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 March 3, 2009
Greetings, race fans! Las Vegas was the first NASCAR weekend of the season with only two of its top three series competing. While the Camping World Truck Series teams took the week off and dealt with the storm that blanketed most of North Carolina with a substantial amount of snow (I got about two inches here Monday afternoon), the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams stayed out West for the Sam’s Town 300 and Shelby 427 events in Sin City.
FOX telecasts from Las Vegas always seem to bring out some strange stuff, mainly as some kind of homage to the city’s history as a center of entertainment. This year proved no different than in seasons past, with magic tricks once again being the topic of the day during part of the pre-race show for what was apparently the third time. Also, at the beginning of the network’s coverage, Darrell and Jeff — for some unknown reason — donned Elvis wigs in the Hollywood Hotel. It looked pretty silly on television, let me tell you… but at least there wasn’t another ridiculous attempt at singing.
Like last year, the pre-race concerts disappeared by the time the show rolled into Las Vegas, which is a relief. I don’t watch races to see a concert; I watch races to see a race, and I watch pre-race shows to get pre-race information — not watch Jewel, Keith Urban, or whoever they got that week performing. I’m kinda torn about what to do with the length of the pre-race show as it is, because I’m not one hundred percent convinced that the current setup works as well as it could. More on that thought in a minute…
Anyways, probably the funniest part of FOX’s pre-race show this week was when they cut to one of the sports books (they did not mention which one, and it probably doesn’t matter) which happened to be giving an over/under on the amount of Digger appearances during the broadcast. I found this to be kinda amusing. Chris Myers noted that the over/under was 20, and claimed that “we’re under that right now.” Of course, they were only halfway or so through the pre-race show — but after the weekly Digger cartoon. I guess this was supposed to be some sort of self-deprecation on Myers’ part. It’s unclear whether the whole segment was a setup, or whether the sports book was really taking bets on that type of thing. If they were (and I would not put it past Las Vegas to take bets on something like that), then I definitely would have taken the “over,” just based on last week’s race in Fontana. Makes me wonder how much that would pay out to take the over; I could have made myself a couple of buckaroos if I was out there…
But back to the main topic at hand. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having an internal debate about the amount of pre-race coverage we get for the Nationwide, Camping World Truck, and Sprint Cup Series on television. The general opinion that was voiced last week was that 75 minutes of pre-race for a Nationwide Series race was way too much — and I agree. For the Trucks, there is typically a half hour pre-race show (NCWTS Setup, hosted by Krista Voda) on SPEED. This is a half-hour show that’s largely driver interview-based, and it generally flows fairly well. It is somewhat similar to the old pre-race show that Ray Dunlap used to anchor.
Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series (and the Sprint Cup Series during the ESPN/ABC portion of the season) has NASCAR Countdown, a show of varying length with interviews, profiles, and such. The show was back to a half hour before the main race coverage started at Las Vegas — which was a relief to me. That seems to be more appropriate for this series, and we’ll have to see if that time holds in future weeks.
But when it comes to NASCAR’s top-tier division, we all know the coverage is absolutely overwhelming. The Sprint Cup Series has an hour long pre-race show when on FOX, the aforementioned NASCAR Countdown on ESPN/ABC (always an hour, then expanded to 90 minutes during the Chase), and not one, but two pre-race shows on TNT. There’s NASCAR on TNT Live, which is a one hour show that mainly shows features, and then the half-hour Allstate Countdown to Green (formerly Discover Card Countdown to Green).
In addition to all that, there is NASCAR RaceDay on the SPEED Channel which extends coverage even more. Typically, NASCAR RaceDay airs for two hours before the main pre-race coverage starts; but recently, the last half hour of RaceDay has overlapped the first half hour of FOX’s pre-race show. I’m not really sure why this is so; how could networks owned by the same company compete against each other while covering the same event? Because of my critiquing, this means I have to miss the last half-hour of the program, which usually includes the pick competition that Wendy Venturini dominated last season.
I’ve found I really miss that final half an hour, because NASCAR RaceDay is a very enjoyable show to watch these days. John Roberts, Jimmy Spencer, Kenny Wallace, Hermie Sadler and the aforementioned Venturini seem to really enjoy themselves while doing the show. But enthusiasm can only do so much. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think that there is too much pre-race hyping on Sundays (or Saturday nights) before the races start, which seems to diminish the impact of all content by the time fans actually get to the pre-race broadcasts themselves… and that makes even the best segments not as exciting as it could be.
Combined, there are a minimum three hours of pre-race coverage between NASCAR RaceDay and whatever pre-race show(s) the channel that the Sprint Cup race is on produces. This is way, way, way too much. It’s like the run up to the Super Bowl every week. You can only talk about the issues so much before you run out of things to say — and this is why you see certain things in pre-race shows that have nothing to do with racing at all. They have to fill in the time somehow.
The pre-race overload is an issue that’s already been well-documented throughout 2009; but while it’s easy to pinpoint the problem, I actually think I’ve found a solution, too. The thought I had originally was to cancel FOX’s pre-race show, moving NASCAR RaceDay over to FOX from the SPEED Channel to replace it. If that were to happen, the show would have to be shortened to an hour — but it could work. Hardcore fans would end up happy; Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip, adn Jeff Hammond would be replaced, the overall pre-race gets shorter, and the efforts of the two networks get combined into one.
But while the concept would seem to work perfectly for FOX, such an idea would only be able to work if one channel actually broadcasted all of the races. In the case of the Sprint Cup Series, four channels broadcast the 36 events, and these four channels represent three completely separate companies — so one pre-race show would generally not work without a high amount of cooperation.
But under the current setup, all the personalities that appear on NASCAR RaceDay are at the track and have on-air responsibilities during the weekend no matter which network is covering Sprint Cup. Also, since NASCAR HotPass does not have dedicated commentary like it has in the past, these people could be put to work on the pre-race show behind the scenes, as none of them have direct ties to any network. That would provide a separate, unbiased entity in charge of the show for everyone.
The overall feel I’m going for kinda reminds me of when Dave Despain was the host of NASCAR Today on ESPN back around 1995-1996. At the time, Despain wasn’t really involved with ESPN’s Winston Cup telecasts outside of the pre-race (he was mainly involved with the infamous _______ Night Thunder USAC races). And since the NASCAR RaceDay on-air personalities are already familiar to many NASCAR fans on SPEED, why not transfer them over to the other cable/broadcast networks? Some of Spencer’s non-PC antics may not be allowed on broadcast television, as compared to digital cable, but I’m sure Jimmy could adjust…
As for the race itself, the coverage was OK. If I were to compare it to last week, I’d say that it was actually a little bit worse. The announcers seemed to pay a little more attention to Digger than in Fontana, and as I’ve established so far this season, the commentators referencing Digger during the broadcast of the race is not necessarily a good thing. The Digger count for Sunday really depends on who you ask — or how you count it. If you were to go by Jayski’s statistics, then there was a decrease in Digger appearances… down to 38 from 46. However, my numbers show an increase from 44 to 50 big ones. I do show a decrease in still Digger shots from 29 to 23 — but an increase in animated shots to replace them, up from 13 to 24. I guess I count the appearances differently from how Jayski does it. For me, the shot of Darrell driving the golf cart with the guy in the Digger costume on the back counts as a Digger appearance in my book. Anything Digger gets counted — because all of them are just as irritating.
In addition, a new commercial premiered on Sunday, advertising the Digger merchandise that can be bought either at the track, at the NASCAR on FOX souvenir trailer, or at foxsports.com or dwstore.com. This commercial aired at least twice during the race and would seem likely to be a mainstay of the broadcasts moving forward. As of now, it’s pushing the simple T-Shirts, stuffed animals, and the like-minded items you’d think you can buy with this type of gimmick. Based on what I saw on QVC’s For Race Fans Only on Friday night, a Digger diecast car will likely be coming soon, as well, if it isn’t already out (they had a show car on the set of the show with Digger plastered all over it).
Another merchandising revenue stream that has been developed for the Digger character is electronic media. At jamster.com, there are two mobile videos available for download to cell phones (they appear to be from the first episode of “The Adventures of Digger and Friends”). In addition, there are eight different wallpapers available, depicting either a Digger Cam logo, one of the characters, or the group altogether. What does this have to do with the broadcast? Four or five times during the race, you heard the update sound in the background, usually right after an animated Digger Cam graphic was shown. Last week, this was used to give updates on the Academy Awards, something which I found to be a little odd since people who watched the race were partly doing it so that they didn’t have to watch the Oscars. On Sunday, its use was shifted to advertise the available Digger content at jamster.com. It’s essentially free advertising for Jamster while continuing to pimp the gopher on the general public.
Alright, let’s shift from Digger to the actual coverage of the race itself. There was one technical gripe I had with FOX’s broadcast I should mention. On lap 89, the network threw it down to Krista Voda, who had a small tidbit of information about some issues on David Reutimann’s No. 00 Toyota. She mentioned that the team had a radiator ready to put into the No. 00 if need be, and then asked the cameraman to pan over to show the new radiator that the team had in the pits. However, Voda was never shown on screen during this (you could only hear her). As a result, the audience never saw the aforementioned radiator. This was definitely odd, as we heard something that we were supposed to see on screen verbally referenced — but it was never shown. There was no split screen, no visual cutaway to Voda on pit road — not even a quick cutaway to said radiator as an attempt to save face. Sounds like if FOX is going to have their pit reporters show and tell, they definitely need some improvement in the setup…
The only other slight issue that I had for FOX was that they didn’t have graphics ready for the Germain Racing No. 13 of Max Papis that made its debut on Sunday. During the weekend, FOX (and to a lesser extent, SPEED) used leftover number graphics from the Ginn Racing No. 13 that Joe Nemechek drove in 2007 until the merger with DEI. I know its nitpicky… but it’s something I noticed. FOX is generally good at catching stuff like this type of thing, though — far better than TNT was at it back during the first TV contract (2001-2006).
Because of all the yellows on Sunday (14 of them in all, for 66 laps), the race ran long by over a half hour. Typically, this situation results in a post-race like you got on Saturday from ESPN2 — maybe a quick word with the winner in Victory Lane while the courtesies are displayed on the screen. Perhaps you’ll get a quick interview or two snuck in beyond that quick hit — and then it’s poof! Off the air they go.
To FOX’s credit, this didn’t happen at all after the race on Sunday. The network took it upon themselves to have a somewhat typical post-race show, despite already being a half hour over the time they were supposed to be off the air Sunday night (here in New York, the race ended right about 8:30 PM). The network had their Victory Lane interview with Kyle Busch, then tied that in with interviews with Bowyer, Jeff Burton, and Reutimann before going off the air. It was all done in about 13 minutes or so — but it’s better than nothing. The one thing that kinda irked me during post-race, though, was that during the full field rundown at the end of the show, they just showed the number of laps down that the drivers that failed to finish the race were instead of just saying that they DNF’d. FOX did this last year as well, and it’s a little weird to look at on screen.
That’s it for my rundown on this week’s shows. 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 email address provided on this website in my bio. And if you would like to contact FOX, ESPN, or the SPEED Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage of NASCAR, please click on the following links:
As always, if you choose to contact the networks by email, do so politely and with respect. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions in a courteous manner compared to ones full of rants and vitriol.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
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I for one don’t think that any pre-race shows are needed . They don’t give any added info to the race viewer ( we’ve all read the same web posts they have ) and the shows are so short on meaningfull content that the on air “ talent “ spend the majority of the shows talking about themselves , rerunning old war stories , or ridiculous interaction with the very few fans that bother to show up in person .
My prerace routine Sunday consisted of watching the Axe men marathon on the History Channel. I even managed to miss the first few laps. The Thunder series was Speed’s high water mark. It’s programing has now deteriorated to the point the only thing worth watching for me is Wind Tunnel. As for Faux, I really have no choice, I have to watch, but not listen, to the race. What I don’t have to do is watch any of the Prerace junk.