THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
November 28th, 2011
Volume IV, Edition CCL
REMINDER: Starting today, the Frontstretch Newsletter switches back to a weekly edition for the offseason. But don't worry! We'll still be breaking news as the situation warrants; also, don't forget there's still live content every weekday during the offseason. Check out our Driver Review schedule for all the information you need to know.
Addington To Crew Chief For Stewart In 2012
Steve Addington has a new home just days after leaving Penske Racing. Sources have told the Frontstretch Addington has a three-year deal signed, sealed, and delivered to be the new crew chief for Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing, although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The announcement, according to sources will come within the next few days.
Addington replaces championship crew chief Darian Grubb, who was informed halfway through the Chase his services would no longer be needed at the No. 14 car. Still, he and Stewart went on to win the title by winning five of Sprint Cup's ten postseason races, beating out Carl Edwards through the wins tiebreaker in a nail-biting conclusion to the season. Grubb's future with the team, if any is unknown, although the Competition Director position remains unfilled at SHR. Greg Zipadelli, according to several sources has been the frontrunner for that job but has been unable to secure a release from his Joe Gibbs Racing contract. Signed through 2012, those sources say the former crew chief for Stewart and current head wrench for Joey Logano has met with strong internal opposition from J.D. Gibbs to secure his release.
Addington's move gives him a third driver to work with in the last four years of Sprint Cup competition. Kyle Busch's crew chief through late 2009, he moved over to Penske and brother Kurt for the last two seasons, scoring four wins and two Chase appearances but failing to finish inside the top 10 in the final standings. Overall, he's collected sixteen victories atop the pit box and three postseason appearances, but has never finished better than 10th in points with a driver. - Tom Bowles
Kurt Busch's actions against ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch, captured on camera at Homestead-Miami has led to 500,000+ views on YouTube and continuing damage to his reputation.
It's also caused him to be a little lighter in the wallet.
On Friday, after the Thanksgiving holiday NASCAR chose to fine Kurt Busch $50,000 for what they described as poor judgment in making an inappropriate hand gesture on his way back to the garage; cameras captured Busch giving the finger to a track official. In addition, Busch showed "disrespect towards a media member" in the garage area through his swearing and rude reaction to Punch requesting an interview. In their press release, NASCAR stated that Busch violated Section 12-1 (Actions Detrimental to Stock Car Racing) of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rulebook.
It should be noted that in NASCAR's statement, it made note of Busch's "similar inappropriate media confrontations" from earlier in the year in determining the punishment. This likely includes the time he threatened NASCAR.com's Joe Menzer, then tore up Jenna Fryer's transcript in the middle of a press conference at Richmond, and a somewhat similar situation at Loudon where he blew off ESPN's Jamie Little's request for an interview, cursing her out along the way to his race car. Neither of these incidents garnered fines from NASCAR.
It should be noted the fine matches the one younger brother Kyle got for spinning out Ron Hornaday at Texas earlier this month. Kyle Busch was also parked for a Nationwide and Sprint Cup race by NASCAR for his actions.
Vickers Looking For 2012
In an interview with SceneDaily.com's Kenny Bruce, Brian Vickers stated that he has some options for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series in the event that an investor is not found to buy the Red Bull Racing Team. However, nothing is currently set in stone.
"I'm working on several options right now in the Cup Series that I'm very excited about, but until they're done they're not done," Vickers said in Homestead. "I'm looking forward to hopefully continuing a strong career here in the Cup Series. I love this racing and I love what I do, especially with everything I went through last year. It taught me just how much I really do love it."
If this is officially the end of the road for the Red Bull Racing Team in NASCAR, Vickers is proud of what he and the team were able to accomplish in their brief time in the Sprint Cup Series.
"It's been a good five years. I can't thank everyone enough," Vickers said. "We had some ups and downs. Unfortunately, this year wasn't one of our better ones. We won a race, made the Chase and sat on poles [with Red Bull]. The only goal we didn't accomplish was the championship. Considering we only had four years to do it – I was out of the car for one – I don't think that's too bad."
After missing over half of the 2010 season due to a pulmonary embolism and resulting blood clots, Vickers finished 25th in points in 2011 with three top-5 and seven top-10 finishes.
Go Green Racing to Add Second Team for 2012
On Friday, Go Green Racing announced that they will be adding a second full-time team to race in the Nationwide Series in 2012. In order to make that goal happen for next season, the team is currently hiring additional crew members and searching for new drivers. For a series that is desperately in search of more teams willing to run the entire distance in races, this is certainly good news.
Team owner Archie St. Hilaire is fairly confident that his team can improve on the 2011 season.
"We ran 34 races with 14 different drivers out of our 3,000 square foot shop in Mooresville (NC) and finished 26th in points," St. Hilaire said. "I am confident our team is capable of running in the top-15 every week, and look forward to building on our first season."
Go Green Racing did run a second car, the No. 04, on a regular basis during the second half of the 2011 season. However, that car mainly start-and-parked with a number of different drivers. The team's primary No. 39 ran as mainly a driver development car with a new driver in the seat seemingly every week. The plan for 2011 is to concentrate the No. 39 around one driver and get some continuity there. The second car, whose number has not been announced (but could likely be No. 04 again) would have a revolving door of drivers like the No. 39 from 2011.
Have news for Phil and the Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a promising lead or tip.
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to the Critic's Annex, where I return from a brief hibernation to talk more television. This edition, we're focused not on the ESPN coverage of Stewart's championship from Homestead but the pre-race pomp and circumstance we got from SPEED. Like last year, they contributed an expanded three-hour edition of NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot.
Before we start, I want to announce to all of my readers that yes, I will be back for a fourth year of TV criticism with Frontstretch. The Critic's Annex will return as well, but in a more limited form. The Annex is officially an "optional" column. However, the Annex has not missed a week during the racing season over the past two years, by my choice. Expect that to change in 2012. I might not cover quite as many series after the new year, but I will have series that if they race, their telecasts will be given priority. As of now, those are the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series from NASCAR, the Izod IndyCar Series and either the ARCA Racing Series or the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The top-3 NASCAR series will always be covered in the main critique no matter what, since NASCAR is our main focus at Frontstretch. The Annex will likely focus on those other three series in 2012. With that said, onto the critique.
The show started out with John Roberts, Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace introducing the broadcast surrounded by a group of fans. Wallace usually introduces the show, but it's not usually surrounded by this type of crowd. Interesting touch.
A nice tweak that is not unique to NASCAR RaceDay (I noticed it on Sunday's broadcast of the Grand Prix of Brazil) is the listing of all SPEED personalities' Twitter usernames under their names on graphics. I've never seen anything that states that the network actively encourages their personalities to join Twitter, but it seems like almost everyone is on board now to varying degrees. It's great to see. Also, note that Larry McReynolds was the only personality not to have a Twitter page listed on the show. Since Homestead, he has joined Twitter and seems to be taking to it quite well. You can find his page here.
SPEED assigned Hermie Sadler to cover Tony Stewart during the show, while Wendy Venturini covered Carl Edwards. Both are quite solid in their roles, although the show was Sadler's last appearance on NASCAR RaceDay (at least for now).
Following Sadler and Venturini's intros of the championship contenders, the show segued to taped footage from the championship press conference, held in a tent on Miami Beach the Thursday afternoon prior to the race.
For a big show such as this one, SPEED decided to expand their analyst roster. In addition to the normal group of six on-air personalities (the five regulars and Rutledge Wood), FOX's broadcast booth of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and McReynolds also showed up on the telecast on the mobile stage used during FOX's Pre-Race shows back in the Spring.
Following a break, SPEED reviewed the 2011 season in montage-style form. Radio chatter was included from notable instances (Greg Biffle ranting about losing time on stops due to having to wait on fuel, excitement from Steve Letarte ahead of the Harvick-Kyle Busch confrontation at Darlington, etc.) Discussion was about some of the epic moments during the season. Kenny Wallace singled out Regan Smith's win in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington and claimed that Regan "...is a race car driver." Uh... OK. I'm sure Smith has been a race car driver for quite awhile now, having just completed his fifth year in the series (third full-time). I'm not sure if that is what Wallace meant to say, or if he was meaning that Smith took his career to another level by winning that race. Regardless, it was a little weird.
The main feature shown on SPEED was a taped piece where Waltrip sat down with both Edwards and Stewart at what appeared to be a local park to discuss the weekend. Both drivers appeared to be quite relaxed while responding to Waltrip's questions. There wasn't the sniping that had been the hallmark of Stewart's quotes in interviews and press conferences since Martinsville... at least for the first segment. Afterwards, Joy and McReynolds commented on the piece. McReynolds compared the two drivers to Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison. Interesting choices from McReynolds since he served as the crew chief to both drivers during their careers.
In addition, there was a look back at Jimmie Johnson's streak of five consecutive championships with input from the Associated Press' Jenna Fryer and Dave Moody from Sirius Speedway.
Compared to a normal two-hour episode of NASCAR RaceDay, there were very few regular interviews. Both Stewart and Edwards (along with their crew chiefs) were interviewed, along with Jimmie Johnson and Trevor Bayne. There was also a taped interview with Jeff Gordon. I think a normal episode has closer to 20 interviews.
One of the themes throughout the show was an overwhelming desire for Edwards and Stewart to battle it out on the track for the win and the title. I guess they got what they wanted. Convenient, actually. Having Stewart and Edwards finish one-two made it so that everyone else more or less didn't matter. Much like Michael Larsen's two opponents on his infamous double episode of Press Your Luck in 1984. Of course, I covered that in detail last week.
The show that SPEED presented clearly had a very strong championship bias. Other than the championship, there was very little discussion of the race itself. No one else mattered, at least until the weekly Sunoco Performance Picks towards the end of the show. That basically goes against the point of the show, which is to preview the upcoming event. Normally, SPEED spends two hours on this show giving comprehensive coverage of the race. At the very least, despite the historic championship Chase a few segments should have been spent covering potential contenders, in addition to Edwards and Stewart that could have made it to Victory Lane. Alas, we got diddly-poo.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at SPEED's three-hour Special Edition of NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot from Homestead. Until next year, I hope your holiday season is exquisite.
Phil Allaway is a Senior Writer and the Newsletter Manager for Frontstretch.com. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
2011 NASCAR Driver Review: Kurt Busch
AND DON'T MISS OUR CHASER DRIVER REVIEWS FROM THE PAST WEEK! JUST HEAD TO THE MAIN PAGE AND YOU'LL FIND THEM ALL LISTED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE.
Q: This weekend is the Sydney Telstra 500, the season finale for the V8 Supercar Championship Series on a street course in the Homebush section of Sydney near Olympic Park. What track did this relatively new venue replace on the schedule?
Check back next Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!
Q. In 2003, Giancarlo Fisichella picked up his first career Grand Prix victory in the Grand Prix of Brazil at Interlagos. However, the race was called complete just after the 75 percent mark. Why did this happen?
A. First, there was a huge wreck on the run up to the pit straight involving the Jaguar of Mark Webber, who just so happened to win at Interlagos on Sunday. Webber spun on the drying track and went hard into a tire barrier, spewing parts and pieces (including three wheels) all over the track. The crash itself was enough to cause the Safety Car to be dispatched. However, Fernando Alonso, who was running third at the time for Renault, hit one of Webber's wheels. The hit immediately broke the right-front suspension on his car and pitched Alonso into a tire barrier. After hitting that barrier (and causing it to deposit old tires everywhere), Alonso's car speared back across the track and hit the unprotected concrete wall on the other side.
The FIA chose at this point to throw the red flag, stop the race and declare it complete. A couple of laps prior to the crashes, Fisichella in the Jordan Ford passed the McLaren Mercedes driven by Kimi Raikkonen for the lead on the run up to the pits. However, the FIA decided to give the victory to Raikkonen, for what would have been Raikkonen's first career victory. Raikkonen received the trophy during the traditional ceremony with Fisichella in second. Alonso was credited with third on count back, but did not attend the podium ceremony due to ankle injuries suffered in his crash. Jordan protested the result and Fisichella was given his maiden victory back a few days later.
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Hey, Frontstretch Readers!
We know you love the roar of raw horsepower under the hood that powers 43 of the best drivers in the world every weekend, but did you ever wonder how the sponsor on top of that hood also contributes to keeping the sport moving? What about the contributions of official NASCAR companies? If you think they are simply writing checks, think again. Check out our newest feature - Sunday Money. This weekly Frontstretch exclusive provides you with a behind the scenes look at how NASCAR, its affiliates and team sponsors approach the daunting task of keeping fans interested and excited about the sport for 38 weeks of the year.
Coming Monday, December 5th in the Frontstretch Newsletter:
-- Top News from Phil Allaway
-- Links to your favorite Frontstretch articles, and more ... including our 2011 Driver Reviews!
All this week on the Frontstretch:
2011 Driver Reviews by the Frontstretch Staff
Our driver reviews will start off with the Chasers from Sprint Cup. Like last year, we're covering everyone in the Sprint Cup Series, but we're also covering the top-10 in Nationwide Series points and the top-5 in Camping World Truck Series points.
Check out the full Driver Review Schedule here.
Today: Kurt and Kyle Busch
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