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.
After Daytona 500 qualifying on Sunday Monday and Tuesday have traditionally been “dark days” at the track with no cars on the track. That changes next year with NASCAR running late models and modifieds on an improvised .4 mile track, something I’m looking forward to. But this year, there was nothing going on that Tuesday.
It’s been freakishly and delightfully warm and snow free this winter in Lancaster County, but that particular Tuesday it was about eight degrees too cold to take the scoot for a scamper. Instead I decided to drop by and visit my long time friend Andrew in his new digs. Again, it was just a bit too chilly to hang out on the back porch as we usually do so we sat in his living room smoking cigars and killing a couple six packs.
There’s an unwritten rule amongst males of the clan that whenever two guys are visiting indoors a TV must be on in the background so you don’t look like a pair of chicks noshing. Preferably said, TV is showing some sort of sports programming. Since Andrew and I are both old car nuts it’s usually racing. As Andrew channel surfed on his cute little antique TV we came across an ESPN Classic marathon of Daytona 500s. Naturally we finished watching that one 500 and then watched three more.
I was particularly taken by the 1988 version of the 500. There are two highlights of that race most of you will recall. On lap 106 Richard Petty wrecked hard and his car rolled violently a dozen times. There was genuine fear amongst the broadcasters that Petty had been seriously injured or worse. (Fortunately Petty suffered only a sprained ankle.) The other notable highlight of the race was a duel between Bobby and Davey Allison for the win in the waning laps of the race. The elder Allison prevailed and Davey finished second. As many times as I’ve seen the footage of Davey pulling up to congratulate his dad I still get a little choked up watching it knowing what the cruel fates had in store for the Allisons.
Fewer people will recall that the ‘88 500 was the first Great American race run with restrictor plates in the modern era. Ironically the plate rules, which were said to be a temporary fix 24 years ago, came about after Bobby Allison’s terrifying flight into the catch fence at Talladega the previous spring, a race Davey went on to win.
Earlier this month pundits, the public and NASCAR had been celebrating the return of “pack” racing at Daytona. But in that ’88 race there were no packs to speak of.
The fastest cars drove to the front. Frequently, the top two or three drivers would hook up and try to draft away from their pursuers. But once that front group got to dicing it amongst themselves (and the racing was notably intense throughout the race, not just at the end), the second group would run them down. To make a pass, the pursuing driver would set up his quarry then use the aerodynamics of the slingshot pass to try to get by. Naturally, the leading driver would use every trick in his arsenal to try to maintain position.
It wasn’t just fascinating to watch the setups, the passing attempts and the various strategies of defense, it was downright beautiful. It was real racing back in 1988 not a three-wide ten-deep pack of cars running wide open until carnage decimated the field. Drivers in 1988 didn’t have to depend on luck, they used skills they started honing on tiny little dirt tracks early in their careers. If NASCAR is going to seek a rules package to return real racing to Daytona they ought to study their tapes of the 1988 race carefully.
Here’s a hint: The cars were far boxier and less aerodynamic back in the day.
As I hinted part of the poignancy of watching the ‘88 500 comes from knowing what happened to some of those racers down the road. Months after his thrilling win at Daytona Bobby Allison was involved in a savage crash on the first lap during the June Pocono race. Head injuries caused by that wreck almost took his life and it did in fact claim most of his memory including his recollections of edging out his beloved son in that year’s 500. Pocono was to be Allison’s final start as a race car driver after a successful career that spanned decades.
Dale Earnhardt the original had won his qualifying race for that year’s 500 and the Busch Clash. That was no surprise as Earnhardt typically was a dominant driver at Daytona. In that year’s 500 Earnhardt was running that familiar black paint scheme we all associate him with for the first time with Goodwrench having taken over from Wrangler as the 3 team’s primary sponsor. He had a strong run in the ‘88 500 as well but it all went awry in the pits. That was Earnhardt’s tenth try at winning the 500; it would take ten more attempts before he finally managed his memorable Daytona 500 victory in 1998.
Three years later he lost his life at the track.
Neil Bonnett in the RahMoc Valvoline Pontiac ran up front all day in 1988 en route to a fourth place finish. He went on to win the next two races that year at Richmond and Rockingham running on Hoosier tires. Richard Petty, following his tumble down the frontstretch at Daytona would rebound at Richmond to finish third, just one week removed from his 1/8-mile barrel roll and resulting t-bone by Brett Bodine.
Bonnett, a close friend of Earnhardt’s, would suffer a severe head injury in a crash that didn’t look all that bad two years later at Darlington. The wreck left Bonnett with such a severe case of amnesia that at first he didn’t even recognize his wife. After a brief but entertaining stint as TV race broadcaster, Bonnett attempted a return to racing in 1993. His comeback race at Talladega didn’t go so well with a terrifying upside down flight into the catch fence. Bonnett also ran that year’s Atlanta season finale with an eye towards running a limited 1994 Cup slate for Phoenix Racing. Tragically, he was destined to die in a practice wreck for the 1994 Daytona 500.
Bonnett lost his career and to a degree his life to post-concussive syndrome from too many crashes into unlined concrete walls. The effect of multiple concussions on drivers in NASCAR is once again a hot button topic. Hopefully today’s competitors recall Bonnett and what happened to him.
Davey Allison who finished second that day in the 1988 Daytona 500 and Alan Kulwicki, who finished 32nd in the Zerex Ford, would both lose their lives to aircraft accidents in 1993. Kulwicki was the reigning Cup champion at the time of his death in a field outside of Bristol. Buddy Baker (ninth) and Greg Sacks (40th) both had their careers ended by too many blows to the head. Cancer took Benny Parsons (31st) from us.
Fate was kinder towards some other drivers who struggled at the 1988 Daytona 500. Darrell Waltrip led 69 laps in the ‘88 500 but finished 11th after he lost a cylinder late in the race. Waltrip was 0 for 16 in Daytona 500s after that event and clearly despondent. He won the following year’s 500 to end that jinx that had weighed so heavily on him.
Bill Elliott finished twelfth that day, a bit of a disappointment to his many fans as Elliott was the acknowledged super speedway master in that era. While that first race might not have been too special for Elliott and the No. 9 team the rest of the ‘88 season went much better. Elliott would win six races and score a total of fifteen top 5 finishes in 29 races to claim that year’s Winston Cup title.
Few people took notice of the driver who finished 41st that day, Mark Martin. Martin had made an abortive attempt to start a Cup career years earlier but the ‘88 500 was his first race with Jack Roush, a pairing that would go on to do some remarkable things in the sport and the grassroots of the organization that took first and third place finishes in this year’s 500.
Another thing that jumped out at me watching that old race was the quality of the race broadcast itself. Ned Jarrett, Chris Economacki, and Ken Squier hosted the CBS broadcast. Some still familiar faces like Mike Joy and Dave Despain were down on pit road. They comported themselves like very knowledgeable good friends that you’d invited into your living room on a Sunday afternoon.
There was no screaming, nobody talking over someone else, and no clowning around. Nobody bought a personal agenda to the broadcast. Nobody was trying to sell t-shirts with gophers on them or solicit hits to their Twitter accounts. (I’m not sure if there were cell phones in ‘88 but I know there was no Twitter.)
Instead, the analysts watched the race as it evolved and reported on what was going on out on the track. Ned Jarrett in particular could often see a wreck developing laps before it happened. He could just see how two drivers were racing each other and how their cars were handling and would gently suggest to the camera crews to keep an eye on that duo. They didn’t miss much back then.
Despite having far fewer cameras and far less technology available to them the broadcast team covered the action in a consistently informative and entertaining fashion. The broadcast wasn’t riddled with promos and annoying graphics. Racing was covered as a sport back in those days, not as background noise to pre-scripted entertainment.
When the Father/Son storyline began to emerge near the end of the race the story was documented and commented on. As the storyline played out, it was clear the broadcasters were happy for both of the Allisons but you got the feeling that if a third driver had come sweeping into the picture and spoiled the party on the last lap, it would have been documented and commented on but there wouldn’t have been any hand-wringing or angst in the booth. Race commentators didn’t play favorites back in ‘88. It was simply a better, more interesting form of race broadcasts way back when that treated the sport and the fans with respect.
Some of today’s broadcasters need to dig up a copy of that ‘88 Daytona 500 and watch how the legends of NASCAR broadcasting actually promoted and grew the sport back in the early days.
As for “pack” racing, the rules package NASCAR ran at Daytona this year clearly didn’t work. There was just too much carnage and not enough racing all throughout Speedweeks. As they look for a way to improve the situation prior to Talladega in May, NASCAR officials should take a look back at the 1988 Daytona 500 and try to understand why that race worked out so well.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Matt..I’m right with you about the announcers. Unfortunately this seems to be the case everywhere nowadays. I’ve been a lifelong Phillies fan and it was truly a sad day when Richie Ashburn and then Harry Kalas died. They let the game speak for itself and offered their play by play and color with discretion and insight. Now, all announcers everywhere seem to be paid by the word.
It’s hard to believe that race was 24 years ago. I hate to say it, but for all the thrilling moments Daytona has given us, it’s who the track has taken from us that will forever be what I think about when speedweeks rolls around. I don’t dwell on it; I’m old enough to know what the inherent risks are whenever the cars hit the track. Still, those tragedies will always color my memories of Daytona Speedway.
As for the announcers, I’m not sure Ned Jarrett could sit in the booth with either Waltrip for an entire race and remain the gracious gentleman we all remember him to be.
Ever since Fox inked their billion dollar deal with NASCAR, whenever watching a broadcast—which I do now about a tenth as often—I am always on the edge of finally chainging the station for being so sick of the constant sideshows while the race is going on.
Good piece Matt.
I agree with Gordon. Nice piece, Tom. You mention that “traditionally” Monday and Tuesday are dark at Daytona during Speedweeks.
Naturally, as a GOF (Genuine Old Fart, I remember the days when they practiced all day (alternating between what were then Grand National and Sportsman) on both of those and Wednesday I believe, and had qualifying runs on Thursday. Friday was the day for the twin qualifying races.
Me too Matt – thanks for a great piece of writing. I too pull out old races and watch them again. As a matter of fact, I have several on tape (as in VCR) and would love to have them copied to DVD before the tape disintegrates to nothing. As for the racing of today, I have little use for the booth buffoons that chatter away each Sunday. As a matter of fact my Sunday ritual is to the stand, remove my hat, listen to the invocation, and sing along with our National Anthem – no matter where I am….in my home, my shop, or my local watering hole with my buddies. Most times I enjoy the performer, sometimes I don’t. But the words to the song and the meaning always outweigh a poor performance. At that point we usually tune out the TV broadcast and opt for the radio. I do miss the old days of professionalism and the down to earth skills of some of those great broadcasters from days gone by. You’re right, maybe someone should pull out the past more often.
Great piece Matt. Thinking about all the drivers we have lost since that great race is just amazing. Since Davey was my original favorite, it always is nice to see the video of the ’88 500.
Bobby Allison cemented his legacy as a Hall of Famer that day, if he hadn’t already. The sad irony of how his career ended and how he still does not remember beating Davey is one of the true painful events after that race.
Losing The Intimidator, his best buddy in Bonnett, BP, etc…it shows how time flies.
The announce team for CBS was world-class. They would announce all different forms of racing but this was the top form. Ken Squier was always in his element calling stock car racing and Gentleman Ned seamlessly transitioned into the booth after a successful stint on pit road.
Economacki is a legend in writing and broadcasting and many people today could learn from him, including myself. Despain and a young Mike Joy, both veterans working for FOX/SPEED these days, were just as sharp and professional then as they are now.
Nice piece Matt. I feel there is power in numbers. It there ANY way to send higher ups at FOX these pages so they can see for themselves that their booth bafoons are causing the real fans to turn the TV sound AND THEIR ADVERTISING off and listen to the excellent MRN broadcasts?
Nice column, Matt. Really enjoyed it and as you say, those broadcasts which were done with a lot less bells and whistles are a lot more fun to watch. I generally mute the TV broadcast now – I listen to the radio broadcast and follow the race via computer because it simply isn’t good to watch on TV. I don’t need gophers or the motormouth brothers or one car being shown while they talk about something else. Very sad, all that money and the broadcast itself is a waste of time for the fan at home.
Great piece Matt. You’ve said/wrote what a number of us old farts have been saying for a while now.
This is what I like from Matt. Its great to hear about how it used to be, without all the negativity and condescending towards how it is today. Then again, another part of me likes doom and gloom side of Matt. But mostly I like to hear about the past from the people who were there.
Ned’s a professional. He could pull off working with the Waltrips. Whether he’d like it or not is another question. Remember when ESPN had him in the booth at Charlotte as a special guest during a 2009 Nationwide race and rarely let him talk? He can hold his tongue, although I doubt he was very pleased about that.
The boxier car look was basically what NASCAR was going for with the COT. We’ve seen how well that works. With the clamoring for more manufacturer identity in NASCAR and next year’s new cars (the brand new Fusion, Charger, Camry (I guess) and whatever Chevrolet brings to the table), boxier might not be the answer.
As for Bonnett, it wasn’t just head injuries that curtailed his career. Simply injuries in general. He missed races due to injury every year from 1986-1990. He won his final three (Richmond and Rockingham, with an exhibition race in Melbourne, Australia in between) events while recovering from a broken leg in Charlotte the previous fall. He drove Dale Earnhardt’s Busch car in the rescheduled Atlanta race in 1993 (pushed back due to the Blizzard of ’93) and took a nasty drivers’ side hit to the wall there. Granted, I found it interesting that CBS basically used live radio from his car during his comeback race in Talladega. He was caught calling himself a rookie for stalling his car while leaving pit road, if I remember correctly.
Another great article Matt.
Stoking a lot of memories Matt.
Some good, some bad.
But that’s how it is.
Definitely a nice piece, as many have already said.
nice piece…..this older fan misses those days without the 30-60 pre-race shows….as for the drivers we’ve lost, anyone who knows me knows how i feel about that.
mjr in springfield – i too stand during the invocation, pray with it and sing the anthem, in the confines of my living room. just out of respect every sunday when i’m in church one of my silent prayers is for safety for all during the race of the day.
it amazes me that the politically correct folks haven’t tried to not show the invocation on tv.
Nice job Matt. Hell will freeze over before we see the likes of Jarrett, Economacki or Squier in the booth again, they were the best.
Ahhh, the good old years from 85 to 90 when I got hooked on Nascar. the announcers were much better. The coverage, better, with less cameras. The tracks were light years better. The schedule made sense. The drivers, colorful. Doubt we’ll see any shots akin to Dick Trickle smoking during the caution in today’s NA$CAR.
My .02. Dale Jarrett also has some serious commentator chops. He’s the best out there covering TV. Kyle Petty isn’t that bad either. The Waltrips and Larry Mac are buffoons. Then again, Fox is run by buffoons and is a network for buffoons, so that ain’t surprising.
Evcellent aticle that is so right on point. This article with it’s comments should be a must read for the TV people, especially the FOX goofballs. It was so good to watch in those days, now when I watch I curse, cringe, shake my head at what these guys say, especially the two Waltrips and Larry Mac.
I remember that day clearly. I was in a pub in northern NJ trying (and failing) to convince some lame girlfriend not to break up with me when I look up and there’s my hero RP, rolling down the tri-oval… a sad day indeed. Got back home to watch the finish and somehow felt better and started thinking that some things happen for a reason.
Hey Matt,you forgot that Penske also fielded a Chevrolet. Specifically a number 16 Caprice at Atlanta in 1980 for a young kid named Rusty Wallace.