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
Tuesday March 4, 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 May 5, 2009
Hello, race fans. Hope you all enjoyed the action last week from Richmond. I enjoyed the competition — that much is clear — but did the coverage do justice to the race? Let’s find out.
Friday night was the Lipton Tea 250 for the Nationwide Series from Richmond, televised on ESPN2. Our own Bryan Davis Keith watched the race Friday night and generally liked the telecast, as he mentioned in his Nationwide Breakdown on the site. My thoughts on the coverage are also that ESPN 2 is slowly improving. For the sake of this argument, we’ll consider Phoenix to be the “nadir” of the season. (The nadir is defined as the lowest of the low.) Talladega represented an improvement over Phoenix; but then again, anything’s an improvement over Phoenix. Richmond’s telecast, in my mind, was about at the same level as Talladega’s.
However, I do have some complaints. I know a lot of you instinctively skip pre-race shows these days because they’re nothing but useless fluff and stuff you already know, but I don’t always have that luxury (in fact, I rarely do). During the pre-race show, ESPN ran a feature called “Is your car Male or Female?” Before you guys get up in arms, it was about car names and/or whether drivers refer to their cars in the masculine or feminine sense. I just thought it was the stupidest thing ever. Stuff like that doesn’t really belong in a pre-race show. In fact, thinking about it now conjures up memories of those Man or Woman episodes of Maury Povich, where the audience has to determine who out of a group of 10 or 11 people was born a man or a woman.
Greg Biffle was in the infield studio on Friday night along with Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty, but he really didn’t do all that much. Bestwick is, most definitely, the grandmaster of the portable studio, a skill likely learned from all those years keeping Michael Waltrip, Ken Schrader, and Johnny Benson under control as the host of Inside Winston Cup (originally Inside Winston Cup Racing) on Speedvision / SPEED Channel from 1996-2004. As a result, Biffle really didn’t have a lot to say. He answered a couple of e-mails at about the halfway mark, but we didn’t hear a lot out of him.
Another thing that I didn’t understand was why there was not a replay of Kenny Wallace’s crash late in the race. In fact, there was legitimately no explanation of what happened. ESPN showed a quick shot of Wallace’s car with the right rear brake rotor glowing. Some radio chatter aired where Kenny’s spotter (I guess) said that his brakes were almost on fire. Rusty Wallace, who was in the booth in place of Dale Jarrett, said something to the effect of “I don’t want to know what happened to Kenny,” in a somber voice. The whole series of events played out a little weird, to be honest. I’ve never seen anything like that on a race telecast before. Of course, Kenny drove the No. 28 away from the scene, so there was no threat of personal injury to him. I ended up finding out on NASCAR RaceDay on the SPEED Channel the next day that Kenny had essentially suffered a form of brake failure on the restart, which caused the crash. The effect was similar to if you were riding a road bike with a snapped shifter cable. The cable then wraps itself around the rear sprocket, and the end result is a bike stuck in high gear with a natural brake on it. This happened to me my freshman year while at Seton Hall. Also, I swear that the yellow for Wallace’s crash was only two laps long.
A notable inclusion was the re-introduction of the brake cam, something that I cannot recall seeing in quite awhile. However, it was mounted a little too high for my taste.
Post-race coverage was nearly non-existent on ESPN2, as the race ended with about five minutes to go until the end of the timeslot (again). ESPN showed quick interviews with Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth before quickly leaving the air. I don’t recall even seeing the point standings at the end of the race before Baseball Tonight came on.
Saturday night brought FOX’s telecast of the Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400. This race started with the grandpappy of scheduling issues. Not one, not two, but all three of the FOX Saturday Baseball games ran overtime. The Detroit game was the first to finish, but it finished around 7:05pm. The Mets-Phillies game ended around 7:20 or so. Then, you had the Astros game, which didn’t end until after 8pm.
This resulted in the unprecedented move to begin the pre-race show on the SPEED Channel. Not a bad idea… beats what happened at Phoenix in April of 2008, when a game ran long due to rain. FOX threw it back to the game with promises to return. They decided to keep on the game until it ended, but the result was essentially no pre-race at all, meaning the race was joined in progress on the first lap.
Yes, I know that FOX’s pre-race show isn’t the best, but people get angry when they lose out on NASCAR coverage because of FOX’s baseball priorities. In my case, I simply watched the pre-race on the SPEED Channel until I knew that the Mets-Phillies game that we got here in the Albany area was over, then switched it over to the HD feed of FOX (because my SD feed doesn’t work for some reason). I feel sorry for the people that got that Houston game on Saturday night. Viewers in those areas had the race joined in progress on lap 43. Since I switched over to FOX before 7:30 p.m., I’m personally not sure if the SPEED Channel kept the coverage on past 7:30 p.m. If not, for shame. I think they did, though.
Typically, FOX starts their Saturday Baseball coverage with their version of This Week in Baseball (which looks almost nothing like the original) at 3:30 p.m., then regional coverage starts at 4 p.m. The game start times were moved back after the now-Nationwide Series went to ESPN2. The FOX games represent most of the relatively few baseball games that start at 4:00 p.m. EST (excluding those day games played on the West Coast). Previously, the start times for FOX games were around 1p.m. This week, FOX announced a “special” earlier start time of 3:30 p.m. for their games, likely in an effort to prevent this scenario from occurring again this Saturday night at Darlington. I applaud those efforts, although it might have already have been pre-planned anyway.
As for the pre-race show on FOX, it was filled with the usual features. One thing I found interesting is that the pre-race show is so full of features these days that only two driver interviews were conducted for the broadcast, with Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. I found this rather surprising. I’ll definitely keep a rundown on the number of actual at the track interviews before the race starts for future critiques.
The pre-race features revolved around a charity race hosted by Denny Hamlin at nearby Southside Speedway and a feature on the late David Poole, who died last Monday. A new sponsored element that debuted this week was the Pepsi-Cola Throwback Flashback, which was a simple look back to last week’s race at Talladega. First of all, I’m trying to visualize how many times on television in the past week that I saw Carl Edwards’ crash. I’m thinking 70, but I’m not sure. I don’t think FOX needed to jam that down our throats again. Second, the name’s kind of redundant. A throwback and a flashback in this setup would be the same thing.
Yes, the pre-race included another Digger cartoon rerun as well. Earlier this season, I mentioned the idea that kids like reruns of their favorite cartoons. This is true, but you need to have more than just five of them in the can before you start the reruns. Using 1993’s The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as an example (a personal fave of mine from when I was younger, mainly because I loved the Genesis games), a syndicated cartoon series cans up to 65 episodes in one season. Cartoons on Saturday morning have season lengths more typical of prime-time shows. However, a typical season of even the worst Saturday morning cartoon has a lot more than 11 minutes of material. Under a best case scenario, this creature gets transitioned to the FoxBox, or whatever they call their Saturday Morning stuff these days as soon as possible. However, FOX no longer has a Saturday Morning block, having canceled it at the end of 2008, claiming that they cannot compete with Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or Discovery Kids programming (aired on NBC). They have officially given the four hour slot back to their affiliates, which stock the time with E/I programming (Educational/Informational, programming that over-the-air channels are required by the FCC to air three or more hours of a week) and infomercials. What does it all mean? That we’re stuck with this mutant spawn for the foreseeable future on FOX.
As for the Digger count, it was down this week from last week, but this was mainly because the race was shorter. I counted a total of 34 appearances, half of those being animated. Yes, Digger appearances still showed up during the time that the coverage was on the SPEED Channel, too. The telecast had the typical two Digger commercials and the five minute cartoon. The remaining appearances were of the still variety…
With just a month to go until FOX ends its season, let’s just say I personally cannot wait until the Pocono critique next month. There will be a funny reference to a YouTube video game reviewer. Not the one you might be thinking of, though…
Now, on to the race coverage.
During each race, FOX runs this feature called the Home Depot Rookie File. It is essentially Joey Logano’s video blog for his rookie season. Not only does this shortchange the other major contender for the Raybestos Brakes Rookie of the Year award (Scott Speed), but it really doesn’t do anything. At least they show it in split screen during the race, so usually it’s not that big a deal. This week’s Rookie File, however, was completely redundant. If you saw the pre-race show, you already knew that Logano was a part of Denny Hamlin’s charity race at Southside Speedway on Thursday. That feature was completely unnecessary.
Another issue that I have been insistent on this season is for FOX to tell the audience why certain drivers go behind the wall. We’ll use Scott Riggs as an example. Riggs went out of the race with “Electrical” issues on lap 54 and was credited with a 42nd place finish. FOX showed Riggs’ unsponsored No. 36 slow on the backstretch and pulling into the garage area via the entrance in between turns 3 and 4. But there was no mention of Riggs’ plight afterwards. Our own S.D. Grady was monitoring radio chatter during the race for the Live Blog and she stated that the team (Tommy Baldwin Racing) had not installed a backup ignition system in the No. 36, and that the only system in the car failed. But this was never mentioned on the broadcast. It is also the first time I’d heard about a Cup team cutting corners like that in seemingly forever (likely due to monetary concerns).
Joe Nemechek and David Gilliland’s problems, along with Mike Bliss’, were also all not mentioned on the broadcast, leaving us to guess what happened to those three cars. For reference purposes, Bliss finished the race on the track in 37th, 32 laps down, while Nemechek and Gilliland both DNF’d with brake issues. FOX, as much as they might not want to, needs to mention these things on the broadcasts. As much as I don’t want to say this, FOX is running into accountability issues if they don’t. Having those issues surrounding a telecast that is produced by the same company that owns the FOX News Channel is not good.
Another issue that I’m concerned with is that apparently, a NASCAR official was hit on pit road during Saturday night’s race. This was mentioned on the radio chatter at the track, yet was not reported on the FOX broadcast. However, it was mentioned on the MRN Radio broadcast. Apparently, he was struck on the left leg during pit stops under the tenth caution on lap 295. The official was eventually transferred to a local medical center (outside of the track) for further evaluation, but no further word has been mentioned, so far. What the Deuce? FOX really dropped the ball here.
I’m also concerned with Darrell Waltrip’s apparent crushing over Kyle Busch. This was described during the Live Blog as a “bromance,” kind of like that horrible reality show on MTV starring Brody Jenner. Wikipedia defines a bromance as a “close, but non-sexual relationship between two men, a form of ‘homosocial intimacy’.” Seriously. I essentially copied that right off of there. On broadcasts, this manifests itself as Darrell constantly gushing over Kyle Busch’s abilities as a driver. I’ll admit right here that this is getting annoying. We know Kyle Busch is good. Anyone who has watched NASCAR races over the past year and change knows that already.
Darrell, you don’t need to essentially “pimp” Kyle Busch on us fans. We know his accomplishments by now. Some of us are drawn to the younger Busch’s brash personality, while others are turned off by his petulance. I’m in the latter camp. Remember, you are a TV commentator. You are supposed to be objective, and not play favorites. I’ve mentioned this in the past in regards to your brother Michael. As much as you want to, you cannot give special treatment to your brother, or to Kyle Busch. The other drivers deserve equal treatment as well.
As an addition to this obsession, there was far too much mentioning of Kyle Busch’s birthday during the race coverage; and for that matter, all weekend. Yes, we know that it is extremely rare for a driver to win on their birthday. Many never have the chance to try because their birthdays fall in the offseason, like Ernie Irvan. Others just never got it done. Maybe it’s just an extension of the media in general these days, but you don’t need to jam everything into people all the time. It’s crazy. Oh, and that “Happy Birthday to you” sound effect at the end of the telecast, while appropriate, may have been overkill at the same time.
That’s all for this week. This weekend is the lone race weekend of the season at historic Darlington Raceway. Friday night is the Nationwide Series’ Diamond Hill Plywood 200, while Saturday night is the Sprint Cup Series’ Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com. Gee, it seems weird saying that extra race presenting sponsor in there — but it’s for the best.
I will provide critiques of both of those races in next week’s critique. As for NASCAR Now, I actually watched the roundtable discussion today and didn’t recognize Ricky Craven at first. Whoops! I thought he was one of the other journalists that often come on the roundtable shows. Must have been since I was watching it on a regular TV before I went to my basement and clicked on the HD feed.
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!
What does FOX News Channel have to do with FOX Sports covering the NASCAR race?
Those of us who have followed Nascar for a long time are used to having Waltrip and others force their favorite drivers down our throats . Take Jeff Gordon for instance . In fact the directors of these race broadcasts still force Gordon on us .
Funny that “Swirvan Irvan’s” name was mentioned in the article. I wore my Irvan 28 baseball jersey to the race Sat. night. Walking back to the car, a “kid” behind me said “Wow, a 28 shirt, how old is she? How old is that shirt? Thanks to Kyle and Denny and Toyota, I’m back on a winning team! Was gonna buy a new 11 shirt, but the rain caught me, so I kept my Ernie shirt on. Back to the topic, I get tired of any of the announcers slobbering over a particular driver. I want to hear about the racing action, not their opinion of a driver. I can form my own opinions thank you very much. I’ve been watching long enough to know who deserves respect, like Swirvan Irvan in the #28!
The idea of the FOX News Channel reference is that they are also owned by News Corporation. They go on all the time about “Fair and Balanced” and “Keeping them (subjects) Accountible.” Thus, it would look bad to not be able to live up to those ideals (then again, the FOX News Channel often doesn’t as well).
As for the Irvan reference, I’ll admit to having been an Irvan fan back in the mid 1990’s. I was a member of his fan club for a year or so (1994), and he’s the only Modern Era driver I’ve ever met before.
Don’t complain too much about the coverage of Nationwide races! At least you get to see them live! Up here in Canada, the race will get bumped to being shown tape-delayed in the middle of the night by any stick-and-ball game that TSN would rather show. The worst part is that they (TSN) has repeatedly said that NASCAR broadcasts, when shown live, always out-draw any stick-and-ball games! Go figure! As for Fox’s race coverage, I too am fed up with D.W. and his cheerleading of Kyle “pnuk” Busch. Sorry! I cannot stand that little jerk and I will not jump on the Kyle bandwagon! And as much as I do like Mike Joy, after D.W. was all excited and praising Stremme for spinning out Edwards by saying Stremme did the right thing, I turned the race off! Sadly, I won’t watch another race until TNT comes on, but that’s if, anmd only if, TSN picks up the feed here, which most likely, they won’t.
Sorry! That should have been “Kyle “Punk” Busch”!
Having drivers to love and hate is what makes the sport so much fun! Until you’ve settled on a driver, “manufacturer”, or sponsor rivalry, it does SEEM to be guys driving in circles.
Well written story. You hit the nail on the head on many points. One point I’d like to make is that they always give Steven Wallace coverage whenever Rusty is in the booth even though he may be running in the back of the pack. Steven has not demonstrated that he will ever becom a good driver much less agreat driver. Same goes for Michael Waltrip. The networks have yet to comprehend that fans are turned off if their favorite drive is shown during an entire broadcast. And the ratings are showing it. This is the third straight year the ratings have gone down. And this year the downturn is big, 14-15%.
Did you catch DW saying other drivers needed to be like Mikey by putting a map of pit road on the steering column. Maybe thats why Mikey is always back in the pack, trying to read a map while driving?
You don’t like Darrell’s comments about Bush but unless I have missed something you don’t have the same opinion about his constant comments on “Junebug”
The pre race shows , all of the pre race shows are a complete waste of time for race fans . They are nothing more than entertainment shows that FOX and Nascar can sell ad time for . Are the cars male or female ? Thats how low the production standards for FOX have become . And who knew they could go lower than they already were .
I’ll probably get flamed for saying this, but perhaps its time to shorten the fields from 43 cars to 36 cars? 43 cars seems to be too many to mention on the TV broadcast. With fewer cars there would be more time to mention all of them, right? And with fewer spots available to make the race, there would be less “start and park” teams making the field, too, right?
Phil, if Dale Jr causes a wreck on the backstretch do you blame Jeff Gordon too because they’re on the same team? Fox Sports and Fox News Channel are two different entities that work for the same parent company.
I am also sick of DW and his love for Kyle Busch. It is sickening. I used to like DW when he drove but not anymore. I also was a member of the Ernie Irvan fan club in the 90s. I sure miss him and I would love to see how he would have raced that punk Kyle Busch. SCS, It is very sad to see a fellow Ernie Irvan fan rooting for Toyota, and jerks like Busch and Hamlin. I sure miss the black and orange Texaco Ford Thunderbird. The old Yates Rocket was awesome. Yeah I know I’m old. LOL
For the most part I agree with everything you said about the broadcast.
I actually think Fox did a better job of showing coverage back in the pack this week. There was a lot of good racing throughout the field and it was nice to see it for a change.
Normally the only thing I like about the Fox broadcast is Mike Joy. It is a shame TNT and ESPN have Bill Webber and Jerry Punch who are both terrible in their own way and they actually have good analysts and Fox has Mike Joy and the most obnoxious analysts in the business.
I am looking forward to TNT’s wide open coverage and also the Race Buddy. I know their promotion of the race buddy is constant, but it is actually a good supplement to their television coverage.
so tell us how you really feel about the broadcast….i’m all for not mentioning the drivers who NEVER do anything but, wreck, stall, breakdown, you can have all the Mike Bliss, Scott Riggs of the world…they are a waste of time and a waste of airtime for my television…who cares what happened to them…it happens to them EVERY week…talk about repetitive…fox could name a handful of drivers before every race and say…chances are these guys will not finish so don’t expect to see much of them becasue i could grab any late modified driver in any town in america and they could the same thing as bliss, riggs, nemecheck…blah blah blah
Hey Sly Fox ( whichever FOX producer , announcer , or director you are ) , how would grabbing any modified driver who is late , take the place of the drivers you mention . THEY are on time . But i applaud you for posting on this blog and re-inforcing the FOX agenda concerning Nascar broadcasts .
I hate ESPN coverage of the races. They think everyone loves baseball and football scores splashed all over the screen. I come to watch the race. If I wanted other sports I’d switch to that channel.
I learned a long time ago not to watch the Sprint pre-race shows.. Actually, it goes further.. When I go onto Nascar.com to see when the race starts, lets say 2pm I ask the wife “when does it really start”.. She goes to jayski.com and says the “real” start of the race is 3:15.. Of course this is just an example.. The inaccurrate time of the race starts of Nascar is getting real old.. NFL starts at the advertied time, as does MLB.. Why can’t Nascar read a clock??
I’d rather see DW root for a winner like Kyle Busch than see him slobber over a non-winner like he did for Dale Jr, as fpresto said.
Dr. Jerry “PUN“ch is as gagging as DW. His lame attempts, his “Well Folks”, and his constant segway into some commercial or sport is enough to make me change the channel. How much he’s changed since he first started broadcasting with ESPN.
Hey Phil, maybe you can answer a question for me. Whatever happened to Wally Dallenbach and his “Wally’s World” pre-race segments? Personally, I loved them. The sport and tv/movie personalities that he would drive around the track, with those bigger than big football players screaming like little girls as he inched closer to the outside wall, well, that was a blast to watch. If nothing else, it was entertaining to watch, and hear as well.
I don’t mind DW exclaiming over Kyle Busch because Kyle IS the only interesting driver in NASCAR right now. Why ignore this?
I noticed Fox ran ads during the Star Spangled Banner which annoyed me mightily. It’s the only time I get to hear our national anthem these days, and I want to hear it. If they’re going to preempt something, how about preempting some of the boring, nothing pre-race show. Also, any of the singers who screw up the Star Spangled Banner should be tarred and feathered, a fine old tradition.
24-4-5, I don’t know what happened to those bits. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen a TNT race telecast, but I’m guessing they ran out of people willing to do it? Maybe Wally scared the pants off of too many people?
I know one excuse they cannot give. That they didn’t have room in their pre-race stuff for it. With 100 minutes of pre-race coverage, I’m pretty sure they can wedge it in.
Here’s to hoping it’ll be brought back some day. Thanks Phil, keep up the good writing.
I agree with you 100% I’ve stopped with the pre-race fluff. And sadly DW is out of control, the Kyle love-fest is so sad. DW is living his life again through Kyle. Yes, the kid maybe a good wheelboy, but he’s far from a good sportsman. He loses and runs pouting to his RV. He needs a good mentor to teach him how to be a man. And he’s not getting it at Gibbs. The talking heads in the booth need to stop suxing up to him and understand they are not helping him mature. And the excuse of age has nothing to do with it. Please, we have American Troops younger then this child fighting for his and our freedom every day so he can race for big $$$$ and we can enjoy watching races without a child wrecking drivers and thinking it’s ok because he’s “Vile Kyle” and it’s GOOD and he’s Na$car’s new Bad BOY! There are 43 drivers on that track with 43 + sponsors that DW and the heads need to talk about. That’s their job. I guess they forget that and the Na$car fans. And please, DW talks about Jr. when he can stab him in the back, yep…DW is Jr’s friend as much as I’m Kyle’s. The boy needs to MAN UP!