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.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday July 16, 2009
TNT’s six-week run as NASCAR’s broadcast partner ended with Saturday night’s alleged race from Joliet. In my personal opinion and the opinions of the fans I speak to on a routine basis, the network acquitted themselves well during their six weeks and, if the coverage wasn’t perfect, it was head and shoulders above the farce that FOX force fed us early in the season.
Heading into their portion of the year, TNT had to deal with one problem they should have seen coming like a train wreck — and another that arose unexpectedly. Let’s face it, the six races TNT covered weren’t the pick of the litter — two fuel mileage races, New Hampshire, a road course race, the contrived excitement of the Firecracker 400 plate race, and the farce from Chicago. In fact, they ended up with some of the runts that typically got put in a gunny sack with a few rocks and tossed into the “crick.” It’s pretty damned hard to write anything interesting about a boring race, so I can’t imagine how hard it is to cover one on live TV. But TNT knew what they were buying into and did the best with what they had.
Then, three weeks ago, right in the midst of the six-race schedule, veteran broadcaster and ESPN alumni Bill Weber got the boot after what has only been described as a loud and profane tirade at a hotel in New Hampshire. That thrust Ralph Sheheen into the limelight unexpectedly, like Spaky handing Alfalfa the mike and hollering, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show.” Sheheen rose to the occasion with admirable poise, although while it was clear he was pedaling as fast as he could, it took him some time to get up to speed.
TNT was also handed an unexpected bonus in that their coverage featured the first races using NASCAR’s new side-by-side lineup on restarts originally dubbed “Double-File Restarts, Shootout Style”. Eventually, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach realized just how stupid that sounded and dropped the latter part of the term for the most part. However, I fully expect that while it will be old news by then, ol’ DW will latch onto the “Shootout Style” term like a determined retriever trying to hump your leg. (It makes my flesh crawl to envision “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing shootout style, Boys!”) In fact, that might just be enough to push me into retirement because a little vomit just came out of my nose-typing that.
Right from their first broadcast, it was clear that TNT was going to provide a different sort of telecast from the gimmicky, ego-driven, race-o-tainment shtick FOX blared into fan’s living rooms earlier this year. TNT featured a one hour pre-race show for the more devoted fans and a fast-paced, half-hour pre-race show for others without the time or inclination to spend an hour and a half watching the warmup to a three hour race. While long, the hourlong program was good and featured some excellent tributes to the racing heroes of yore that I hope a lot of newer fans found informative. Each piece was well done. Afterwards, the shorter pre-race show couldn’t have been more different than the FOX Hollywood Hotel crap. FOX is the network that uses “crank it up” as a gimmick; well, TNT’s motto might have been “Turn down the volume a little” and it made the program a lot more watchable. Rather than watching Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond hollering over each other while Chris Myers served as the goofball, uninformed straight man in the corner, the TNT bunch actually had interesting, informative conversations that at times were brutally honest. You know there had to be NASCAR employees in the next booth blowing gaskets like a well worn Flathead Ford pulling up Pike’s Peak.
This season’s “Wally World” segments, that showed Dallenbach superimposed over race footage, was less successful and gimmicky. Hey guys, you tried that, it didn’t work — come up with something new next year. The Ponytail Express, however, was a hoot.
Call it a sign of diminished expectations but, quite frankly, being able to watch a race without intrusions from that damn gopher probably dropped my systolic blood pressure 20 points. The interesting thing is though FOX and TNT share a producer, the pictures being shown are very different. Again, it was a fundamental difference in attitude. FOX tries to present entertainment, while TNT apparently decided early on they were there to present an automobile race with the stars in the cars, not on in the booth. The coverage featured more wide angle shots, showing the proximity of the leaders rather than cameras locked on one driver (usually Earnhardt, Jr., Gordon, Stewart, or Johnson). The coverage was more balanced, focusing on the leaders and hard chargers coming through the pack no matter who sponsored them or what their last name is. It was noted and appreciated.
The view wasn’t always perfect, though. Often, the boys in the booth would be talking about one car while the cameras focused on another. Too often, it seemed to take forever to re-rack the tape and find the correct camera angle that showed what started an incident, or how a driver set up a pass, or of a driver behaving badly. Usually, they found the correct shot, but it was sometimes two commercial breaks later. And perhaps too much attention was focused on Kyle Busch given the way he’s been running the last four weeks and his in general boorish behavior. No matter how ill-tempered he was, nobody at TNT seemed to want to take Busch to task other than an occasional snide comment that, “Busch declined to talk to us.” Eventually, this kid is going to hear from his sponsors, “Boy, we pay you big bucks to put on that clown suit and get our logo out there on TV. Do the job. If you want to make a horse’s ass of yourself, you’ll be running the Kentucky Derby next year, not the Daytona 500.”
In the booth, Weber, who has a primadonna attitude sometimes, was a bit less annoying than I recall him — even a too intense co-worker can be a decent guy when you’re out with him shooting pool, scarfing down peanuts, and having a few brews. Then, of course, he was gone; and in my opinion, the network owed it to the viewers to give some explanation as to why. Welcome to the bigs, boys… sometimes you become the story.
Larry McReynolds was the most visible on-screen holdover from the FOX reign of terror that started the season. On TNT, not forced to do sitdown comedy and try to wedge a word in edgewise when DW takes a breath, he seemed more relaxed. In his role on the tech pieces, McReynolds was more in his element as he knows his stuff. He came across not as a really bad comic from Dogpatch but more like a really intense high school physics teacher who, in his desire to share his love of the science, sometimes needed to be told, “Go take a Prozac or something, Dude.” Hey, I’ve come to accept this is a Southern sport and McReynolds is from Alabama. Yeah, I know he can’t even pronounce diction, but it seems to me, at bare minimum, he ought to be able to pronounce the drivers’ names. It’s Joe “Neem-a-check” not “Nim-a-cheg.” And it’s Jamie “Mick-Murray” not “Mac-Murray.”
Matt Yocum was usually solid in the pits and his pre-race features. The other guy? Man, would you let him wear a ballcap before he gets terminal sunburn on his scalp? And the blonde? (I’m not even going to try the lady’s name… it looks like an industrial accident at an alphabet soup company.) Let’s just say being eye candy doesn’t make up for journalistic chops. Lady, this here is stock car racing, not softball. Toughen up the questions when the situation warrants. They ain’t gonna hit you. (Well, maybe Kyle Busch might.)
Some fans will disagree with me, but I felt Kyle Petty did an outstanding job this year. His laid-back, self-deprecating style of humor (how many times did he call himself an idiot when he overlooked something) indicated a new, more comfortable attitude towards this broadcasting thing this year. As broadcasting becomes more what he does and less a quick timeout from driving for a few weeks, Petty was honest, insightful, and fully engaged unlike last season. He seemed to be having fun, and that helped make some less than fun races more enjoyable to watch. New this year was Petty using Twitter to communicate live with real fans during the race, often answering their questions. It was an interesting use of new technology that put some immediacy in the game. But, Dude, lose those ugly checkered shirts. In high-def, it looks like you’re wearing a picnic blanket that you stole from your granny. I look forward to more TV work for Petty, though, as his driving career slowly fades into the rear-view mirror.
Wally Dallenbach really came into his own this year and gets my vote for the most improved player. His chemistry with Petty was outstanding to the point the two of them could have called the races themselves. In his driving career, Dallenbach enjoyed his best success on road courses, and he was able to offer a lot of insight at Sonoma — but he was also insightful at the other tracks. His self-deprecating style of humor and laid-back delivery made it seem more like a knowledgeable friend talking to you about the race. Perhaps most importantly, Dallenbach is developing that big picture view of a race that was Ned Jarrett’s forte back in the ESPN days. Wally is seeing stories develop on the track and commenting on them, much like the way Jarrett, after watching two drivers’ increasing aggression towards each other intensify, could often predict a wreck a few laps before it happened. That’s tremendously valuable for TV viewers who can only see what the camera is focused on, not the whole track. If Mike Joy could be convinced to sacrifice six weeks of his summer vacation to anchor the broadcast with Petty and Dallenbach in the booth, that would be the dream team of the talent pool out there currently.
Again, the TNT crew came across like friends you invited into your home to watch and enjoy the race. Their best moment was probably during the dramatic last lap crash at Daytona, when they all started yelling just like my friends did. (Only the TNT boys were a bit more couth in that none of them yelled, “Holy Shit,” spilled their beers on the couch, or sent the popcorn bowl flying halfway across the room.) Their detailed analysis of what happened (exonerating Stewart) and Petty’s genuine concern for the safety of the drivers involved came across as genuine and unscripted by the dictates of political correctness. That made for great television.
The other highlight of TNT’s Summer Stretch was the virtually commercial free “Wide Open” coverage of the Daytona race, a feature IRL fans get to enjoy weekly. If I were put in charge of NASCAR for one day, my second official act (after having Brian France’s reserved parking spot moved to Afghanistan) would be to demand all three networks use “Wide Open” style coverage for every race.
Perhaps TNT’s biggest fault was their seeming desire to hurry away from the race like Kyle Busch beating a hasty retreat refusing to comment. Yes, after their on-air abbreviated post-race coverage, they continued it online at the Dark Empire website — but I still refuse to go there lest my brains be sucked out my nostrils and I become a zombie. It’s been tested.
All in all, I give TNT’s coverage a B+, or perhaps even a gentleman’s — and when have I ever been less than a gentleman, gentle readers — A- given the races they had to work with. If they can coordinate the commentary and views a bit better, offer faster replays, keep Larry out of the Starbucks on race day, stick around a bit longer after the race, and hire Mike Joy, all will be well. But thanks to all involved for
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You’re right. It was exactly like sitting in front of the TV with friends, watching the race. TNT really got it right, in that they show the racing as it happens on the track, not some pre concieved script put together in a studio. They put Fox to shame, and I’m afraid they will do the same to ESPN. For getting stuck with some of the dullest tracks of the year in mid summer when most folks are vacationing, they did an outstanding job.
No no no no no !!! DO NOT bring Joy into the booth with Kyle and Wally . Are you crazy ???? We finally get a broadcast team that works well together including Shaheen ( wouldn’t be my first choice but he did well ) doesn’t constantly try to talk over each other at high volume , and are dedicated to enhancing the broadcasts , not hi-jacking them , and now you want to bring in Joy The Great Pontificator .
Bravo TNT!! Well said Matt, but now we will have to endure more “Racetainment” until next summer…. When we can watch racing again.
No mention of RaceBuddy? THAT’s the feature that makes TNT stand out from the others! Text updates and a live pit reporter (who was just as good, if not better, than the TNT ones)….that made all the difference for me!
Very good appraisal Matt, I agree with all your points. I will add that what I found most refreshing (after Fox) is that they covered the race as it happened. Too many times it seems that Fox and ESPN have prerace story-lines that they won’t let go of when they don’t pan out in the race. It’s that “scripted” coverage feeling that really turns me off, especially with Fox.
I know one guy that is going to miss TNT …. the man on top of the standings.
A little trivia … Smoke’s worst finish in the six TNT races was SEVENTH. Wonder how he’ll do with ESPN?
Good article Matt . I do have to disagree about the use of McReynolds though . Yes , he has been toned down at TNT, thank god , but he is still just as eager to hear the sound of his own voice . Compare Larry to Andy Petree and you can see the difference instantly . Andys’ credentials are just as good ( actually more so because he has championships AND was a CUP car owner ) and he isn’t constantly reminding the audience of every team and driver he ever worked with . And Andy can pronounce the drivers names and doesn’t murder the English language .
Good article Matt, I agree with most your points except the Mike Joy thing, but there are a lot worse broadcasters then Joy, so that’s not that big of a deal. I agree with you the most about Kyle Petty; I don’t recall him making me laugh out loud ever until this season. It could be since past seasons he always rubbed me wrong as a driver who continually underachieved, but now he’s done driving it seems like we have a Petty who holds nothing back. His comment after the Chicago race about not being able to remember anyone that he wrecked but knew every single car that wrecked him had me rolling. Well done Matt.
I really don’t know if TNT did that good of a job, or if they just had such of an easy act to follow.
Right on Marshall!! No Mike Joy – just can’t stand him – so full of himself and all !!
TNT coverage was a treat to watch. We actually got to watch racing from the leaders all through pack.
Couldn’t agree more with everything you said except of course the crack about Chi-town. I loved that race. It was my first Chi-town race to watch but the end made it all worth while; watch out for that old man he is way too tough to give up.
I actually enjoy Larry Mac. I just think he didn’t have time to get the FOX slime off of him to be seen in a different light. I like his passion about the science of racing and his enthusiasm shows why he was a Championship winning crew chief.
Let me go on record as saying Mike Joy is music to my ears when he calls a race..just stop acting like DW with the Kyle Busch fetish :(
Also i like Lindsay’s work, she and Krista seem to be the only female pit reporters who speak fluent “nascar”