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.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday February 17, 2009
Now that Speedweeks at Daytona are over, it is time to look back and reflect upon what we have seen, and what we have been provided for our viewing pleasure by NASCAR’s media partners for Speedweeks (FOX, Speed, and ESPN2).
Before I begin, I should state this. Speedweeks is supposed to be the most important time of the year in NASCAR, at least for the television partners. This is because the races at Daytona during Speedweeks are the biggest events of the year for each series that races. This includes the ARCA Re/MAX Series that had their season opener back on February 7, in addition to NASCAR’s three national series. As a result, telecasts of said races should be held to a greater standard. It is to this standard that I have to critique the broadcasts.
Unfortunately, this idea that the biggest races of the year should be the best in execution on television doesn’t work very well when the biggest races of the year for these divisions of motorsport are the first races of the year. Growing pains are to be expected at the beginning of each season. Technical glitches unfortunately happen. These are either completely unnoticeable, or they can significantly affect the broadcast, like the sound dropping out during the ARCA race that I touched upon last week.
For the sake of clarity, and chronological order, I’ll start my critique on Thursday’s coverage which was aired on the Speed Channel.
During NASCAR RaceDay (which was treated as the legitimate Gatorade Duels pre-race show, as opposed to the pre-pre-race show that it typically is), they ran a montage of clips of past Gatorade Duels. I know that I’m nitpicking here, but one of the clips run from 1984 actually did not occur in a Uno Twin 125 that year. The crash between the No. 34 of Jim Hurlburt and the No. 60 of Natz Peters pictured (the one where the No. 60 spun, hit the inside wall, then ricocheted out in Hurlburt’s path, resulting in a massive fireball) actually occurred in a Non-Qualifiers, or “Consi” race held the day after the Twins in 1984. A classic crash that did occur in a Twin 125 that year was Randy LaJoie’s crash bottom first into the concrete wall (flying over an Armco barrier in the process) coming out of turn 4 and subsequent barrel roll.
To Speed’s credit, when 2 pm came around, it was time to start. The pre-race festivities at the track (Color Guard, National Anthem, etc.) started as soon as the clock struck two.
In the booth, Joy, McReynolds and Waltrip were their typical selves for the broadcast. I am perfectly fine with them. They definitely seem to be enjoying themselves up there. There was some flubbing of words at times (Ex: “flouble” instead of double), but nothing serious.
I liked the color coding system that they used to help people understand the qualifying system for the 500, which could only be described as convoluted at best. On the scroll at the top of the screen, the positions with a gray (or silver, can’t really tell) background were already in the field. Green backgrounds represented one of the drivers outside the top 35 in 2008 owners’ points in position to lock themselves into the race, either by being one of the two best non-locked in cars, by their qualifying speed, or by the Past Champions’ Provisional (Terry Labonte). The yellow background meant that a driver had work to do in order to lock themselves into the field. The red background, which only came into play after the first Duel was over, meant that a driver had officially been knocked out of the Daytona 500. This is something that Speed has used in the past.
Also, when it came to taking commercial breaks during cautions, Speed took great pains to make sure that they would be back from commercial before the green flag flew once again. They definitely cut it close a couple of times, though.
However, I do have a couple of issues with the coverage.
One, when the second caution came out on lap 26 of Duel #1 for Mike Skinner’s No. 23 Chevrolet stalling in turn 3 due to a fuel pressure issue, the broadcast crew failed to mention why the caution flag came out. The cameras had shown Skinner’s Mahindra Tractors Chevrolet running slowly on the apron in turn 1 while the race was still green. A commercial break followed afterwards. When Speed returned from commercial, the yellow flag was out with seemingly no explanation. I had figured that Skinner hadn’t made it back to the pits and that that was the reason for the caution. However, Speed (and by extension, FOX) cannot use a policy for covering a race that is similar to how the NJDOT signs roads. People like to be notified why something is going on. Otherwise, like driving your car in many areas of Northern New Jersey, it becomes complete guesswork. The cameras never caught the No. 23 stalled out on the track, nor did they catch the car being pushed into the garage by a wrecker. All the on-air talent revealed was that Skinner had a fuel system failure, and that was about it.
Another issue was the idea of showing a full screen shot of A.J. Foyt on screen during green flag racing while Foyt was sitting on Tony Stewart’s pit box. Now, I’m perfectly fine with the crew pointing this out, mentioning that Stewart is paying homage to Foyt by running his famous No. 14 and that Foyt is Stewart’s idol and so on and so forth. However, does Foyt need to have the full screen on him when there’s racing going on? I could understand doing that during a caution, but not under green. The TV audience could have missed something important as a result.
Friday’s Camping World Truck Series’ NextEra Energy Resources 250 brought another series of issues to my attention.
First off, there were some issues with the scroll on the top of the screen. Incorrect numbers were showing up next to certain drivers’ names. For example, I saw Chase Austin’s name placed next to the No. 77 and the No. 24 a couple of times (for the record, Austin is running the No. 32 for Trail Motorsports). I also saw Brett Raymer’s name next to the No. 5 (which was driven by Mike Skinner, Raymer drove No. 85).
Another issue that I had was with the split screens that were used at times, mainly for replays. The larger screen on the right would be used for the replays while the live race action would be shown in a small window in the upper left hand corner of the screen. I’m happy that I can continue to see live action while they show a replay, but can they make the live action picture a little bigger? I couldn’t see all much of the live action while they were showing replays.
There was a picture issue right after the caution came on lap 80 for the crash involving Jason White, Rick Crawford and David Starr. Basically, what happened here was that the picture went out all together for a couple of seconds. Of course, when that happens, you’re never 100% sure that it was an issue on Speed’s end, or on my end, but I still wasn’t pleased. Luckily, the picture returned after about 3 seconds, and it was like nothing happened. The broadcast crew never actually acknowledged this, so it leaves me a bit confused.
Another issue cropped up during a montage on lap 93. Speed was showing a clip filled with the various trials and tribulations of Brian Scott when the audio got screwed up. The result of this sounded like Rick Allen was talking on top of himself, and part of the montage did not make any sense because of this. Once again, no explanation was given for this.
Generally, other than the previous issues that I have pointed out above, the Camping World Truck Series commentary team of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, and Michael Waltrip was generally on their game. They know their stuff.
Saturday brought on ESPN 2’s coverage of the Nationwide Series’ Camping World 300. The changes to the telecasts brought on by ESPN’s presence were minimal. Some different camera shots were introduced (Ex: The ground level camera view next to the outside wall coming out of turn 2). The ESPN crew of Dale Jarrett, Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree performed to their usual abilities. I really didn’t have any issues with their performances. Vince Welch seemed to be at home on pit road, which I more or less expected out of him since it’s not all that different of a chore covering the Nationwide Series on pit road than the IndyCar Series (IRL).
There was also a change to ESPN’s standings graphic for this season. In a move likely inspired by TNT’s scroll, the lap counter has been moved from underneath the standings scroll to above it, next to the ESPN logo. Also, when the intervals to the leader were shown, they were integrated into the same line in the scroll as the driver’s name.
We just so happened to be beta-testing the live blog feature that was rolled out for the Daytona 500 during the race, so I asked the people in the chat what they thought about it. They seemed to be in favor of it. I’m fine with it, if only because it opens up a little more of the screen for the viewers.
However, I did have one issue with the coverage.
That issue is “Draft Track,” the oft-used gimmick that ESPN loves to throw around in their coverage. My thoughts on it are this. Draft Track doesn’t show me anything that Andy Petree, or Tim Brewer couldn’t explain verbally. Also, it’s better used to describe regular drafting. However, one of the examples showed “Draft Lock” (shown with white particles). Fans can see draft lock. It doesn’t really need to be explained with the fancy technology. Maybe it’s something that can appeal to visual learners, I don’t know. It just doesn’t do it for me. At least it was only used once or twice.
And now, on to Sunday’s Daytona 500.
I should state right now that I cannot do anything about the start time of the race. This was NASCAR’s call in an attempt to increase their television ratings. Also, this is at least the third year in a row that NASCAR has insisted on the late start. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who was there or anyone who watched the race that it should have started earlier than 3:30pm. Not even because of the weather, just period. I was extremely surprised that they didn’t at least rush the start of the race, to be honest.
As far as the Pre-race programming is concerned, there was far too much of it. NASCAR RaceDay on the Speed Channel ran from 11am to 2pm, when FOX’s telecast began. You can only say so much about the race before you either start repeating yourself, or start having to ad-lib.
There was a technical problem during a cutaway car segment with Hermie Sadler’s mike. It cut in and out during his segment and finally died. Roberts apologized for the issue and moved on fairly seamlessly.
With FOX’s pre-race show, my main issue is the playing up of “Digger.” As many of you remember, Digger is the name of the Gopher that is the mascot of Gopher Cam, FOX’s camera that they bury in the tracks at certain points. Last year, it was a nice touch at the beginning. Then, they had a fan contest to name the gopher character that came out of the hole in the graphic, which is where the Digger name came from. Then came the merchandising. It’s like watching Spaceballs at times.
Now, we have a 12 part Digger cartoon series that will air during the pre-race shows during FOX’s part of the schedule. The Digger character reminds me of a combination of Screwy Squirrel, the Gopher from Caddyshack, and possibly Jerry from Tom & Jerry all rolled into one. Digger is addicted to the gopher cam and has a wolf dressed like a security guard that is after him. Good lord. Why do we need this? It’s ridiculous. The Adventures of Digger and Friends might work as an online-only series, like what The Kelly’s was on nascar.com a few years back. It would also work as a comic book, which they are in the process of producing (the comic book will be on sale at foxsports.com and dwstore.com). But, I don’t want this to be a part of the pre-race show every week. I guess FOX is trying to make their pre-race show appeal to a younger audience. I didn’t need cartoon gophers to get me interested in NASCAR when I was little. I got myself interested in the racing itself without the need for such tactics.
The other thing that I took offense with was FOX seemingly not even referencing the impending rain at all for hours. Amongst us here at frontstretch.com, we talked about the possibility of rain via e-mails the night before the race, and the entire race while we were doing the live blog. I watched the race on television while keeping a window open on the Live Blog, and had the radar on weather.com on a permanent cycle on another tab in Internet Explorer.
During NASCAR RaceDay on Speed, it was mentioned that it had sprinkled just a little bit during the show, but that it was nothing serious. Our own Mike Lovecchio, who was at the track in the media center, representing our site, would go outside periodically and give weather updates. However, on FOX, it was not until roughly 85 laps were completed that Mike Joy even mentioned the idea that rain might even affect the race at all. They never showed a radar shot of the impending precipitation either, which almost never happens in a situation like Sunday. It was almost like they were pretending that the threat didn’t exist, which is patently ridiculous.
NASCAR would never admit to telling the FOX crew not to shed light on this issue, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a representative of NASCAR told the FOX commentary crew not to mention the rain unless it was an absolute necessity to do so. I don’t even remember FOX showing the air and track temperature (via the FOX Weather Station) before the race, which is definitely not normal.
On the surface, it almost looks like censorship on the part of NASCAR and FOX on this issue. This garbage cannot continue. The general public deserves the right to be able to hear the truth about the issues. And rain was a major issue with Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Now, I cannot do anything about the fact that this was the least competitive restrictor plate race since the 2000 Daytona 500 (only 9 lead changes), or that NASCAR waited approximately 15 minutes after throwing the red flag to call it off. Unfortunately, that happens sometimes. What we, as NASCAR fans can do is to demand a proper telecast for the races, especially for the Daytona 500. Darrell Waltrip even said it himself early on during the race. He said, “This is our premiere event.” That should be a cue to NASCAR and FOX.
A premiere event on television, regardless of what it is, requires a premiere telecast. What we got from FOX on Sunday does not constitute a premiere telecast. In fact, it represents a telecast that will likely be improved on next Sunday in Fontana. A telecast, that dare I say, was “Bush League.”
In closing, FOX was not on their “A” game during the telecast of the Daytona 500. Their decisions left much to be desired by me, at least, let alone the rest of the general public that was watching. Under some circumstances, it could be chalked up to being the first race of the season, but I don’t think that excuse holds water here. I believe that FOX’s telecast will be better at Auto Club Speedway next weekend.
In next week’s TV critique, I will offer my opinions of the FOX telecasts of the Camping World Truck Series’ San Bernardino County 200 and Auto Club 500, along with ESPN 2’s telecast of the Stater Brothers 300. In addition, I will also cover Speed’s NASCAR programming. The critique of NASCAR Smarts, which I said I would cover this week, will be held off for a while (likely the off week after Atlanta), since it could not fit into the overall flow of this critique. This will also allow me to gather a little more information about the show (and thus, not completely lay the gauntlet down on it).
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the e-mail address provided on the website in my bio.
If you would like to contact FOX, ESPN, or the Speed Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage of NASCAR, please use the following e-mail addresses below.
As always, if you choose to contact the networks by e-mail, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to e-mails that ask questions in a courteous manner than e-mails full of rants and vitriol. Thank you and have a great week.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I’m not sure if this was a Fox issue or Comcast or something else, but at the beginning of the race my HD signal would switch to non HD and then back a couple times. Fortunately that seemed to stop a little ways into the race. Dittos on Digger. Very silly. My son got into racing with me when he was nine. He didn’t need gimmicks.
Digger is ridiculous. How about FOX take the money they’re spending on Digger, and spend it on more important causes. Like driving lessons for Dale Jr. LOL j/k
I’m still PO’d by the lack of racing coverage by SPEED, in particular, and EESPN during Dec. and Jan. despite a lot of significant news.
If any one is interested in seeing the race as it was televised (for the most part), NASCAR.com has it lap by lap. When it switches from one lap to the other it stops for a slit second it is annoying but watchable (they broke the laps up so that it would load small files rather than one big one).
Like you said Phil, I would say that there A game was not on based on what I saw (I worked through most of the race)