agree park the 8 for a few years, give the team a new number. It would ease on the pressure on the new driver, especially if its a young driver. Of course it would be nice to see what Kenny Wallace can do in a real car.
nascar can take the no#8 away from her! she would be red hot ,then!!! ha!
She won’t park the 8, she will use it for the owner points next year to get it into the first races, she will never let JR have that number without him buying it back for some real big bucks.
This is a totally off the wall thought but I wonder if a non-Nascar driver could end up driving it—like someone from Formula One or Indy…
That is not off the wall at all. Jacques Villenueve has been actively campaigning and searching for a NASCAR ride, especially with the Busch Series heading north next year to Montreal. The guy is still the Michael Jordan of Canada.
Paul Tracy was a little sour after his Busch venture didn’t pan out like he thought, but maybe he’d be open to reconsideration.
I personally think it should be Steve Park he is fully recovered now he was deis first cup driver he knows the company and I think he would do well just my opinion
When Mikey left for BDR- a team that had a dodge look but wasn’t technically a dodge because mikey who is very good at recognizing his sponsors didn’t even mention dodge when he was being interviewed at all in 2006 and BDR and dodge were involved in a very intricate lawsuit- the owner’s points went from the #15/Napa Chevy to the #1/ Bass Pro Shop Chevy of Martin Truex Jr. in his rookie year. There is no reason Teresa Earnhardt has to put the #8 Chevy Back on the track next year. She can lease another number from NASCAR (i don’t know what numbers are available but for s#@!$# and giggles say the #333). Say she decides to license the 333 from NASCAR. As an owner it is her right to transfer the owner’s points from the #8 car- which at Daytona next year will be Jr’s FORMER car- and transfer the points to any number she decides to lease, just like she did with the #1 and the #15. There is no reason for Teresa to put the #8 on the track next year, except for one. To piss (sorry if I’m not allowed to say that word- you can edit it if you want) off Junior and his legion of fans. If Teresa does announce that she is going to run the #8 next year, I say Junior should go ahead and jump into the #3 just because Teresa has said she doesn’t want to see it on a Cup track again. That would be the ultimate F you to Teresa if that is what Junior really wants to do.
I Would Like To See Maybe Erin Crocker,Deborah Renshaw Or Casey Mears To Replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. In The #8.
If you thought that there were a lot of beer cans thrown at the 24. when he won. Can you imagine what will be thrown at whoever shows up on the track in the no.8.I hope he has a suit of armor.
Oh, or lets get Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarbrough and Bobby Allison to team up and drive the #8, according to the type of track, and who is feeling well that day. They have almost 500 Cup equivalent wins between them, and a grand total of about 150 years driving experience. Proven experienced winners, thats what you need to win races isn’t it? Maybe Darrell Waltrip could drive in relief and give us some relief from his mouth in the broadcast booth, also.