Tag:Quaker State 400
Posted on: July 12, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:21 pm

Idle Thoughts: Kentucky fiasco tough to overcome

By Pete Pistone

Thirty-two years ago tonight one of the sports world’s most infamous events took place on the south side of Chicago. 

“Disco Demolition,” a local radio promotion held between games of a White Sox-Tigers doubleheader, encouraged fans to bring their disco albums and records to the historic old ballpark to be blown up in a ceremony overseen by popular local disc jockey Steve Dahl. 

Team management hoped for a crowd of 12,000 but instead a raucous turnout of more than 90,000 converged on the stadium literally overrunning the area. By the time Dahl got around to blowing up the pile of records that were accumulated in center field, the affair turned ugly with fans running onto the field and tearing up sod, bases and even seats. 

The mess caused Major League Baseball to call off the second game due to unsafe playing conditions and the White Sox were forced to forfeit the game in a night that has left an ugly stain on the franchise to this day. 

NASCAR had its version of “Disco Demolition” Saturday night in Kentucky and like the baseball edition; the debacle has given the sport a black eye that won’t be forgotten any time soon. 

What was supposed to be Kentucky Speedway’s long awaited moment in the sun for its inaugural Sprint Cup Series race was a disaster with traffic nightmares, parking problems, empty concession stands and limited bathroom facilities just a few of the inconveniences the crowd of 110,000 had to contend with over the weekend. 

Simply put the track was not prepared to host an event - or crowd - the size of what showed up on Saturday.

To compound matters the slow response to the disaster and perceived arrogance by Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Bruton Smith, who pointed the finger at local government for not providing necessary infrastructure and support, has not done much in the way to appease fans or help the overall image of the sport. 

And before the track finally did release an official apology as well as plan to give replacement tickets to fans at future SMI races or next year’s Quaker State 400, other speedway operators jumped into the fray. 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, less than a two-hour drive from Kentucky, offered disgruntled fans a discount on seats for its upcoming Brickyard 400. Talladega Superspeedway communicated to fans that the track was more than well prepared to handle the 100,000 expected to attend this October’s Sprint Cup race. 

And Michigan International Speedway president Roger Curtis distributed a passionate letter to fans saying he was “saddened and embarrassed” by what happened at Kentucky and ensuring customers would be treated right at the upcoming August weekend in the Irish Hills. 

If you get a sense that perhaps there isn’t any love lost between Kentucky and some other track’s management teams you’re probably right. 

NASCAR’s insistence to not award a Sprint Cup date to Kentucky when the track was first built ten years ago was due in large part to the sanctioning body’s assessment of a potential oversaturation problem in the area. Michigan, Indianapolis, Chicago, Bristol and even Talladega are within relative close proximity to the Sparta, Kentucky facility and in NASCAR’s mind a Cup date would possibly cannibalize ticket sales from tracks already on the schedule. 

However it became a moot point when SMI purchased Kentucky and petitioned NASCAR through its realignment policy to move a date from Atlanta. 

On paper the decision was a winner for SMI, at least in the short term, as the 110,000 tickets sold for the inaugural race eclipsed what Atlanta’s last March race drew by about 35,000. But those 110k had to come from somewhere and certainly there’s a real possibility more than a few came at the expense of Indy, MIS, Bristol and others. 

So perhaps Kentucky’s failure on Saturday night struck a chord with other track officials who didn’t appreciate the potential of their ticket sales being siphoned off coupled with the souring of fans, who may now choose simply to not attend any NASCAR race for fear of a similarly bad experience. 

But is the sniping among peers really the best way to put the situation behind and help move the sport back into a better light?  I’m not sure NASCAR meant for its “Boys Have at It” mandate to spill over and include track operators. 

There are thousands of fans who are trying to decide if putting a NASCAR race on their social calendar is a worthwhile option for their already in short supply dollars. At this point the sport needs all the support it can get from inside the industry to put this embarrassment as far in the rear view mirror as possible. 

The reputation of “Disco Demolition” continues to live on more than three decades later. It remains to be seen whether the Kentucky fiasco is forever the track’s legacy or if over time it can be repaired and forgotten. 

Odds are it’s going to be a long road to recovery. 

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:15 am
This entry has been removed by the administrator.

Post Deleted by Administrator

This message has been removed by the administrator.

Posted on: July 11, 2011 4:11 pm

Kentucky issues apology and ticket exchange

Posted by Pete Pistone

Kentucky Speedway management issues a formal apology to race fans caught in Saturday's traffic and logistical problems at the Quaker State 400. Fans have been invited to exchange tickets for any Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) track event this season in addition to future races at Kentucky:

Track News Release

Kentucky Speedway, which is owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., today issued the following statement regarding the fan experience at Saturday's “Quaker State 400.”

"To those fans that were not able to attend the Quaker State 400, we offer our sincerest apologies," said Mark Simendinger, general manager, Kentucky Speedway. "We'd also like to apologize to all of our fans who endured challenging conditions during our event weekend. As we said earlier, we're committed to working with NASCAR, state and local officials and traffic experts to address Saturday's traffic issues to ensure that we never have this type of experience again."

“I would like to apologize on behalf of Speedway Motorsports to the fans who had tickets, yet due to logistical issues, were not able to attend the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway," said Marcus Smith, president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. "For those fans with tickets who were unable to attend Saturday night's event, we will honor their ticket at any remaining 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at a Speedway Motorsports facility or the 2012 Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. 

"Our company has always been about enhancing the fan experience with first-class amenities and putting fans first. I feel terrible for the fans that had a bad experience at Kentucky Speedway and we are asking that they give us a chance to make it up to them. We are very thankful for the overwhelming fan support we had for this inaugural event. We learned some valuable lessons this past weekend and will do everything in our power to make sure we don't have these issues again." 

The ticket exchange is good for the following events at Speedway Motorsports facilities while supplies last at each respective venue:

July 17 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Aug. 27 - Bristol Motor Speedway

Sept. 4 - Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sept. 25 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Oct. 15 - Charlotte Motor Speedway

Nov. 6 - Texas Motor Speedway

2012 - Kentucky Speedway

In addition to the ticket exchange, Kentucky Speedway offers will issue these fans an equal quantity of tickets to either its Oct. 1 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 225-mile race or Oct. 2 IZOD IndyCar Series 300-mile event. 

For information on ticket exchange and redemption, fans should only contact the Kentucky Speedway ticket office at 859-578-2300 or by email at tickets@kentuckyspeedway.com

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: July 11, 2011 11:52 am

Around the Circuit: weekend web wrap

Posted by Pete Pistone

Assorted items from around the world wide web in the aftermath of last weekend's inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway:

CINCINNATI.COM - "Kyle Busch Makes History at Kentucky Speedway"   

RACIN' TODAY - "Kyle Busch Had Big Feats in Kentucky"   

GASTON GAZETTE - "Kyle Busch Escapes Kentucky Traffic"  

VIRGINIA PILOT - "Kyle Wins Kentucky But Talk is About WHat Happened Outside the Track" 

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER - "Late Traffic No Problem for Kyle Busch"  

SKIRTS AND SCUFFS - "The Fans Have Spoken - Twitter Rumblings from Kentucky"  

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: July 10, 2011 9:36 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 9:45 pm

Kentucky Speedway issues statement on traffic

Posted by Pete Pistone

Kentucky Speedway management released another statement late Sunday in response to Saturday night's traffic problems surrounding the inaugural running of the Quaker State 400. Reports of a more than 22 mile back-up on Interstate 71 with thousands of people stranded and not able to make it to the track have put the track's first-ever Sprint Cup Series weekend in a bad light.

Statement from Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger regarding yesterday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series "Quaker State 400" traffic:

"Kentucky Speedway regrets the traffic conditions surrounding the ‘Quaker State 400.’ We’re committed to working with NASCAR, state and local officials and traffic experts to assure that this never happens again. The details of these improvements will be announced over time as they are formulated.

“We also recognize the traffic problems resulted in some fans not being able to attend the ‘Quaker State 400.’ We are gathering information on this and will announce a policy for these affected fans within seven days.

“Our ‘Quaker State 400’ ticket holders are invited to share their experiences with us through fans@kentuckyspeedway.com. We thank all our fans for giving the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series such a great welcome to our venue.”

NASCAR chairman Brian France also issued a statement addressing the situation:

"While NASCAR was thrilled by the incredible response to our inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Kentucky, we also are extremely disappointed by the traffic problems and inconveniences endured by fans who wanted to be part of our races at Kentucky Speedway. NASCAR will be in close communications with Kentucky Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. to see that they work to resolve the issues. This situation cannot happen again.”

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: July 10, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 8:37 am

Kyle Busch, JGR team post Kentucky comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

KYLE BUSCH:  It certainly is.  It feels awesome to be able to come out here and run the way we did, to unload the way we did off the hauler.  Dave and all the guys, all the engineers back in the shop did a phenomenal job with our racecar and be fast right out of the gates.  Feels good about that.       

Didn't have many adjustments to make, just fine-tuned on it through the weekend.  It was definitely a special event here this weekend.  We felt the energy.  We saw the people.  It was awesome to be able to bring it home in front of all the Toyota folks that we have here as well, too.  The Camrys are built right here in Kentucky.  It's a special night for us to put Camrys in Victory Lane, and David Reutimann finishing second.      

It was a fun race.  There were some exchanges on restarts with Keselowski and Stewart and Johnson.  We were all racing back and forth a little bit.  My brother led early.  It was certainly a fun night for us.  Couldn't be happier to be here in Victory Lane.       

This one ranks right up there with the best of them.  I haven't won any of the big races, unfortunately, yet.  But, you know, it ranks right up there with Las Vegas being another of my prestigious wins that I feel like I've accomplished so far.     

KERRY THARP:  Crew chief Dave Rogers, what are some of the things you might have had to do, and let's go back to the test on Thursday.  How important was that test and how were you able to take what you learned Thursday and apply it to getting into Victory Lane tonight?      

DAVE ROGERS:  Like Kyle said, the engineers did a great job.  We came off the truck really close to setup.  Sometimes that's bad.  We came off the truck really close.  Actually sat out a little bit, wanted to give Kyle a breather.  We let Denny get in the car and drive it, see how he liked it       

Then Kyle went and drove the 20 car for a while.  We started playing driver swap so the crew chiefs could compare notes down the road.      

Then when we got back in the car, got Kyle back in the car, some teams had made some progress and started going faster than us and we started playing catch-up.       

But Kyle did a good job during test day of talking about what he was going to need to race.  We didn't focus on our lap times practicing, we focused on what we needed to race.  Gave me some good feedback after the truck race, made adjustments to our primary car yesterday morning.      

We were off in speed a little bit, but the car was doing one thing only, which is a good thing.  Made some adjustments this morning.  During the race, we didn't do much to it.  Took a little wedge out nearly every stop, but that's about it.       

I think Kyle did a great job of dialing this team in while we were here Thursday and Friday.      

KERRY THARP:  Kyle, it's your third win of the season.  Also now you're the points leader by four over Carl Edwards.       

Coach Gibbs, talk about this race team.  Certainly exhibited a lot of resiliency out here this evening.  I know being the coach that you are, that had to be pleasing to you.      

JOE GIBBS:  I think Kyle and Dave will both tell you it's at total team sport.  When I watch these guys going over the wall, that group is awesome, I got to tell you.  Dave made great calls.  Certainly the whole team performed extremely well.       

I talked to Kyle before the race.  He said, Hey, there's about seven, eight cars that are right there together.  He says, I don't know who's gonna win this.  That's really the way it panned out.  There were a number of good cars, very close racing.       

One thing I really want to emphasize is this:  this crowd, I was out there coming back in from hospitality, honestly, they were 30 abreast trying to walk up to get in the stadium.  They were coming over the top of the hills.  This is fun to be at a place like this.  It was exciting.  Everything was packed.  I went out and signed a few autographs out at a video truck we had.  The people were just great.    

Hats off to this area, the racing, people in this area, everybody that was here, everybody that couldn't get here.  We appreciate being here.  I think it's a huge deal.  I appreciate NASCAR and everybody, Bruton, everybody that helped us get to this part of the country to race.      

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions now for Kyle, Dave, or Coach Gibbs.      

Q.  Kyle, that last restart, how much did you think Jimmie had for you?  Did you think David Reutimann tie Jimmie at all and give you a chance to get away?     

KYLE BUSCH:  Did Jimmie and them come get tires on that one restart?  I knew he had fresher rubber than I did for a restart.  I tried to do the best I could at being able to get a good restart.  But I overshot my acceleration just by a little bit and spun my tires a fuzz.  That allowed him to get a little bit of momentum on me.       

He got a good start.  We had to race down into turn one side-by-side rather than me getting a jump on him.  I was just hoping that the outside lane would prevail, I could get a run through there, carry my momentum and clear him down the backstretch, race him into turn three.      

It was certainly a tense moment there for a second.  But after I took the white, I saw the 00 coming on the 48 and getting there to make a move on him.  I was like, C'mon, Reuty.  If you start racing him and hold him up, that's going to help me.  I cannot just cruise through turns three and four but concentrate on hitting my marks rather than seeing if somebody would get in my mirror.       

It was awesome also to have a Camry come home 1-2.  Home state of where the Camry is built.      

Q.  Kyle, did I hear you say in Victory Lane you're staying overnight and heading out tomorrow?     

KYLE BUSCH:  That's right.      

Q.  That makes you not only the fastest man on the track, but the smartest man.     

KYLE BUSCH:  I had this planned long ago, not thinking about what transpired here tonight.  Seems like I'm pretty smart, I guess.  I'm just falling into the lucky category.     

Q.  Kyle, you've won in four different series at this track, led a lot of laps.  Talk about what it is about this track.      

KYLE BUSCH:  I wish I knew, you know.  It's certainly a driver's racetrack.  There's a lot of characteristics here with all the bumps, the way you have to run the line around, whether it's the bottom or whether it's the second lane, where the bumps are, figuring out that, whether you go through them or around them.  Certainly it makes for an interesting setup, having to talk to your guys, having to work around a shock package or springs that will help your car that will make your car handle best through the turns, over the bumps.  You take all that into consideration, do the best you can.       

I've been fortunate enough to work with great people over the years and have won in all three of the NASCAR series as well as the ARCA series here when I was 17 or 18 years old.      

Q.  Kyle, can you talk about the beginning of the race there when you and Kurt were running side-by-side several laps, how that felt.      

KYLE BUSCH:  There at the start of the race, I started on the pole, outside of the front row.  The 42 was on my outside.  Kurt started third.  Kurt got a good jump on the start, got underneath me coming through turns three and four.  I was a little bit tight to begin with this evening.  Just got a good run on him.  Led the first lap to the last 30 laps still we got to the pit stops.  It was a race from there.       

We started running together again.  I think I got by him, took off and led much of the rest of the race.       

It was fun being able to race with him.  Having him stay up there all night.  I don't know where those guys finished, I couldn't tell you if they finished well.  It would have been cool for him and I to race each other out there like myself and Jimmie Johnson.  All in all, you know, it was fun in the beginning.  It was good that we were able to win.       

Q.  You said, Way to go, Reutimann, at the end.  Given your history, were you surprised he almost blocked Jimmie to give you the lead?  199 wins, has that begun to sink in, what that means, what kind of accomplishment that is for a 26-year-old?      

KYLE BUSCH:  No.  It was, Way to go Reutimann, just being able to come home second, bring a Camry home in first and second place tonight, beat Jimmie.  He did help hold up Jimmie a little bit there through the last turn in order to just kind of solidify our win a little bit more, but also to get himself a good finish.  Those guys deserve it.  They've been working hard.  Maybe haven't been running as well as they would have liked to this year.       

Dave works really, really well with their crew chief.  Reutimann and I have squared everything away.  We're all good there.  Talk quite a bit.  So that was really good for those guys.       

You know, 199 -- I wish I was 199, but 99 is certainly cool.  It's definitely one of my goals.  Whether it's an important one or not, you know, to me it's something that I want to do, it's something that Dave is passionate about in helping me do, Joe Gibbs, all of Joe Gibbs Racing as well.  We're working as hard as we can to get as many as we can, whether it's Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or Camping World Trucks.  It feels a lot better when they're Sprint Cup wins.      

Q.  After you got by Kurt, you just seemed to get stronger as the race went on.  How confident were you that you had the car to beat tonight?      

KYLE BUSCH:  I was pretty confident that we were the car to beat.  Whether you stay the car to beat is the next question because how long this race is, how you change from daytime to twilight to nighttime, the track goes through a lot of different changes.       

Dave had to do a lot of thinking on his own that I was telling him the car is good, but he would still make a change knowing what the track is going to do.  That's just experience.  Knowing this racetrack pretty well, for us it worked well.  We kept up with it.       

We stayed up front all the night, made it seem easy, but certainly it wasn't.  There at the end there was a couple tense moments, but we prevailed.     

Q.  You take the points lead tonight, which doesn't mean a heck of lot at this point in the season.  This is a mile-and-a-half track, the bread and butter of the schedule that determines championship contenders.  Do you take any confidence out of this?     

KYLE BUSCH:  Sure.  That's something that Dave and I have talked about and looked at and know that we need to get better at our mile-and-a-half program.  The 11 was certainly really good at it last year.  We've been looking a lot at their stuff, trying to figure out why, what we were doing differently that we could do better to run up front with those guys.       

We had it here tonight certainly.  It was really good to figure this place out in Kentucky.  But, you know, the next steps are, of course, going to be the Chase races that are the mile-and-a-half's, like Chicago and Texas, Charlotte is in there, Homestead is in there.  Those places we've run well at in the past, but maybe not on a consistent basis.  It would certainly be nice to know that we're figuring things out.      

Q.  Kyle, I know you want to win next week or maybe at ORP, but how cool would it be if you could get win 100 at the Brickyard since you haven't won there?      

KYLE BUSCH:  I'm hoping it comes at Loudon, sorry.  Certainly whenever the next one is, I'll be cherishing it just as much as I did the last one.       

To me, I don't want to wait that long for win 100.  Hopefully we get the opportunity to run up front again and, you know, have a chance to win some other races before we get to the Brickyard.      

Brickyard is still a little ways off.  Maybe we can talk about 104 or something by then.      

Q.  Kyle, not a lot of passing tonight behind you.  That being said, compared to other tracks you visited this season, how important was track position tonight?      

KYLE BUSCH:  Yeah, certainly it's an important racetrack to have track position, to start up front.  There were a few cars that came from the back up to the middle part.  A couple guys from the middle that maybe moved up to the top eight or something like that.       

But, you know, up front, it seems like it's a lot harder to pass.  There were times when I was gaining -- the 2 would get out on me and I would kind of gain on him once we got to traffic.  I felt my car was better in traffic.  This place is so wide and you carry so much momentum, you're on the throttle for so long that there's really not much time for you to gain on the next guy in front of you, you know.       

The track was roughly two-and-a-half-lanes wide, running on the bottom two-and-a-half lanes because the top was a little slick.  Whatever grind they did up top seemed to hurt it, I think, rather than help it.       

You know, we'll see what transpires here.  I've heard rumors of repaving this place.  Hopefully they ask us before they do it.      

Q.  Coach Gibbs, you've been in the sport, you've seen some other inaugural races.  With a sellout like this, if that continues down the road here at Kentucky, do you see this becoming one of the more marquee events on the schedule?      

JOE GIBBS:  I look at all of them as marquee events from the standpoint, this area, you're coming to it for the first time.  I remember the very first time we came here and raced the Nationwide.  I think it's an exciting area.  I look at all of America as kind of our playground.  I think this place is special and different.       

I don't look at any one particular place.  Obviously we start with Daytona, that's a huge deal for us.  But I look at all the other parts of the country, it's unique getting a chance to go there, display our sport, getting a chance to be a part of that culture and that community.

Touring the race shops in Charlotte.  We chart where the people are from.  They're from all over.  We appreciate that.  So I look at each one of them as special and different.

More NASCAR coverage

Posted on: July 10, 2011 1:19 am

Reutimann, Johnson post Kentucky comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

JIMMIE JOHNSON: We decided to come down pit road and put two tires on it, which ended up being good as few guys as we had on the lead lap. Had a great lane to restart in. The car did not take off like I had had it before on two tires.           

That first run, I was in trouble. These tires seemed to kind of wake up after they get a heat cycle. So the last restart, the car took off a lot better. I was able to hang with the 18 outside of turns one and two. Man, just cleared me going down the back. The outside lane had more momentum coming off of two and down the back.           

If I could have stayed inside of him, would have been one heck of a finish to the end. He cleared me and went on. Then I had my hands full with the 00. I think he probably was the best car at the end.           

If he would have cleared me sooner, I think he would have been up there with the 18 racing for the win.           

KERRY THARP: Talk about racing here at Kentucky Speedway, how the test session went and racing out there tonight.           

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'm a big fan of the test session. I think that was good for our sport, good for the teams, a good use of money for all the race teams to come out and get data on the track we run on. I felt like it helped us get a good baseline for the weekend. We were able to validate some things we'd been messing with, some things we shouldn't have been messing with and some other things we needed to go a little further on. I enjoyed that.           

I think the racetrack has plenty of character. Wish that we could get higher on the racetrack than what we are. For some reason, I don't know if the track is not taking any rubber. I've heard from some people there's a different grooving pattern above where we're running, that's why the cars aren't comfortable up there, but something to widen out the lanes would put on a better show.           

I think it's a challenging place. If I could pick, I heard there's been plenty of trouble trying to get everybody into the facility, I think coming back next year that would be the priority. Leave the surface alone on the racetrack and make sure that the fans have the experience they deserve to have.           

KERRY THARP: Our race runner-up is David Reutimann. Terrific showing out there tonight by the 00.           

David, good to see you out there running up front again. Talk about your race out there this evening.           

DAVID REUTIMANN: It was hit or miss the first part of the race. We would make it better, then make it worse. Every time we put four tires on, we couldn't go anywhere, too tight. My guys did a good job. Kept adjusting on it. Either the track was changing or tightening up more or we weren't changing enough, taking big enough swings on it.           

We unfortunately have a bit of a history of being fast when it doesn't really matter. Tonight worked out where we were fast at the end of the race, which is evidently what you got to do.           

Proud of my guys. New configuration car, different than what we brought all year. Guys in the fab shop have been busting tail trying to get things done. It's off to a good start anyway.           

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Jimmie or David.            

Q. David, can you go back and talk a little bit in-depth about the technology you have been working on. This was your first big showing of the season. And, Jimmie, talk about going for the checkered, thinking it was the white flag.           

DAVID REUTIMANN: Yeah, I mean, this is one thing about this sport, it changes every week. We seem to have been behind on things. We knew we were behind. But you just don't make changes overnight. Between the help of Toyota and their engineering staff, Toyota Racing Development, all the guys at Michael Waltrip Racing, guys being in the wind tunnel, working their guts out, finally got us a car, at least this weekend, we're closer to what we needed.           

Not that we've had bad cars in the past. The guys you're running against, their cars constantly evolving, changing things. We're trying to catch up sometimes. Everybody at MWR is doing a really good job.          

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I mean, I didn't see the white flag. It didn't change the outcome of the race by any stretch of the imagination. I think the 18 was going to be the winner the way it was.  I thought I had a chance to race him for a second one more lap. Came by, David let off, the 18 let off. I was still hard on the throttle going.           

I saw some type of flag when we were coming, which was the checkered, but I didn't see the white for some reason. Went blowing on by those guys           

Q. By every statistical measure, Kyle dominated this race. But Brad Keselowski also did. For you guys that finished second and third, had you been able to get a good restart and slip through the back, could you have done what he did tonight?           

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I want to think so. Track position is so important. You look at the 2, when he lost track position, he didn't go anywhere. The 18, I was around him a lot through the night. When he was in the lead, he'd stretch it. If he was behind someone, the 2 or the 22, really couldn't go anywhere. The clean air really makes a big difference.           

But I don't want to take anything away from the 18. He was strong all night long. Spent a lot of time chasing him. Watched him inch away from me the longer the run went on.            

Q. I know the 18 had a great night, but the top tonight was two Toyotas, three Chevys, three Fords and two Dodges. Did it seem pretty even to you guys, the teams, in terms of the championship?           

DAVID REUTIMANN: You know, you can probably say that, I guess. In the end, you don't know what you're racing against out there. I just know I'm racing the 48 car. I don't know the make or manufacturer, doesn't really make any difference to me at that point. I'm just trying to beat the guy in front of me same manufacturer or not.           

It appears there's some parity. Some guys get it together and run pretty well. Overall if you do look at the finish, I think there is parity in the sport. At the mile-and-a-half racetracks or at least here anyway.          

To be honest with you guys, I haven't run close enough to the front to notice if there's any parity or not. Seems kind of unfair from where I'm sitting. We've had good cars all year. We just have been missing a little bit.           

In the end, it was good to be able to race, as far as parity goes, it seems like that's what we had this weekend.            

Q. Denny Hamlin mentioned on Twitter hours before the race he had trouble getting to the track with some of the traffic issues going on. Did you have any issues getting here?           

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I went home to Charlotte. It was my daughter's birthday yesterday. I went home. I was going to drive in. I had heard there were some issues with the Nationwide race. So I made different arrangements and helicoptered in. I fortunately didn't have any issues.           

The stories I heard sounds like there's some upset fans, people that were turned away and weren't able to get into the event today.           

It's disappointing. I mean, the SMI group knows racetracks and does a very good job at all the racetracks they own. It's unfortunate we were unable to look ahead and see where these potential problems were.           

This is such a great market, so many fans are enthused to come and want to be here. To not get them all in the door is kind of a bummer. Knowing Bruton, he'll get it fixed for next year and unfortunately it happened this year.           

DAVID REUTIMANN: I slept here. So I walked out my motor coach. It looked good from where I was. I was good.           

Q. There were times when the cars were running three- and four-wide through the turns. How many lines did you find and which ones worked for you?           

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I'd say in one and two, there was really one preferred line. Two would work. But it seemed like there were three lines in, three and four to mess with, kind of a lower, middle, and outside lane.           

But as fast as we're going, those lanes get smaller and smaller. You can catch someone, but we needed a little bit more room to actually run as fast as the guy in front of you and have another lane around him.           

It's unfortunate we can't push that groove up further. We all tried to get it up there higher. But we could only get to the middle of the track and can't get any higher for some reason.            

Q. David, you had a very difficult season. You had a pretty good season last year. Finishing second, what does that mean to you?           

DAVID REUTIMANN: It's been an awful season for us. At the end of last year it felt like we were making some gains. This year we haven't had the results we've been looking for.           

With that being said, it's easy to get upset and down when things aren't running well. The guys are trying to figure out why we're not running well, and hence we have a better car this weekend.           

I'm not saying that's the answer, the magic bullet, but it's a step in the right direction.           

It feels great, it feels good. Second is still second, but it's certainly a lot closer than we have been in the last month or so, so it felt really good.           

Q. David, was it the technology, or did you hit a better setup tonight on this track?          

DAVID REUTIMANN: Setup-wise we're not all that different than we've been on the mile-and-a-half's in the past. Coming up with things aero-wise. It's a total package to what you do to the car. Anymore there's such small gains on the cars, you can't gain one big thing. You try to do things that eventually help the car. That's what we've done. It's certainly not a different breed of a car than what we've had. It's a lot of subtle stuff that seemed to make a difference. Better numbers in the wind tunnels.           

They say you have common templates, everybody's car is the same. Well, they are not. You have to work harder to get gains and that's what our guys have been doing.

More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: July 10, 2011 12:52 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 11:45 am

Speed Read: Quaker State 400

By Pete Pistone



The Kentucky Derby has nothing to worry about. 

Despite Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Bruton Smith’s claim that someday his stock car race at Kentucky Speedway would be bigger “than that little old horsey race,” the folks at Churchill Downs can sleep easy for a while. 

That’s because Saturday night’s inaugural Quaker State 400 will take the track a very long time to recover from. 

The long-awaited Sprint Cup Series debut at the Kentucky track was marred by a double-barreled dose of dull racing and horrific traffic. 

Kyle Busch dominated the race that featured little if any side-by-side racing and mostly the long, strung out single file parades that 1.5-mile tracks like Kentucky produce more often than not. 

Except for a few flashes of excitement and a three-lap dash to the checkered flag thanks to a late race caution, Saturday night’s 400-miler won’t be remembered for much more than Busch putting his name in the record book as the track’s first time Cup winner. 

Unfortunately the inaugural Kentucky Sprint Cup race will go down as one of the sport’s biggest miscalculations in history. 

The sold-out crowd of more than 110,000 was forced to deal with horrific traffic issues that saw some fans finally arrive at the track after a more than five hour commute only to be turned away by police because parking lots were overflowing. 

And just like that the goodwill and energy that surrounded the race weekend disappeared. 

Since SMI announced the company was shifting a date from Atlanta Motor Speedway to Kentucky, interest was high in the Bluegrass State as was the excitement about NASCAR’s top series finally coming to town. 

Despite attracting crowds in the neighborhood of 60-65,000 over the years for Nationwide, truck series and Indy Car races, speedway management obviously had no idea how to plan for the extra 40,000 customers who had purchased tickets for Saturday night’s race. 

Track officials released a statement apologizing to fans for the mismanagement but the damage will be irreversible for thousands of fans: 

"We've had an overwhelming response to our inaugural Quaker State 400. We know we had challenges related to traffic. We're already planning improvements and looking forward to a much better situation for next year's event."

Rather than basking in the glow of the historic night, officials now have a mess of epic proportions to clean up in twelve months.
Just like the tire debacle of the 2008 Brickyard 400 sent a negative impact that has clearly affected attendance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kentucky now faces an uphill battle to win back the business of fans that will be understandably leery of trying to attend another event at the track.
In a season when NASCAR has seen some positives in gaining back lost attendance, television ratings and interest in the sport Saturday night's fiasco is a major black eye. 

All of which makes Kyle Busch’s win very much an afterthought.


David Reutimann 

Was able to get around Jimmie Johnson in the last laps scramble to the finish line and score a much-needed second place finish behind Busch. His win last summer at Chicagoland Speedway coupled with Saturday night’s runner-up performance could make Reutimann someone to watch on the 1.5-mile tracks coming up. 

Ryan Newman 

Was finally able to get the finish to show for a strong night’s performance and not have any late race challenges get in his way. Newman’s strong night ended in a fourth place finish and helped the Stewart-Haas Racing driver inch up in the point standings. 

Brad Keselowski 

Brought a lot of momentum and confidence into Saturday’s Cup race after his Nationwide Series win the night before. Looked to be in a good spot as the fuel game played itself out in the final stages of the race but the late race caution shuffled him back in the field however Keselowski was still able to notch a seventh place finish.



Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

Is suffering through a difficult stretch of bad luck and frustration that continued Saturday night when he blew a tire after leaving pit road on his final stop of the race. The damage relegated Junior to a 30th place finish and dropped him to eighth in the Sprint Cup Series standings.

Jamie McMurray  

His three big wins at Daytona, Indianapolis and Charlotte last season must seem like an eternity ago to the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver. Made a dramatic exit from Saturday night’s race when his engine blew in a giant cloud of smoke that blinded not just McMurray but the drivers racing behind. A scary looking incident that could have been a lot worse. 

Clint Bowyer  

A very frustrated RCR driver all night long who had to deal with an ill-handling racecar from nearly the drop of the green flag. Bowyer has been mired in a string of poor finishes that continued Saturday night when he exited after making contact with the wall and was handed a 35th place finish.



(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)  

"(Blank)--- no! You saw me staring at you from the infield, didn't you?" – Clint Bowyer answering his crew chief’s question if changes on pit road worked

"If I run him down, it's going to get ugly.'' – Denny Hamlin about racing with David Ragan 

"Man this is one frustrating place to race.'' – Jeff Gordon

"I'm pushing way too hard. Trying to make up for pit stops ... Its' a mess right now.'' – Kurt Busch



On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 a two. The headlines will be about the massive traffic jam and the hundreds if not thousands of unhappy fans. But as for the actual on track product the race was about as typical a mile-and-half affair as you’ll see. Not much in the way of side-by-side racing and fuel strategy about the only drama to play out as the laps wound down. It came down to a three-lap dash that Kyle Busch won but overall there weren’t many memorable moments of the good kind Saturday night in the Bluegrass State.



Summer in New England is next up for the Sprint Cup Series with next Sunday’s visit to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The one-mile track has evolved into more or less a short track in recent years with a Martinsville-like feel. There could be some leftover paybacks to be dealt out from the Sonoma road course fun and games two weeks ago and Loudon is the perfect place to cash those checks. But as the Chase gets closer and the Wild Card race heats up New Hampshire – which comes a week before the last off weekend of the season – could be a pivotal stop of the summer stretch.

More NASCAR coverage

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com