Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Thursday June 21, 2012
You see it in the NASCAR headlines almost daily: lack of sponsorship causing teams to sit out races or fold altogether; fans are leaving, TV ratings are faltering. And there are all sorts of reasons offered for the problem. It’s the economy; it’s the boring racing and boring drivers; it’s the cars; it’s the teams’ fault. And it’s likely that all of those factors contribute. But is there another issue contributing to both the lack of sponsorship and the declining viewership? Is the television broadcast of the race each week to blame as well?
The answer is yes. And not only are they hurting the race teams, they’re hurting their own bottom line.
I met a race fan who was in town from Australia for the races in Charlotte. He was excited to go to his first NASCAR race to see his favorite driver, Marcos Ambrose, compete. This fan said that while he could watch the races on television at home, he rarely did, despite his loyalty to Ambrose. The reason this fan gave was that the broadcasts hardly show Ambrose unless he’s leading, it’s a road course race or the driver is involved in a crash. So he simply doesn’t bother to watch.
Ambrose won the pole at Michigan and led 15 laps en route to a respectable ninth-place finish. He got a little airtime early on in the broadcast, but hardly a mention as the race wore on, though he remained in the thick of things until the end. Ambrose is in the top 20 in Cup points, hardly a backmarker. And yet, this fan said he wasn’t watching the broadcasts because his driver wasn’t covered.
And if fans aren’t watching, ratings suffer. If ratings suffer, it hurts the networks both in advertising sales and in negotiations with NASCAR for future rights. It hurts the teams in finding and retaining sponsors. And it hurts the sport’s fan base as a whole.
I asked 100 race fans to complete a poll on television coverage of their favorite drivers and the responses were eye-opening. Fans were asked to list their favorite drivers and then answer whether they thought all of the drivers they listed received adequate coverage every week. They were also asked if they felt that the networks owed it to fans to cover each driver, and if lack of coverage for their favorites made them less inclined to watch.
36.4% of fans said that they felt all of their favorites received adequate coverage every week (interestingly enough, the majority of the fans who answered that way had also chosen drivers with the most television exposure this year according to Joyce Julius and Associates, who tracks the amount of exposure each driver and sponsor receives during every broadcast.) While only 5.1% said their drivers never got enough coverage, 38.4% said their favorites only got enough coverage when they were leading, and 20.2% said that only those that drove for one of the big teams or sponsors was given adequate airtime. And while the term “adequate” is subjective, it’s clear that fans want to see better coverage of drivers across the board, something television broadcasts rarely do.
When asked if they felt that the networks owed race fans updates on every driver during the broadcast, 47% responded that they should give full-field coverage sometimes during the race. Another 39% said the networks needed to cover everyone often during the race. 11% said no, and 3% said any driver involved in a crash should get covered, but not otherwise. The bottom line? 86% of fans want to see coverage of the entire field at least sometimes during the race. That’s a huge majority, and yet the networks aren’t doing it on a regular basis.
Finally, while 74.7% of responders indicated that lack of coverage for their favorites won’t make them less likely to watch, 25.3% said that they were less likely to tune in every week because their favorites aren’t being shown. Let’s just suppose that number is indicative of NASCAR fans as a whole, in which case the television broadcasts are driving away a full quarter of the fan base by not covering the drivers and teams they want to see. That’s a lot of fans finding something else to do every weekend.
And it’s not just the fans being driven away. Sponsors pay to put their name on the side of a racecar for one reason and one reason only: exposure. Most of that exposure comes through airtime during the race broadcasts, either in driver interviews or cars being shown or mentioned on the air.
Many teams simply are not getting the on-air time to justify the cost. Say a 30-second commercial slot during a race broadcast costs $30,000 (that’s an estimate based on a few years ago, and does not include the Daytona 500, which commands more). So for $1.8 million or so, a company can get a guaranteed 30 seconds of airtime during every NASCAR broadcast by paying for commercial time. Primary sponsorship of a decent mid-level team is around $15 million for the season. For that to be cost effective, the sponsor needs the equivalent of roughly eight 30-second commercials, or four minutes of coverage.
In reality, the equation is a bit more complicated as sponsors get other considerations, such as appearances, and endorsements, but the bottom line is that sponsors expect to get a return on their considerable investment, and if they don’t feel that the exposure they get warrants the price, they aren’t going to stick around. And that kills race teams.
Several fans commented on the survey that while they felt that all teams deserved a certain amount of coverage, that that should not stretch to the teams that start-and-park, but that’s short-sighted. If they had sponsorship to race, those teams would not start-and-park. But in order to get sponsorship, the teams need the television exposure. It becomes a vicious cycle for those teams.
Meanwhile, the sponsors that do get coverage enjoy a lot of airtime for relatively little money. This makes the chasm between the haves and have-nots wider all the time, and means that those that have less have less of a chance of getting the coverage they need to gain. It makes NASCAR an unfriendly environment for new teams as well as for fans of those drivers. When sponsorship goes away, the fans suffer as well as the race teams.
Many fans commented that they felt that the teams whose sponsors paid for commercial airtime got more coverage, implying that the airtime was being bought. I don’t think that’s the case; it’s more a matter of those sponsors having the money to spend on commercials and on putting a top car on the track. Those companies can afford to put their name on the best cars, and those cars get shown.
But the real loser here is the race fan.
Fans of drivers not among the ultra-elite don’t get to see their drivers very often, and that’s really not fair. They buy t-shirts and diecasts, too, and deserve better than to see a shot of their driver as he gets lapped, or, worse, to see the dreaded “out” next to his name on the ticker and be left to wonder what went wrong, because the broadcast never mentioned it. Even worse than that must be for a fan to see his or her favorite hit the wall and never hear a single word on whether that driver was hurt or not.
There was once a feeling among race fans that they really knew the different drivers in in the field. Even if they had never met in person, fans knew the different personalities of all the drivers, and that feeling of closeness drew fans to the sport. But most of that is gone now, because so many drivers are left out of even the pre-race show, which should provide the perfect time for the lesser-known drivers to be featured. But instead, the networks mostly rotate through the same group of drivers each week, and because we learn nothing new about them, we label them as boring, vanilla.
One fan and frequent poster, “RamblinWreck,” hit the nail on the head on this piece of the puzzle. “I started watching races in the late 1990s, and I probably pulled for over half of the field (yes, I was a fan of Earnhardt and Gordon and Rusty and Rudd and Schrader and both Labontes and Bill Elliott and John Andretti and Bobby Hamilton and Kyle Petty and Ricky Craven and both Burtons) because I felt like I knew them all,” Ramblin’ wrote on the fan survey. “After all, I saw all of them each weekend on TV! I still pull for Bobby Labonte, but I hardly ever see him on the screen. Same with Blaney and Tommy Baldwin. I don’t ever watch the pre-race anymore, since they started doing fewer and fewer driver interviews I haven’t really thought it worth my time to watch. The last few times I’ve been to Talladega, I’ve noticed fewer merchandise trailers than I expect to see. Maybe it’s just a sign of the times… fewer tickets sold, and we have less money to spend these days… but maybe TV coverage has something to do with it, because it’s hard for a driver who is invisible to build much of a fan base.”
And that’s a big part of the problem-what chance do drivers like Landon Cassill, Casey Mears, David Gilliland, or even past champion Bobby Lanonbte have to gain new fans (and new supporters of their sponsors; race fans have proved time and again to be loyal in that category!)? Fans complain of boring, vanilla drivers, but they have no chance to see the personalities of so many that they could choose to cheer for and support. And in turn, some of them turn away from the sport. That’s just not a good thing.
Even fans of the bigger teams recognize that there is a problem. “I don’t have any complaints as it relates to coverage of my favorite drivers. Mine are all “mainstream, top level” guys. But I can see how disheartening it would be for someone who is as much a fan of a mid- to lower pack driver as I am for mine. Coverage seems to be only for the upper eschelon(sic) teams and drivers. And that is a shame,” said Karl Schraut on his survey.
The other element that the current broadcasts take away from the fans is good hard racing in the pack. Often the races that are deemed “boring” by fans watching the broadcasts had plenty of action if you were there in person. If the drivers up front are spread out single file but there’s a side-by-side contest for 25th spot, why not show it? It might give a driver new fans. It will give the sponsor those valuable minutes they’re banking on, and the fans of those drivers a rare chance to see them race. And if fans knew they’d see the action, more of them might tune in. It all ties together.
Finally, if a quarter of race fans aren’t tuning in because the drivers they want to see aren’t getting covered, or they don’t have a favorite because they don’t want one of the usual suspects, the television ratings take a hit. So in essence, by not covering all the action on the racetrack or all the drivers and teams in the field, the TV networks are hurting themselves as well as the teams and the race fans. It just doesn’t make sense.
There should be a sense of community between the television networks, fans, and race teams. After all, all three depend on one another. Fans depend on television to bring them their favorite racers every week and on teams to provide their favorites with a competitive car. Teams depend on the fans to support their sponsors and on television to bring them and their sponsors to the fans. Television depends on strong competition to keep the fans watching so the sponsors will keep on advertising. They should be working together toward the same end.
But instead, the television broadcasts are either fulfilling their own agendas instead of showing what the fans want to see. Or maybe they really think fans want to see a few popular drivers. Or worse, they’re trying to tell race fans what or who they want to see. Yet 86% of fans said they want to see every driver at least sometimes during a race, and yet, that rarely happens. As a result, teams are losing sponsors and fans are missing out on both personalities and race action every week. Everyone loses.
It’s time for the television networks to reconsider the quality of their broadcasts. They need to bring the fans all the drivers and all the action and let the fans decide who’s important to them. The future of the sport depends on it. Sponsors are leaving because they no longer get a return on investment. And many fans are finding other ways to spend Sunday afternoons. In allowing this to go on, the networks are shooting themselves-and all of NASCAR Nation-squarely in the foot.
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This box isn’t big enough to tell you how much I hate the TV coverage, so I’ll stick with one point.
Advertising on the cars, sponsored special segments, race sponsors, shilling by the broadcast crew, sponsor callouts during driver interviews.
There’s just too much advertising and we’re expected to tolerate a commercial every seven minutes as well.
I’m so overloaded with crass commercialism that I’m ignoring whoever’s name is painted on the side of the car. And it changes every week. So all that sponsor money is going to waste.
DW has to go too.
If your name isn’t Junior, Jimmy, or Jeff you aren’t going to get tv coverage. It’s that simple.
Every season the tide changes…a different group of drivers are the “darlings” of the media. We see them over and over during the races, pre-race shows, post race shows, and network regularly scheduled programs. This group of “darlings” are the same yearly..just shuffled in order of standings or if your name is “Dale Jr”! I stopped watching the pre race shows..I turn the race on as the green flag drops..and I don’t watch any racing “news” programs. I find it totally mind boggling that there are 43 drivers on the track…we are treated to seeing only the top 10 weekly and Junior…no matter where he is on the track. I am not a junior hater…but I honestly feel the sport is driven by what the media feels is best for the sport. Your article is about tv coverage…but I think you are being short sighted…I feel the entire media is running NASCAR into the ground.
Wow. Where do I begin. Lack of coverage of the field is just the tip of the iceburg.
I agree with many here.
The issue involves more than just the broadcast media but also print media as well. You all swoon with any mention of Jr. regardless of what he has or hasn’t done. Same thing with Danica.
I don’t have a problem with Jr. (but Danica…) but rather the coverage surrounding him. It’s non-stop. I’ve dropped subscriptions to racing publications due to it. Why pay when I can get the same coverage for free every weekend?
It’s unacceptable for the TV coverage (or lack of?) to not show the reason for the caution and not follow up on crashed drivers.
It’s very true that going to the race is better than TV even if one excludes the excitement, atmosphere, etc. because one definitely can watch the racing going somewhere else than where the cameras are pointed.
It’s funny that you point out vanilla drivers being a problem set the media cries foul every time a driver steps up and shows some personality that’s not in step with the expected response during an interview. Unless, the media likes them of course, e.g. Harvick’s smart mouth vs. Buschs’ retorts.
The basic problem is all the commentators think of themselves as personalities in and of themselves and therefore worthy of coverage. They don’t get that the reason we tune in is to be informed about the race itself and not about them. If you want to see it done right just watch a Formula one broadcast and you will quickly come to appreciate the competent professionalism exhibited by Hobbs, Varsha and Matchett. Then compare that to the NASCAR clown act as represented by Michael Waltrip.
While I agree with most of the points you make I think a couple of other things need to be said.
I wonder if, as the negotiations for the new TV contract come up, if BZF will have the cojones to demand better coverage as part of the deal? More relevantly, does he even have a clue how much the lack of total coverage of a race is hurting the sport? Has he ever sat down and tried to watch an entire race just from the TV coverage? I would doubt it, since he seldom bothers to attend a race unless it’s somewhere he can rub elbows with ‘B’ list ‘celebrities’. He doesn’t seem to comprehend that, unless the coverage is good, his bottom line is going to suffer. And, since that’s the only thing he seems concerned with, maybe that is what it will take to have Nascar set some standards for media coverage of the races.
Great article Amy!
I have thought the TV coverage was a big part of the problem for a long time. I wonder if some of it has to do with the WAY they try to cover the race.
Camera shots for racing need to be different than any other sport and in the age of instant gratification I think the directors are zooming in too close (not covering enough of the field at once) and flipping from shot to shot too quickly.
Think about how you watch racing at the track. You follow the pack with the folks you want to see, pick out the car or cars you like and keep an eye on the racing. If you’re stuck with screen flipping back and forth between pictures of two (or in a lot of cases only one) car – you can’t follow and as quickly as the screen changes – you can’t even pick out the car you were looking for.
To me, they need to take a long hard look at how they are filming the race first. Get directors that are race fans and have them start at the beginning and totally change the way they cover the race photographically.
Then, as my fellow readers have stated above, have them look at radio coverage as a guide to WHAT to talk about. I really liked the NASCAR coverage in the late 90s when the broadcasters didn’t take themselves so darn seriously! NASCAR is not a suit coat and tie kind of sport.
I think the broadcasting companies are hurting themselves as well as the sport by the way they are covering things and your article just scratches the surface. Thanks for talking about the elephant in the room!
For some reason the broadcasst crew at FOX has made raceday about them. They present themselves as stars of the show with expert opinions which change with every lap of racing. Programming has become a rehash of their past. SPEED has become a horrible joke. There is nothing but idiotic discussions by idiots and pathetic comedic efforts. The producers at both networks must be talentless teenagers.
You know…the tv coverage of NASCAR..races, pre race, post race, and so called NASCAR “news” programs are all to fault. If you watch a race it doesn’t matter which network is covering that day..the coverage is the same. It’s ALL about the “stars” (i.e. Those in the booth). If you watch a weekly or daily NASCAR program..it’s about the “stars” (i.e. Hosts of the program). If you read online articles it’s all about the “stars” (i.e. Writers/reporters). AND not a ONE of these so called “stars” has a new idea or point of interest to call their own! Kurt is a jerk, Tony is sarcastic, Jimmie is vanilla, Kevin is a smart ass, Junior is the saviour…and on and on and on! What has any of this got to do we racing? I myself would love to see more actual racing all through the pack on TV, hear what actually happened on the track on the NASCAR news programs, and read more about the races.. not the dirty personal secrets of the drivers.. in articles. THAT would be MY idea of great racing coverage.
I think Amy struck a nerve!
Tremendous insight Amy!
I can’t muster any hope that things will change. After all, how many brilliant decisions has Brian France made? I keep getting this image of him setting on his big leather couch on Sundays, big glass of Scotch in hand, and yukking it up at how funny those Waltrips are.
I just want to give a shoutout to all the fans who took the time to answer the survey this week! You all provided some valuable insight-the responses were very thought-provoking! Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I’ll notify the two winners of the drawing later!
I’d like to echo what Sherri T said about the cameras zooming in too close. There was a time when, if Ned or Benny said “Uh-Oh! Trouble on the backstretch!”, there was a good chance that you saw it unfold because the camera shots covered so much more of the track. These days it seems like you never see an accident when it actually occurs because the camera is focused so tightly on one car. What’s ironic about this is that, in those days, that was ESPN. When ESPN left the sport in 2002, they undoubtedly lost every bit of expertise they had, because since their return in 2007 their coverage is pathetic. Only Fox is worse, for reasons thoroughly explained in just about every comment on this column.
Yes, Amy, you definitely hit a nerve, and your assessment was spot-on.
First, I have to qualify …one of the networks who broadcasts Sprint Cup races is also who signs my paycheck, pays my rent, buys my gas, and puts food on my table. Also … everything Amy has said here is absolutely 100% correct!! I grew up in a racing family and have been attending races since the mid-60s (I’ve seen several hundred races in person). Yes, the broadcasts provided by my own employer leave a LOT to be desired. On the other hand, especially in the 60s, we were lucky if there was even a RADIO broadcast of many events! And, until the 80s, I was wearing my ears out listening to radio broadcasts just WISHIN’ & HOPIN’(to quote Dusty Springfield) that SOME-day these races would actually be broadcast on television. I guess we are all spoiled … I have the EXACT SAME COMPLAINTS every other TV viewer has concerning the broadcast … and then I think back to how GREAT the broadcasts are compared to the (few) TV broadcasts from the 70s and even the early 80s (when finally [almost] every event was televised). BTW … I have sent this article on to the “powers that be” at my network. Perhaps they really aren’t receiving the fans’ feedback(?).
Great article Amy. I agree with the comments from just about everybody above. But I keep wondering why WE don’t seem to be able to have our voices heard. I am so overloaded with advertising that I could kiss the person that invented the DVR. I’ve written about it many times on this forum….The TV coverage(especially FOX) doesn’t provide the same feeling of excitement and urgency that you get at the race or even on MRN. Here’s an idea; Put the cameras in the seats facing the track and let us see the race from the perspective of someone in the grandstand. Change from turn to turn the way the announcers do on MRN. That way you get a feel for what is actually happening on the track. But alas, I realize any dream I have of fixing the TV coverage is just a dream. BZF and FOX don’t dive a darn about what the average fan thinks or likes or wants. They probably don’t even care. Finally, AMY…PLEASE TAKE OVER THE TV REVIEW ASSIGNMENT AT FRONTSTRETCH. You understand what the fans want and you don’t seem to be content with the idea of “that’s just the way it is”.
ALL I HAVE GOT 2 ADD TO THIS IS.THEY ARE 43 DRIVERS RACING NOT ONE OR FIVE.AND THE CHASE HAS HURT FANS,GO BACK LETS SEE ALL THE DRIVERS AND THEIR CARS. AND LET THE TOP IN SPEED RACE.
Are you REALLY Brian France? Attendence is down, ratings are down, souvenier sales are down, what needs to happen for you to realize people already have started voting with their pocketbooks? The complete collapse of the sport?
…or was that sarcasm and I just missed it?
Just because we did not have poopcicles in the old days we should enjoy them now that the networks give them to us eack week?
You’ve hit the nail on the head – even the Kentucky Derby, which is only 2 minutes long, shows the entire field, including the horses at the back, at least once. Yet in a 400 mile race we can only see the top couple of cars and have to study the ticker at the top of the screen to find out where our favorite drivers are. So frustrating.
@Bill. You took what I said too literally. Yes all those things are down, BUT, and it is a huge BUT, have you looked at the earnings statements for ISC, SMC? Profits are still in the hundreds of millions of dollars. So why do you think they are in such dire straits? And as long as the money keeps rlling in like that….. No I am certainly not BZF, but I do sponsor a racecar. Perhaps we have a different viewpoint on the situation.
Nice article, Amy and I see lots of comments here that I agree with.
If you want to get people interested in spending the $ needed to GO to a race, first you have to show them the reason why they should spend it. In years past, including the first TV contract that Fox had, the broadcasts did a lot of that. As you’ve pointed out, the fans at home got to “meet” the drivers, like or dislike them and became excited about the racing.
Now the TV partners are so busy either being “stars” in their own right (Fox) or stuck in the middle with their “drama” (TNT) or gee we are the WW leader in sports so we had to get NASCAR back, but now we can’t fit it into the schedule (ESPN)and the fans are the ones left out.
I have to use trackpass, twitter and the MRN feed to find out what’s going on unless I’m at the race. That’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s on TV, why can’t I just watch the race?
That’s the question that fans are asking and it’s up to NASCAR’s management to put in place some rules for broadcasting to the TV partners in the new contract. I would bet $ that the NFL and MLB have it in theirs.
But then again, this is Brian France we’re talking about so I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it.
I really hate what Nascar has become. It’s all what the media wants it to be. There are no personalities, if there are they get crucified by the media. IT SUCKS!!!!! They only cover Hendrick, Childress, and Rousch, and sometimes Gibbs. But the media went on a witch hunt after Kyle so now Gibbs doesn’t get as much attention. Waltrips teams is the in thing now but he’s pathetic in how he constantly plugs his sponsors. The sport is supposed to be about hard nosed racing and not being a performing monkey for the idiots at the tv networks. The tv coverage SUCKS and what they have turned this sport into is a crying shame.
Russ, ISC has been losing $ for a while. They are still making a profit, partly because they keep making deals with companies that would be sponsors on cars but instead are now the “official whatever” of NASCAR.
It’s a bad business model since I don’t tune in to a race to see the official sponsors of NASCAR, I tune in to see the cars and drivers.
IMO quite a few people have voted with their remote and with their $, attendance is down, so are souvenir sales. Yes, some of it is the economy but a lot of it is the lack of interesting things to talk about. I know NASCAR thinks that Jr will save them, but they can’t put all their eggs in one basket.
Count me as one who stopped watching all the prerace shows several years ago. They no longer present relevant information – I’m interest in driver interviews, not what one of the talking heads – on any of the networks wants to tell me. I only had to hear Kenny Wallace say “listen up, race fans” and then proceed to tell me how stupid I am and how I don’t understand a couple of times for me to declare myself free of that crap.
One other thing, for those people saying that it is only Johnson, Gordon & Jr getting the coverage, let me just say that I disagree – at least re Gordon. He made on heckuva drive from the back of the field at Pocono and there was very little of that shown on TV.
LOL. The fact that a bidding show is pre-empting live qualifying says about as much as any other indicator can. I think we all agree that watching a tape delay of the auction and watching qualifying live would be preferable.
Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at the purdy cars too but it’s still only an auction.
I have been telling Nascar this via Fan Council for the past three years on a weekly basis! TV bobbleheads refuse to cover more than have the field of a race. Unless a fan subscribes to raceview, have mulitple browsers with scanners up, they will have no clue why “their” driver pitted, how long the pit took, why they are in the garage, etc.
@rgmfan Thanks for your comment, but I must correct one thing: Kenny Wallace was signed for six races in the RAB No. 9 BEFORE the merger with MWR and number change to 99. It’s been his ride all along. What was or was not said on TV had no bearing.
I agree with most of what has been said here but I really like the statement made about the media in general and how they seemed to want to tell us how to feel! And I like Larry Mac and can even deal with DW for a short time but Michael Waltrip is way too “Company man” for me. Its great he loves the sport but it comes across as Butt Kissing most of the time.
Most of the media personalities only cover certain things and tell us thats what we want to hear about! Its constant! For example: don’t tell me I should be happy and amazed at what Jimmie has accomplished. Don’t tell me we ALL MUST LOVE DANICA! And I could give a rats butt about Jr’s beard! It drives me insane! And the NASCAR news shows have become a joke! Trackside is ruined! Race hub has become boring! NASCAR Performance? Ugh! Can they possible give the snooze queen Danielle Trotta one more show to destroy? How bout we stop pandering to one portion of the fans and get back to racing which is why we the fans, the media, the drivers AND the sponsors are all here for?
There is one solution! DO NOT WATCH
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