NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday March 10, 2009
Atlanta brought us two races with tight finishes. This type of action is definitely pleasing for race fans to watch on television — but were the race telecasts up to par?
Let’s find out.
Often times, the first thing I do on Friday afternoons is click on SPEED to check out either Cup Pole Qualifying or practice — whatever is actually on. This past Friday was like the start of any other NASCAR weekend; but the minute I turned on the television, I immediately saw a graphical error scrolling across the screen. What happened was that Todd Bodine had entered this past weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500 with the No. 35, a R&D team for Germain Racing. Well, the on-screen scroll at the top of the screen showed Bodine’s name up there — but with the wrong number attached (Scott Speed’s No. 82). I’ve mentioned this type of an issue before occuring during Truck Series races, but I’ve never seen it transfer over to Cup. Of course, this mistake was confusing for fans, with the more casual ones having no clue what was right or wrong on TV. Turns out that since the No. 35 was a new team that had just announced their intentions to attempt Atlanta this week, SPEED didn’t have enough time to create a number graphic for the team (mainly because no one outside of Germain Racing had seen the car yet).
During qualifying coverage later Friday evening, SPEED must have realized their mistake, for they used a generic number graphic for the No. 35 (white numbers on a blue background, consistent with what the network generally uses for its Nationwide Series broadcasts). It is currently unclear when or if the No. 35 team will attempt another event; but if they do, I’d expect the network to have an updated number graphic for the car.
Saturday brought on the American Commercial Lines 200, the Truck Series race at Atlanta. Generally, the on-air crew of Phil Parsons, Rick Allen, and Michael Waltrip do very well in the booth. However, in the one previous race that SPEED covered this season (Fontana was aired on FOX), the technical aspect of the broadcast was lacking.
Unfortunately, that part of the broadcast was not much better this go around. Here are a couple of issues that I feel need to be mentioned…
The first problem was with the “Triple Pits” under caution on Lap 68. When SPEED attempted to go to them, the entire screen faded to black, then simply returned — but with no graphics attached. A couple of seconds later, the triple pits display essentially popped up out of nowhere. This was likely just a slight production issue that was immediately rectified.
But the second and more annoying concern occurred after the race was over. Typically, once the coverage finishes up and the interviews end, the unofficial point standings are displayed. Well, I don’t know if the production crew was rushed or what, but the standings that they put on air were outright wrong.
Here’s the order, as shown at the end of the race on SPEED’s graphic. Kyle Busch led by 25 over Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner was 119 back in third, and Hornaday was five points behind in fourth. J.R. Fitzpatrick was fifth, 134 out of the lead, followed by Matt Crafton, three points back in sixth. Seventh was Skinner again, followed by Chad McCumbee. David Starr was ninth, 154 back, and Fitzpatrick popped up once more to round out the top 10 in points.
That mistake brings up an obvious question: Is Fitzpatrick fifth in points? No. So he’s gotta be tenth, right? Well … not exactly.
This is the kind of effort that would get me accused of making careless mistakes by my seventh grade Math teacher.
Just for the sake of this column, I quickly checked up on the actual points after Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500. The current standings are led by Kyle Busch. Todd Bodine is second, followed by Mike Skinner, Ron Hornaday, and Chad McCumbee. Six through ten are Matt Crafton, Terry Cook, T.J. Bell, Timothy Peters, and David Starr. Fitzpatrick is 11th, 25 points out of tenth. Granted, the point differentials mentioned in the graphic were accurate — but the drivers were not. As a result of the screw-up, five of the top 10 drivers were in the incorrect positions for the viewer. It was so bad, Michael Waltrip actually picked up on this live during the show and had a quick laugh. He said, “Wow, look at J.R. Fitzpatrick. He’s in fifth, and tenth.” Waltrip then chuckled a little. Of course, he also failed to notice the two Mike Skinners in there… admittedly, I didn’t notice the two Skinners either until I saw the rundown again on a video posted on YouTube on Monday.
As for the race commentary, it was typical Allen, Parsons, and Waltrip. I’m not going to complain about that. In some of his better analysis, Waltrip made significant reference to the benefits of the SAFER Barrier after Colin Braun’s crash on Lap 119. For those of you who didn’t see it, what happened was that Terry Cook’s No. 25 bogged down in Turn 2, forcing Braun to let up. Brian Scott then tapped the No. 6 truck from behind (there was also the potential of Skinner slightly nudging Scott into Braun, too). Whatever the case, the end result was that Braun spun head on into the inside wall. Waltrip referenced how the inside SAFER Barrier gave roughly a foot when Braun hit it, lessening the impact for the driver inside the cockpit. The one thing I noticed about that crash (which was more or less glossed over) is the fact that Braun’s No. 6 got some significant air time after hitting the wall… something that has to make Con-Way Freight pretty happy about the coverage this week.
One thing that I actually did like in the broadcast was the use of a split screen to look at Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick’s driving motions on the left, while the regular footage aired on the right side of the screen. I definitely found this interesting, and believe that such a setup should be used for replays in Truck Series and Cup Series telecasts moving forward.
And now, onto Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500.
I’ll admit, even though I’m not really a fan of late afternoon start times, I had begun to get used to them before this past weekend. It was a bit of a change, with the pre-race starting at 1:30 PM instead of 3:30 PM or later… but it was a welcomed one. For those of you wondering, the next three races (Bristol, Martinsville, and Texas) will all have their pre-race shows starting at 1:30 PM eastern, with the race itself starting shortly after 2:00 PM — just like this one.
The first thing I noticed about the pre-race this week is how it seemed to be done at a much quicker pace than during the past few Sundays. It seemed like FOX was moving from feature to feature at a brisk pace, almost like the race was under threat of inclement weather — even though it was a perfectly sunny day. Also, the news and notes were at the beginning of the pre-race show instead of towards the end. This was something that I have griped about this season, and was definitely a welcomed change from when they got buried too deep earlier in the year.
One technical issue that I noticed during the pre-race show was that this week’s Digger cartoon seemed to be louder than the rest of the broadcast. I have no clue why this was the case, but the volume difference was clearly noticeable and made the sequence just even that much more annoying.
On a positive note, this week’s Digger count included a marked decrease in appearances of the infamous gopher during the race. During the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas, I counted a total of 50 Digger appearances. This weekend, the gopher was still quite noticeable, but his on-air time came in at a much less obvious 31. Of those on-screen appearances, at least 19 of them were of the animated type…
There were two Digger appearances that I really did not like in the broadcast. One was where FOX inserted Digger driving his car into the FOX 3D feature during a caution. This was really stupid, in my opinion. Unfortunately, with higher-ups like FOX Sports head David Hill and Director Artie Kempner in love with Digger, don’t expect these appearances to stop anytime soon.
The FOX 3D feature, as you may remember, was created by FOX back in 2007 to help show what happened to cause incidents that may not be caught by actual cameras. This feature would have been far more useful back in the 1980s and 1990s than it is now, since in the past, there were not as many cameras at the track. It was legitimately possible to miss a spin back then; today, this is incredibly rare. Admittedly, this 3D feature would have been useful to ESPN last year at Montreal, when several cameramen were pulled off their platforms due to lightning strikes. As a result of this problem, several spins, wrecks, and passes were completely missed by the cameras. As I mentioned last year, it was kind of like watching a Formula One race from 1993.
But the Montreal circumstances come few and far between in NASCAR Cup broadcasts, and as a result, I think I’ve seen FOX use this feature for its intended purpose only a couple of times. Instead, FOX chooses to use this add-on under caution, giving a virtual through the field rundown of lead lap cars. I don’t know if that’s really necessary or as useful as showing a spin, however.
The other appearance that I really didn’t like was one of those split second “blink and you miss it” type things. Coming back from commercial break, the FOX production crew decided to have Digger pop up against a black screen with a matching sound effect in the background. I found the whole sequence really dumb; it was almost like they were trying to convince people that Digger was the star of the race and not the actual racing itself.
The post-race coverage was also relatively short this week. This was mainly because of the fact the race took just under four hours to complete, and that FOX was likely over their allotted time with the network. As a result, the TV audience was treated to a post-race which mixed interviews with Kurt Busch in Victory Lane, Jeff Gordon, and Carl Edwards, to go along a final rundown of the finishing order, the top 12 in points, and then a rollout. The whole thing was done in roughly nine minutes; not nearly enough time, in my opinion, although given the circumstances it was probably related to a legitimate excuse.
Tying up some other odds ‘n’ ends, I’m still not a fan of FOX displaying the number of lap down teams who actually failed to finish the race instead of just saying that they were out. That would make it easier for people who may not have been watching the whole race to fully understand what happened. For example, Mike Bliss finished 43rd and completed only 21 laps on Sunday before dropping out with “overheating” (although based on what was disclosed in our live blog on Sunday, it was really a S&P — see Wednesday’s big article on start and parks for more on this issue). Yet during the final race rundown, Bliss was shown as 309 laps behind. This could confuse some viewers; I know that in my case, If someone is listed as laps down in the final rundown, then I tend to think that they actually finished the race.
I guess that FOX wants fans to assume that if a driver is a substantial number of laps down that they’re automatically out of the race. Not true. This isn’t Formula One, where in order to be classified at the end, a driver must complete at least 90 percent of the race distance. In NASCAR, if you finish the race on the track, you finished the race.
Unfortunately, SPEED has started doing the same thing, using the aforementioned system that I don’t like in post-race rundowns. I believe this practice needs to stop sooner rather than later for the sake of clarity.
That is it for this week. Next week is an off week for all three of NASCAR’s three National touring series, which is extremely rare during the season (in fact, I honestly cannot remember this happening within the past eight years). As a result, there will be no critiques of new race broadcasts. Instead, I will critique the NASCAR TV shows, like This Week in NASCAR, ESPN2’s NASCAR Now, and give my review of the new SPEED game show NASCAR Smarts … as well as a possible special surprise surrounding one of the sport’s classic race telecasts.
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 the 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 in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions in a courteous manner than emails full of rants and vitriol.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I too am getting rather annoyed with the Digger character. And, like you, what are we tuning in for; a cartoon or racing. Thankfully, we will be done with him after the Dover race in May.
I think they should fill Diggers hole with concrete, maybe that would stop him. When they start that stupid cartoon I just change channels and leave the room for 5 minutes, if I wanted a cartoon there are several networks devoted to them.
I absolutely and unquestionably HATE Digger and I don’t know anyone who actually likes him. I wonder if the honchos at FOX actually read viewers’ comments on the internet. If they knew how many people felt like I do… that Digger should die a horrible, animated death… I think Digger would be a thing of the past. Then again, they haven’t gotten rid of Chris Meyers…
The FOX boys sure do have problems with the crawl on the top of the screen . Driver positions , laps completed , finishing positions , etc . They’ve never been very good at it , but it continues to get worse .
I have an idea. Replace Digger with Darrell Waltrip, and lets see how fast Ol’ Jaws can jump in that little hole.
The reason that the sound was louder during the digger deal was because it was a commercial. The sound is always annoyingly loud during commercials. That’s why I keep the remote, with it’s mute button handy. However for the pre-race show I don’t use it. I simply don’t watch it! I have to watch the race on Faux. I don’t have to watch the pre-race. For those of us who follow drivers not in the favored few. The crawl is about our only way. Faux seems unable to do this consistently correct.
Good article, your on point.
The volume issue I brought up was actually during the pre-race show. I was comparing the Digger cartoon volume to the volume of the rest of the pre-race show.
As for the commercial thing, yeah, that’s typical. The sound difference has probably only gotten more substantial since the creation of HDTV and home surround sound systems.
Hey Phil… I want to know how you feel about Darrell Waltrip. I think he talks about Kyle Busch way too much and praises him for stupid reasons. I agree he’s a talented driver but so are 42 other drivers who don’t have a punk attitude like the 18 driver does.