When asked Thursday whether he is dating Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sidestepped the question.
It was a topic you knew Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was going to be asked about eventually, considering the NASCAR rumor mill has him dating Danica Patrick. And not surprisingly, it was a subject matter Stenhouse did not want to discuss.
“I don’t like to talk too much about my personal life,” Stenhouse said Thursday during the Sprint Media Tour. “I think this week is about Roush Fenway, the Gen-6 (car), our sponsors and our season that we’re looking ahead to.”
Ironically, both NASCAR drivers are entering their first full season in the Sprint Cup Series and are competing head-to-head for Rookie of the Year. Stenhouse, a two-time Nationwide Series champion, is driving for Roush Fenway Racing, while Patrick is in a car fielded by owner/driver Tony Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing team.
“It’s going to be fun racing her in Rookie of the Year,” Stenhouse said. “I think it’s going to be very exciting. I’ve never raced a friend for a championship, for Rookie of the Year. So that’s exciting”
The pair became friends in 2009 when both were entering their rookie seasons in Nationwide. And rumors that two were dating began circulating last November after Patrick announced on her Facebook page that she was divorcing her husband of seven years.
“When she first came into the sport — obviously she is very outgoing — and she wants to learn as much as she can,” Stenhouse said. “I felt like our backgrounds were somewhat similar coming from light racecars, open-wheel race cars. … And I felt like I gave her as much advice as I can.”
When asked earlier in the week about her relationship with Stenhouse, Patrick commented that the two “were good friends.”
INDIANAPOLIS Tony Stewart(Anthony Wayne Tony Stewart (born May 20, 1971) is an American auto racing driver and owner. Throughout his racing career, Stewart has won titles in Indy cars and stock cars as well as midget, sprint and USAC Silver Crown cars, giving him the recognition of one of the finest racers of his generation. ) passed up a chance to race for Roger Penske(Roger S. Penske (born February 20, 1937) is the owner of the automobile racing team Penske Racing, the Penske Corporation, and other automotive-related businesses. A winning racer in the late 1950s, Penske was named 1961 s Sports Car Club of America Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated. After retiring from driving a few years later, he created one of the most successful teams in IndyCar Series and NASCAR racing.) in the Indianapolis 500. The three-time NASCAR champion said Wednesday at the International Motorsports Industry Show that he wouldn t attempt to race in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
It s kind of like being at Thanksgiving dinner. My plate is finally full. I don t know if I can add anymore to what I have right now. Tony Stewart on declining Indy 500 invite As much as I would like to do it, we just don t have the time to do it proper, Stewart said. The IRL is so competitive now, you re not going to just show up like drivers used to do in the past and be competitive. These guys don t leave anything on the table there. You re not going to stroll into the Indy 500 with these guys who race every week and be as competitive as they are. Penske extended the invitation last week in Las Vegas while accepting the Sprint Cup trophy. Later, when given the chance to shrug it off as a lighthearted moment with Stewart, Penske insisted he was very serious about fielding a car for the NASCAR owner-driver.
It was a very humbling comment and offer that he made, for sure, said Stewart, booed by fans when he made the announcement. I m very humbled by the fact that he offered it to us. It s a great opportunity, but it s very hard when you re running three Cup teams right now and the obligations that we have making sure that we re doing the right things, we have a lot of people that depend on us. It s kind of like being at Thanksgiving dinner. My plate is finally full. I don t know if I can add anymore to what I have right now.
He left open the possibility of racing for Penske at some point. I m not going to do it this year, but there s nothing saying that down the road that I may not take him up on that same offer, Stewart said. There was a push to get Stewart to race in Indianapolis since Penske made the offer, with Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting an online petition for fans to encourage the driver to accept the ride. Stewart has raced five times in the Indy 500, starting from the pole as a rookie in 1996 and leading 44 laps before his engine failed. His highest finish was fifth in 1997.
The Indiana native twice ran both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. In 1999, he was ninth at Indy and fourth at Charlotte, and in 2001, he was sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte. Penske-owned cars have won the Indianapolis 500 15 times. Stewart keeps a close on the IndyCar series and the 500. I don t miss a thing that happens here, Stewart said. I m watching everything that s going on. It s definitely something we pay attention to.
Brad Keselowski(Bradley Aaron Brad Keselowski (born February 12, 1984) is an American professional stock car racing driver and team owner. He currently races for Penske Racing in NASCAR, driving the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series and the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in the Nationwide Series. He is also the owner of Brad Keselowski Racing, which currently fields two full-time teams in the Camping World Truck Series.), the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion for Penske, said he d like to try a double himself.
Tony s a Chevy driver. If Ford had an IndyCar presence, I hope Roger would talk to me, Keselowski tweeted. Who wouldn t want to do it?
The Daytona 500 will revert to a more traditional qualifying format now that the much-maligned top-35 rule has been dissolved in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
That means the fastest 36 cars from qualifying will make the race with the remaining seven spots being filled on owner points and a past champion provisional. This is a reversion to the qualifying format used before the 2005 season where NASCAR first started locking-in the top-35 teams into the field each week.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby confirmed the procedure during last week s Daytona preseason test.
“The procedure will change from last year, with the elimination of the top-35 rule, which will put some jazz and smack back into the (qualifying) races,” Darby said. “That s because a majority of the competitors will be racing their way in.”
The qualifying procedure for the Daytona 500 is as follows:
- The front row, positions 1-2, will go to the two fastest drivers during qualifying on Feb. 17.
- Positions 3-32 will be set by the finishing order in Budweiser Duel qualifying races on Feb. 21. Drivers who finish in the top 15 in their respective races earn spots in the Daytona 500 and the 16th-place driver gets in as long as one of the top-15 drivers already occupies one of the two front row spots.
- Positions 33-36 will go to the drivers who didn t make it through the qualifying races but posted the fastest four speeds during qualifying.
- Positions 37-42 will be awarded as provisionals based off of 2012 owner points
- Position 43 will be a past champion s provisional, going to the most recent past champion not already in the field. If there is no past champion, then the spot will be filled by the next driver eligible based on 2012 owner points.
For each of the events following the Daytona 500, the fastest 36 drivers in qualifying will make the race with the next six spots going to the top teams in the owner standings not already locked-in. The final spot will go to a past champion not already qualified. If no such champion is entered, the final spot will go to the next eligible driver in the owner standings.
The provisional format for the regular season will be based off the 2012 owner s points for just the first three events Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas and will revert to the 2013 standings entering the fourth week of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway.
NASCAR officials expect no change to draft package before Speedweeks
NASCAR officials also announced that they are happy with what they learned during the test session, even with the multicar accident that occurred on Friday afternoon1.
Single car speeds maxed out near 194 mph and draft speeds topped out at just under 200 mph, leading NASCAR to announce that no changes would be made to the restrictor plate size before the sport returns in February for Speedweeks.
The restrictor plate limits the amount of air that flows through the engine and limits horsepower and had four holes of 29/32nds of an inch for the test.
“We know the teams will come back and bring a little bit better this and better that,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “We feel comfortable with that. The racetrack is coming to us a little bit, and speeds will fluctuate a lot they ll be better on new tires and it will drop off as it goes.
“We re right in the ballpark. We don t foresee any changes.”
- ^ multicar accident that occurred on Friday afternoon (www.sbnation.com)
Attention, NASCAR fans welcome to Throwback Thursday! Every week, from now until the start of the 2013 season we ll be giving you, our readers the favorite stories we treasure from our writers over the past few seasons. Today we focus on Mike Neff, a short track guru who shares some NASCAR pieces that have proven meaningful to our fans through the years.
This article originally ran in June of 2011.
There is no question that NASCAR racing, that racing in general, is much more interesting when there is rivalry and confrontation involved. Seeing drivers turn things up even another notch when they get near a driver they openly dislike gets the fans even further on the edge of their seats than they already are during a race. While drivers getting into fist fights in the garage and on pit road isn t nearly as common now as it was in the early rough and tumble days of NASCAR, there are still personalities that mix like oil and water.
And they seem to somehow always end up near each other on the track during a race. The competition aspect of auto racing naturally brings out raw emotion and drivers can sometimes lose control of those emotions. However, while there is some leeway that is afforded those drivers because of the nature of the sport, that leeway isn t extended to team owners.
This past weekend, after the Truck Series race, team owner Richard Childress let his emotions get the better of him, and it resulted in him getting kicked off pit lane for Sunday s Cup race. It is probably going to cost him some money when fines are announced on Tuesday.
Close quarters racing between Kyle Busch and Joey Coulter late in Saturday s Truck race at Kansas led to an emotional confrontation post-race that owner Richard Childress should have never been a part of.
As the race came to the checkered flag, RCR driver Joey Coulter passed Kyle Busch and sealed the deal by pulling up in front of Busch abruptly, forcing him to lift out of the gas or cause a wreck. On the cool down lap Busch gave Coulter s truck a bump on the side as the trucks were heading to the pits. Minutes later, according to eye witness accounts, Childress removed his jewelry from his hands and then approached Busch as he walked from his hauler toward his motor coach. Childress reportedly hit Busch with his fist, the two were separated and traded insults. Childress then grabbed Busch in a headlock and did his best Nolan Ryan v. Robin Ventura with three more shots to Busch s noggin. Busch did not retaliate, other than with verbal barbs, and was not the instigator, so he did not violate his NASCAR probation after an earlier altercation with RCR driver Kevin Harvick at Darlington.
NASCAR officials met with the parties involved, along with Joe Gibbs (Kyle Busch s team owner) on Sunday morning. The sanctioning body determined that Busch did not do anything to violate his probation, and would not be penalized as a result of the confrontation. Childress was allowed to stay at the race track but was limited in the areas where he was allowed to visit. NASCAR did not eject Childress from the track because with no other management personnel in attendance from RCR, the company needed to have someone in a leadership capacity on site. Childress is going to receive further penalties according to a statement released by NASCAR.
At the end of the day, there s no question that NASCAR brings out passion and emotion among its members as well as its fans. But there is a responsibility for the people who are in leadership positions on the race teams involved to maintain an air of restraint in times of high emotion. Childress has certainly seen his teams in the mix of things with Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing over the last year. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin were deeply involved in the championship hunt last year and had a run in at Dover. Busch and Harvick had their issue at Darlington last month, which resulted in both drivers being placed on probation. Harvick and Joey Logano have experienced a few different dustups over their careers, including the infamous She wears the driver s suit comment at Pocono.
So when the action heated up on Saturday, there s no doubting why Childress decided to take matters over personally. But an owner of a race team simply can t allow himself to be sucked into a situation like that. There are too many people in a racing organization that look directly to the owner of the team for leadership. When they see him knuckling up on a competing team s driver, it is sending two messages.
One message is that the owner is tired of seeing what he s seeing and he s going to do something about it. That message will undoubtedly inspire his troops and dedicate them further to the organization s efforts. The second message is the more dangerous one, which is that it is OK to go after members of other organizations, to try and settle things violently. While it brings fans to the track and adds spice and excitement when people in the garage get physical with each other, the people who make the top decisions in race teams cannot let themselves be drawn into the melees, because the entire situation could devolve into chaos.
Now had Childress chased down coach Gibbs in the garage and decided to throw down, while still inappropriate, the situation would be different because they are both leaders of race organizations. The folks running NASCAR might not have seen it exactly the same, but for two owners to throw down over what goes on during races would be a fair tussle. If Childress were allowed to go after a driver and not be given a significant penalty, there would be no way for them to act any differently if the tables were turned. Say Carl Edwards put Chip Ganassi in a headlock and did some Moe Howard action on his dome. NASCAR has no choice but to nip this in the bud, and it is the right thing to do. Owners need to police their own drivers and ensure that things do not deteriorate into an all out war in the garage area.
Richard Childress is an icon in NASCAR and has hundreds of thousands of fans who look up to him for the years and championships that he has given them with Dale Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick. However, he is a man, and sometimes emotions can get the better of a man.
Which is what happened on Saturday. Richard lost his cool and is going to pay a heavy price for it. It will no doubt give him a lot of street cred among the folks who like to see garage fights, but he ll probably have to work to repair his image in other circles, especially the ones where the big sponsorship checks come from. At the end of the day, Richard should have known better.
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2000 – 2008 Mike Neff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch! Be the first to comment on Throwback Thursday: Owners Should Know Better Than Drivers Recent articles from Mike Neff: Black Friday isn’t just at the retail stores – NASCAR Souvenir Blowout at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Denny Hamlin wins Kroger 200 at Martinsville
Tech Talk: NASCAR Eyes In The Sky Equals A Full-Time Job
Final entry list for Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 at Martinsville Speedway
Keselowski Opens A Door Johnson Can t Quite Step Through?45678
2000 – 2008 Mike Neff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Be the first to comment on Throwback Thursday: Owners Should Know Better Than Drivers
Recent articles from Mike Neff:
Black Friday isn’t just at the retail stores – NASCAR Souvenir Blowout at Charlotte Motor Speedway
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- ^ Black Friday isn’t just at the retail stores – NASCAR Souvenir Blowout at Charlotte Motor Speedway (www.frontstretch.com)
- ^ Denny Hamlin wins Kroger 200 at Martinsville (www.frontstretch.com)
- ^ Tech Talk: NASCAR Eyes In The Sky Equals A Full-Time Job (www.frontstretch.com)
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Series: NASCAR Nationwide Series
Location: Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (1.0-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 2nd/4th (Running, completed 204 of 204 laps)
Winner: Joey Logano of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) returned to Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway Saturday for the second time of the 2012 season, to compete again on the 1.0-mile track nestled in the Arizona Mountains. The Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team looked forward to the late-season event, as they continued the effort to secure a second victory from its inaugural run as a new team in the Nationwide Series. Although the win wasn t in the No. 54 s wheelhouse this week, the result did not disappoint, as 27 year-old owner-driver Kyle Busch registered a second-place qualifying spot and a fourth-place finish.
The race got off to a slow start for the No. 54 Monster Energy crew when their driver reported, no front grip it s going to be a long day. Many teams were experiencing the same type of loose car handling that continued over the 200 miles amidst both sunny/warm and cloudy/cool conditions. Busch fluctuated between the top-15 positions most of the event, driving often within the top five competitors.
The KBM team brought their leader down pit road three times, changing four tires only once, leaving the other pit road visits to two-tire stops. Each time, making car adjustments using wedge and air pressure changes. While they hoped the Monster Energy Camry would start feeling more secure to Busch, he continued to give feedback about chattering tires and a difficult car to control.
Driving hard to the end, Busch and team were sitting comfortably in the third position, until an accident occurred on lap 199 of 200, pushing the race to an eventual green-white-checkered finish. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. passed the No. 54 upon completion of the final lap, posting the KBM Toyota in fourth place.
The finish was the 14th top-five and 20th top-10 for the first-year team. When asked about the day, post race, Busch commented, We had a decent car. We fought hard and worked as best as we could to come home with a fourth-place finish. The way the first couple of laps went and started, I didn t think that we were going to be able to finish in the top eight, but Mike (Beam, crew chief) made some good calls on pit road. Just keep coming up short. It seems like we were in the second to fifth class, but can t get to the winner class.
Joey Logano recorded his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway. It was his ninth win of the 2012 season and 18th of his career, followed in the second-finishing spot by Brian Vickers. Series points lead Stenhouse Jr., Busch and Kasey Kahne completed the top-five finishers. There were 10 caution periods for 40 laps of the race along with six lead changes across four drivers.
The No. 54 Monster Energy team remained eighth in the Owner s Point standings, 167 points from the leading team owner Joe Gibbs.
The next event on the NNS schedule is the Nov. 17 Ford 300 with the television broadcast starting at 4 pm EST on ESPN2 and on the MRN radio broadcast. Kyle Busch will make his 22nd start of the season behind the wheel of the KBM No. 54 Monster Energy Camry, hoping to continue the positive momentum built with his team over the last three races, and finish the Nationwide Series season with a long-awaited win as an owner-driver.
About Monster Beverage Company: Based in Corona, California, Monster Energy refuses to acknowledge the traditional and the disingenuous. Monster always supports the scene and the sport. Whether it be motocross, off-road, NASCAR, MotoGP, BMX, surf, snowboard, ski, skateboard, or the rock and roll lifestyle, Monster is a brand that believes in authenticity and the core of what its sports, athletes and musicians symbolize. Much more than a drink, it s a way of life lived by our athletes, sports, bands, believers and fans. See more about Monster Beverage Company including all of its drinks at www.monsterenergy.com and Facebook.com/MonsterEnergy.
About Mad Media: Mad Media (www.madmedia.com) is a San Diego based marketing and creative agency offering professional print, web, and film production. They specialize in producing culturally relevant brand messaging using professional athletes, musicians, and artists. Mad Media focuses on sports and cultures that they are passionate about, including skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, motocross, FMX, BMX, off-road racing, rally racing, Hip-Hop, Punk Rock and Mixed Martial Arts. Mad Media has produced over twenty major commercial and viral film projects this year for clients such as Subaru of America, DC Shoes, Monster Energy Drink, and Harley-Davidson. Mad Media has been executing immersive marketing campaigns since 1996.
The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. SpeedwayMedia.com.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. While there are two races left in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) season, there is still hope amongst the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team members that a victory with team owner-driver Kyle Busch is eminent. The first year results for this young team have included two pole-qualifying positions and one early win, with fellow Monster Energy driver Kurt Busch, but the season hasn t been without its ups and downs. Needless to say, the group has been challenged, and in many ways that has made the team seasoned with tests such as on-track incidents, mechanical failures and being on the wrong end of races decided by fuel mileage. To overcome those hurdles and to be contending for wins on a weekly basis is what drives this team to earn victory for themselves, for their sponsor and for their team leader.
In 31 starts over its first year together, the KBM Nationwide Series Monster Energy group has accumulated one win, two pole positions, 392 laps led,13 top-five finishes, 20 top-10 finishes and sits eighth in the owner s points standings. KBM has led laps in each of the last three events and last week earned their second career pole, so while time may be winding down, momentum for the No. 54 Nationwide crew is gearing up. Couple that with a driver who at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR) has victories in all three of NASCAR s top racing series, comprised of four wins and four poles in the Nationwide Series, including a race sweep in 2011 where Busch led every event lap, and you have a recipe for success.
The 27-year-old is recorded as the highest All-Time performing driver at PIR in the NNS with an average start of 6.1 and 793 laps led. This week Busch and his first-year team look to improve their career stats, by adding one more W to the column, and finishing out a long season that has challenged them to grow.
Kyle Busch, Driver of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
Going into the spring race at PIR you talked about the new KBM team and how it can be unsettling pulling a new crew together and starting from scratch. Now when you return to Phoenix with almost a full season behind you, how do you feel about the first- year team you ve created? I m proud of the way this team has worked hard, to build competitive cars that put us up against the big teams, in contention for wins. We ve been in position several times this year, but have encountered challenges too. I realize now, the equipment is very important and a big key to a team s weekly success. It takes time to develop and mold all the pieces of a race team, including the people. It s a lot harder than you think to build a race team from scratch, and when I sit back and review what we ve been able to accomplish this year, I think no other start-up can compare to what we ve done.
Mike Beam, Crew Chief of the No. 54 NASCAR Nationwide Series Monster Energy Camry:
Are you looking forward to returning to Phoenix with Kyle? We have to keep our heads down and keep digging. The first Phoenix race didn t give us the result we were looking for, but we ve made so many improvements to our program since that second week of the season. All the way around, this KBM Nationwide Series program is stronger now. The car we are taking has run well for us. Besides having a locked gear in Kentucky, we secured our first pole with it and earned a couple of top-10 finishes. As I say every week, if we limit our mistakes and stay focused, we can bring home the win that everybody wants for Kyle, for Monster Energy and for this team that has worked so hard.
Kyle Busch s No. 54 Monster Energy Camry:
Chassis KBM-011: KBM will unload car #011, raced as a new car at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway, where team owner-driver Kyle Busch secured the first pole for KBM s Nationwide Series entry. Busch went on to earn a seventh-place finish in the car s debut. Chassis #011 then visited Kentucky Speedway in Sparta where Kurt Busch secured a top-15 starting spot, then unfortunately did not complete the race due to a locked rear gear, forcing the No. 54 into a 28th-place finish. Kyle Busch returned to the seat of car #011 for the second Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway event, where he secured a top-10 start and top-five finish, reaching the line fourth. The backup machine is Chassis KBM-003, raced five times this year with three top-five finishes recorded.
Make no mistake, Nascar died to me in 2004 when the Chase became the method for deciding a “champion” in Nascar. I use “champion” in quotations because due to the majority of these titles (5 of 8) being awarded to people who didn’t win them outright over a season. But this isn’t a rant against Nascar. Most people reading this know my positions and if you don’t, I’ll explain them another time.
This list is based on drivers that I have seen which basically means there may well be guys from the 40′s and 50′s who don’t make this list. I’m not discounting people like Jim Roper, Red Byron, Cotton Owens, etc., I’ve just never seen them before but I am familiar with many of their accomplishments. My list concerns accomplishments, legitimate driving ability (judgement based) as well as factors such as what the competition was like for them. So, the top 10 drivers, in my opinion, in Nascar history are as follows:
10. Alan Kulwicki – The last owner/driver to win a championship. Sorry, that abomination from 2011 doesn’t count because it wasn’t legitimate and Tony Stewart is only a 51% owner of his team and has significant financial backing whereas Alan Kulwicki was 100% owner of his team and funded the entire team out of his own pocket. What this man did on the racetrack with very little money and average equipment will likely not be equalled again in the future because the scope of Nascar has changed so much since he won his title in 1992. Alan had many chances to drive for the top teams. Junior Johnson, who fielded one of the top teams in the sport in the 70′s, 80′s and early 90′s, tried to sign Alan no less than two times and Alan turned him down both times because of his desire to do things “his way.” Perhaps it was fitting that the man he defeated by a mere 10 points was driving a car owned by none other than Junior Johnson. Alan Kulwicki unfortunately did not get a chance to properly defend his championship as he was killed on April 1, 1993 in a private plane crash just outside Bristol Tennessee.
9. Joe Weatherly – The “clown prince of Nascar.” Little Joe has an accomplishment that no other Nascar champion that I’m aware of could boast and that is he won championships driving for many teams in the same year. In Weatherly’s days of the late 50′s and early 60′s, most teams didn’t run full seasons because they didn’t have the financial backing from the automakers. Weatherly won his two championships driving for an average of 10 teams a year. Many of these teams had 2nd and 3rd rate equipment but Joe managed to take the lesser equipment, run up front on skills and determination and was rewarded with the 1962 and 1963 championships. Like Alan Kulwicki, Joe Weatherly didn’t get a chance to properly defend his 1963 championship. He was killed instantly during a race at Riverside California on January 19, 1964. Joe died when his car came into turn 6 which was a very hard right hand turn and slammed the wall flush on the driver’s side. This was before window nets had been mandated by Nascar and Joe died on impact due to his head going out the window and slamming into the wall.
8. Junior Johnson – Many people consider Junior Johnson to be the greatest driver of all time. I can’t necessarily agree with that but I can say he belongs here. His career spanned 313 races and he won 50 times. There aren’t many drivers with such a high winning percentage. There really isn’t much I can say because I’ve not seen much video of him during his driving career but in looking at his accomplishments, he’s worthy of making this list but he’s not worthy of being called the greatest ever.
7. Richard Petty – Sure to cause controversy among lifelong Petty fans due to such a relatively low ranking. There is no denying his accomplishments. 200 wins, 7 championships, 7 Daytona 500 wins, 27 wins in a single season, 10 wins in a row. So why is the King so low here? By his own admission, Richard won most of his races during a time when several things were happening. First, Petty Enterprises was by far the best funded and backed team in Nascar in the late 50′s and 60′s. Richard has admitted many times that he wouldn’t have won as many races as he did if he hadn’t had such an advantage. Bear in mind that in a race with 40 cars at this time, maybe 10 of them had legitimate backing from the automakers. Secondly, this was during a time when there were over 45 races a year and when many races were very short races i.e. 100 miles, 250 laps on a half-mile track, etc. By the 70′s, there were less than 35 races a year, many teams had full support from the automakers and every race was at least 250 miles long. When these things happened, Richard’s wins dropped off. Taking these into account, I just can’t in good conscience rank him above the names to come on this list although he was my first “favorite” driver growing up from the ages of 3-7.
6. Darrell Waltrip – Jaws, as he was known in his prime, raced his way to 84 wins and 3 championships. His 1985 championship win ranks among what I consider to be one of the best examples of Nascar’s old points system done correctly. Bill Elliott had won 11 races that year to Waltrip’s 3 but Waltrip had a much more consistent season with more top 5′s, more top 10′s and less DNF’s than Elliott and thus won the title. This is the way a Nascar champion should be crowned and Darrell Waltrip in 1985 proved why such a system works. His feud in the mid 80′s with Dale Earnhardt was one of the best feuds of that time period.
5. Lee Petty – Winner of the first Daytona 500 in 1959, Lee Petty began the Petty dynasty that for all intents and purposes ended in 1979 with Richard’s last championship. I personally consider Lee to have been the most talented of the Petty’s because, while he did have a similar advantage as I mentioned for Richard earlier, Lee was the one who built the team and established it. I’m honestly not convinced Richard on his own could’ve done that in the manner that Lee did in the late 1940′s. I also met Lee in the early 90′s at Monroeton Golf Club but at the time, I didn’t realize who he was. My dad played golf with him and I rode with both of them but as I said, I didn’t learn until later who he was. After his forced retirement following a crash in 1961, Lee Petty essentially shunned anything related to the spotlight and tried to draw as little attention to himself as possible. He was a humble man but I wish he’d have told me who he was when I was there. Lee died on April 5, 2000 at the age of 86. Less than 6 weeks after Lee’s death, his great-grandson Adam Petty was killed in a practice crash at New Hampshire. I mentioned that to me, the Petty dynasty ended in 1979 and for the record, most historians don’t agree with that. Most believe that it officially ended with Adam’s death as he was intended to be the Petty that would lead Petty Enterprises into the 21st century.
4. Cale Yarborough – The only driver to legitimately win 3 consecutive Cup championships in 1976, 77, and 78. Cale Yarborough racked up 83 wins, and among them were 4 Daytona 500s. This was a man who won nearly everything the sport had to offer. The only crown jewel he never picked up was a win at the Coca-Cola 600. Cale was a man who was gonna drive the car until the wheels fell off and more often than not, his efforts were well rewarded. He, along with our next driver, played a very important role in what was arguably the most important race in Nascar history, the 1979 Daytona 500. For the record, I personally believe that if he and Donnie Allison hadn’t crashed, Cale would’ve won the race. He was already under him before Donnie forced him to the wet grass which caused Cale to slide up into Donnie and eventually caused them both to crash.
3. Bobby Allison – The leader of Nascar’s Alabama Gang. Depending on who you ask, Bobby racked up either 83, 84, or 85 wins. You’ll have to read Wikipedia to learn why because it’s a rather complicated mess. He was only a champion 1 time, in 1983, but he racked up wins in all 4 of the sport’s crown jewel races including 3 Daytona 500′s. One of my favorite all time moments in Nascar was the 1-2 father-son finish in 1988 between Bobby and Davey Allison. Same as I mentioned with Cale, in the footage I’ve seen of Bobby racing, he certainly ranks in the top 2 or 3 for most determined racers in Nascar history. For an example of this, go and look up the 1982 Daytona 500 “trick bumper incident.” Depending on what you believe, this was either a lucky accident or it was a man who would literally do anything to win. As I mentioned in Cale’s post, Bobby was also involved in the 1979 Daytona 500 but as a secondary character. After Donnie and Cale’s crash, Bobby went to the backstretch to pick up Donnie and give him a ride to the pits. A shouting match ensued and Cale and Bobby ended up throwing punches(or as Bobby Allison tells it, Cale threw his nose into Bobby’s fist several times). Combined with the outcome of the race itself, these 2 events propelled Nascar into the national spotlight and signaled the beginning of Nascar’s golden age. Bobby’s career was unfortunately cut short in June 1988 after being t-boned in the driver’s side. Bobby survived but suffered severe head and brain injuries and to this day, he still has amnesia problems. Bobby has stated many times that he has no memory of his and Davey’s 1-2 finish at Daytona. He only knows what he’s been told.
2. David Pearson – The Silver Fox. David Pearson is the only man aside from Richard Petty to win more than 100 races. He was a 3 time champion and quite honestly, he could’ve been a champion more times over had he chosen to run more full seasons than he did. The Silver Fox’s nickname was well-earned because this was a man who could beat you with his mind just as easily as he could his car and his skill. To me, he may have been the most crafty driver that’s ever been. I’ve rarely seen drivers who were so focused and determined yet were calm and collected at the same time. You would literally get the impression that David had ice water flowing through his veins. He won all the crown jewels including the 1976 Daytona 500 which many people state was the best finish to the Daytona 500 that’s ever been. The only other ones typically mentioned with it are 1979 and 2007.
1. Dale Earnhardt Sr. – The Intimidator. That pretty much says it all about Dale Earnhardt. This was a man who literally could and would drive anything to the front. There are so many examples of him taking cars that anyone else would’ve crashed because they handled so bad and running up front with them. There are many people who still like to say that he was a dirty driver. This excuse is the most common detractor that people use against him and it holds no water. I personally challenge anyone to find evidence of him purposely attempting to crash someone. No doubt the 1999 night race at Bristol would be mentioned and it still doesn’t hold. The video in this instance clearly shows that Terry Labonte slowed way down with the purpose of having Dale hit him. The intention is that Dale would have to back off the gas or damage his car and thus Labonte could drive away and win. It obviously didn’t work that way but the point is that it was not his intention to crash Terry Labonte. I’d also challenge that if anyone really tried, you could find just as many examples of people getting bumped by any other driver out there but because of Dale’s popularity and his position in Nascar, his got more attention. Regardless of whatever people say about it, there is no one out there who can legitimately deny the man’s talent and as I said, there are countless examples out there which prove his abilities. Dale Earnhardt was experiencing a career resurgence going into the 2001 season and looked to finish 3rd in the Daytona 500. As we all know, he didn’t make it out of the race alive and February 18, 2001 became the day that Nascar “lost its greatest driver ever.” That is a direct quote by the way from Bill France Jr. Dale Earnhardt’s passing signaled the end of Nascar’s golden era but it was not what killed the sport. Nascar could’ve survived and possibly even thrived in the post-Earnhardt era but in the winter of 2003, that changed forever when the Chase was implemented and Nascar became auto-racing’s version of professional wrestling in that it’s championships became worthless and bogus.
Note 1: People like AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti are not on this list because, while both were great drivers, most of their accomplishments came outside the Nascar realm and this list focuses on accomplishments in Nascar. Yes they both won the Daytona 500 but so have guys like Ryan Newman and Trevor Bayne and neither of them belong anywhere near this list. Point being, winning a big race despite your accomplishments outside the world of Nascar doesn’t guarantee a spot on this particular list.
Note 2: You’ll notice the absence of the following people who most will argue belong on this list: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott. I will explain myself as follows:
Jeff Gordon doesn’t make this list because, while his accomplishments would rank him somewhere in a top 50 list, Gordon’s accomplishments have come less due to ability and more due to superior equipment. I will however be the first to admit that he should be a 6 time champion but he isn’t due to the sham that is the Chase. Doubt me? Look at the 2007 points standings as kept traditionally. Gordon’s margin of victory would’ve been one of the largest in Nascar history and it’s things like this that have made Nascar’s championship absolutely worthless and bogus because clearly the best driver didn’t win it.
Jimmie Johnson doesn’t belong anywhere near this list. His accomplishments are completely based on equipment rather than skill, not to mention that 3 of his 5 championships are not legitimate and when he doesn’t have the very best of equipment, he’s not very good. If you ever saw Johnson drive before he joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2002, most of the time he couldn’t keep the car on the track. Jimmie Johnson has literally been handed by Rick Hendrick everything he’s ever won in Nascar and it truly disgusts me that his name is listed as a 5 time champion when it’s not only not deserved, but it pisses all over Cale Yarborough’s accomplishment as the only man to LEGITIMATELY win 3 championships in a row. 2 of these 3 illegitimate championships have come during seasons (2007 and 2010) when he would’ve lost the championship by an average of over 300 points which is just an unbelievable margin of victory. It leaves no doubt as to who the champions were in these years (Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick respectively) but Nascar’s record book doesn’t recognize these men for their accomplishments and instead honors a false champion who won them through a gimmicked system. For the record as well, Jimmie Johnson is not the man who ruined Nascar despite what many people seem to believe though he certainly hasn’t done the sport any favors.
Rusty Wallace has 50 wins and a championship in 1989 but he doesn’t make this list because he was essentially a one-dimensional driver. Rusty Wallace was one of the best short track drivers that’s ever been but he was mediocre at best on larger race tracks. I don’t think I’ve seen many drivers with his accomplishments that had worse records at Daytona and Talladega especially because, particularly at Daytona, it was clear that he wasn’t comfortable on these tracks and arguably he didn’t belong on those tracks because of his lack of ability on huge tracks.
Bill Elliott with 44 wins and a championship in 1988 is the same as Wallace. He was a one-dimensional driver who was great on super-speedways but was terrible on short tracks. In his entire career he only won 2 races on short tracks. One at Bristol in 1988 and the biggest reason for that was because most of the guys who typically dominated short-tracks at that time either crashed out or had mechanical problems. The second came at Richmond in 1992 in which he dominated the race but it must also be mentioned that he ran many races on the original Richmond Fairgrounds track before it was expanded to its current layout in 1988 and he was abysmal on this track.
The No. 54 Monster Energy team, with owner-driver Kyle Busch, entered the Finger Lakes region hopeful for a strong run on the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen (N.Y.) road course. What the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team encountered over the weekend tested their skills as a team. Overcoming a variety of hurdles such as a practice session in the rain, a broken engine, a deficient oil tank, starting from the rear of the field, a broken shifter handle and a stuck throttle to finish sixth, the young team ultimately showed their strength in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The first day at track started with thunderstorms, which delayed the one and only practice session scheduled. As this was a road-course, Goodyear had a rain tire available for use in wet conditions. While it continued to rain, NASCAR required all the teams to hit the track and complete at least one timed lap, in order to be eligible to participate in the qualifying session that would happen Saturday morning. The teams had a certain window of time to accomplish this and the No. 54 group waited as long as possible in order for the rain to stop and the track to possibly dry.
When they finally did go out, the rain had subsided and the Monster Energy team was able to run on normal tires. Busch made two laps and immediately posted the second fastest time of the field. The crew and driver were happy with their results, considering the earlier weather hurdles, until Busch indicated on practice lap four, the motor had blown.
A disappointed crew brought the black machine to the garage and quickly began replacing the broken engine with a fresh one. This work continued late into the night Friday and early Saturday, with NASCAR s approval for extended garage time, in order to make the repair. The KBM group completed the major fix in time to qualify the car Saturday morning. NASCAR approved the team to begin the race in their qualifying spot, without any penalty from the engine change. Although once a fifth-place starting position was secured, Busch and team discovered an issue with the car s oil tank, and made the decision to replace it.
The oil tank replacement was considered an unapproved adjustment during post-qualifying impound, so the No. 54 dropped to the rear of the field upon race start. From the 41st-position, Busch took the green flag and around the first 2.45-mile circuit drove his black Monster Energy car into the 25th spot. Three laps later the No. 54 team was scored in 19th, then in 17th when the first yellow-flag caution of the race waved.
Save fuel, commented Crew Chief Mike Beam as the team chose not to visit pit road but discussed the car s handling with their veteran driver. Busch relayed to his group, the car is good, only thing I would like is a little better rear grip. The team noted the car condition and discussed amongst themselves what changes would be made when the first pit stop did occur.
A green-flag restart on lap 11 offered Busch the opportunity to advance further, passing road-course expert Ron Fellows for the 10th spot, then on lap 15 by passing NNS championship contender Elliott Sadler for the ninth position. The No. 54 car was responding well to the course, allowing Busch the opportunity to reach as high as third place, when the team chose to make their first pit stop of the day under green flag conditions.
I need side bite, described Busch on the radio. Beam and crew worked on the black machine at lap 21, providing a track bar adjustment, fresh tires and fuel. The pit stop was fast and once other competitors cycled through pit road, the No. 54 team still remained in the top-10 of the field, now back to sixth place.
Team and driver were quiet on the radio while Busch focused on the field ahead, until the team owner relayed that his shifter handle broke. After discussing the problem, Busch determined it would take too long during a pit stop to repair the ball and shaft, so he pushed through, continuing to work the 11-turn racetrack without it.
Another yellow-flag caution occurred at the mid-way point in the race but the No. 54 team chose not to visit pit road, instead salvaging their top-five position. The green-flag restart this time showcased Busch s talent, as he passed three cars within one lap and moved into the second-place spot, behind race leader Brad Keselowski.
Another round of green-flag pit stops began and during the transition of cars to pit road, Busch took the lead at lap 51 for one circuit, before visiting pit road himself. The crew made more chassis adjustments and air pressure changes in the tires, to give their driver a better handling machine. A third yellow-flag event caution ensued and the team remained on-track in the eighth position, as they had pitted four laps prior. Another green-flag restart and Busch made an exciting pass from fifth to third place behind event leaders Kasey Kahne and Keselowski.
With 20 laps remaining in the event, Busch wheeled his car to second place, working to reduce the 0.79-second lead Keselowski had on the No. 54, while also defending his position to the third-place car and eventual race winner Carl Edwards. A fourth yellow-flag caution period waved at lap 68, when the team heard Busch communicate another hurdle, the throttle is sticking now. Beam and team hoped at this point, the Monster Energy Toyota would continue for Busch without further issues, allowing the team to salvage a good run, amidst obstacles.
A fifth and final event caution occurred with six laps remaining in the event. You ve done a hell of a job, Beam relayed to his driver before Busch completed the final event laps. Happy to bring their car home in one piece and having overcome multiple challenges presented to them during their first visit to The Glen, the No. 54 KBM team recorded a sixth-place finish, their 11th top-10 of the year.
Crew Chief Beam commented on the weekend hurdles post race, We ve had so many issues, it s just crazy. The shifter ball broke off 30 laps into it and Kyle (Busch) did a great job sticking with it. The throttle is sticking we ve had so many issues. Just losing that engine yesterday and then having the problem there at qualifying and starting at the rear. Everybody has done a great job on this Monster Energy Toyota. I m proud of everyone. Kyle (Busch) was hanging tough for us.
Edwards recorded his first win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year and 38th of his career. Keselowski finished in the second-finishing spot, while Sam Hornish Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Fellows completed the top-five finishers. There were five caution periods for 15 laps of the race along with 13 lead changes across nine drivers, including Busch who recorded one lap led. The No. 54 Monster Energy team remains 11th in the Owner s Point standings, 129 points from the leader.
The Nationwide Series continues action Aug. 18 from Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada. The television broadcast will start at 2:30pm EST on ESPN and the MRN radio broadcast. Kyle Busch will make his 13th start of the season behind the wheel of the KBM No. 54 Monster Energy Camry.
Driver & Team Look Forward to Starting Second Third of the 2012 Season
The off weeks between Texas and Kentucky have been exactly what this team and I needed, Paulie Harraka said. We were able to spend some great time together in Milwaukee and have grown closer as a team. We ve carefully evaluated where we are at and what we need to do moving forward, and are looking at the Kentucky as if it were the start of a whole new season. For that, I m really excited.
This will be Paulie Harraka s first start at the 1.5-mile Sparta, Kentucky race track but not his first time at the Kentucky Speedway. I ve tested cars at Kentucky before and know that the bumpy nature of the track will play a big factor in our weekend, Harraka commented.
Team owner Richie Wauters, in his tenure as a crew chief, has never gone to victory lane but has had two top-five and four top-10 finishes in just seven starts at the intermediate sized racetrack. Wauters best finish was third-place position with Aric Almirola as the driver in 2010.
Race eight of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season is slated for Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm. SPEED will provide live televised coverage of qualifying beginning at 5:00pm with race coverage beginning at 7:30pm. MRN & Sirius Satellite Radio coverage begins at 7:15pm.
Be sure to follow live practice, qualifying and race coverage at Facebook: Wauters Motorsports and Twitter: @WautersMotors5 , Facebook: Paulie Harraka, Twitter: @PaulieHarraka
Volvo Trucks introduced its energy-efficient model Friday paid for in part by $19 million in federal grants.
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Volvo Trucks Introduces Efficient Truck Funded by Federal Grant