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 May 12, 2009
Hello, race fans. Hope you enjoyed this weekend’s racing from Darlington Raceway. I thought it was pretty good as well. Maybe a few too many cautions for my taste, but that’s OK. I cannot control that facet of races. I’m still kind of surprised that Sam Hornish’s spin late in the race did not cause a caution despite the fact that he slid nearly the entire length of the frontstretch. Oh well. Enough about that for now … let’s get to the review.
Normally, I just critique the TV coverage of the races themselves, but I’ll start this weekend with coverage of Sprint Cup pole qualifying. I have two issues that I want to address here. The first of these was the constant reference to Tom Carnegie, the retired PA announcer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now, it’s perfectly fine to admire the man and his skill behind the microphone. I have no problem with that. I wish I could keep a job like that for 60 years. However, the impersonations of Carnegie need to go. I swear this happens every year when we get to May. Mike, Darrell, and Larry… you guys are not Tom Carnegie. It’s getting annoying now. This has been going on for what, three years at this point? Please stop.
The second thing I want to address is the coverage of the session itself, or the scheduling of it. Due to the rain on Friday, the Nationwide Series qualifying session had to be scrapped. However, the Sprint Cup session still went off around 5 PM. Yet SPEED seemed to stay with alternate programming (Trackside Live) instead of starting the qualifying telecast live. The result was that the qualifying coverage was delayed (or “TiVo-ed,” as Mike Joy put it) by 20 minutes. Ordinarily, this would not be so bad. You could see all of the cars take their times, and where they all landed up in the starting lineup.
However, with the condensed schedule on Friday at Darlington, tape delaying qualifying coverage put the final cars up against NASCAR Countdown on ESPN2. The session didn’t finish on SPEED until around 7:15 p.m. I’m probably the only person around that was a little bit ticked off about this, but I cannot critique both Cup qualifying and the Nationwide race at the same time.
As for the Nationwide Series broadcast from Darlington (the Diamond Hill Plywood 200), I do have a few points I want to make here.
One is the fact that when caution flags are thrown, ESPN is fairly slow to notify viewers as to who is getting the “Aaron’s Lucky Dog,” the free pass back onto the lead lap, or a free lap back (depending on circumstances). There is a definite inconsistency on ESPN (and FOX, for that matter) in when viewers are notified of this instance. On a few occasions during the broadcast Friday night, ESPN outright never told the viewers who got their lap back due to the yellow. I basically had to guess based on the current standings scroll on the top of the screen who actually earned the Lucky Dog. On another occasion, Dr. Jerry Punch informed viewers after a restart that Jason Keller had gotten his lap back during the previous caution. On others, ESPN displayed an Aaron’s graphic with the free pass recipient. You get the picture … and the bottom line is there needs to be more consistency in what they do for this.
Another talking point is when Michael McDowell went to the garage area during the sixth caution for repairs. Dr. Punch promised viewers updates on what was wrong with the car and so on and so forth. Did ESPN deliver? Based on what I saw, heck no. It was never voiced on air what was even wrong with the car, or that McDowell re-entered the race from the garage, 13 laps down. Do I know what happened to McDowell Friday night? Yes, I do. How did I find out? Mike Lovecchio, the grandmaster of the Live Blog, sent me a link to McDowell’s Twitter page during the Southern 500 Live Blog Saturday night. On it, McDowell typed using his BlackBerry that his car had had a double ignition box failure. Mind you, this was while the repairs were being made. C’mon, ESPN… do your jobs, and don’t make promises to viewers that you cannot keep.
A third point was the return to ESPN overhyping the point battle between Edwards and Busch again. Let’s be honest now: Friday was the 10th race of a 35 race schedule. It’s still too early to be talking championship implications with every on-track pass. As a side note to this season-long Busch-Edwards duel, late in the going Friday, Edwards was supposedly “really struggling” out there on the track. Where was Edwards running at that time? Fifth. Where did he finish the 209-mile race? Third. Either ESPN has unrealistic thoughts about where Edwards should normally be running — or the hype machine is running overtime these days.
There was also a substantial focus on the top 10 cars in the race. ESPN only did one “Up to Speed” during this event, and it only covered the top seven cars. The other three cars in the top 10 received only a passing mention by Dr. Punch before a commercial break. Bush League. After the 3 minute commercial break, ESPN continued the passive rundown with some of the drivers just outside of the top 10.
A fifth point comes out of a lot of the problems that Kenny Hendrick had in his No. 42 during the race. Normally, if someone smacks the wall and causes a headache for drivers in his wake because of his wounded car in the middle of the track, it would at least merit a mention from the commentators to get them to stop what they were talking about for a moment. At ESPN, that was not necessarily the case though. Viewers saw Hendrick smack the wall for what had to be the third time and hold up traffic while Dr. Punch and Rusty Wallace (in the booth in place of Dale Jarrett for the second week in a row, since Jarrett’s on a short vacation) discussed some random occurrence that had nothing to do with what was on screen. Once they finished, the incident shown on screen got maybe a sentence from the commentators, with no emotion at all. I don’t know anything about calling a race, but I think me and my buddies could call a race better than ESPN2 did on Friday night.
Not surprisingly, I’d say that the network’s Nationwide Series coverage was a step back from the previous couple of weeks.
That’s quite a mouthful for just the Nationwide Series race from this past weekend. Could FOX do better with their coverage of the Southern 500, presented by GoDaddy.com? Let’s find out.
The first thing that I noticed about the telecast was the fact that the pre-race show seemed to be about ten minutes shorter than normal. I’m not sure why this was so… but I’m not complaining. Personally, I think this format just flows better than the typical setup, as the race started a mere 36 minutes after the pre-race started. Due to the shorter format, there was no Digger cartoon on the pre-race this week either. For next week, I’m not sure what they’re going to do in regards to that creature since the race is going to be on the SPEED Channel —but I’d expect to see his mug at least 15 times.
Having said that, for having 20 minutes of pre-race coverage before opening ceremonies, there were almost no interviews at all in that time. I guess FOX has basically farmed out the driver interviewing (outside of pre-race features) to the cast of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED.
Once again, the beginning of the pre-race was shifted over to the SPEED Channel in some regions due to baseball running long. That happens, sometimes, and I’m happy that FOX kept their word from last week. This will be the last time that this will be an issue this season, thankfully. Here in the Albany, NY area, we were given the Tampa Bay-Boston game, which was just starting the top of the ninth at 7 p.m. When the last of the baseball games finished up, a graphic popped up saying that the coverage was available on FOX, indicating that all of the baseball commitments were over. I believe this happened during the national anthem. Mike Joy thanked the SPEED Channel (a sister station of FOX) for allowing most of the pre-race to air on SPEED — in addition to FOX for those who had the Philadelphia-Atlanta game, which ended well before 7 p.m.
For some reason, the production crew in charge of in-car cameras installed a foot cam inside of Michael Waltrip’s No. 55 NAPA Toyota. I guess Waltrip collaborated with the camera guys to install a foot cam on the left side of the foot, well… so that he could send his own personalized message to his momma. This brings a couple of things to mind. One, I really hope they don’t use that shot when the series gets to Infineon Raceway next month, because you couldn’t see the clutch pedal (it was off of the bottom of the screen, I guess). The old foot cam shot, which I think was mounted either right next to the shifter or underneath the steering wheel, was perfectly sufficient. Secondly, should the drivers be able to collaborate with the production crew to do things during race telecasts? Yes, Waltrip’s message was genuine and all that, but are we opening a box of worms here?
Probably the biggest thing mentioned during our Live Blog was that the FOX commentary crew made a lot of references to “fast laps” or “fastest laps.” It was to the point where a couple of posters thought of a fastest laps drinking game. Take a drink every time the terms mentioned above were said by either Larry McReynolds or Mike Joy. I didn’t keep count, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was mentioned 25 times during Saturday night.
For the weekly Digger count, it was down as compared to normal, despite the fact that the race was over four hours long and the telecast was a shade over five hours in length. I counted a total of 31 Digger appearances in the telecast. 17 of those sightings were of the still picture variety during shots from the “Digger Cam.” You would think by now that viewers would know what it is, so they don’t need to show the graphic on screen every time. FOX has been using this Digger Cam since the beginning of last season, and I already knew it was called the Digger Cam before this season began — long before them initiating Operation Rodent Overexposure on the NASCAR viewer base starting at Daytona. In addition to the 17 still shots, there were nine animated sightings, one commercial hawking the Digger merchandise, and five information graphics for purchasing Digger stuff for cell phones (accompanied by the FOX update chimes). At the very least, using the update chimes to hawk Digger downloads has got to go. Why not actually show regular updates on scores during races? It’s not like FOX hasn’t done that in the past.
The mentioning of in car cameras makes me want to make a point here. Apparently, NASCAR’s computer scoring program includes a small icon to denote cars that have in car cameras installed. Mike Joy brought this up during practice coverage on Friday at Martinsville back in March. This was done in reference to the fact that David Gilliland had one installed in his No. 71 for TRG Motorsports (or so we were led to believe he did). Was this camera used at all that weekend? Not that I can remember.
But the number of in car cameras in use in Sprint Cup races is actually either stagnant, or actually down from the level that they were at prior to the beginning of the 2001-2006 TV Deal. The Nationwide Series actually has about the same number of cars with in car cameras as the Sprint Cup Series these days (typically eight a race). Today, both FOX and ESPN use the “Brady Bunch” style display before each race to show their in car views. This is done by breaking the screen into nine sections and showing the cameras in the small sections. Since there are typically eight cars with cameras per race these days, the networks’ logo is shown in the middle while the cameras are shown on the outside. This has the effect of de-emphasizing the teams with the cameras. I’d like to see the networks stop this and just show the teams with the in car cameras like they used to; but since the current format allows for more hyping, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
Also, the sad truth of this display is that it may be the only time that three or even four of those cameras ever get any air time in the broadcast. I believe that this is a shame and actually makes it pointless to have that many teams with in car cameras. I know that teams that have cameras installed in their cars are only guaranteed a certain amount of airtime from the network, but I’m sure that they don’t use it all. I’ve seen an example of this for the Rolex 24 a few years back (I think it was either 2003 or 2004). Teams that had cameras in their cars were only guaranteed something like two minutes of time on the air in the race, with their race positioning would likely determine if they got more or not. Under this current deal, I’m not sure if the teams that carry the cameras are guaranteed any actual air time for their cameras outside of the Brady Bunch setup at the beginning of the race.
Also, in both series, there is never any real variety in the teams that get to carry the cameras. In the Cup Series, Waltrip always has one. So does Earnhardt Jr. Most of the others get cameras based on sponsorship deals (Ex: Zaxby’s Restaurants for the No. 09). It makes me think that the in car cameras are actually written into sponsorship contracts and that it is decided before the season even starts who gets the cameras. I know in the past (we’re talking the mid-1990’s here) that Mark Martin almost always had a camera. Dale Earnhardt almost never did, and when he did, it was mounted really high and way back. Also, it was fixed into place because Earnhardt was annoyed by the sound the camera made when it panned back and forth. He was the anti-Dick Johnson (an Australian Touring Car Champion that started four Cup races in 1989 and 1990, who would actually talk to commentators on the Seven Network during green flag racing) in this regard.
ESPN, prior to 1993, was known for having a group of teams (mainly mid-field teams) that would run their cameras, like Whitcomb Racing’s No. 10, Cale Yarborough’s No. 66 (and prior to that, No. 29), AK Racing’s No. 7, and more. For the other networks, it was basically a hodgepodge that would change from week to week. I would like to get back to that — see ng more variety in the teams that carry the cameras from week to week. I’d like to see a team from outside the Top 25 in owners’ points have a camera every once in awhile; heck, I’d like to see Morgan Shepherd have one sometimes during a Nationwide race. Why not?
That is all for this week. Next week is the annual Sprint All-Star Race from Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, a home race for most of the teams in the series. In addition, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be in town for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 on Friday night. I will critique the Truck race, the Sprint Showdown (the race for non-qualifiers for the All-Star Race), and the Sprint All-Star Race itself.
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!
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Jerry Punch and Rusty Wallace continued to talk between themselves while ignoring action on the track ? Imagine that ! The majority of the talking heads in these broadcasts really do feel that their importance trancends the race and everything about the race . I’m convinced that most of the FOX and ESPN team think that if they didn’t show up to announce , there couldn’t possibly be a race . AAAHHH , the thought of hearing only race engines instead of mindless banter and pontificating for three hours .
The Sonoma Race is on TNT so the new Fox foot cam is not going to be an issue. TNT has their own version which shows the clutch.
As for the in car cameras it would be nice if there was some variety to who got one, but unfortunately it seems to be all about sponsors. I enjoyed the Race Buddy coverage that TNT had online last year, but I noticed during the Coke 600 that the cameras were all mounted inside cars that had some sponsorship by Coke. I am not sure if that is always the case or if it was just because it was the Coke 600. Either way the networks will continue to use the in car cameras to help promote their sponsors. The best some of the others can hope for is that their car happens to be in the shot when they are advertising for Aflac, Napa or someone else. I don’t have a problem w/ the networks showing their sponsors, but w/ sponsorship so difficult to come by these days it is a shame that some of the cars rarely if ever are shown on tv.
Let’s face it-the overall coverage is mediocre at best and embarrassing at worst. The booth coverage is a total embarrassment. I spend what time I watch the screen reading the leader board because my drivers are never mentioned unless they are involved in a wreck of some sort. But on a good note, I can go to the IRL races and listen to Bob Jenkins, who makes the FOX broadcasters look like the clowns they are. Really, though, when one considers the other fare FOX delivers on a daily basis, should the race telecasts be any different?
I read or saw somewhere that the in-car and roof-mounted cameras are paid for via the sponsors, at their discretion, which is why the stickers are all placed easily in camera view.
Fastest lap drinking game? Is that supposed to be in addition to, or in place of the current “Digger Drinking Game”? I sure am going to miss THAT game in a few weeks… but maybe I’ll remember the end of a race once he’s gone!
Tell me why when a driver has an in-car camera pointed at them, and the driver wrecks, we never see that angle in the replays. We aways the roof cam. I want to see how the driver reacts with their hands and how much movement their head makes wearing the HANS. I think I saw this angle once with Harvick and he let go of the steering wheel while spinning. The camera is there, so why not show it?
Amy , very well said . You are right on the money .
Yes , sponsors do pay to have the cameras in certain cars . And there are only so many to go around .
The in-car camera is not used to show the driver DURING a crash for two reasons . The networks are afraid of maybe showing a driver being seriously injured or even killed on live tv . And Nascar will not allow it it because of potential liability issues .
Ryan, I wouldn’t be surprised if NASCAR nixed that after Reutimann’s crash in the Auto Club 500 in 2007. You might remember how after he hit the wall, he was unresponsive for a little while before coming to and getting out of the car.
Go Wally’s World
Fantastic article and critique. It seems like the YouTubeUppies that they call Producers at FOX and ESPN would do well to:
Mentioning cars with cameras that weren’t seen during the race… Brad Keselowski had an in car at the Talladega race. I’ve seen clips on speed and ESPN shows after the fact, but can’t actually remember seeing from it during the FOX broadcast.