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
Tuesday March 4, 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.
Bryan Davis Keith · Friday April 17, 2009
Back when the deal was first announced that ESPN would be returning to NASCAR broadcasting, and would also be giving the Nationwide Series a steady, permanent home, I was absolutely thrilled. What could go wrong here: a network whose Wide World of Sports coverage was largely responsible for NASCAR’s ascension from a niche to a national pastime and a mainstream TV home for NASCAR’s second-tier series?
How could I have been so naïve?
ESPN’s coverage of the Nationwide Series race at Texas was without question the worst of their NASCAR broadcasts I have ever seen. And while Nashville was an improvement, much of what was wrong with the Texas telecast was again evident during coverage of the first standalone race of 2009.
Over the last two weeks, I can’t count on both hands the number of solid runs by NNS regulars and their teams that have gone all but unnoticed on the air. Did you know that in the last two weeks Michael Annett scored his career-best finish? That Scott Lagasse, Jr. has moved into the top 10 in points on a streak of four consecutive top 16 finishes? That Casey Atwood is running full-time for the first time in years? That Jeremy Clements made his first NASCAR start of the season on Saturday? That Kelly Bires is very, very good…good enough to school Carl Edwards in his concrete castle?
If all you’ve been doing is watching ESPN’s broadcasts, you hardly know any of that. How do I know that? Because if you’ve been watching on TV, you’ve only heard about Lagasse’s ascent up the standings in passing when the points are put on screen after the checkers have flown. You only saw a brief glimpse of Kelly Bires putting the moves on Carl Edwards late in the race, before cutting away. And as for the tidbits on Annett and Atwood…you definitely didn’t find out about those on TV, because they weren’t even mentioned (if you heard them and I didn’t, you’ve got quite the ears).
It is unacceptable for a network whose contracted responsibility is to cover a development series to have a driver like Michael Annett finish 11th on the lead lap at Texas, and literally get less on-air recognition than Johnny Chapman and Terry Cook, who both were mentioned during green-flag coverage when they took Phil Parsons’ Nos. 90 and 91 cars behind the wall ten miles into the race. But, unfortunately, that’s become par for the course when it comes to ESPN’s Nationwide Series coverage. Because there is only one word that can describe the excuse for “coverage” that they are broadcasting:
Laziness is perhaps the only explanation I can come up with for why ESPN somehow didn’t have a good angle of Joe Nemechek’s late-race wreck at Nashville, one of the most dramatic events that NASCAR has seen at any level in 2009. How can the same network that covers the Cup chase not have a camera at the exit of Turn 4?! Do you honestly think if the Cup Series had been running at Nashville that the exit of Turn 4 would not have cameras all over the place to give fans a breath-taking look at one of the most aggressive examples of driving in recent memory?
Maybe budget cuts had something to do with the lack of camera angles in the Music City. Maybe the camera crew was really honed in on the solid battle between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Whatever rationale you put forward, however, perhaps the defining image of the NNS series so far this season was captured from a grainy distance. That’s a failure in coverage. Period.
ESPN’s lackadaisical efforts with regard to the Nationwide Series were further evident this past weekend during their coverage of practice and qualifying. As noted by fellow writer Phil Allaway, the network had outdated graphics on hand for several entries in the field, and, in the case of Ryan Hackett, had none to display during practice.
That’s a joke. The entry lists for Nationwide races are made available a week in advance of hitting the track. It’s understandable that, unlike in the Cup ranks where a special paint scheme is a breaking news story, it is much more difficult — especially in the back of the pack — to know what paint schemes are going to look like. Fair point. But it is NOT difficult, nor is it too much to ask, to have a generic No. 76 available, especially when the entry list has again been public for a week.
More importantly, though, this complete failure to account for a number of entries in the field (including Rick Ware’s No. 31 car, a full-time competitor) is just one tangible example of how lethargic ESPN has been in chasing the stories of the Nationwide Series garage. And I point the finger squarely at the network much the same way as I did at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year when they managed to draw only 15,000 fans to their Nationwide race: They’re treating the Nationwide Series as an afterthought, a perquisite to getting their hands on Cup stuff.
TV broadcasts with a lack of camera angles. Scoring charts and graphics that are not prepared to handle the field of cars contesting the race. A broadcast booth that is seemingly aloof as to who the drivers in the pack are, or what they’re doing on and off the track.
If that doesn’t scream afterthought, I don’t know what does.
And yes, alongside all of this, there is the 800-pound gorilla issue in the room that everyone is sick of hearing about: the Cup drivers making the Nationwide ranks their second home. But, this issue and ESPN are inextricably linked.
Why? ESPN being lazy, they’ve got no need to chase the stories of the Nationwide garage…they just need to hit up their Sunday stories a day early. Why bother getting to know smaller teams, greener PR reps and drivers trying to make a name for themselves when you can just ask Carl Edwards about how the No. 60 car is handling instead of the No. 99? Why bother learning about 30 other drivers when you’re going to be seeing the 10-12 running up front Saturday on Sunday anyway?
Seriously, isn’t it just a little bit ironic that, in the week preceding the Texas NNS race telecast that saw the crew in the booth pose the question “How good is Kyle Busch?” three times in three separate venues, ESPN’s senior NASCAR writer, Ed Hinton, published an article describing the same Kyle Busch as “NASCAR’s newest media darling?”
April 1, Hinton writes that Kyle Busch is on-track to becoming “inevitably, a legend.” April 4, Kyle Busch mows down a minor-league field and is gushed over for it like his win at TMS was a legendary accomplishment. That’s more than irony. That’s a surefire sign that ESPN is doing to the Nationwide Series, and to NASCAR, what they’ve done to college football: They’re creating the news as much as they’re reporting it.
Sure, ESPN does provide a stable home for televising Nationwide races, and they do offer the Series exposure that it wouldn’t get on SPEED or another network. But at what cost? Is it worth gaining exposure in exchange for lackadaisical broadcasts and a coverage team that is content to rehash stories about the same handful of drivers week in and week out?
The answer is no. The product that is being put on TV week in and week out is not something that is going to encourage new sponsors to enter, or garner substantial exposure for up and coming talent. The teams that need more exposure and sponsors are the same ones that aren’t getting air time during telecasts.
ESPN on paper was the perfect home for the Nationwide Series. But while what it is doing right now might provide short-term gains in terms of TV ratings and sponsors for a handful of teams, the current model that its coverage, the lifeblood of the Series, is leading the Nationwide circuit on is not sustainable. Either ESPN needs to change, or the Nationwide Series needs to go elsewhere.
And trust me, ESPN isn’t going to change.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I agree with you. I thought the last Nationwide race was the Carl Edwards Show. Bires came out 10th on the last pit stop and was 4th at the checkered flag. Then Spake interviewed Edwards and thought he was in 4th. The people covering the race need to wake up before they put us all to sleep.
Thank you Bryan for saying what I have been feeling for so long. I can’t even watch ESPN NNS coverage because it’s clear that no one in the booth or in the truck care at all. It has always felt like “ok, our contract says we have to do this race as we wait for Sprint Cup coverage to start, so let’s just talk about Carl, Kyle, or any other Sprint Cup guys”.
NASCAR and ESPN are KILLING the NNS, slowly and painfully (and Jerry Punch is a doctor!). They don’t seem to have remember that tomorrow’s Cup stars are coming from this series and when it’s gone, we are going to have more and more Joey Logano’s, and no one wants to see that.
It’s time the fans start demanding that ESPN producers get off their lazy a$$e$ and do their job. Remember later this year, ESPN will be the only game in town for both NNS and NSCS racing. I will be watching the trucks!
You are right on the mark with this article! I’ve heard that Parsons doesn’t even bring a pit crew with his cars knowing they will not make it to the first pit stop. Is this true? He is only there for the last place purse.
I remember when ESPN had nothing to do with NASCAR. If you watched ESPN exclusively then you would know more about Lisa Leslie than Mark Martin.
As far as their coverage exclusively on Cup guys, NASCAR allows the Cup guys to take over the series, sponsors demand it, and drivers justify it. ESPN is only falling in line.
I liked ESPN a lot better when they considered the sport to be the entertainment and not them.
I’ve solved the problem that espu has in regards to televising the nationwide series. Simply put, I’ve quit watching it. All you see are 3 or 4 cup regulars. Developmental my ass. It’s an afterthought series that means nothing now days. If I want to watch the cup drivers, I’ll watch a cup race.
I quit watching the Nationwide series when it became little more than a practice session for the Cup Drivers. ESPN pretty much treats it like a practice series.
holy crap, I didn’t know Casey Atwood was driving fulltime! lol
Jeff G –
It is absolutely true that Parsons’ teams show up with no pit crew. True story for you regarding them. I was covering the NNS race at Charlotte last October, and it got red-flagged only six laps into the race. Parsons’ teams started moving their cars towards their hauler to pack up, and NASCAR had to step in and remind them that even start-and-parkers can’t touch their cars under the red flag. They were so lazy that race, they didn’t have but a tool box in the pit stalls.
What I find to be rather ironic is that ESPN used to have some fairly good coverage of the NASCAR races. If you check out some of the pre-2000 race clips on YouTube, you can see quite a difference in the levels of professionalism between then and now…
The Texas coverage was nothing the Phoenix coverage was beyond horrible. It was the Carl and Kyle show. Which would be somewhat acceptable but Carl went behind the wall for engine issues and Kyle was 2 laps down (granted he made it back to the lead lap but had nothing left) if they were fighting for the lead. Did Brad K even get mentioned and he was 3rd. Coverage was very disappointing to say the least.