2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
|2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
The 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season was the 61st season of professional stock car racing in the United States. The season included 36 races and two exhibition races with the regular season beginning with the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway and ending with the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The final ten races were known as 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Rick Hendrick won the Owners' Championship, while Jimmie Johnson won the Drivers' Championship with a fifth finish at the final race of the season. Chevrolet won the Manufacturers' Championship with 248 points.
- 1 Teams and drivers
- 2 Schedule
- 3 Major news stories
- 3.1 Economic effects
- 3.2 Town-hall meeting
- 3.3 Double-file restarts
- 3.4 Jeremy Mayfield substance abuse controversy
- 4 Television and radio
- 5 Results and standings
- 6 Rookie of the Year
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Teams and drivers
Because of the merger of DEI with Chip Ganassi, the No. 01 and No. 15 teams closed after the 2008 season. However, the owners' points from the No. 15 were transferred to the No. 34, while points from either the No. 01 or No. 41 was transferred to the No. 07, with the No. 33 car, owned by Richard Childress, receiving the other. (NASCAR allows for a transfer if the original owner maintains some stake in the team to which points are transferred.) 2009 also saw the demise of Petty Enterprises, which merged with Gillette Evernham Motorsports. The new company would be called Richard Petty Motorsports, forming a 4 car team with Kasey Kahne in the No. 9, Elliott Sadler in the No. 19, Reed Sorenson driving the famed No. 43, and AJ Allmendinger driving the No. 44. Also Bill Davis Racing was bought by Triad Racing, however the No. 22 was bought by Penske Racing with Bill Davis holding minority interest. The No. 22's points were transferred to the No. 77, thus guaranteeing that car a spot in the Daytona 500 should all other transfers occur.
The biggest changes for 2009 in a NASCAR schedule realignment added the Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway to the 2009 Chase, the shifting of the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway to a later autumn date, and the placement of the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to Labor Day weekend as a night race. Additionally, there was a fourth bye week between the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Pep Boys 500. The schedule changes are listed in boldface on the chart below.
Major news stories
Mergers, contractions, and alliances
The economic crisis of 2008 caused problems even before the 2009 season began. While gas (and diesel) prices came down to nearly $2.00 per gallon, corporate America is reluctant to shell out millions of dollars to sponsor teams due to the volatility of the stock market. As a result, Chip Ganassi Racing merged with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. They fielded the No. 1 and No. 8 from DEI and No. 42 from Ganassi, and shut down the DEI No. 01 and No. 15 teams as well as Ganassi's No. 40 and No. 41 teams, as the No. 40 was a full-time team in 2008 until July, when it was closed for a lack of sponsorship. The No. 42 team will run under the Chevrolet banner under the merger as it changes from Dodge. In addition, Front Row Motorsports has EGR support for their No. 34 car, to be driven by John Andretti. On January 19, Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports for the merger with Petty's famous No. 43 joining the newly renamed Richard Petty Motorsports. On December 22, 2008, Bill Davis Racing was sold to California businessman Mike Held and BDR vice president Marty Gaunt, and was renamed Triad Racing Development. Hall of Fame Racing announced an alliance with Yates Racing on January 13, 2009 and named Bobby Labonte as the new driver of the No. 96 team as they move from Toyota to Ford. The first in-season casualty was the No. 28 team of Travis Kvapil owned by Yates Racing, ceasing operations following the Food City 500 on March 22. On April 7, the second casualty of the season was the famous No. 8, which folded because of a lack of sponsorship, leaving Aric Almirola without a ride. On September 10, it was announced that Yates Racing and RPM would merge, closing the No. 44 and No. 96 teams as a result for the 2010 season and the No. 9, #19 and No. 43 teams will switch to Ford.
The elimination of testing
On November 14, 2008, NASCAR announced, as another cost-cutting measure, that teams will no longer be allowed to test on NASCAR-sanctioned tracks in all three major series. Traditionally, they had had preseason tests at Daytona and Las Vegas, along with as many as four additional in-season sessions at tracks, but all teams also use unsanctioned tracks (such as Rockingham Speedway) for their tests. The testing ban covers all tracks used on NASCAR's three national series, plus tracks that host events in the Camping World East and West circuits. This radically reduces the number of tracks that can be used for testing, with Rockingham being one of the few major tracks still available. This meant that the annual "Pre-Season Thunder" testing events, which covered all three major touring series at Daytona was cancelled for 2009. However, a fan fest remained in place with the thunder provided by the Richard Petty Driving Experience for fans to ride in a special two-seat stock car. However, Goodyear will still conduct tire tests, such as at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A total of seven tests were conducted at Indianapolis following the 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard tire debacle.
Reduction in manufacturer support
Following General Motors' bankruptcy, GM cut all financial support in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, and considerably reduced financial support in the Sprint Cup Series. Similarly, the Chrysler bankruptcy led to several Dodge Sprint Cup teams, including Richard Petty Motorsports, losing their manufacturer support; as stated earlier, RPM will merge with Yates and have the No. 9, #19 and No. 43 cars switch to Ford for the 2010 season. Dodge claims that "funding is on hold." Toyota gave a small reduction in funding before the season, but has not made any mid-season cuts. Rumors have floated that Toyota may leave the Camping World Truck Series or Nationwide Series; the automaker has denied these reports. Ford, the healthiest of all the automakers, continues funding at pre-crisis levels. From the 2005 season it has been rumored that Honda will join the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series, and the rumor gets stronger entering the 2009 season, as Dodge claimed its funding on hold. This was denied by the manufacturer.
On Tuesday, May 26, 2009, NASCAR held a town-hall meeting closed to the public and media with its drivers and owners to discuss a range of topics. Major topics discussed included the Jeremy Mayfield substance abuse suspension controversy, along with double-file restarts, the controversial Car of Tomorrow, sponsorship, testing, the reduction in TV ratings and attendance, and competition in general. All attendees considered the meeting a success.
Before the start of the season, NASCAR changed restart rules regarding the final moments of all races in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. Previously, when the race was inside the final ten laps, all cars/trucks on the lead lap were in a single-file restart in that window. As of the 2009 season, the window changed to the final 20 laps. The "lucky dog"/"free pass" rule will still be eliminated in the last ten laps of a race.
However, before the June Pocono race, the entire restart procedure changed entirely in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. After being run successfully at the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race and in the Budweiser Shootout, NASCAR implemented a double-file restart system starting at Pocono for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This change came at the request of fans, drivers, owners, and the media and as a result in a decrease in TV ratings during the NASCAR on Fox portion of the season. (The June Pocono race was the first race of the 2009 season on TNT.) The entire field will line up double-file, much like the start of the race at every restart. The leaders and other lead lap cars are now in front always when taking the green flag. Cars who choose to stay out and not pit during a caution flag who are in front of the leaders are now waved-around to restart (double file) at the back of the field. The lucky dog/free pass rule is now in effect the entire distance of the race, and the double-file restarts are for every restart, including green-white-checkered finishes. The only reasons cars do not line up double-file in the order they are position wise on the leaderboard is if they are serving a penalty (in most cases, for pit road violations). The leader of the race also has the option of selecting which lane, inside or outside, to restart in, however, the 3rd place car (and 5th, 7th, and so on) will always restart on the inside.
Jeremy Mayfield substance abuse controversy
Two hours prior to the race at Darlington, NASCAR announced that driver Jeremy Mayfield had been suspended for a substance abuse policy violation. Mayfield said that the positive test was due to an interaction between a prescription drug and an over-the-counter drug. Mayfield had failed to qualify for the race.
Mayfield violated his suspension by being at the Lowe's Motor Speedway for a press conference during the all-star race weekend.
The suspension is indefinite until Mayfield completes NASCAR's substance abuse program, which includes rehabilitation and additional testing.
In the ensuing days and weeks following the initial suspension, NASCAR was widely criticized by fans, drivers, owners, the media, and the World Anti-Doping Agency for not publicly identifying the drug found in Mayfield's test and failing to publish its drug policy or a list of banned substances. NASCAR's drug policy was later published and reports and court filings (see below) indicate that the test was positive for amphetamines. Despite releasing this information, NASCAR has still not published a definitive list of banned substances, leading to continued criticism. However, NASCAR addressed the issue in its May meeting with the NASCAR owners and drivers, who now say they understand why NASCAR doesn't publish a list. Nonetheless, some remained skeptical of NASCAR's intentions, claiming that "if NASCAR sees something they don't like, they can suspend anyone at anytime." In the middle of the controversy, NASCAR randomly tested 10 NASCAR drivers, officials, and crew members during a rain delay at the Coca-Cola 600 during Memorial Day weekend.
Mayfield sued NASCAR to have his suspension lifted. Mayfield says that he had taken Claritin-D, an allergy drug, in addition to Adderall, a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit disorder. Adderall is an amphetamine.
An initial court hearing for a restraining order that would have allowed Mayfield to compete at Dover was ruled in NASCAR's favor. Mayfield's team, which had been taken over by his wife and driver J.J. Yeley, withdrew from the race at Dover. Mayfield sold his team in late July to raise funds for his legal defense. NASCAR has said that Mayfield's team may continue to compete with a different driver and under a different owner. Since Mayfield is suspended, he cannot be in the NASCAR garage area or anywhere a NASCAR license is required.
NASCAR has successfully moved the case to federal court. NASCAR has also countersued Mayfield, accusing the suspended driver of willfully violating the substance abuse policy, breach of contract, and defrauding competitors of earnings. Mayfield earned approximately $150,000 from May 1 in NASCAR earnings. May 1 is when Mayfield claims he began taking the Claritin-D. On June 25, Mayfield formally denied ever taking methamphetamines in a pre-hearing affidavit filed in U.S. District Court, while NASCAR said that the test results proved he was a chronic user of meth and was a danger to public safety.
On July 1, U.S. District Court granted Mayfield a temporary injunction that lifted Mayfield's suspension and allowed him to resume his role as driver and owner. The court ruled the damage to Mayfield was far exceeding the damage to NASCAR, and that there was a high probability that the second test sample was compromised. Mayfield did not return to the track, as his race team was low on funds and sponsors do not want to associate with Mayfield. He sold his team in late July.
On July 7, NASCAR appealed the U.S. District Court's ruling. On July 8, NASCAR formally filed an appeal with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one step away from the United States Supreme Court. NASCAR claimed that the district court's ruling undermines NASCAR's ability to police drug use and is asking that Mayfield be re-suspended. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals granted NASCAR a motion to re-suspend Mayfield on July 24 following a second drug test. NASCAR re-suspended Mayfield immediately.
Second drug test
On July 7, Mayfield submitted to a drug test. NASCAR said Mayfield was notified by an Aegis representative at 1:18 pm Monday to report to a nearby testing center within two hours, but the driver said he had to first speak to his attorney. After a delay, Mayfield's attorney told NASCAR that Mayfield couldn't get to the center by 3:18 pm, so NASCAR said it found a lab closer to his location. At 3:45 pm, Mayfield called the lab to say he was close but lost, and a receptionist offered to talk him the rest of the way. NASCAR said Mayfield told the lab he would call right back but no one was contacted until 5:30 pm, when Mayfield's attorney called NASCAR to inform them Mayfield could not find the location so the lawyer had sent him to an independent laboratory. Two testers and a NASCAR security officer arrived at Mayfield's home in Catawba County, N.C., at 7:20 pm, could not gain access for 10 minutes, and then weren't able to persuade Mayfield to give a sample until 8:20 pm NASCAR called this seven-hour layover between the time requested for a test and the time a test was given a "classic delay tactic".
On July 15, NASCAR filed documents in U.S. District court that indicated that Mayfield had once again tested positive for methamphetamines. In addition to the second test results, NASCAR also submitted an affidavit from Mayfield's stepmother in which she says that Mayfield used meth over 30 times in 7 years through snorting it up his nose. Mayfield says that "Brian France talking about effective drug programs is like having Al Capone talking about effective law enforcement," and that "I don't trust anything NASCAR does, anything (program administrator) Dr. David Black does, never have, never will." As for his stepmother, Mayfield says that "She's basically a whore. She shot and killed my dad." Lisa Mayfield (Jeremy's Stepmother) has since filed a lawsuit suing Mayfield for $20,000 in damages.[needs update] Mayfield says that he has been tested almost daily by an independent lab and every test result has come back negative.
Mayfield Motorsports' general manager resigned the same day, hours before the test results were released. The team has since been sold, and few expect Mayfield to return to the track soon, if ever again.
Effect on drug testing
Many drivers have said that since the controversy began, the drug testing time has gone from a quick 5 minute in and out to a prolonged 45-minute process that includes identity verification.
Television and radio
In their third year of the current NASCAR television agreement, Fox carried the Bud Shootout, the Daytona 500 and the first 13 races through Dover's June race. Fox-owned Speed Channel aired the Gatorade Duels and Sprint All Star Race XXV. TNT then picked up the next six races starting at Pocono including the summer race at Daytona, the Coke Zero 400 with its "wide open format" coverage and ending at Chicago. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard started ESPN/ABC's coverage, including the entire Chase for the Sprint Cup on ABC.
New to Fox telecasts was 3-D CGI animated adventures of "Digger", the network's gopher cam mascot and his friends, Annie, Marbles, Grandpa and rival Lumpy Wheels (named after former Lowe's Motor Speedway chief Humpy Wheeler). According to Digger's backstory, created by Fox Sports chairman David Hill, Digger lives underground at Talladega Superspeedway. The characters were also used in segues into and out of commercial breaks. However, Digger later became a harbor of criticism, as well as what most have cited as a cause of a deeper ratings decline than in years past, adding to already lower-than-normal ratings. More is mentioned here.
Hours before the July New Hampshire race on TNT, Bill Weber was removed from the broadcast booth and replaced by Ralph Sheheen for undisclosed personal reasons. TNT and NASCAR announced on July 1 that Sheheen would replace Weber for the final two races on TNT at Daytona and Chicagoland.
The annual changes at ABC/ESPN continue. Mike Massaro became a third host of NASCAR Now on ESPN2; Vince Welch replaced Massaro on pit road and Marty Reid is doing selected Nationwide Series events as well. But ESPN continues to face heavy criticism from NASCAR fans in result of bored announcers, bad camera work, excessive commercials and lack of post-race coverage.
On radio, Sirius XM Radio will carry all races in the series. Terrestrial radio rights are being handled as follows:
- Motor Racing Network will carry races at tracks owned by their corporate sibling, International Speedway Corporation as well as the races at Dover and Pocono and the All-Star Race at Lowe's;
- Speedway Motorsports, Inc.-owned Performance Racing Network will carry events from those SMI tracks, and will joinly produce the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.
Speed (replacing ESPN Classic) and MRN will be the broadcasters at the annual Sprint Cup Banquet at the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel Casino in said city on December 4. Las Vegas replaces New York City as the host after 27 years there, 26 of the banquets being staged in The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel.
Other North American channels
In Australia, Fox Sports showed all of the Sprint Cup races live across their networks. Network Ten also showed Qualifying, Final Practice (Happy Hour), a 1-hour highlights package and selected races live on its new digital sports multichannel, ONE.
In Portugal, all races this season were telecast on SportTv 3, while in Sweden, Viasat Motor televised the races. In nearby Finland, Urheilu+Kanava telecasted the season's events, and in Great Britain and Ireland, the whole season was again telecasted on Sky Sports, in Spain Teledeporte televised six races of the season live.
NASCAR on Fox saw an 11% decrease in TV ratings for the first 13 races of 2009. Fox's NASCAR season suffered from a trio of negative on-track trends: more cautions, fewer lead changes, and lower average speeds. 649 laps were run under caution on Fox this season, a +15% increase over last year. Put another way, there was one caution flag for every 40 miles of racing this season. Last year it was one every 45 miles, in Fox's first NASCAR season (2001) it was one every 63 miles. Ten years ago it was one every 72 miles. Lead changes were down this year, with one coming every 20 miles compared to last year's once every 17 miles. That's at least one extra lap between lead changes, sometimes more. Average speed, which is obviously tied to number of cautions, was also down this year. This year's average speed during Fox races was 118 mph. Last year it was 124 mph. In 2001 it was 128 mph, and in 1999, before Fox arrived on the scene, it was 130 mph.
NASCAR on TNT saw the first and to date only increase in TV ratings at New Hampshire, up 2.5% from 2008. Ratings remained the same from 2008 at Michigan, but saw a decrease in ratings at its other races. Overall, TNT saw an 8% decrease in ratings from 2008.
Results and standings
Bold - Pole position awarded by time. Italics - Pole position set by owner's points standings. * – Most laps led.
|8||Juan Pablo Montoya||14||11||31||27||9||12||7||24||20||10||20||8||30||8||6||6||12||9||10||11*||2||6||19||25||3||19||3*||4||4||3||35||3||19||37||8||38||6252|
|Chase for the Championship automatic qualifying cut-off|
|23||Martin Truex Jr.||11||27||32||10||26||29||25||7||33||22||6||23||21||18||36||25||37||25||16||17||19||28||21||22||26*||37||19||33||16||22||9||28||31||14||5||9||3503|
|24||A. J. Allmendinger||3||29||33||17||16||9||34||35||35||21||17||32||29||30||39||7||32||17||13||20||17||13||22||37||20||23||25||7||17||33||23||34||33||10||13||10||3476|
|25||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||27||39||10||11||14||8||20||31||2||27||27||40||12||27||14||26||13||39||15||36||28||39||3||9||17||21||35||20||36||25||38||29||11||25||35||28||3422|
|28||Sam Hornish Jr.||32||23||16||37||31||34||17||9||34||6||30||16||13||10||29||38||8||32||38||37||4||36||5||35||35||8||37||26||18||12||40||36||40||40||17||21||3203|
|59||Robert Richardson, Jr.||18||109|
|J. J. Yeley||DNQ|
Note:This list does not include exhibition races.
+ Scott Speed failed to qualify his normal ride, the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota at Darlington and Infineon, but drove Joe Nemechek's No. 87 Toyota for those two races, replacing Nemechek, who had a relationship with Jay Frye, vice president of Red Bull and the listed owner of Nemechek's No. 13 Ginn Racing Chevtolet in 2007 that would later be merged with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. on July 25, 2007.
Rookie of the Year
The clear favorite for Rookie of the year was 18-year-old standout Joey Logano. Despite struggling early in the year, Logano became the youngest winner in Sprint Cup Series history by winning the rain shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301. The other competitors, former Formula 1 driver Scott Speed and Max Papis, struggled to adjust to stock cars.
- Pockrass, Bob (2009-02-03). "Penske Racing's Sam Hornish locked in Daytona 500 with points from Bill Davis Racing". SceneDaily. Archived from the original on 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- Long, Dustin (July 15, 2009). "Mayfield fails another test; Stepmom claims he's used meth for years". The Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk, VA. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
- "Mayfield comes out swinging". ESPN. July 17, 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
- "Stepmother sues suspended Mayfield over comments". ESPN. July 29, 2009. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
- 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at ESPN
- NASCAR 2010 Schedule Released
- Jayski's Silly Season Site
- Speed Channel
- 2009 Sprint Cup Series schedule