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.
The Voice Of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Sunday May 20, 2007
Lug Nut. One of the representatives of Lowe's Motor Speedway. You have often seen him doing donuts in his Legends car on the front stretch, jumping out, his tiny cape flailing in the wind, then climbing the fence like Tony Stewart to the delight of the fans.
Well, with this weekend’s All-Star Race in the books, perhaps it’s time for Lowe’s to take a look at adopting a new mascot; more specifically, a Panda Bear. Why? Because NASCAR, yet again, is selling itself out, trying to pander to the "stick and ball" fans in an effort to (prepare yourself for another cliche’d NASCAR term) grow the sport. With that, I am humbly submitting for your approval, Ying Yang The PanderBear: The Official Mascot of NASCAR.
Now, NASCAR has changed up the rules for the All-Star race pretty much every year since its inception. They’ve done it so much, it's always confusing to figure out what's going on; this year, it was no different, as the race was split into four 20-lap segments. However, the changes are actually a part of the sport’s allure: it’s never the same thing twice in an effort to create exciting finishes for the fans. This is, after all, an event that is dedicated to the “fans.” But after Saturday night, I have to ask the question…which "fans" are the race actually dedicated to? For example, repeatedly during Saturday night's broadcast, the new rules led to references like "Four Quarters, JUST LIKE FOOTBALL!" Wow! It's also sort of like Basketball, too! I bet people who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line might be actually able to follow NASCAR now! There were even more “coincidental” references to stick and ball sports throughout the weekend: Steve Smith, the NFL star receiver, was chosen as an honorary flagman, while Michael Jordan, NBA legend, was the grand marshal of the event. We were even treated to a college football type drum performance that lasted so long, it's still reverberating in my head.
Yes, I understand that all three are staples of North Carolina collegiate athletics. I get that. What I don't get is this constant effort as of late to make NASCAR like other sports. That is not why NASCAR got big in the first place; in fact, it was exactly the opposite. NASCAR ISN'T like other sports. It's different. It's unique. It's special.
At least, it once was.
I remember seeing the cover of the new Sports Illustrated that recently arrived at my barbershop in 1994. There was a black and white photo of Sterling Marlin's No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet on the cover, with the caption that said it all: "America's Hottest Sport." Everyone raved about NASCAR having a demographic that included 40% of women, marketability beyond automotive related products, and attendance only rivaled by the NFL. What happened to that underground sport that people were suddenly catching onto and wanted to be a part of?
Indeed, those were exciting times. NASCAR acted like itself and had its soul intact. You had races on CBS, ABC, ESPN, and Turner cable stations, all of which had their own special way of covering the broadcast for the fans. We weren't beaten over the head with horribly choreographed rock concerts before events, races that didn't interrupt Sunday dinner, mindless banter in a booth between people who don't know a torque wrench from a trailing arm, or commercial breaks brought to you byâ€¦ more commercial breaks.
Since then, though, the changes the sport has brought to what once was a flawless system have only served to alienate core fans. One of the biggest examples of this in the “new NASCAR” is "The Chase,” a 10-race playoff between the Top 10 drivers in points Â¾ of the way through the season. Actually, it's more like the playoffs in college basketball or the NFL...more people can relate to it! That’s reduced what used to be a nine-month long battle royale which produced some of the greatest championship battles in the history of ANY sport to a 10-race exhibition for 12 guys who managed not to wreck a whole lot or blow engines between Daytona and Richmond.
Purists balked, but NASCAR assured us they knew what was better. After all, "they" got us this far.
The Nextel All-Star Challenge continued this practice of jumping on the stick-and-ball bandwagon. At this point, it’s simply four 20-lap segments. No inversions. No elimination spots. Of course not: we wouldn't want someone who has never followed a race before to get confused and have his head explode like that guy in "Scanners.” Then, after every segment, we're told time and time again, "This is halftimeâ€¦.much like in a football game or a basketball game!" It’s enough to make any core fan’s skin crawl.
The constant comparisons and parallels to other sports are so numerous, they’ve become transparent, yet NASCAR is wondering why its ratings are declining. It's simple: NASCAR isn't NASCAR anymore. Much like New Coke in the mid-1980's, they had the perfect original formula, and they're screwing it up.
Now, let's not get too carried away with racing and take ourselves too seriously. At its heart, it really is a bunch of cars going around in a circle, just like basketball is a bunch of guys running up and down a wooden floor, trying to put a ball in a hole. Granted, most of them can touch the rim just standing there, so forgive me and my 5'9” frame if I don't get all excited about it. Racing, however, has its own nuances and strategy that make it different from stick and ball sports. After all, that's how it thrust itself into national prominence in the first place.
Unfortunately, NASCAR is coming dangerously close to joining the stick and ball sports in one dubious category: joining the NHL and MLB as sports that nearly killed off their fan base. In 1994, major league baseball had a strike halfway through the season, and it took a home run race featuring juiced balls and equally geared up players to get fans on board with the sport all over again. Now, the juice is threatening to upset one of the most coveted and respected records in baseball and all of sports, drawing the ire of both the public and the United States Congress.
Meanwhile, the NHL was going gangbusters along with NASCAR with rising ratings in the mid to late 1990s; then, suddenly their sport began to fade a bit in the face of too many rules and too little scoring. Following a strike in 2004 that eliminated the full season, they're still struggling to regroup. Having games televised on the Outdoor Life Network and now, the Versus channel, typically does not foster success for sport that likes to consider itself “major.”
As NASCAR tries to plan for its future, it needs to realize it’s not that far away from being in the same boat. Just take a look at where the race was aired on Saturday night: SPEED serves as a fantastic network for the gearhead in all of us, but it's still a small, boutique network that isn't available everywhere.
Well, it’s time for a sport that has gotten so busy diversifying to remember its roots. There is a very good reason that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the sports most popular driver, why people don't boo Mark Martin at driver introductions, why fans get angry the Southern 500 disappeared, or heave objects over the fence at Kyle Petty and Sterling Marlin. These are (or were) some of the last links to NASCAR's past, representative of what was right with the sport a decade ago.
With more and more signs indicating the sport is going downhill, you can’t emphasize the central point enough: NASCAR needs to pull back and stop trying to make itself something that it's not. It became the fastest growing sport in the Milky Way from 1948-1998 by doing it different than other sports, but in an effort to attract new fans at all costs, it's losing the current ones faster than they can be replaced. There is still time for the sport to be saved. It only recently started seeing a downturn in ratings after they began jerking with the system. At some point, the recipe for disaster needs to be addressed, and hopefully somebody in Daytona Beach is back from his trip to China to realize this and do something to stop it.
If not, maybe they'll have to find themselves some big, furry black and white suits, asking Humpy Wheeler if he's seen the keys to the donut car: that might be the only job left available to NASCAR execs should the sport continue its current downward spiral.
©2000 - 2008 Vito Pugliese and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Great column! For several years now, the broadcasters have often talked about how some folks think the drivers aren’t “athletes” aka ball bouncers, football/hockey players. Who cares? They are race car drivers. If they are in good shape fine, if not, so what? I don’t think Jr. Johnson went to the gym every day and he didn’t have power steering or a cool suit. Of course he wore only a t-shirt. I too, got tired of hearing about halftime and 4 quarters, etc. That certainly proves that todays talking heads in the booth are under the absolute control of the France family.
Great column. Maybe the Frances, Ramey Poston, and Mike Helton will read this and pull their heads out of their a$$es. Not likely. Go KY Speedway!
I’m only 39 yyrs. old,but grew up listening on the radio with my dad on sunday’s.nascar stayed the course even when tv came about.but the last few years have been appaling.soon the only real racing your going to see is at your local track.about 20 years ago bruton smith toyed with the idea of his on sanctioning body,sounds like a good idea.
Vito Puglieseâ€™s column should be required reading for all race broadcast producers and camera personnel too! Memo to you guys.
The RACE is the thing!!
Just think. Itâ€™s only Monday.
Awesome Column!!! I too am sick and tired of all this mumbo jumbo. It has gotten ridiculous
vito : you must be from ny city you just don’t understand nascar and the france family bussiness. get the money
btw the articles right on target.
The All star race Sat. nite was a perfect example of what has become of Stock car racing at the top level.
Great writing and summation of today’s NASCAR as we know it!
And they wonder why TV ratings are down over 10% for the year and the stands at EVERY race have MANY open seats!
NASCAR today is a BIG JOKE!
ctually, I thought Saturdy nite’s rendition of the National Anthem was one of the best I have ever heard at any sporting event.
But I can side with Vito on the issue of Nascar pandering to the public in general.
It stinks that they have taken out the bump, grinding, and pushing that made Nascar the epicenter of excitement.
I agree with making the sport national as opposed to regional but they should not do it at the expense of good old racing. Racing I may add that is seen at tracks from West to East and from North to South.
Awsome article. I have enjoyed watching the ARCA and Outlaws on Speed more than I have enjoyed watching NEXTEL racing this year because of all of the inconsisencies, COT, and the favoritism being show in the sport. Thanks Vito for showing our side of the story…just for the fans sake.
The main cause of this decline is Brian France. He has taken the sport that Big Bill France worked so hard for years to build up to the point that it was and is slowly tearing it down. Brian France is more concerned about getting the money from the sponsors, fans, etc., and is not concerned with doing what is best for the fans like Big Bill did.
I agree too that a big part of the problem is Brian France. From what I understand, Brian has no interest in Nascar other than just running it. He doesn’t care about nascar racing from what I have heard and understand. Again, trying to make Nascar the in thing by having all these non nascar celebrites at the races is crazy. A lot of the old stars they had at the tracks for National Anthem and Grand Marshalls were actually fans of nascar. Another reason for empty stands is the price of admission tickets-its out of the roof and most working folks can’t afford to go and carry their kids so you are losing a lot of up and coming kids as nascar fans. Another thing that irks me is this drive for diversity. Look, I’m not prejudice, but going out of your way to try and get females, blacks, hispanics involved in a sport that most don’t care about is crazy also. I don’t see a drive for diverstiy in the NBA or NHL! Nascar is not a stick and ball sport and doesn’t need to be compared to as such! Nascar needs to look at ten years ago and get back to what made them popular and also the ESPN Broadcasts and how they were done. ESPN done a great job back then but seem to have lost their way now!
Vito, you nailed it. Hope it helps but I doubt it will. Bob, your comments should also be required reading for the powers that be.
AMEN BROTHER! Brian France has taken NA$CAR the other way since he has taken over, I jumped off the train a couple years ago and I don’t regret it! Move over NHRA
Great comments all around. Another realizm of the decline of NASCAR is, just a few years ago Nascar and the teams were always searching for more sponsor money- NOW what do they do ? File lawsuits in court to prevent sponsors from placing there logo’s on cars- wouldn’t wanna hurt Nextel’s feelings, now would we ?
Vito..You’ve hit the nail on the head with this article..as like the recent article you wrote regarding Dick Trickle they seem to go hand in hand as Dick represents what racing should be about whereas NASCAR today is all about the show. It’s painful enough when I hear a driver regarding to the race as a “show”,(“We just want to put on a good show for the fans..”). I don’t want a “show”..that is what Broadway is for..I want hard racing. This is not to say that drivers and teams aren’t giving it their all but more the point that they may be the only ones at the track concerned about racing as it sure isn’t NASCAR. Their concern is whether of not they can get Aerosmith to the stage on time..sigh..Great article Vito..be a little something extra in your check this week..;-)
>>Much like New Coke in the mid-1980â€™s, they had the perfect original formula, and theyâ€™re screwing it up.
MJ gave the second most boring command EVER (#1 goes to Dubya at the 500 a few years ago) take a cue from Lenny Kravitz a couple years ago at CMS (yes, CMS, screw sponsorship of tracks) and say it like you mean it
the All Star race (i like the idea of an all star race so i say keep it) should be something like 50/30/15 laps with a mandatory pit stop during the first segment
oh and i agree with this article, i just wanted to add my two cents
Great and accurate article, unfortunately money and egos will rule the day. For the first time in over 20 years following NASCAR I dont watch every race and I have cut back on attending races from 10-15 per year to 2-3.
Grate article, I like the four part format, but they don’t have to keep refering to it as four quaters and half time,well you know what I mean. I agree with the comment on the singing of the National Anthem, NASCAR claims to be so patricotic, they need to give the teams a civics lesson, the right hand goes over the left brest or over the heart, if you are wearing a hat your hat is removed andwheb grasped by the bill the cap portion should rest on your sholder, and your supposed to stand facing the flag or the music, all these rules are readily available from any VFW post.
Vito, great article….If I have to hear the Daytona 500 referenced as “the Superbowl of stock car racing” once more, so help me…. I will throw up!! Keep up the great work partner!!