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.
TV Critique · Phil Allaway · Tuesday May 26, 2009
Hello, race fans. The Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the busiest racing weekend of the year. In addition to the Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600, the IndyCar Series has their revered Indianapolis 500 on the same day… or at least they normally do. But because of rain in Charlotte, the Sprint Cup event was pushed to Monday at noon, separating the two for the first time in several years.
There is also the Grand Prix of Monaco, Formula One’s most prestigious and glamorous event. Also, it’s quite possibly the toughest track to pass on in the series, in addition to the narrowest and the slowest. There’s a reason why the Grand Prix of Monaco is only 260km instead of 305km (standard length for a Formula One race). It’s the perfect showcase of racing excitement among three of the top series in the world; but could the TV broadcasts keep that enthusiasm going?
That’s the big question we’ll be answering in a minute. But before I get into Saturday night’s Nationwide Series event, you might remember the foot cam back at Darlington that I mentioned. It was the one where Michael Waltrip had scrawled a Mother’s Day message on his racing shoes. I couldn’t remember seeing that angle used for a foot cam before. Well, I found a prior usage. In 1993, ESPN put a similarly mounted foot cam in Jimmy Hensley’s No. 7 Ford (this was right after Alan Kulwicki died, and Hensley was driving the No. 7 in his place). However, it was mounted in a fashion so that you could still see the clutch pedal.
With that cleared up, let’s move on to the Nationwide Series CARQUEST Auto Parts 300.
One of my beefs about the last Nationwide race from ESPN2 actually got worse on Saturday night. This was the general failure of the on-air crew to tell the viewing audience who got the Lucky Dog (Free Pass) during caution flags. Now, maybe I wasn’t listening carefully, but I don’t remember ESPN2 mentioning this for almost all of the cautions Saturday night. The exception was the last one, where Dale Earnhardt, Jr. got the Lucky Dog (not that it even mattered, since the race never restarted after that). People want to be informed about things like this one that have the potential to change a race’s outcome. I’ve used the road sign example in the past to describe that… but I feel that it applies. When you’re in an unfamiliar place, you would like to see signs that tell you where a road goes and how far it is to get to that place. ESPN2 is giving us what amounts to a scenario where you have to guess … and that’s not cool.
Something that was pretty cool, however, was ESPN2’s pre-race coverage. As a result of rain showers delaying the start of the race by a little over an hour, the network stuffed in a bunch of interviews to cover the airtime. Naturally, I kept tabs of how many drivers they got to … and it was a lot. The total came out to be 23, with Brad Keselowski getting interviewed twice. The subjects were wide-ranging, too, going from your typical Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch all the way down to Nationwide-only drivers like Kenny Wallace and Stanton Barrett. I think this is nothing but a good thing, allowing viewers to make connections with drivers they might not normally see.
When the race coverage finally did begin, it appeared once again that Dr. Jerry Punch just was not into it, like he was thinking about something else. There was just no emotion at all out of him. During our Live Blog on Sunday before NASCAR pushed the race to Monday, this issue came up, as more than a few people are noticing how the play-by-play man struggles to keep up his energy. It’s a real shame, since Punch has acquitted himself well in the booth in the past and is a connection to the network’s “old school” coverage. Unfortunately, I don’t know what can be done in order to get his head in the game. NASCAR is having a meeting today where they are going to discuss a whole bunch of things that can be done to improve the sport. Better television coverage is one of those things that may be discussed — and if they are, getting more enthusiasm out of certain announcers should be at or near the top of that list.
The “taking equipment out of the box” rule change wasn’t accurately explained by the networks. Apparently, now if it happens during yellow flag pit stops, the team has to do a stop-and-go penalty and go to the tail end of the longest line. This was described as a “Double Whammy” penalty that holds crews accountable for those mistakes. My thoughts on this are as follows. Under caution, it should just be a tail end violation. They didn’t even need to make a new rule. Maybe make a corollary to the existing rule saying that teams busted cannot do their stop-and-go until everyone (including cars off of the lead lap) have made their pit stops. Otherwise, just make it a tail end ruling because the car will not even have the equipment that it took out of the box by the time a stop-and-go can be done.
ESPN is also continuing to have some issues with the scroll. It is almost like the network has regressed in this area, going back to 1995 with their standings. Before then, cars that were off of the track still had the number of laps behind displayed on screen during field summaries. By 1996 or 1997, ESPN had adopted the OFF designation for cars that were off of the track behind the wall, but not out of the race. This makes it a little easier (and more clear) for viewers. However, ESPN has gone back to the old setup, and I am not a fan of this. This problem has also migrated over to the IRL coverage, which debuted on Sunday. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Once the rains came once again, the ESPN crew stayed with the event and did not leave for alternate programming. After the race was called, they gave a quick interview with Mike Bliss before going off the air.
Overall, I liked the non-racing coverage on Saturday night, but I believe that the actual coverage of the on track action needs to improve. Luckily, ESPN has time before the Cup Series comes calling in two months.
Sunday brought the beginning of ABC’s short schedule of IRL races for this season. Like TNT has for the Sprint Cup Series, ABC will be televising a small snippet of five races (Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Iowa, Toronto, and Edmonton). Their initial coverage consisted of a one hour pre-race show for open-wheel’s marquis event, which is typical prior to the Indianapolis 500. It’s been this way as long as I can remember.
ABC showed quite a bit of racing throughout the field on Sunday when they could. However, like many of the Sprint Cup races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there was not a whole lot of side-by-side racing, which is a shame. That happens sometimes.
As for the scroll issues with cars that were off the track, this started real early with the first lap crash of Marco Andretti and Mario Moraes. I knew that he was out of the race after the first lap crash, but ABC didn’t mark him as out until at least lap 70. I hope they fix this before next Sunday.
Of course, with ABC telecasts of IRL races, there comes the Danica emphasis that has hurt their coverage over the past few years. There was quite was lot of emphasis on her, more so than other drivers around here. I’m not a fan of this dramatized attention, and Versus really hasn’t done it as much this year. Moving forward, the network would be prudent to make sure they balanced the coverage with more reports from the rest of the drivers in the field.
Overall, I think that the coverage was an OK start for ABC’s mini-season of IRL races; but I’m thinking that if this keeps up, fans might be clamoring for Versus coverage to come back by the time they finish.
With the Cup Series, Sunday’s coverage was mainly of rain falling — since the race never actually started. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a couple of things that I saw that should be noted here. For example, a couple of times during the broadcast, the production crew used some kind of effect to simulate water inside of the “Hollywood Hotel.” This came off as weird, and I’d prefer that they do not do that again.
FOX did some interviews, but nowhere near as many as ESPN2 did on Saturday. In fact, I counted 11 interviews to ESPN2’s 23. FOX stayed on air full-time until 7 p.m., when they broke away for alternate programming. The alternate programming consisted of the typical Sunday night schedule (King of the Hill, American Dad, The Simpsons, etc.). FOX ran an older style information bar on the screen during those shows informing viewers of the rain delay (it looked like something FOX would have used about 3 years ago). That’s nice and all… but it was kinda intrusive and actually blocked some stuff on the screen. A small scroll would have worked fine instead.
FOX did provide constant updates every 15-20 minutes, which was nice, I’ll admit. Eventually, the race was called around 8:30 p.m. and postponed to Monday at noon. This was also displayed on the intrusive information bars … and the same idea as above applies.
Monday brought a one hour NASCAR RaceDay on the SPEED Channel that acted as the pre-race show. In all honesty, that should be FOX’s pre-race show. It was essentially an hour of interviews, but there was some very good stuff. Once noon rolled around, it was time to give the command, and then the cars pulled onto pit road for the start.
Digger came back big time on this weekend’s broadcast on FOX after last weekend’s mini-vacation. Digger appeared on the broadcast (Sunday and Monday’s broadcast combined) 33 times. 17 of those appearances were of the animated variety, while only six were the still shots. There were also seven commercials for Digger merchandise. The rest were either voice mentions or on-air ads for Digger ringtones and wallpaper.
Monday also saw the debut of the Taco Bell Hot Shot. In practice, this is the same as the Verizon Wireless Speed Shot — which is, in a nutshell, FOX selling the sponsorship rights to the speed shot so that they can bank some bucks. Not really necessary, but we’ll see if this trend continues with TNT and ESPN later on in the season.
The caution for the moment of silence was a little weird, to be honest. It appears that this was pre-meditated by NASCAR, but the general public wasn’t aware of it until after they threw the caution. FOX could have done a much better job at notifying the viewing public of this. Also, this caution (the fifth one) was thrown during a commercial break, so people were just confused in general as to what was up.
During the rain delays, FOX never ceased live coverage from Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Like ESPN2 did on Saturday night, they spent their downtime interviewing drivers and made the experience at least slightly enjoyable. However, it became explicitly clear after awhile that they wanted NASCAR to call the race so that they could leave. Darrell Waltrip was basically assuming that NASCAR was going to call the race for something like 30 minutes before they actually did, and I think that may have rubbed off a little on Mike Joy.
After the race was called, FOX only worked in a quick interview with Reutimann, showed the point standings, and then got the heck off the air real quick. The so-called “Post-Race Show,” which began literally as soon as Mike announced that the race had been called, lasted maybe a minute and a half. Now, it could be argued that most of the post-race interviews had already been knocked off during the third rain delay… but FOX could have done a little bit more.
Meanwhile, Darrell Waltrip appears to be working on keeping himself impartial, and did a good job of doing so during the little argument that David Reutimann and Tony Stewart had during the second red flag. In the past, he would have automatically taken David’s side because of his past professional relationship with Reutimann (Reutimann drove for Darrell Waltrip in the Craftsman Truck Series). Today, he seemed to take an impartial view on it — which is good. Our Live Blog viewers thought it was too little, too late for this season, though.
However, once the third red flag was out and Reutimann was in position to potentially get his first career Sprint Cup win, Waltrip’s favoritism came back out again for all to see. All commentators have to be careful about that, and it is probably one of the main reasons why most race fans cannot be commentators. The impartiality would just kill some people, especially those that are incredibly biased towards certain drivers and against others. It’s clear that while improvement is possible, DW needs to continue to work on impartiality for the future.
Overall, I think FOX’s effort was OK on Monday. They were definitely beginning to show fatigue after a few hours, though. Unfortunately, that happens at times. By the end of the marathon, six-plus hour telecast, the commentators were all but saying that they wanted to go home. That is not the type of vibe that viewers should be getting from the people who bring the race in to our homes. Next week is the last race of FOX’s season — so hopefully, this isn’t evident.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, all three of NASCAR’s top touring series are at Dover International Speedway. The Truck Series races in the AAA Insurance 200 on Friday. This race will air on a tape delay basis at 8 p.m. Friday on SPEED, which I’m already not a fan of. No clue why this is so. The Nationwide Series races Saturday in the Heluva Good! 200 on ABC, while the Cup Series have their last race of the FOX portion of the season — the Autism Speaks 400 at 2 p.m.
I will be critiquing the broadcasts of all three of these races for your weekly consumption. In addition, I will also pipe in on other random issues that peak my interest on television.
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!
You, Mr. Allaway are a pro. I really enjoy reading a critique that is an actual well “critique”.
There is a vast difference between the ESPN shows and the Fox shows . The ESPN shows are much more about racing , the Fox cup shows have become all about the announcers themselves . And favoritism seems to be the driving force for Fox . The entire Fox Cup broadcasts consist of the three talking heads trying to convince the world that Hendrick and his teams are almost the second coming . Oh , and Waltrip , Hammond and McReynolds constantly re-living ( and heavily embellishing ) their own racing careers .
ABSOLUTELY agree on ALL points Michael!!
DW is by far the WORST offender with his constant HMS pandering and I almost suspect there is some sort of err..well feelings for “Mr Hendrick” that a man just shouldnt have there.
Regarding the start time..WHY OH WHY wasnt the race stared at 10 or even a.m.??? They knew rain was coming and about what time on SUNDAY when the race was rescheduled for Monday.
I seem to recall rescheduled races starting before at 10 or 11 a.m. quite frequently in the past.
IMHO this is truly something that needs work to be fair to all.
The best news of the week? Dover is DW and the Fox crews last week for NASCAR!!
During the Cup race Monday, there was an hour-long red flag period for rain. FOX did probably a dozen or more driver interviews in that time. But it was glaringly obvious to some of us that favoritism was in full effect – they never interviewed the race leader during that hour. In fact, they never once mentioned the name of the driver in first place.
Completely ridiculous, and it’s no wonder that the smaller teams have a hard time getting sponsors. Even when they are in the lead of the race they get no attention at all.
I don’t know if this is pertinant or not. But becasue of the rain delays and previouly scheduled events i had to listen to the race on PRN on my sirius. PRN was fully in the loop on what was to take place at 3:00 and informed all the listeners that a caution would come out and then red flag for the moment of silence. Not sure why anyone else didn’t get the info….
For what is is worth ESPN Classic had the 1989 race from Dover on Monday. It was quite interesting to flip between the race/broadcasting of today verses what was aired in 1989. This is the second time in the last few weeks that I did this, (the other race was the 1989 Holly’s Farm 400 from North Wilksboro). My own opinion is that the coverage was actually better then than it is now. The crew of Benny, Jerry, Ned, Dick, and Bob did a much better job of not only going through the field, (remember this was_before the scrolling running order at the top of the screen), but they also showed cars passing each other_regardless of position..they showed guys that were back in the field that were passing each other and they weren’t big names for the times either. One opposing position I read from time to time of races 20 years ago is that there were only a few cars left on the lead lap..while this is true of the Holly Farms 400 you wouldn’t have know it by the coverage as they showed the whole field. Also, seeing North Wilksboro is a short track I’ve read quite a few postings regarding that a driver sticking his car into the rear quarter to get around him isn’t real racing. Please, if this is your thought, go back and watch that race..guys were passing and there was many cars that had a bit of body damage but it wasn’t from just spinning guys out. Even the last lap where Dale and Ricky get into it,(pretty sure it was Rudd), it was a clean attepmt at a pass that just didn’t work out. It was interesting to watch these races again as its been some years since seeing them but with all the discussion of coverage it may be a thought of going back to what worked for good color commentary from the booth compared to what is on TV now. Sure, add in a few features but please you could get rid of half the stuff that they do in the name of “coverage” and no one would miss it.
The Dover truck race has been tape-delayed for as long as I have been watching. Speed explained they do that because Dover does not have lights, and they want as many people as possible to be home and able to watch the race. If they showed the race live, most people would either be at work, or be on their way home from work, and not able to watch.