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.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday October 9, 2008
Last week, former NBA star and current ABC/ESPN analyst, Brad Daugherty, announced that his fledgling Cup team has formed a “technical alliance” with Michael Waltrip Racing. The JTG car, to be piloted by Marcos Ambrose and sponsored by Little Debbie, will naturally field Toyotas as a result. I wish all involved the best in this new endeavor. Certainly, Daugherty faces a daunting task getting his new team up to speed for the Cup Series, and I wish him more success than some other athletes from the stick and ball sports who have attempted the same with limited results. He’s off to a good start with a driver, at least: Ambrose is both a talented and likeable guy who’ll serve him well.
Meanwhile, officials at MWR have announced they are still moving forward with their efforts to field a fourth Cup team next season. That means that however tight the alliance might be between MWR and JTG, they will legally be separate entities. Whether this sort of alliance violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the new rule that will limit teams to a maximum of four entries is a topic for another column. And no, I’m not picking on Toyota here. When Jimmie Johnson referred to Tony Stewart as his “teammate” for next year — even though Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing will be separate entities — that tells a reasonable person something.
Anyways, what bothers me is a completely different angle of this thing. With one stroke of the pen, we have yet another TV “journalist” getting paid to comment on and analyze races, while also accepting checks from a sponsor and manufacturer who he’ll have a chance to promote during his time on the air — to the exclusion of others.
This isn’t a new problem. In addition to paid relationships with sponsors and carmakers, some NASCAR TV types have familial relationships with competitors. That’s the nature of the sport where so many sets of fathers and sons and brothers have competed. Ned Jarrett was broadcasting races for ESPN while his son Dale was out there racing. Terry Cook’s wife was a pit reporter during Truck Series broadcasts. Benny Parsons called some races his brother Phil competed in. And obviously, you have Darrell Waltrip calling races his brother Michael competes in.
But there are differences from the announcers now and the announcers then. When it came to calling races where his son Dale was a factor, Ned Jarrett was the consummate broadcast professional in most instances. He’d refer to Dale Jarrett simply as “Jarrett,” occasionally lapsing into calling him DJ but almost never taking sides as a fellow driver battled with Dale for the win. Ned also didn’t go out of the way to note what his son was doing when DJ wasn’t running well. Of course, the most glaring exception to Jarrett’s professional detachment was his call of the final laps of the 1993 Daytona 500. With Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt battling hard for the win, Ned Jarrett began urging on his son and offering him advice he’d never hear. But since it was so completely out of character for him, most fans found that call endearing rather than annoying — although one person disagreed. The next week at Rockingham, Ned Jarrett sought out Dale Earnhardt, hat in hand, and apologized for what he felt was a grievous breach of professional ethics in favoring his son. Dale Earnhardt just grinned and told him, “Don’t forget, Ned, I’m a daddy too” in letting him off the hook.
Now compare that to Darrell Waltrip today, who makes no bones about the fact he’s one of “Mikey’s” biggest cheerleaders. He’ll find any reason possible to mention his brother in the booth, even when the driver of the No. 55 car is running laps down as a slow moving chicane to lead lap cars. Waltrip constantly swears that he’s seeing real improvement in MWR despite any on track evidence to the contrary, and he mentions his younger brother’s sponsors every chance he gets. It might be “Labonte in the 43 car,” but it’s usually “Mikey in the NAPA Toyota” when DW’s calling the race.
I guess the trouble really started brewing when Toyota decided they were going to go NASCAR racing midway through FOX’s first TV contract. Darrell Waltrip signed deals with the manufacturer to run Toyotas for his team, appear in a series of truly bad TV ads for them, and even run a few Truck races at the wheel of a Toyota. Larry McReynolds also received financial support from Toyota for a racing team he was trying to run at the time. And both broadcasters all but tripped over their tongues touting Toyotas and their commitment to the sport in every broadcast.
For newer fans of the sport, let me explain a little about how this all works. There’s a firm called Joyce Julius that analyzes each and every race broadcast, sentence by sentence and frame by frame. They carefully document how many minutes each sponsor’s logo is shown clearly and in focus during a race broadcast, counting every mention of a sponsor during the race as well. It doesn’t matter if that driver is winning or running 43rd; it only matters how many minutes those logos are shown clearly and in focus, as well as how many times those corporations are mentioned. When the numbers are tallied up at the end of a race broadcast review, the company compares how many minutes of focus that company got and compares it to how much they’d have had to pay to buy a similar amount of TV advertising during the same broadcast. Sponsors then evaluate their spending on Cup sponsorship by that ratio. That’s why you’ve seen some companies that have formerly backed lesser Cup teams decide they’re better off buying TV commercial time rather than backing a team that isn’t running all that well. If you buy ads, you know you’re going to get airtime. But if your driver falls out on the first lap of the race and is never shown again… you get little to no exposure for your investment.
Thus, when a TV broadcaster is taking money from a company and using his position on the broadcast team to give them “mentions” and direct the coverage towards a particular car, they are repaying their corporate benefactors. In doing so, they are committing a grievous breach of journalistic ethics, the sort that get real reporters fired.
Let’s say, for instance, a print reporter was found to have been taking money from the Obama (or McCain) campaigns and was slanting his stories and coverage to favor his benefactor and denigrate the opposing candidate. That reporter would be out on his or her ass in the blink of an eye, and would be lucky to ever work in that field again.
In a perfect world, there are folks who sell NASCAR broadcast commercial minutes, and there are the broadcasters who call and produce the races — two entities which should be completely divorced with the same level of separation as church and state. Yes, the TV networks need to, and obviously want to, make money broadcasting NASCAR races by selling commercials. But the broadcasters are there to tell the story of the event however it unfolds. If the driver of the Home Depot car is dominating the race, well, it’s just too bad that Lowe’s bought all those commercial TV minutes when their boy is a lap off the pace. The Home Depot car gets broadcast time, while the Lowe’s car does not because those responsible for televising the race are there to show the story, not appease corporations. Next week, the roles of the two drivers may be reversed, so it could all balance out in the end. And if it doesn’t … that’s the way the competition shook out.
But right from Jump Street, FOX ushered in a new era in race broadcasting in 2001. Their very first major NASCAR event was the Bud Shootout, and when the drivers’ names and pictures of their cars were shown to set the field, only those sponsors who had bought TV commercials during the broadcasts had their logos shown on the cars. In contrast, any corporations that didn’t buy ads had their cars shown with the logos airbrushed out. The move caused instant outrage, and FOX had to back down.
Still, next time they show the field on pit road, notice which cars the network tends to focus on — you can bet it will be the ones whose sponsors bought TV ads during the subsequent broadcast. It’s still being done, just much less subtly now. In an era where UPS was a major sponsor during the race broadcasts but Dale Jarrett was running poorly, somehow or another the UPS car always managed to get more screen time than a guy whose car was running sixth. We’re not longer watching a sports broadcast, we’re watching an unending litany of advertising billboards. And meanwhile, in the booth and in the studio, certain supposed journalists are adding their own drumbeat with their constant mentions of favored drivers and corporations while trying to get the cameras refocused on the appropriate cars. Lots of cars get towed back to the garage area after wrecks, but note which cars the cameras seem hypnotized by as they are hauled away. Listen for which drivers get interviewed after a wreck or a blown engine … and you’ll notice the pattern that develops.
Michael Waltrip isn’t going to make many lists of one of the best NASCAR drivers ever born, but he will go down in history as one of the best marketers a sponsor could enter a deal with. Yeah, Waltrip might run lousy a lot, but he’s going to get his face on TV and tout his sponsors. His brother will help see to that during the FOX part of the season; then, Waltrip will appear on a bunch of panel discussion shows during the week and keep plugging those sponsors as shamelessly as he can get away with. It’s an art form to him, but a major annoyance to many fans I speak to — and it’s one of the reasons I haven’t watched an episode of This Week In NASCAR / Inside Nextel Cup in years.
You might compare this madness to the late night TV shows. Nobody pretends otherwise, but Letterman and Leno are entertainers — not journalists. They want big name guests to draw the TV ratings and sell TV commercials during their programs, while the big stars want a chance to appear and tout their latest film, TV show, or album. Their staffs are trying to book guests that they feel bleary-eyed Americans might stay up to see, not those whose movie companies are willing to buy ads during the broadcast for. Meanwhile, the journalists in the industry are the film critics who pick or pan a film based on what they thought of it, getting no compensation from those studios to do so. If they’re caught, they’re out a job.
I can’t ever recall an NFL broadcast where an analyst tried to promote an advertiser’s product. You never hear them say, “The defense looks a little flat. They might all want to try an AMP energy drink” or “Look at the way those Nike athletic shoes are allowing the receivers to pivot on this slick field!” So, why do NASCAR fans have to put up with this boorishness week in and week out? My guess is because the broadcasters think ya’ll are too stupid to notice it.
I think it’s time the networks sit down and decide to act professionally. During a race broadcast, it should be the “20 car” or “Tony Stewart” but never the “Home Depot Chevy” (And the same goes for all other competitors, of course.) Show the action no matter what sponsor logos are in view; there’s enough damn commercials without turning the broadcast into a three hour long one. If a broadcaster has a financial relationship with a sponsor, that should be revealed, and he should be compelled not to talk about or even mention those sponsors during a broadcast. Sure, the drivers need to be able to plug their backers, and if they win or run well, they will get their chance. But direct post-race interviews to drivers who might have something interesting to say — that’s what the fans want to hear after a race, not drivers backed by broadcast sponsors.
Race broadcasters make a comfortable living, and they’re entitled to it. They’ve reached an elite level through hard work and success at their fields of endeavor, whether it’s as a journalist, a driver, or a crew chief. They need to live with those salaries, not try to supplement them through commercial work or alliances with key players in the sport who have an interest in getting air time during broadcasts.
Me, I’ve never gotten close enough to the game; I’ve never been offered much beyond a few free ball caps and beers. I’m happy out here in my own little orbit, a safe distance from the big planet. But back in the day, I got a little too close to the sun in the music industry. I watched big name disk jockeys in this market accept money, drugs, and sexual favors to play and promote certain albums and songs on their programs. I also knew of record stores that lied to Billboard about which albums were selling in an attempt to drive a disk up the charts. When all was said and done, it ended badly for those involved, and I was happy to have kept a safe distance. That close encounter forever soured me on the music industry, however — except for Rock & Roll. Some things — Harley Davidsons, Rock & Roll, and stock car racing — are too pure and holy to sacrifice to financial expediency. As such, I hope the TV networks will impose some sort of journalistic ethics on their key players before the line between what’s a commercial and what’s a race broadcast gets any fuzzier.
(For the record – I do not get paid anything by Harley Davidson. I paid for mine, and the folks at Smaltz’s Harley Davidson were nice enough to give me a free ball cap and T-shirt.)
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Not that I disagree with the main arguement of the article, I just have to add my twist to how things should be done.
Instead of never saying “The Home Depot” car, I think that sponsors should pay for air-time to get their car highlighted if it isn’t running up front… or wrecking. For example, instead of seeing a 60 second commercial for Lowes, I would much rather see 60 seconds of Johnson racing while they mention the fact that he is driving the Lowe’s car.
In short, what it comes down to, is that we are already watching 43 sponsors every week interrupted by commercials paid for, for the most part, by those very same sponsors. Thus, we miss out on watching racing due to the fact that we have to be reminded that a driver has a sponsor on his car.
Don’t even get me started on having to miss the race to watch a NASCAR commercial telling me that I should be watching NASCAR. ARGH!
Fred, your suggestion may sound good, but the sponsors will never give up straight commercials just to have their cars shown on track for 60 seconds. And personally, I’d rather keep the commercials and the race coverage as separate as possible. That said, I’d much rather watch Kasey Kahne run around at the back of the pack than to have to endure him fulfilling “sponsorship opportunities” for the Allstate gals.
If I remember correctly, this issue became a big problem a few years ago when Cracker Barrel was the race sponsor at AMS. Apparently the check they wrote to be race sponsor wasn’t large enough to include the slush funds to NA$CAR and broadcasting partner (FOX, I think) for tv time mentioning. I think Cracker Barrel thought they were entitled to more brand mentioning during the broadcast since they were the race sponsor.
It’s just all about the money.
Thank you for putting the following into words: “There’s a firm called Joyce Julius that analyzes each and every race broadcast, sentence by sentence and frame by frame. They carefully document how many minutes each sponsor’s logo is shown clearly and in focus during a race broadcast, counting every mention of a sponsor during the race as well.”
I have stated many times here, mostly when people rag on Mikey for “blocking-the-leader” or such, while being lapped, the longer a driver stays in contact with the leaders of the race, for good or for bad, the more “exposure” he gets, the more “points” he gets in the advertising world!
Maybe not every time a driver tries to stay ahead of another car, but I am sure most!
In this case, “points” = $$$$ and the ability to sell sponsorships!
And that is another shortcoming of current race broadcasting, coverage only includes the top three or four drivers, the others are forgotten about during the course of a race. Except of course for the elite 12 that make the chase.
Makes you wonder why sponsors are so anxious to jump on board the NA$CAR freight train because their chances of getting mentioned during a race are slim to none!
But again, maybe that’s why we are seeing a softenening in the sponsorship arena!
In my opinion DW doesn’t give Michael any more credit than he is due. Maybe he doesn’t choose to totally ignore Mikey as other commentators tend to. And as far as giving NAPA or Toyota a plug, it doesn’t matter who is driving that car. Certain companies pay money for those plugs. Pay impartial attention yourself and you will see. Now I have to go fill up my Pontillac Starfire with Bumocco race fuel.
I don’t think letting sponsors pay the networks for extra coverage is a good idea. Can you imagine a race where NAPA paid even more money to the network to cover their car? We’d spend half of the race watching the 55 car run around in 40th and never see the leaders (except when they’re lapping Mikey).
Something else I’ve noticed, sometimes during a race, the leaders will pit under yellow, but some of the cars running in the back will stay out for track position. It’s at this point in time when the network decides to show the “How they’re running” team graphic. And surprise: MWR has three entries in the top ten! And the broadcasters always comment on what a good run they’re having. I scream at the TV every time this happens.
I don’t see the situation changing anytime soon , probably never . The sponsors demand that their products be mentioned at every opportunity , and if the networks were to threaten to stop the constant shilling by on-air folks , the sponsors will threaten to pull their advertising or ask for far cheaper ad rates . Guess who will win that battle .
It is a bit sickening. I tend to trun down the sound on the TV and turn up the radio….(most times it’s Sirius) it’s a lot more exciting that way.
This is also what has made TV coverage of the races rather boring at times. The networks just love to do the close up shots of the 4 wheeled billboards rolling around the track. The shots are so close that you usually can’t see any other cars or have any idea of where on the track they are or how the car is really handling. They might as well park em on the pit lane and do still shots so there is no blur at all in the billboard.
What else would really expect from Faux?
If fans want to dial back the commercialism.
dawg… That Mute button is a wonderful thing. Not only does it work wonders on those pesky Waltrips, but it’s also helpful for when the National Anthem is being belted out by a 3rd-rate hip-hop artist with way more lungs than talent or respect.
I am in agreement here.
Ned Jarrett’s call of DJ’s Daytona win was a great moment in broadcasting, because it was real… a father watching his son take the biggest event in his sport. The fact that he rarely let his guard down while on the air made the rare exception even more special.
On the other hand, the shilling many current broadcasters are doing, particular DW for Mikey, is just plain annoying.
Amen Matt but your preachin’ to the choir. The NASCAR broadcasters are shameless when it comes to favortism. You are right, no other sport is as blatant but then no other sport has the same history and business model as NASCAR. Still, the reporters should strive to be impartial and the networks should take the prospective applicant’s current affiliations into account when filling front line broadcasting positions.
When the drivers interject 10 sponsor names in their 10-second post-race interview, I don’t necessarily have a problem with it. But when announcers do it, it looks completely bush league.
Who the heck says “I’m going to go fill up the car with Amoco Car Fuel, dear, need anything?” No, its completely silly, and makes NASCAR in general look silly.
The rampant ads on the cars people understand, that’s fine.
M. Waltrip is also a shill for Nascar. I turned off last weeks “This Week” when MW started explaining how Nascar made the right call at Talledega. He really is a shameless jerk.
I’ve become immune to the shameless plugs and mostly robotic statements from drivers.I do love me some Butt Paste and Anti-Monkey Butt Powder though.
The cracker barrell mention is correct. If you notice it was in 2001 to present the races all became the “atlanta 500” “dover 400” or next week its “winston cup racing from talladega” “sprint cup series at martinsville” instead of the actual race names. No more Hanes 500, MBNA 400, Cracker Barrell 500. You only got a race name mention if you paid big bucks to the network.. TO CALL THE RACE BY ITS ACTUAL NAME! What a pathetic joke that was. It wouldn’t matter if races ever had sponsors anymore.
I find it humorous that Harley Davidson was an example of purity. Harley Davidson is an excellent study on marketing. In the CEO’s own words, “we suggest personal freedom and independence.” Suggest. And they provide as many chrome and leather accessories as can be manufactured to help you be unique in this quest for freedom. I have nothing against Harley Davidson, I live ten miles from the original headquarters, but to call them pure is ridiculous.
Actually, calling HD pure while bitching about Nascar partiality, is the ultimate in hypocrisy. After reading Frontstrech for the last two weeks, I’m finding that is a common problem here.
In general, why does anyone expect Nascar to act in its fan’s best interests instead of its own? Does any other for-profit corporation do that? Why are we expecting socialist tactics from Nascar? Is Nascar here to make money or to please everyone else?
Christopher I was going to mention the same thing. I feel so bad for the commentators who have to say ‘They’re filling up Driver’s X’s car with Sunoco fuel!!!” They sound like idiots. Shame on ESPN for whoring out their commentators like that. And then are we supposed to take what these shills say seriously?
Why all the hate for Michael? What in the world has he ever done to any of you to generate this kind of bile?
Don’t forget about FOX in 2001 “cartooning” the cars in their pre- race graphics for those sponsors that did not pay the big bucks to them. You’d see a bunch of 2nd tier cars with no decal on the graphics for about the first 5 or 6 races. Really it’s not different than when FOX took over and ESPN’s crew had to go the the helo pad or air strip to interview drivers because they were not allowed in the track.
It’s all about money and greed. Remember it wasn’t that long ago where Cup was running 35 car fields.