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!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
While it didn’t have quite the seismic kick of Junior kissing his girlfriend in victory lane, most of NASCAR nation was surprised to learn Tuesday morning Matt Kenseth is leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season. Kenseth has, after all, been with the organization for 12 years, and he’s the only member of the current RFR squad that’s won a Cup title. During the 1998 and 1999 seasons, Kenseth’s car owner was officially listed as Robbie or John Reiser, a satellite operation to Roush Racing. That alliance began when he was the surprise winner at the then-Busch Series race at Rockingham in 1998, after knocking some guy named Tony Stewart out of the way exiting turn four on the final lap.
In addition to winning 22 Cup races for RFR, Kenseth has reliably made the Chase every year except for one (2009).
The timing of this announcement could hardly be more awkward. Kenseth is leading the point standings, and is the reigning Daytona 500 champion. Now that he and his team have to put the drama of Tuesday’s announcement behind them, they must buckle down and get back to work trying to win the championship. Despite the friendly platitudes of the press releases, issued by concerned parties Tuesday within the RFR organization, there’s got to be some hurt feelings and maybe even anger.
Ford is once again losing another top-name driver and champion to another manufacturer. Call me petty (but not Richard), but if I’m one of the guys working in the No. 17 shop, I’m going to be a little angry. The team is after all providing Kenseth with equipment that’s capable of winning nearly every week, and a streak of strong consistent finishes has Kenseth atop the points. How much greener pastures do you envision on the other side of the fence? Is Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kenseth’s replacement, going to be able to attract and keep a sponsor with good results or is the future of the No. 17 team in question?
Am I going to have a job come next fall?
So why is Kenseth leaving his longtime home? It probably has more to do with sponsorship concerns as I see it. Despite being a legitimate title contender in 2011 until Kenseth and Vickers had their run-ins during the Chase race at Martinsville, the No. 17 team lost its sponsor, Crown Royal at the end of the season. (Remember that oh-so awkward moment in Victory Lane when Kenseth pleaded for them to come back to the team?) This year, the No. 17 outfit has been running with a patchwork quilt of sponsors and they don’t have any funding lined up for several races. When you see the No. 17 running the black, blue, and white Ford EcoBoost scheme, that’s like taking your sister to the prom. It just spares Ford and Roush from having to run blank quarterpanels like the No. 51 Phoenix Racing team of James Finch this past weekend at Sonoma.
While other big name teams have had sponsorship issues, the Roush-Fenway organization has been plagued by them. Over the years, several high-profile sponsors have either chosen to leave the team or cut back on their involvement to an associate or occasional sponsor. Right off the top of my head I can recall Valvoline, UPS, Subway, AFLAC, Crown Royal, Tap ouT, and Jeremiah Weed just to name a few. Garage gossip has it that RFR is out of touch with the economics of racing, and while they know what it costs to run a competitive team, they’re not going to discount it to Wal-Mart pricing.
Another factor at play here may seem a bit more ominous. Kenseth won this year’s prime-time running of the weather and fire delayed Daytona 500, is running towards the front of the pack almost every week, and he is, in fact the points leader. Guys who run up front get talked about and shown on TV a lot, right? In a perfect world.
The latest stats I could find from Joyce Julius were compiled after Dover, the thirteenth race of the season. To date Jimmie Johnson, who is fourth in the points has been interviewed 25 times on TV. Those interviews lasted almost twenty minutes total, with Johnson proudly displaying those big old Lowe’s graphics on his clown suit.
Kenseth, meanwhile, has been interviewed 13 times, and was on air a mere eight minutes and 50 seconds. Oddly enough, Carl Edwards, who is struggling a bit this season and has yet to win, has been interviewed 18 times garnering seventeen minutes and 22 seconds worth of exposure. That’s more than twice his teammate who is leading the points. Even Jeff Gordon, currently mired 18th in the points and still winless has more live interview minutes than Kenseth and more mentions to boot.
Perhaps even more tellingly, Johnson has been mentioned on air 2,361 times this season. Tony Stewart is a distant second in that category with 1,776 mentions. Kenseth ranks seventh on the list with 1,336 mentions. When a driver is mentioned, typically he’s shown on TV — and that’s the sort of exposure the sponsors paying the big bucks crave.
Part of the problem is the FOX crew’s man-crush on the Hendrick quartet, particularly Waltrip’s obsession with Jimmie Johnson. Since he does most of the talking, the mentions rack up quickly. But old DW isn’t aiming the cameras, at least not yet. If you watch a typical race on FOX, you’ve probably noted the cars that get shown the most often are sponsored by companies that also bought ad minutes during the race broadcast. Has there ever been a NASCAR race that didn’t have at least 10 minutes worth of Lowe’s ads?
So naturally, Johnson and the No. 48 get shown most often and mentioned most often. Crown Royal didn’t play that game well, so Kenseth lost his sponsor despite his racing solidly all last year. In addition to laying out the big dollars to sponsor a front-running team, it would seem logical that those companies also need to pay out the big bucks to the presenting networks, FOX, TNT and ESPN, if they actually expect to have their rolling billboards shown or mentioned during a broadcast. They are basically holding those sponsors’ feet to the fire if they wish to actualize their marketing strategy.
After all, the TV guys choose where the cameras are pointed.
I’ve noticed lately that KFC is buying an awful lot of ads during race broadcasts. Then they have on air gimmicks like “KFC – Hot Off The Wire” (which is an unfortunate title; reminds me of chickens getting electrocuted in the slaughter house) that get them more mentions during the broadcast. Apparently, the Colonel’s marketing boys decided it was better to buy into the coverage than risk sponsoring a car and not having it shown on air.
In some cases this year things have gotten extremely out of hand. Danica-Mania isn’t just fueled by the novelty of a female driver in the sport, it’s fueled by heavy ad buys by GoDaddy.com. On a typical TV broadcast, Patrick will likely get more air time than the guy who finished second. It’s gotten so ridiculous, when she wrecks the TV crews hurry to the garage to show clear and in focus images of the GoDaddy-sponsored car being repaired even while there’s green flag racing going on.
But the most cynical effort I’ve seen on behalf of FOX involves their side-by-side coverage for the last hour of most races. In theory it’s a grand idea allowing fans to keep up with the race during breaks. In practice, too often the small screen shows the car sponsored by the same company running the ad even though that car isn’t racing anyone nearby. There might be a pass for the lead but we’ll still be focused on those Lowe’s logos on the No. 48 hood. That renders the whole concept useless.
Naturally if a driver wins, he and his car has to be shown on TV. But for how long? Have you noticed sometimes when a driver wins the cameras focus on his cool down lap and his victory burnouts, but other times they show the leader crossing the line and cut away to commercial then come back and start the interviews?
Here’s a hint: The guys who get the extended coverage of their win are sponsored by companies that bought ads for the broadcast.
Add in the fact NASCAR is also competing for those same marketing bucks by luring sponsors to become “The Official Whatever of NASCAR”, and suddenly you’ve got three huge hogs, all trying to get their nose in a trough that ain’t as full as it once was. In fact to complete the circle, the network execs would probably say the huge fees NASCAR charges for broadcast rights mean we have to find novel ways to earn some of that money back…even at the expense of the broadcast itself.
What it comes down to is NASCAR racing isn’t a business, it’s a sport. Oh, there’s a business aspect to it of course, but at heart it’s a sport. Thus a race broadcast should show the race. It should focus on the drivers who are running up front, making decisive passes as they cut their way from the back to the front, or engaged in a side-by-side battle for 18th if nothing is going on up front. Cars that are running competitively should be shown regardless of whether their sponsors bought ads in the broadcast. This is a race — not a paid infomercial. There should be a separation between the network ad division and the broadcasters themselves, like there’s a line between church and state. If this sport has devolved to the point when the networks have a hand in deciding which teams will prosper or even survive something has gone badly amok.
Driver: TV Interviews Interview Min. Driver Mentions
Johnson, J. 25 0:19:49 2,361
Statistics reflect live race telecasts and replays of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series through Dover (13 events).) _Data courtesy of Joyce Julius and Associates.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Yes there should be a separation of church and state. Somewhere along the line NASCAR lost sight of the fact that it needed to be a sport first and a business second. I can’t help but draw that line at about the time BF took over but in all fairness, I think it started well before his reign of terror.
As for Kenseth, I just don’t think Jack wanted to pay him what he was worth on the open market. And, unlike Edwards last year, Ford didn’t come to the rescue and throw some extra money his way to keep him.
I don’t know where Kenseth is headed although I’m fairly certain that he does, but there’s still the possility that Matt could end up at Penske Racing, keeping him in the Ford camp. I think Roger Penske is positioning his operation to be become a bigger player in Nascar, and that may come at RFR’s expense. Maybe Matt Kenseth knows something we don’t.
I guess I should refrain from posting comments until I’ve been to Jayski.com. I see that Kenseth has deal in place, and that a Ford spokesman has expressed disappointment that Kenseth is leaving, so I guess that means he won’t be driving for Penske. I know the prevailing rumour has Kenseth in JGR’s #20 for Home Depot; I guess we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.
Let’s try again with that chart
Johnson, J. 25 0:19:49 2,361
Statistics reflect live race telecasts and replays of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series through Dover (13 events).Joyce Julius and Associates
Cup racing is no longer a sport, it’s a business, and as a capitalist pig I can’t exactly bemoan NASCAR, TV networks or the teams trying to make as much $$ as possible.
However, from a business standpoint it does seem very shortsighted for NASCAR and the networks to go after sponsorship dollars that keeps the teams running and competitive, without teams and competitive racing all 3 groups suffer in the long run.
If you want racing as a sport, go to your local weekly short track, if you want racing as a (greedy) business, watch the farce they show every weekend on network TV.
I wish they would go back to how ESPN did their broadcast back in the golden era. When a car was on TV they not only mentioned the driver, car number AND the sponsor no matter who it was. Everybody won. Now if you don’t pay the networks for extra commercial time, all they do is mention the “orange and black number 1 car” or the “red and white 42 car”… It’s just sad.
Maybe there is more to this than money.
Maybe egos are also involved.
Did Kenseth tire of Edwards getting all the media and money, while typically running nearly as well or often better than Edwards over the last few years.
Sponsoring a car has always been a limited return proposition. If you go back to the days of dealership names and local businesses (like ‘Holly Farms’, ‘Dinner Bell’, ‘Red Baron’ – sorry, its almost lunch time!) on the rear quarters, stock cars got your name in front of actual race crowds. When TV got involved, exposure expanded to larger markets and sponsors started getting more national – and were willing to pony up the bucks for national exposure. As recently as the late 80’s early 90’s, a $3M budget was a well funded team, so lots of teams/sponsors could afford to play and get this kind of exposure. Now that the cost of sponsoring a car is so astronomical, its no wonder there are so few potential sponsors willing to pay.
I am not in advertising; but, I would imagine that its easier to make the business case to spend advertising dollars on non-race team conduits when it comes to the options in NASCAR. The “Official whatever of NASCAR” doesn’t embarass the sponsor through on or off track bad behavior, Title sponsors don’t crash out of events, and television ads don’t suffer mid-season performance funks that threaten their ability to make the Chase.
Nice guys like Matt Kenseth are sometimes the collateral damage here. I hope he ends up in a competitive ride next season – hopefully in Ford, despite the recent lament from Dearborn. As far as Roush goes, I have always wondered why their top level drivers always seem to fall out of favor after so many years. Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, now Matt Kenseth. They must feel like they have the shelf life of a Trump wive over there…
I was at that Busch race at Rockingham and Kenseth’s 1st Cup start at Dover and been following him ever since. When I was a kid I tried to make Fords go fast every body else I hung with were Chevy guys but working on Chevies,that was too easy. I followed Pearson,Elliot before Kenseth. After the 1998 Cup race at Rockingham which was the 2nd race for the Taurus NASCAR gave Chevy a number of changes in spite of Jeff Gordon winning the race. Then Brian France’s reign of terror capped off with Rick Hendrick putting NASCAR inspectors in short pants this season. No wonder Kenseth is going to drive something else. I think I have been to my last NASCAR race after attending 100+ races at over a dozen tracks. The day of racing real cars with local dealerships on the fenders is gone forever. NASCAR has gone the way of stick and ball sports it all about the money not about the “product”.
Kind of funny how exposure (ratings and attendence) has lessened but the cost to sponsor a car has contuinued to climb.
Best article I have read about the business of NASCAR advertising in years. Kenseth is a great driver and I want him to win the Cup wherever he goes and no matter how they arrange for the Championship to be determined.
Nice article. Glad to read your conclusion about Fox’s side by side commercial nonsense. NASCAR has always had the cars as rolling billboards, but the TV broadcasts have gotten out of control. I see a lot of people blame HMS for so many things, but I blame the networks and DW in particular for yapping on about nothing. It’s gotten so I don’t really enjoy watching races on TV. I have trackpass and use that, twitter and the radio feed to follow the race. TV has become extraneous and I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that it has little to no value to me. I’m considering canceling my cable – why waste the $?
When I read between the lines on this issue, I can’t help but think that the Hendricks cup series seems intent on running Ford out of town. It sounds far fetched, but it’s not far off the mark.
What an excellent article. Finally, a journalist saying it like it is.
Brilliant article, really sums up the NASCAR issues that currently plague the “sport”. I have been a Kennseth fan since he first came on the circuit, I will miss him a RFR but, I have a gut feeling he is going to Penske to place the team in the top tier. In addition they will be running Roush/Yates engines so no learning curve for Matt.
Thanks for articulating what we’ve all sensed and seen with our own eyes. What I find really sad is what Bill Elliott said on Race Hub: that now, even the lower levels of racing are out of reach for the average family to get their kid involved in. Will it all reach a tipping point and collapse on itself? Will truly grassroots racing (where it’s still sport) survive?
If Ky Bu blows up again this weekend, you know where Matt will be going next year.
Best article I have read about the NASCAR advertising in years. Kenseth is a great driver and I want him to win the Cup.saddy Matt has got more Tv coverage cause he’s leaving Roush then for his years of on track and at the end of a race the tv will go to a lower placed driver before they interview him and thats if they do.