NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Doug Turnbull · Thursday May 28, 2009
The conclusion of the Anti-Climatic 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Monday leaves the NASCAR fan base wondering exactly which driver should have won. Since the race began in the middle of the day on Monday instead of early in the evening on Sunday, drivers did not have to encounter as many changes in track conditions as expected, throwing possible contenders a curve some never recovered from. As the race wore on, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, and Brian Vickers proved to have the fastest cars — but would all three of these drivers have remained the ones to beat had the race gone the distance? Since the rainy conditions and subsequent pit strategies shuffled up the entire running order and many teams midpack were likely biding their time before making a run for the front, this week is yet another tough time to determine the current HOT, WARM, and COLD drivers. Nevertheless, here they are as we prepare to head to Delaware for racing at the Monster Mile …
HOT: Ryan Newman – The pole sitter for the Coca-Cola 600 had a car capable of running near the front, but a costly pit road mistake cost the No. 39 valuable track position. Newman, however, managed a runner-up finish Monday by staying out on the track behind race winner David Reutimann while most of the other lead lap cars pitted. Running well is not only a function of good skills and a good car — Ryan Newman has some championship-contending good luck on his side as well. Monday’s finish was the Army team’s fourth consecutive top 5, and Newman has three career wins at Dover, the next stop on the Sprint Cup tour.
HOT: David Reutimann – David Reutimann may not currently be the hottest driver on the circuit, but his victory was a major breakthrough for him and the young Michael Waltrip Racing operation. MWR, especially the No. 00 and No. 47 teams, has really turned some heads this season, and now has one of the season’s biggest trophies to show for it. Reutimann in the No. 00 has run consistently in the top 15 and now sits 13th in the standings, just six points out of the top 12. Even though “The Franchise” did not have a car to win the race, a win undoubtedly will give the driver and team some needed momentum as they try and qualify for the Chase.
HOT: Joey Logano – OK, so placing Joey Logano on the HOT list may seem hasty — but take a look at some numbers and circumstances. Logano’s ninth place run at Lowe’s (in the Home Depot car) was his third such run in four races… and it was fully earned. The No. 20 Toyota ran in the top 10 for much of the day, and likely would have finished higher had the race been completed. Logano’s ninth place finishes (all career highs) show the young driver’s blossoming versatility: they came at Talladega (a restrictor plate race), Darlington (the sport’s hardest track), and Lowe’s (an intermediate track that is tough to get a handle on). Top 5s and maybe wins are soon to follow.
WARM: Matt Kenseth – After a great start to the season, Matt Kenseth hit a particularly rough patch and fell to bottom of the top 12. Recently, however, the No. 17 has put together some respectable runs. Consecutive finishes of 13th, 10th, and 10th in the last three races have moved the 2003 champion into ninth in points and, combined with his stellar run in the All-Star race, the DeWalt team may be heating up again just in time for summer.
WARM: Brian Vickers – The No. 83 team has struggled to give Brian Vickers a top 10 car every single week, but the team definitely has the equipment to contend at intermediate ovals. Four of Vickers’ five top 10s this season have come at these tracks, meaning Team Red Bull probably has a promising summer stretch ahead. Vickers’ 33 laps led Monday were a sign that the team may not be far from Victory Lane if certain breaks end up falling their way.
WARM: Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya’s No. 42 team has been about the only thing that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing facials have been able to crack a grin about this season. Montoya sits 14th in points and continues to run well week in and week out. The Target car finished eighth in the Coke 600, a finish that is a sign of both the No. 42’s and Montoya’s improvements at the track — his previous best finish in Charlotte had been 28th. If Montoya can continue to work well with his team and not make brash moves that put him in compromising positions on the track, the open-wheel convert could remain in Chase contention until September.
COLD: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Dale Jr.’s run in the Coca-Cola 600 was probably his most embarrassing performance since the March 2004 Las Vegas race, where he drove a No. 8 car that was so ill-tempered he could not keep it up to minimum speed and had to retire from the race with handling problems. Monday was not much different, as Junior started 28th and fell back immediately, eventually ending the day in 40th place behind such overwhelming underdogs as Joe Nemechek and Scott Riggs. This run may be the nail in the coffin for Tony Eury Jr.’s job security at Hendrick Motorsports. Sitting 19th in the points, Junior and the No. 88 team need a good run, quickly, as they’re 200 points outside the Chase cutoff. Right now, a top 10 finish would be more like a win for what was once supposed to be a potent partnership between Earnhardt, Jr. and HMS.
COLD: Kevin Harvick – This guy cannot catch a break. After seeing his crew and cars get completely switched with the No. 07 team a couple of weeks ago, Harvick has yet to score a top 10 finish. In fact, Harvick’s last top 10 was a fourth place back at Atlanta in March! Harvick’s early contact with Sam Hornish, Jr., blown tire, and subsequent wreck took him out of contention early, and the team ended the day a disappointing 41st. Richard Childress Racing as a whole slumped in Charlotte, and those struggles are indicative of RCR’s deficiencies at 1.5-mile race tracks — a problem that needs to be corrected in a year where all four of its teams could conceivably miss the Chase.
COLD: Scott Riggs – This may be the veteran’s final appearance on this list this season, but not because he and the No. 36 car are getting any better. Late last week, Riggs announced that he and the Tommy Baldwin Racing team are parting ways in a mutual decision. Not mincing words, Riggs essentially said his reason for leaving was because the team was forced to start and park in some races due to a lack of sponsorship. And while the No. 36 had sponsorship at Lowe’s Monday and intended on running the entire race, Riggs’ Toyota was so far off the leading pace it ended the day 38th. Now a free agent, Riggs probably will have to look outside the Sprint Cup Series if he wants a more competitive ride this season.
Here are some of the HOT and NOT issues of the week in racing:
HOT: The consideration of double file restarts – Considering the mudslide of bad public relations that NASCAR is deservingly getting buried under, the revelation that the sport’s brass is kicking around the popular idea of double file restarts during points-paying Cup’s races is surprising to say the least. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said this week that talks of the idea always get louder around the All-Star race, which uses the format, and that the fan interest in the idea helps spark NASCAR’s considerations of it.
This idea rocks! Since the field during many races gets strung out and pushes even the most diehard race fans to the brink of slumber, bunching up the leaders during every restart before, let’s say, the 20 laps to go mark would help alleviate that problem. The idea of the 10th place car starting within five rows of the leader is tantalizing, especially since that same car starts in the equivalent of 20th place when the lap down cars start on the inside row under today’s format.
Drivers, for the most part, have spoken out against double file restarts, which are used in many short-track racing series. But, as PRN announcer Mark Garrow so perfectly put on WSB Radio’s Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury 120 with Captain Herb Emory last Saturday — if drivers oppose the idea, it’s probably a good one.
Please, NASCAR, do the right thing…at least this one time!
NOT: The Carl Long penalty – On the flip side of the PR wheel, NASCAR decided last week to levy one of the harshest penalties of all-time against Carl Long and his underfunded No. 46 team. Docked a 12-race suspension, $200,000, and 200 owner and driver points for having a blown engine come up slightly too big in an inspection before the Sprint Showdown last weekend, Long and his small team face an uphill battle if they want to get back on the track anytime soon. As Long put in a statement on his website last week, the engine simply was too big and there is no explanation as to why. Long also said, however, that the engine builder is reputable, and the engine itself was still 50 horsepower less than what most teams were running.
Besides the initial shock of the large penalty falling on such a small team, the real injustice in the penalty lies in the question of equal treatment. Would NASCAR suspend Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 team for 12 races, or for any races, if the same problem were to occur? The answer, of course, is no. NASCAR went as far as to add two spots to the Chase when Gordon, Junior, and Tony Stewart missed the playoffs once each in the span of two years. The problem with this assertion is that we will never know how NASCAR would actually react in a situation like this for a bigger team… because no one will ever know if one of their engines actually fails an inspection of this magnitude or not. How frustrating! If Long’s penalties were the actual punishment handed to every team for the same infraction and Long actually had a true advantage to gain from this, then his penalty would be much easier to stomach. Instead, NASCAR makes many sick to theirs.
(Writer’s Note: Carl Long, contrary to his original statement, will be allowed to work his everyday job at Front Row Motorsports during his suspension, which means he will be allowed in the garage area. Though this is good news for Long, it also brings up the question of why Jeremy Mayfield cannot appear in or near the garage while his situation is up in the air. What a mess.)
HOT: The Indy 500 broadcast – I didn’t get to see most of the Indy 500, but the parts of the broadcast I caught reminded me of what races on television should be about — the racing. The ABC crew stuck to calling the action at The Brickyard while referring sparingly to other distractions and promotional segments. The race itself was not a barnburner … but the storyline behind Helio Castroneves’ victory was. The crew may have covered the two-time 500 winner more than it should have, but his utter dominance at IRL’s biggest track after nearly going to jail warranted extra coverage.
FOX, TNT, ESPN, and SPEED all have to pay more bills to cover NASCAR. Since the broadcasting rights fees are astronomically high and the cost of production is not exactly cheap, having more commercials and promotions than the Indy 500 broadcast is understandable. That being said, all four networks should take notes from Sunday’s gem and from the countless number of seamlessly covered NASCAR races in the 1980s and 1990s. If they do, they will see what the fans really want.
ESPN/ABC begins covering Cup races soon, so hopefully the network will emulate its Indy crew in preparation for the Brickyard 400 race it will cover in August.
NOT: Any rain-delayed broadcast – Not many would want to be in FOX’s position of having to fill an undetermined amount of time and keep viewers interested in a race broadcast that is being interrupted by rain. Nevertheless, the mind-numbing material that makes its way to the airwaves during said instances is too much to tolerate. During Monday’s race, such examples as Dick Berggren’s asking Kyle Busch why he was eating a banana, Darrell Waltrip giving a rendition of “Singing in the Rain,” and almost every broadcaster downplaying the weather situation instead of reporting the actual track conditions were all good reasons to get fed up and turn the broadcast off. During rain delays of NASCAR broadcasts, interviews that cover the basics of some drivers that get little coverage would be much more practical than asking Kyle Busch why he prefers a wet helmet to a dry one. If the crew runs out of people to interview and things to talk about, go back to local programming and update the situation in the commercial breaks.
Hopefully, the concrete of Dover next week will be dryer than the asphalt at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Turn here next week to see which drivers leave the Monster Mile with a wave of momentum and which ones’ weekends end up a wash.
Listen to Doug this Saturday on the Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury 120 with Captain Herb Emory on News/Talk 750 WSB in Atlanta and online at wsbradio.com from 2-4 p.m.
©2000 - 2008 Doug Turnbull and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Doug you are right on top of NASCAR. Double File Restarts, yep they work well in many other classes and are exciting. How about the Crew Chiefs that make the calls that win Races like last week, they too are on Hot!!