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 April 28, 2009
Hello, race fans. I don’t know about you guys, but I was real scared watching that wreck that Edwards had Sunday at the end of the Aaron’s 499. Not so much for Edwards — but for the fans themselves. After the race ended, I thought back and realized that the crash looked a little like the late Neil Bonnett’s wreck in the DieHard 500 in July 1993 as opposed to the infamous Bobby Allison one from 1987 that was referenced on FOX.
But in the end, it didn’t matter which wreck was the worst; they were all bad, giving the catchfence a serious test that could have led to a devastating loss of life. Thank goodness everything held up and no one was seriously hurt in Sunday’s last lap mess.
OK, time for the usual TV review. Since I generally like things to be in chronological order, we’ll start with the coverage of Friday afternoon’s ARCA Re/MAX 250 aired live on the SPEED Channel. The first thing I noticed was that the field was already on the pace laps when the network came on the air for race coverage. This is similar to the race at Talladega last Fall, but with one major difference: the event was actually live this year. Last Fall, the race aired on a roughly five minute delay, so you could see the pace laps beginning while SPEED was still airing NASCAR Live! This time, when SPEED officially started the ARCA coverage at 5:00 PM that evening, the cars were on pit road and an interview or two was shown before they quickly took to the track.
A couple of other things I noticed were that SPEED misspelled Troy Wangerin’s last name on the scroll at the top of the screen for the entire race (they spelled it “Wagner” instead). Also, during the first caution of the race (caused by the No. 4 of Ken Weaver blowing an engine in spectacular fashion), the No. 0 of Butch Jarvis and the No. 00 of Ed Kennedy collided behind Weaver. No footage was shown of this collision or any footage of the cars in the garage afterwards, however.
But other than those early hiccups, the telecast was actually OK. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, and Ken Schrader generally did fine in the booth. On air, Schrader stayed on topic in regards to the ARCA Re/MAX Series, and had a short discussion (before the green flag) about his plight in the Carolina 200 the previous week. Yes, Schrader, like Harvick at Rockingham, had a vested interest in the race (Bill Baird), but he didn’t do anything on air to display favoritism towards his driver in the field. How refreshing…
Saturday brought ESPN2’s coverage of the Nationwide Series’ Aaron’s 312. Talladega is one of the handful (typically six) races a year aired on ABC instead of ESPN2. This, to me, would mean that the crew should be at their best with the increased exposure from ABC. Did they step up their game?
The short answer is yes, they did.
Now, I did have a few issues with the coverage on ABC. One was with the new leader graphic. ABC’s usage of this was effectively what you would get if you combined ESPN/ABC’s current scroll bar with the New Leader graphic that NBC/TNT used for the last two years (or so) that they collaborated together for coverage of the Nextel Cup and Busch Series. It’s not the best way to go about doing this, for it is only the lead changes at the start/finish line that are considered official. By all means, the network should be allowed to keep an unofficial count of the total lead changes; but since lead changes are not officially recognized unless there is a new leader at the stripe, don’t change the graphic unless this happens. FOX had a relatively good graphic for this back in 2005 or 2006, which even recognized which number lead change it was. Of course, since it’s a restrictor plate race, having a graphic on the screen nearly at all times showing fans which driver is leading may not be the best idea anyway because the leader is almost always on screen somewhere because of the large packs.
There was also a small sound glitch coming out of a commercial before the race started. I’m assuming that either Allen Bestwick or Dr. Jerry Punch was saying something before throwing it to some kind of montage, but we (the viewers) didn’t hear anything. Knowing the complexity of the on-site production facilities (from the aforementioned NASCAR on ESPN Media Kit that I have), who knows what caused that issue. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intentional, though.
Since the race actually ended fairly quick for a 312-mile Nationwide Series event at Talladega, ABC had plenty of post-race coverage to pad out the end of their broadcast. Interviews were conducted with eight of the Top 10 finishers, in addition to David Ragan’s crew chief (Mike Kelley) and father (Ken). It was a fairly good way to cap off the network’s debut with NASCAR for the year…
In contrast, there was nowhere near as much focus on Edwards and Busch as there infamously was at Phoenix, which is definitely a good thing. However (and I will expand on this a little more below), it’s fairly easy to do this at Talladega. Pretty much, it boils down to the fact that Edwards and Kyle Busch are more than likely to be surrounded by other competitors.
And now, last but not least comes Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, aired on FOX. Phoenix was potentially a new low for FOX’s coverage, but did they improve at Talladega? I think that they did… but there were a couple of things I noted here.
As I mentioned in the closing for last week’s critique, I’m not really a fan of expanded pre-race shows. Also, that expansion of FOX’s pre-race show results in a half-hour overlap of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED with FOX’s pre-race. But then again, it’s Talladega, so a certain amount of hyping should be noted for one of the series’ most popular races.
As it stands, the pre-race show mainly had features with certain drivers, like Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, in addition to regular interviews with drivers like Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. Didn’t really draw my attention very much.
The Digger cartoon was another re-run this week (the one where Digger is trying to shoot a commercial to please his sponsor), but I knew it would air due to the fact that FOX had an expanded pre-race (Got to fill that space, somehow). At this point, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for him, at least not from Chris Myers, who may see him for what he is. As for the weekly Digger count, I counted 47 appearances this week. 29 of them were still shots, and 14 were animated. The rest were assorted appearances (commercials, shots of guys in Digger suits, and the cartoon). I should note that this includes the pre-race show. The Jayski count typically does not include the pre-race…
One thing that really caught my eye was when FOX outright missed the restart on lap 35 after the second caution. At the time of the actual green flag, FOX was in a commercial. When the break ended, FOX showed the restart as if it was live, then immediately cut back to the live feed of the cars on the backstretch. I have never seen this move before by a network, but it was painfully obvious that the restart wasn’t live after that cut. It was even more so for me since I was doing our Live Blog during Sunday’s race and we had representatives at the track. By TV standards, this would be considered a very choppy cut/edit.
It makes me want to pose a question. Are companies assigned a specific spot for when their ads air during race broadcasts when they pay FOX for the privilege, and this cannot be changed, or do they simply buy time and FOX chooses where they want to put the ads in the broadcast? If it is the second scenario, then FOX could realistically make sure that no restarts are missed due to commercials. People involved with the broadcasts probably have the specs on all the national commercials that are scheduled to air, and can reshuffle them accordingly…
A slightly annoying thing that was included in Sunday’s broadcast was when Mike Joy, seemingly in reference to complaints from fans about how FOX doesn’t normally show racing from back in the field, threw it back to a “battle” for 37th place between Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon. At the time, both cars, which had crashed in the first big wreck on lap 7, were 56 laps down. This was complete with a “Battle for 37th” graphic in the lower left corner of the screen. My thought on this is as follows: It is well known that people that work on NASCAR telecasts read the online critiques of their broadcasts. I know, because I’ve spoken to some of them via e-mail already this season (in all honesty, I’m surprised no one representing any of NASCAR’s TV partners contacted me about last week’s whopper of a review). Joy himself has probably seen a countless number of these aforementioned complaints, either from me, John Daly at The Daly Planet, the Sports TV critique writer at USA Today, and from commenters on those aforementioned articles.
However, Talladega is simply not the place to attempt to make a point of it. With the cars so close together in the large packs these days, most of the teams are going to be relatively close to the front, and thus, inside of the normal scope of the cameras. It is fairly rare these days at Talladega that a pack of cars can break away from the rest of the field without help from a round (or rounds) of green flag pit stops or a gigantic wreck to weed people out of the lead pack.
Now, ten years ago, it was definitely possible. In the DieHard 500 in April 1999, a group of eight or so broke out to a six or seven second lead over a six car “Chase pack.”
Mike, if you really want to make a point to the fans about this, Richmond, this Saturday night, is the time to do it. Collaborate with the production staff in order to take great pains to show the racing back in the pack in addition to the action up front. In the end, I think you’ll get a better reaction from the fan base that way than you will from yesterday’s actions. On the surface, what you did yesterday could be construed as basically joking about the matter (when it’s an actual, ongoing issue). I’m not saying this to be mean to the much-experienced Joy, who has been doing play-by-play for Cup races longer than I’ve been alive, but it’s just what came to my mind yesterday when I was watching.
There was some talk in our Live Blog yesterday about Darrell Waltrip cheerleading for his younger brother Michael a little too much. This mainly came up after Waltrip’s lurid slide on lap 43 through the tri-oval grass and paved apron (which, prior to 1995, used to be grass as well). Waltrip has to be careful not to cross the line. As an analyst, Darrell must be objective, and simply cannot show favoritism towards his brother. Sure, it’s fine to want him to do well, but he has to watch himself.
I also wasn’t really a fan of the ad shown on lap 71 for X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the lower left corner of the screen. Kind of reminded me how ads are shown on TNT during the limited interruptions at the Coke Zero 400. However, this interruption occurred during regular coverage. It is one thing to have the people behind the movie (20th Century FOX) sponsor the scroll, or air a commercial for the movie during a commercial break, but it’s quite another to interrupt commentary to show a movie preview. In the future, I’d prefer FOX to not do this again.
As for post-race coverage, I believe that FOX could have done a better job of reporting about the fans that were injured in the stands after Edwards’ crash on the last lap. Looking back to the infamous Bobby Allison crash in 1987, ESPN interviewed not only Allison but even his spotter got an interview. I know it’s only a little information, but maybe putting a spotter on air with a short interview either in person or on the radio wouldn’t be a bad idea in that scenario.
It was probably the result of the wreck happening on the last lap, and the fact that FOX was nearly up against the end of their time slot that we didn’t get any information about fan injuries during the FOX broadcast, either. I know Sunday night is a relatively important night for FOX with their “Animation Domination” block, but I think that they should have extended post-race a little more, just so that we could get some preliminary reports about the fans before they went off-air.
I personally did not find out about the fan injuries until I turned on ESPNEWS about an hour after the race ended. I would have looked online, but we had some cable issues here in the Albany area. We lost our internet and phone for a chunk of Sunday morning (although, it came back just in time for me to participate in the Live Blog), then they both went out again about 30 minutes after the race ended and didn’t come back until this morning. I’m actually surprised that I was able to watch the race yesterday and even see that report on ESPNEWS since we have one of those all-in-one things from Time Warner (Cable, Internet and Phone).
Finally, I’ll finish off this week with the Camping World Truck Series’ O’Reilly 250 from Kansas Speedway. This race started late Saturday afternoon, but due to constant rain and mist, the race didn’t finish until after 4pm on Monday. Under normal circumstances, this coverage, including the half hour NCWTS Setup that precedes truck broadcasts, would have taken a shade over two hours and 35 minutes. However, with all the rain delays, SPEED was on the air from Kansas for at least double that. When that happens, they simply run out of things to say.
When the red flag first came out on Saturday, SPEED interviewed a good number of the drivers in the hour or so before NASCAR postponed the event to Monday morning. When the coverage resumed on Monday, the track was still wet from an early morning rain. As a result, SPEED showed some on site interviews, then went to alternate programming (NASCAR Victory Lane from Sunday, a repeat of NCWTS Setup and the first 52 laps of the race from Saturday, then Drag Race High and Wind Tunnel) before the race restarted nearly four hours behind schedule.
Nice touch by SPEED with showing the radar and the racing on a split screen late in the going before the race was red flagged. I liked it. It’s what amounts to an admission that weather could be threatening the race. Back in Daytona, FOX seemingly didn’t talk about the oncoming rain during the Daytona 500 until it was on top of the track. Mike Joy gave me the explanation that they didn’t want to jinx the proceedings back then, but the commentators have accountability to the TV audience on this issue.
By the time the race was finally called off around 4:30 pm EST, SPEED was basically running out of things to say about the race and out of drivers to interview. It’s at that point that it started to get a little silly. Ray Dunlap was talking about how cold it had gotten at the track, while standing there “chattering.” OK, I can understand it getting cooler since a cold front had passed through the area before the race started, but I think he may have been overstating it. According to the radar (which had temperature readings included on it for some reason), it was roughly 50 degrees at the track. That weather, while far from ideal, is not out of the question for Northeast Kansas, or Upstate New York (where I’m writing this from) this time of year. Of course, it was 88 degrees here today, but that’s not important. Looking at Dunlap made me think it was 25 degrees outside there instead of 50.
Well, that’s all for this week. Richmond is next, a short track where the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series are racing. I will be bringing you critiques of the Lipton Tea 250 and the Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400 in next Tuesday’s edition. In addition, I will include my critique of ESPN’s NASCAR Now that I have been holding back for the past few weeks.
Can FOX and ESPN continue to improve on their broadcasts over what we saw this weekend at Talladega? We’ll just have to see what they throw at us next.
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.
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Strange that you should mention that the ARCA cars were already rolling when the coverage began. These days the Cup cars are already rolling on my TV. I’ve just maxed out on all the redundancy. My next move will be to take back my Sundays. I can condense 4-5 hours on commercials/coverage. Into app. an hour of viewing, & my annoyance meter will back way down. Thank you Faux.
All-in-all, the weekend was at best tolerable. Here in Canada, we at least got to see the Nationwide race live, rather than several hours later in the middle of the night! One point about the coverage is that sometimes, I like to catch the wrap-up on the Speed show, This Week In NASCAR, unless Chad Knaus is on the show, then I avoid it! I cannot stand that sleezy scumbag!
Certain commercial breaks are “hard” breaks — they are required for the use of the local affiliate and neither their scheduling nor their content are under network control.
Regarding showing the back of the pack racing. I wonder if it were Gilliland and Riggs “battling” for 37th, if the Fox crew would have even showed it. The fact is is that at other tracks while the first 5 or 10 cars at the front get stretched out there are drivers battling for position further back, and that’s what most fans would be interested in seeing. We don’t need to follow the same car driving around the track when there is no one near him.
I’m not sure about NASCAR, but its my understanding that some commercials are purchased for a specific time or place in the race, and others are “open”. The “open” ones are cheaper, as the network can decide where to run them.
And beyond that, I believe some companies purchase a variable number of commercials, that the network can choose not to run if they don’t have time. For example… if the race is delayed and the coverage goes 3 hours additional- Fox would end up running many, many more commercials than expected. Where do these come from? I assume a Pepsi “allows” Fox to run as many as they want and pays a much lower amount for these.
Phil , you must have missed the fact that Mike Joy is probably the most thin skinned of any sports analyst . He does not accept critical comment on his performances . He will go to extreme lengths to prove his point .
Regarding the pre-race shows , they exist solely for the advertising revenue . Same re-hashed “ news “ over and over . Same dumbed down stories and explanations over and over . I can’t tell you how carefully i time it on raceday to miss every second of the mindless chatter , and tune in exactly when the field rolls off .
I for one wish there was less pre-race and more post-race. For one thing, Fox’s Pre-race drivel tends to focus on marque drivers like Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and not on things that are race-specific like track condition and car setup. Less fluff and more stuff, I say. Then after the race, we could hear from more drivers and crew chiefs, time permiting.
And PLEASE… Die, Digger, Die!
I agree with you Carl, more post race would be so refreshing and getting the driver to talk to you after he just spent the last few hours battling will usually lead to some pretty good quotes, especially from the guys who didnt run particulary well.
The single most important comment by Carl Edwards after the race was “ i was worried that the cage would collapse down around my shoulders trapping me in the car “ . WWHHAAATTT ? Are those pieces of junk designed so poorly by Nascar that the cage may not do its job in saving the driver ? I did notice that the 16 car on Saturday , and Carls’ car on Sunday did indeed have the roof partly collapsed , especially at the rear of the roof .
how long are we actually stuck with the experts covering Nascar Races each week on Television. Yes, they do know what they are talking about…are they announcers ? …NO ! How about a survey on how many people watch the races with the T.V. volume “Down to Zero” and MRN on the radio sitting next to the T.V….now those are announcers ! If your major competition is the NFL why are you following their lead ( has-been players and coaches trying their hand at “announcing for big bucks” ). Ever watch the weekly NFL highlights…try it and listen closely, it’s more exciting the actual game…who do they use ? …The Radio announcers from the local radio station where the game was played. Race fans are highly opinionated, you guys know that…so if you didn’t like Rusty when he was driving…you certainly don’t like him when he is announcing. Sure he’s a good guy, doesn’t even look that bad since he cleaned-up and hit the airwaves but he’s no Barney Hall or any other others “real” announcers at MRN. Want to save a whole bunch of $$$… get rid of the current format and do a sinc/voiceover from MRN… then you’ll generate excitement on T.V. Certainly the Televison advertising is better than the radio but listening to the boys talking about last weeks golf game is a waste of the viewers time. As I said, do a survey on what the fans really want…Nascar racing is exciting…but moreso on the radio than on T.V….
J. Farrell, I’ve seen stuff like that tried before in an intro for SETN’s telecast of the 1984 American 500 from Rockingham. A version of this is on TV4U.com. Some markets used to do that for basketball games (Cleveland is an example of that for the Cavaliers in the late 1980’s). It’s a little weird, to be honest.
Now, I’ve got nothing against Barney Hall or anyone at MRN (or PRN, for that matter). It’s just that there are a lot of people that simply cannot get those broadcasts (I think I’m borderline here in the Albany area). I couldn’t get them at all in college. Many markets don’t carry the races on radio, so people are dependant on the TV dudes. Simulcasting the radio broadcast would be an admission that they cannot do it, and they would never admit that.
As for your question of whether anyone I know mutes the TV and listens on the radio, I don’t know anyone that does. The delay would probably irritate people.