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.
There’s darn few weeks off included in the modern Cup schedule, three all together if I am counting correctly. The second of those three falls this weekend for Easter and the final one three months hence sits in late July. Before starting my much anticipated riding break I had some notes scribbled on various bits of paper scattered around my desk, none important enough to warrant a column of their own, but combined perhaps enough to elicit some debate.
Yellow Line Fever
If you are even moderately clever it isn’t hard to find still images or even video footage of Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car with his left front tire clearly on or below the line racing to the front at Talladega on the final lap. Was there a rules infraction there and should a penalty have been imposed? I don’t know and apparently neither does anyone else. The rule I hear stated most often is a driver is not allowed to go below the yellow line to advance his position at Talladega or Daytona.
Firstly we need to define “below”. Is a driver only below the yellow line at these tracks when his passenger side tires go below the yellow line? Is running on but not over that line OK? Then we need to define the “yellow line”. There’s actually two yellow lines (similar to what you might see in a no passing zone on the highway with a strip of gray asphalt between them). Which one is “the” yellow line? If a driver dips below the uppermost yellow line, but not below the lower one has he crossed “the” yellow” line or “a” yellow line. Then how do we define “advancing his position”? Clearly if a driver is second, crosses the line and returns above it in first he has advanced his position. But if he’s second, a car length and a half behind the leader, dips below the line and returns to the track on the leader’s rear bumper has he advanced his position or merely furthered his cause?
On Sunday it appeared Johnson got right down there on the line in doing so forced Mark Martin, who’d been coming down to block, to give way to avoid wrecking his teammate, Johnson, opening the lane ahead for the No. 48 and No. 88 cars.
Then there’s the rule that states that a driver may go below the yellow line(s) if he is forced down there. Define “forced”. Does there need to be sustained side-by-side contact, or is the fact the other driver is coming down on a fellow and it appears collision is imminent does the lower driver have the right to keep moving inside the track? One could make an argument that even Jeff Burton wasn’t “forced” out of bounds Sunday. He could have locked down the brakes and stayed above the yellow line. What a merry mess that would have been as the field got decimated in the resultant wreck.
This would all be vastly easier to understand if fans questioning the “no call” on the No. 48 could grab up their copy of the rulebook and read how the rule was spelled out like in a real sport. But of course NASCAR steadfastly refuses to release that book to the fans claiming it contains trade secrets and intellectual property. In fact it might be the only item related to the sport they haven’t tried to cash in to make a quick buck. Meanwhile we’re left scratching our heads as folks try to figure out if there’s a different rule concerning the yellow line for folks like Regan Smith and another for Jimmie Johnson and his ilk.
So Was the Cure Was Than the Cold?
The debate goes on. Which is worse on the plate tracks, the “old-style” pack racing, or the new style 2×2 racing? Forced to decide, which is like choosing between a wide awake colonoscopy or a no-narcotic root canal, I come down on the side of the two-by-two racing. At least the number of cars gathered up in the big wreck is lower and they tend to stay on the ground, thus returning some degree of driver control and skill to the equation. Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman’s lurid slides would almost certainly have wound up in field decimating wrecks under the old system with 30 cars stacked up four wide in a single pack. But don’t look for me to put on a short skirt and pick up my pom-poms for the new style of racing anytime soon either.
According to the drivers, the second (pushing) driver has no view of what’s going on ahead of them, as they race in close quarters at 190 MPH while occasionally glancing down to change radio frequencies to find out if the race is over yet. Whose decision was it that was a good idea? Maybe to even things out between the leading driver and the pushing driver all the cars should have their windshields covered in duct tape with a postage stamp sized cutout to allow them a quick glimpse of where they are? The spotters can direct the drivers how to steer their cars and make laps. (Or perhaps eventually we can eliminate the drivers all together and have the spotters drive those cars by remote control from the rooftop?)
Spotting is a difficult job. I’ve seen it done close up standing shoulder to shoulder with the usual suspects. It worries me that the spotters are now responsible for clearing not one car, but the two car tandems, with various degrees of success. After all if my driver has just made a pass for the lead with the help of someone else pushing him is it not in my team’s best interest late in the race to tell that second driver he’s clear when’s he not to take out two of my guy’s primary opponents? There’s only one signature at the bottom of my spotter’s paycheck, not two.
The basic problem here is the plates, used only at Talladega and Daytona. The size of the track, the banking and the speeds the cars run as a result are the root of the evil. Since both tracks were recently repaved and the banking wasn’t lowered it looks like we’re stuck with this mess. NASCAR and the ISC have always been more liberal spending the team owners’ money than their own. The plates were a “temporary” solution that have haunted up for over two decades now. The speeds need to be lower to make the racing better though that might seem an oxymoron to newer fans who know what that word means.
This isn’t the first time I’ve proposed this idea but it’s been a couple years now. I have to trot this dead horse out every once in a great while to see if I can make it gallop. To me it would seem a better solution would be to run sealed “crate” motors at Talladega and Daytona. (Note the plural sense “motors” which are actually engines. Each make would have its individual engine, not a generic engine). We’d want those crate engines to put out 375 to 400 horsepower and to cost between 4000 and 4500 bucks each. They’d be available not only to the race teams but to gear heads to stuff in their ’32 Ford or ’70 Chevelle as well. That would save the teams millions of dollars over the current plate engine program and NASCAR is always banging their big bass drum saying they want to cut the cost of racing. (Like those new pit road rules that eliminate the catch can man from the over the wall crew but forced Jack Roush to spend $160,000 on new gas cans which apparently don’t work too well). Crate engines would eliminate the plates which would finally put racing at Talladega and Daytona back in the drivers’ hands. That seems like a good idea to me, but then I am a stupid guy, though not stupid enough to earn a six figure salary working for NASCAR.
Trouble in TV-Land?
There are very few things long time race fans agree on as far as who is the best driver, what’s the best brand of race car or which tracks are the best. Hell we can’t even agree on what’s the best brand of beer (“cold” is my vote). But one thing nearly everyone I speak to agrees is FOX’s coverage of the races sucks hind-teat. (Or something less polite). They’ve had ten plus years to straighten the mess out, but the coverage seems to get worse weekly and it was pretty damn weak to begin with. You know as soon as you hear DW screeching weekly “Boogity, boogity, boogity” it’s going to be awful. Though this year, Larry Mac has dumped the “Reach up there and…” schtick and DW seems to want to modify the BBB rap with something like “Talladega style” to show what an improvisational genius he is.
A few weeks ago someone in the booth noted that as races start they claim most of the fans are staring at the announce booth waiting for DW’s call. Put on your glasses, guy. How many of them are extending a middle finger at you? The sound of 43 cars coming off turn four to take the green has always been the sweetest music this side of American Beauty to me and I don’t need some egotistical fool hollering over that music to ruin it for me. But since we still can’t get rid of the damned gopher I hold limited hope it will ever get better.
Anyway, before I stray so far off the trail that the hounds can’t find me, I know a goodly many of you long-timers follow John Daly’s Daly Plant TV blog. The site focuses on the TV coverage of racing rather than the race itself to an extent. Each week fans join the blog live to add their “live” comments during the race and to comment on Daly’s articles. If you think the comments below my articles are sometimes harsh, you ought to read those fans live comments. Sometimes they are so toxic they’d send the Fukushima Fifty running stripped naked and hysterically blind towards the sea to swim to Washington.
Two things stood out for me on the blog last weekend. First, based on comments posted and comments Daly himself received, Sunday’s Talladega race might have been the most DVR’ed NASCAR event ever. Fans knew what was going to be served up and they decided en masse that they weren’t going to waste a nice Sunday afternoon watching it (or in some unfortunate parts of the country, pumping out the basement and clearing the storm debris. God bless, ya’ll. The water here only reached ankle depth down the basement and the sole damage was a gutter nicked by .22 fired at coyote flushed out if its den by the rain fired by a drunken neighbor here at Eyesore Acres).
There were also several comments made by a posters who called himself or herself “Foxhole.” Said poster claimed to be a former NASCAR on FOX employee who was recently fired for having spoken up against some elements of the coverage. Now, I could sit here and pretend to be a roadie for the E-Street band on a message board, but this fellow knew all the names and the backstage workings of sports TV coverage well enough he came off as credible. You can visit last Sunday’s live race blog on that site and decide for yourself on Foxhole’s credibility HERE.
The poster claims that the current producer (Barry Landis) not the director of NASCAR on FOX (Artie Kempner) is waging a reign of terror and refuses to listen to any voices of dissent. Those who speak against him are subsequently hollered at, berated or even released. The poster goes on to say that even some of the lesser on-air talent have adopted a battle-siege mentality, toeing the corporate line to protect their careers though they know changes to the coverage are necessary.
David Hill, former FOX Sports head honcho and the father of that dirty little bastard gopher he loved so well has apparently turned his attention to FOX’s National Geographic channel, so he’s out of the equation.
In even more incendiary comments, Foxhole claims that many higher-ups in the FOX Sports group have an open animosity towards NASCAR racing thinking it’s a “redneck” sport not worthy of comparison to their baseball or football coverage. He claims he has heard several disparaging remarks those folks have made about race fans. If these folks truly do dislike racing and race fans the reasons for the low quality of FOX’s racing broadcasts becomes more evident. Either us dumb little Bubbas can take what they’re spoon-feeding us and like it or we can go back to playing horseshoes in the trailer park Sunday afternoon. Any input from such fans isn’t worthy of consideration. They already give us Digger and DW and now we want to see who finished second in the race as well rather than seeing an obligatory shot of a crew celebrating? Let them eat Twinkies! Bring back Neil Goldberg!
Sunday Afternoon Cartoons
While on the topic of FOX, it seems the latest marketing strategy involves turning NASCAR racing into a cartoon. I’m sure you’ve seen the cartoon graphics during the bumpers going into and out of commercial and during promotions for the races. We’re not talking “cartoonish” here we are talking actual hand drawn cartoon depictions of drivers, tracks and race cars.
The announcers booth seems determined to turn the drivers into some sort of cartoon-super heroes. Dale Earnhardt has been “Junior” since he arrived in the sport. But then we added “Smoke” in place of Tony Stewart and “Rowdy” in place of Kyle Busch. More recently Jimmie Johnson has become “Five-time” and unless you’re deaf you’re probably tired of hearing Kevin Harvick referred to as “The Closer.” Matt Yokum is still trying to get folks to refer to Jeff Gordon as “Super-G” though over the last few season’s Gordon has left a lot of “super” at the table. If I were Greg Biffle, a perfectly normal name and not hard to pronounce, I’d bitch-slap the next person who called me, “The Biff.”
Folks, this isn’t a cartoon strip or a really crappy movie based on a comic book popular in the fifties. This here is stock car racing and it’s real life. The drivers have names their parents decided on shortly before or after they were born and compared to the F1 and Indy Car circuits, most of the names are relatively short and easy to pronounce and spell. The action is live and unscripted (or I hope it is anyway) and I’m not ready to start calling Matt Kenseth “Closing Time” because he runs with booze sponsorship, Carl Edwards “Flipper” or Danica Patrick “Wonder Woman” unless used in context of “I wonder why that woman is running the Nationwide series when she can barely manage a top 10 finish in the open wheel series that is her day job.”
Back-stage backstabbing worthy of Macbeth? Cartoon super-hero, NASCAR drivers with silly nicknames? Comparing stock car races to the prom? Yeah, that’s enough for this week. I’m loading the bike into the pickup truck and heading for Richmond. It’s 75 degrees and sunny there and 55 degrees and raining here. Just call me “The Nightster”….out
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Crate engines might remove the plates, but the pack racing would still be there. You can draft at 10mph on a bicycle. The problem at Talladega and Daytona is that they have way more grip than horsepower. They have to lift at other tracks because the tires are going to slide or spin if they don’t. They don’t have that problem at the 2 biggest tracks, so they ride around at top speed and don’t have to lift. TO break up the packs, they need to find a way to force the drivers to lift. Lower banking or skinnier tires are the only ways that I can think of. A crate engine might save them money, but the racing would look the same.
Speaking of Fox and silly nicknames, if I was Dale Junior, I would tell “Chia-Head” Waltrip that if he referred to me as “Junebug” one more time he’s gonna get his microphone shoved somewhere the sun don’t shine.
awesome points – I was one of those fans who found something else to do on Sunday. I watched the final 5 laps live because I was inside and the TV was on at just that point in time. That’s all that was necessary anyway.
Maybe Foxhole is right and Fox doesn’t really want to broadcast NASCAR, they seem to have the same attitude as the ESPN elite (or the stick and ball only guys). Weather’s getting better – finally – I won’t be wasting an entire day unless I’m at the track for the race in person – not with this coverage.
Carl D — I am with you, man. Junebug is something you call a kid, not a grown man.
The racing and the faux broadcasts have become unwatchable and unlistenable. I watched the last ten laps of the race and that’s it. The two car tangos are not racing. As a long,long time racing fan, I am appalled at the state of nas$car. The powers that be at Daytona had better
There’s a game with bean bags that folks play at the campgrounds that better describe the two car racing. Just put “High Speed” in front of it.
With the poor coverage and handling of the racing broadcasts by both Faux and BSPN, it’s no wonder the ratings suck. Now maybe, just maybe, if they had competent commentators they could raise fan interest a smidge. If they went to the split screen format that Versus uses for IndyCar, had decent commentators, and decent camera work, then fans might actually start watching again. But that’s beyond the grasp of the Beach Boy Bubbas in Daytona.
_Races_at Talladega and Daytona have not been legitimate races since the 9 Coors car was smoking the field. Rather that putting crate engines in the cars have them put in V6 engines in after all that is what is in most of the cars that the decals on the COT are supposed to represent have in them any way. It should separate the wheat from the chaff and make a real race with real passes.
I really liked the S.A.C part of your article Matt and I agree with you completely!!!!!!! In fact I’m glad you went thru all of your old notes.
Your crate motor cost are out of touch with reality,for a motor that would stand the abuse of a whole weekend. Just limit the cubic inches,and let them have at it in the engine shop.
I truly believe that any NASCAR fan (even casual one’s) could do a better job than what’s currently being offered. Most of it’s commond sense.
Have to agree with jerseygirl. FOX might secretly hate having to broadcast NASCAR but ESPN has long ago stopped trying to cover up their disgust.
I thought sure once ESPN took over the NASCAR races there would be more coverage on the non-NASCAR shows like Mike & Mike, PTI, etc. But no. Except for around Daytona and interviewing the season champion, all that you get is at best a 20 second review (unless of course there is a terrible crash – then you get 90 replays of the crash in addition ot the 20 second race review).
I have never seen more of an elitist attitude. NASCAR might be in trouble when the next round of TV contracts come up. If the ratings aren’t strong, I don’t think they are going to find too many cheerleaders at FOX or ESPN.
Re TV coverage and other nonsense, a booth crew of Eli, Ned and Benny (I know he is not with us now) would improve viewer satisfaction and indirectly improve our racing experience. Deep six the Hollywood hotel or whatever it is called, race fans do not care about this presentation. We want to see racing; period; end of discussion. Throw the green, show and tell us what is happening, show us all the competitors from first to last, then the checkers and winner’s celebrations. Race over. Go home.
I have raceview on my computer and the fox broadcast is just on in the background since I have earplugs listening to my drivers scanner. But I don’t miss a race if I can help. I still love it!
On the F1 sites the big news is that Murdoch, owner of Fox is trying to buy F1 with Carlos Slims who is the wrold’s richest man, Telmex.
Ole DW should just call Junebug by his REAL first name…Ralph.
I’m taking you to task for the remark about NASCAR “trade secrets and intellectual property.” Since when does NASCAR use intellect???
If the answers to your questions are actually spelled out in the rule book, they would read like a union contract regarding overtime wages for holiday pay only during certain moon phases and weather conditions!