September 27, 2005Business)
NASCAR.com talks with Geoff Smith, the president of Roush Racing, about the past and future of Roush Racing, including the chances Kurt Busch will drive for Penske in 2006 (unlikely). He also explains what happened with Mark Martin and why 2005 probably won't be his last year:
The thing that changed the dynamic was from the exit of Jeff Burton to pulling Carl Edwards out of our planned cycle, and then suddenly we didn't have the continuation of the 6 team that would coincide with Mark's retirement from the Cup Series.
That created a significant business issue for us, and Mark also didn't want to leave with a really good team not having a driver.
It wasn't Jack, (because) Jack had stopped approaching Mark on driving. But I approached him on it. I said to Mark, "This was not how any of us wanted to end this in Cup racing" -- and he agreed.
September 25, 2005Race Recap)
Jimmie Johnson wins his third race of the season and takes over the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings. His teammate, Kyle Busch, finished second and was right on his bumper as they came to the line. Rusty Wallace finished third, Mark Martin fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.
The Chase standings were shaken up with poor runs from Tony Stewart (finished 18th), Kurt Busch (23rd) and Matt Kenseth (35th). The top 6 positions in the standings are seperated by 23 points:
- Jimmie Johnson
- Rusty Wallace (-7)
- Ryan Newman (-12)
- Mark Martin (-21)
- Tony Stewart (-23)
- Greg Biffle (-23)
After that it's 81 points back to Jeremy Mayfield and it starts to be a large gap to overcome. Of course there are eight races to go.Race Recap)
I've got the laptop while I'm watching today, so let's do a little NASCAR blogging. The race starts and Robby Gordon's helmet says "Do Not Throw." Let's hope he keeps that in mind. Early in the race it's been the Roush show. For a while it was Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth in the top 5.
Like last week one of the big stories is Chase guys having trouble. Tony Stewart has been running towards the back of the field most of the day, but he has been moving up. Matt Kenseth had been running well but then ran over debris and had to pit during green flag racing. Now he's a lap down and trying to get it back. Kurt Busch had a close call when Kevin Lepage spun out and hit the wall. Lepage's car came down and narrowly missed Busch.
Of course that shuffles up the points pretty good. It's not over yet, but at one point the title standings showed Greg Biffle leading, with Jimmy Johnson 43 points back, and then Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart all 44 points back.Extracurricular)
Last week at New Hampshire when Robby Gordon's race car was wrecked and he'd finished trying to run over Michael Waltrip, who supposedly took him out, and thrown his helmet at Waltrip, Gordon was approached by the TNT reporters and in an emotional outburst on live TV Gordon called Waltrip a "piece of sh-t."
The TNT commentators immediately apologized for the profanity and fans everywhere wondered why there was no delay to catch such profanity. NBC/TNT producer Sam Flood has a simple answer: "It's cable," Flood said. "TNT isn't on a delay, was never on a delay and will never be on a delay."
Because TNT is a cable network, the FCC has no jurisdiction and there are no indecency violations. So as long as NASCAR is broadcast on cable, the drivers can swear all the want and the FCC can't do anything. Of course today's race at Dover is the last TNT broadcast of the year.
And NASCAR has a thing or two to say about televised profanity, whether it's on cable or not. Robby Gordon was fined $10,000 for his outburst, which he later apologized for:
First and foremost, I want to apologise for the words I chose immediately after our race had ended. We had a decent car and we were obviously hoping to give our sponsors Jim Beam, Harrah's and Menards a top-10 finish. For some reason Michael obviously wanted that spot a lot more than I did because he flat took me out as I was cleared in front of him. I let my emotions get the better of me and I apologise. We bumped door to door when I went around him, and I don't know if that made him mad or what.Interviews)
First and foremost, we need as a group to stop wrecking all the time. There's no point in that and, hopefully, maybe we'll make some headway with that. ... The amount of cautions that we have to start with is ridiculous. Some are for drink bottles and rollbar padding, which we shouldn't be having, but the others are because parts are falling off these race cars because they're wrecked. ...
Most of the wrecks are not with veteran drivers. At the same time, believe me, there's a lot of pressure in this business and I think people are feeling the pressure and think that taking the risk on wrecking is worth the reward.
Martin is currently seventh in points, 54 behind points leader Tony Stewart. Martin last won at Dover in June 2004 and has the potential to become the only active driver with five career wins at Dover.
September 22, 2005Extracurricular)
Who would have thought a tempter tantrum could be worth so much money? After Robby Gordon (yes, it's Robby with a 'y' not Robbie Gordon) whipped his helmet at Michael Waltrip's car in Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race in New Hampshire, Gordon decided to auction off the helmet for charity. Bids had reached $10 million before eBay had to step in and call off the auction for bogus bidding.
Gordon later relisted the helmet with better credentials and bidder verification, starting the bidding at $5,000. With one day 22 hours left in the auction the bidding was up to $55,600. All of the money will be donated to Harrah's hurricane relief effort.
Seems like Robby Gordon should be raising money to pay for his fines. Or maybe some anger management classes (he should talk to Tony Stewart). But if somebody doesn't do something it's only a matter of time until we'll be cleaning up after another bout of Hurricane Robby. He did have the most wrecks of all drivers in 2004 (17 crashes, which is 47% of the races). Or maybe Robby Gordon is just upset that people keep spelling his name Robbie Gordon.
September 19, 2005News)
NASCAR layed down the smack today, fining Robby Gordon, Michael Waltrip and Kasey Kahne for their role in on-track incidents in Sunday's race. Gordon, Waltrip and Kahne were all penalized 25 drivers points (and their owners 25 owners points) and Gordon fined $35,000, Kahne $25,000 and Waltrip $10,000. Gordon was penalized and fined for trying to hit Waltrip's car during a caution and for swearing on live TV. Kahne was penalized for trying to hit Kyle Busch's car during a caution. Waltrip was penalized for an inappropriate gesture during live TV. Both Gordon and Kahne are on probation for the rest of the year.
I'm not sure what inappropriate gesture Michael Waltrip gave, but I sure didn't see it. It looked from the replay like Gordon was at fault and just got pissed off. The guy tends to wreck a lot and you'd think he'd either learn to control his temper or find another sport.
It's about time NASCAR does something, but it seems a little late. Wrecks happen. Cars get into each other, drivers don't always give each other room, and sheet metal gets crumpled. When it's blatant, like taking out another car during caution, it needs to be penalized. This isn't Days of Thunder.
And why does NASCAR stand around and let stuff escalate. Robby Gordon got out of his car before deciding to get back in and try to run over Waltrip. Then he stood around a while before chucking his helmet. Why didn't the officials just walk him off the track immediately? He was obviously going to do something stupid. And if he refused to leave the track, the should have penalized him right there. It seems like NASCAR is good at standing around and watching the inevitable happen, as opposed to putting a stop to it before it starts. Kasey Kahne thought as much when he made his original comments that taking matters into your own hands is the way to do it. If NASCAR won't do anything about it, then they leave it to the drivers to sort out. And that means more crumpled sheet metal and more teams being unfairly screwed over.
(And FYI, it's Robby Gordon with a 'y', not Robbie Gordon. I initially made that mistake.)
September 18, 2005Race Recap)
It's been nothing but dramatic at New Hampshire in the first of the final ten races of the NASCAR season. While Tony Stewart dominated the race, the last 50 laps looked like pit strategy would determine the race. But a late caution left Ryan Newman first and Tony Stewart second. With nine laps to go Stewart passed for the lead but Newman passed him back with two laps to go and held on for the win.
The chase contenders battled for position with Matt Kenseth holding off Greg Biffle and Rusty Wallace passing Mark Martin. Kurt Busch was taken out early by Scott Riggs but battled back for a 35th place finish.
Plenty of drama happened in the back of the field as well. Kyle Busch got into Kasey Kahne and Kahne retaliated by running his ruined car into Busch. A few laps later Robby Gordon got into Michael Waltrip under caution, and it appeared Waltrip held his ground and both cars spun out, putting Gordon into the wall. Gordon then tried to back his demolished racecar into Waltrip, and when that failed went with chucking his helmet. Then NASCAR red flagged the race to clean up the track. Kahne had some choice words to defend his payback and Gordon called Waltrip a "piece of sh-t" on TNT which will certainly cost him.
September 10, 2005Speculating)
The ten drivers in the Chase to the NASCAR Nextel Cup were decided tonight. Here's the run down:
- Tony Stewart
- Greg Biffle
- Rusty Wallace
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch
- Mark Martin
- Jeremy Mayfield
- Carl Edwards
- Matt Kenseth
- Ryan Newman
Richmond was the last race of the regular season in the NASCAR season and tonight the top 10 in the Championship points was set and those teams will race for the Championship in the next 10 weeks. Kurt Busch took the opportunity to build momentum for the Chase by winning at Richmond. Though Kevin Harvick led early, it was a Rousch race at the end with Busch, Kenseth and Biffle finishing one, two, three.
Most of the focus of the race was on those in the Chase bubble. Kenseth continued his amazing comeback landing himself in ninth place for the Championship, secure in the Chase. Carl Edwards stayed safe all night, though he didn't make it easy on the nerves. A wreck happened right in front of him and he was bumped from behind and tagged someone in the front, but managed to keep it under control and finish in 21st, enough for eighth in the Chase. Ryan Newman became the bubble man, finishing in 12th place tonight and securing the last spot in the chase.
A few other drivers weren't so lucky.
September 6, 2005Business)
Even though Nextel signed a 10-year deal when it took over the primary sponsorship of NASCAR's elite cup series from R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand in 2003, we could see another series name change by 2007. Sprint and Nextel have merged and plan to use the Sprint name in the future. For 2006 it will continue to be the NASCAR Nextel Cup, but it could be the NASCAR Sprint Cup starting in 2007. An official announcment could be made before the 2006 Daytona 500.
The long reign of Winston as the primary sponsor resulted in NASCAR's top series being known simply as "Winston Cup". In 2003 you could almost feel the tension as media and fans alike got used to the idea of the top series being called the "Nextel Cup," and quickly adapted to calling it the "Cup series" since the sponsor could easily change. It's a good move for the media, though probably makes the sponsorship less enticing.
My question is when will the Busch series see a similar move? Already NASCAR refers to the Truck and Cup series, avoiding the confusion of sponsor changes. But what will we call the Busch series when Busch beer moves on? I think the "Grand National series" was its original name, though that hardly seems to mean much anymore.Business)
Rising fuel costs, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, are starting to pinch the wallets of NASCAR teams. The cost of diesel fuel has doubled in the past year and if regular gasoline is topping $3.00 per gallon, you can imagine the cost of racing fuel, which often costs twice as much.
"I may be paying more money, but I'm not 10 feet under water, either," said local Florida racer Ted Vulpius.
While the fuel crunch is definitely being felt, it's nothing like the energy crisis in the 1970s when Congress identified NASCAR racing as a waste of fuel. In response NASCAR shortened the Daytona 500 to 450 miles as a good will gesture, despite their complaints that other sports use more fuel transporting multiple teams across the country.
While fuel "wasted" on the track probably pales in comparison to the fuel spent getting competitors and fans to the track, I've always thought it would be cool if NASCAR ran an environmentally friendly series, souped up solar-powered cars or hybrids or something. Green cars that could still go fast. It'd be primarily public relations, but imagine the interest that could be brought to fuel-efficient vehicles.Race Recap)
20-year-old rookie Kyle Busch dominated at California, leading the most laps on the way to his first ever Nextel Cup victory, making him the youngest winner in history. If only by four days; Donald Thomas was the previous youngest winner with his win at Atlanta in November 1951. He was four days older than Busch.
Most of the real excitement happened behind Busch as drivers jostled to score the most points and make it into the Chase. Matt Kenseth finished 7th, and is in 9th place for the Championship, 10 points ahead of Jamie McMurray in 10th place, who finished in 8th place. Ryan Newman finished 18th and Jeff Gordon 21st, finishes that lost both of them two places in the Championship run. Newman is in 11th, one point behind 10th, and Gordon is in 12th, 30 points behind 10th. Next week at Richmond is the final race before the Chase, the last chance teams have to get into the top 10 to vie for the championship.