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 June 9, 2009
HEY FANS! I’VE GOT GOOD NEWS FOR YOU TODAY! THERE ARE NO GOPHERS IN THIS REVIEW! THAT’S RIGHT, NO STINKIN’ GOPHERS IN THIS REVIEW!
This past weekend was a busy one on television, so let’s get right down to it. We’ll start with the Truck Series race, Friday night’s WinStar World Casino 400k at Texas Motor Speedway.
The first thing that viewers would have noticed on the broadcast was that Michael Waltrip, usually the third man in the booth, was absent Friday night due to his obligations in Pennsylvania. This was obviously pre-planned because Waltrip was supposed to be practicing and qualifying for the Pocono 500. However, even though Friday was a complete washout at Pocono, Waltrip still decided not to make the trip. The result was a two-man booth with just Rick Allen and Phil Parsons, making for a different feel, but something I could get used to.
This is not a complaint about Friday’s telecast, but a question. When SPEED shows battles for position between two or more trucks, they’ll show what I call the “Battle Graphic” in the lower left corner of the screen. You might recall these graphics. It has “Battle for ___” on top, and then lists the drivers below. It also lists speeds for each of those drivers. What I’m wondering is this: Are those speeds from the previous lap, or the personal best lap speeds for the race up that point? I cannot really tell, and sometimes the differences can be three or four mph. It’s just something that’s been gnawing at my brain for a while.
Allen and Parsons gave a little bit of coverage during the race to a new team, the No. 73 County Buildings Centers/Circle M Inspection Chevrolet driven by J.J. Yeley. The team, using equipment formerly owned by Orleans Racing, made their debut this week. Ron Crosby is listed as the team owner, but the commentators made reference to former racer Joey Sonntag being involved with the team. If so, this team is essentially the rebirth of Sonntag’s old team that ran in the series back in the late 1990’s and the first couple of years of this decade with drivers like B.A. Wilson and David Starr behind the wheel. No reference was made to this previous effort. I even recognized the number font as being identical (although, a different color) to the one the team used the last time they were associated with the series. Not a big gripe, but something that should have been touched upon.
For a Truck race at Texas, this race did not have a lot of cautions and was over fairly quickly (it was actually a race record average speed). As a result, there was plenty of time to interview drivers after the event ended. I counted ten post-race interviews on Friday night, including one with Johnny Benson. Unbeknownst at the time, that interview was likely the last one on SPEED this year for Benson because of Monday’s announcement by Red Horse Racing that they were shutting down the No. 1 team due to lack of sponsorship.
Unlike normal, I’m going to jump around a little and cover the Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 from Nashville Superspeedway. Even though the ARCA Re/Max Series event went off first, it was at the same venue as the Cup Series (Pocono 500).
Generally, I was OK with the telecast that ESPN2 delivered on Saturday night. I’ll admit that I missed this in the pre-race show when it was live, but Kyle Busch called out Dr. Jerry Punch for jinxing him. This quote was replayed at least once during the race and on SportsCenter after the race as well. I found this kinda funny, to be honest. Dr. Punch seemed to get a chuckle out of it as well, but made a point later on in the telecast that he was in fact not trying to jinx Busch.
ESPN2 was also very timely in airing audio on the broadcast from Brendan Gaughan following his quirky pit road incident with Marc Davis, deserving even more kudos for actually getting an interview with Gaughan after the race. I don’t know whether to give more credit to ESPN2 for doing the interview or to a clearly ticked Brendan Gaughan for actually talking to them. And believe me, Gaughan was angry as heck.
Though the race was actually quite a bit shorter time wise than in recent years, the race still ran almost right up against the time slot, so there was not all that much post-race coverage. I’m not 100 percent sure that the shot of Kyle Busch making what looked like a small fireball during his burnout actually made the live broadcast, but it was included on SportsCenter. Obviously, Dave Burns was not expecting Kyle Busch’s now infamous destructive celebration in Victory Lane, so he looked a little flustered, I guess. The guitar smashing seemingly threw him off his game. It took a moment for him to adjust before Burns continued his Victory Lane interview.
For some reason on Saturday, ESPN2 chose not to place the News and Notes during the pre-race show. Instead, they decided to run it during the first caution for John Wes Townley’s crash, which also collected Brad Baker, Casey Atwood and Mike Harmon. I don’t know why they chose to do this. The pre-race show was not exactly loaded with important information. Just four interviews and some talk. I hope this does not continue.
Saturday also brought the ARCA Re/Max Series’ Pocono ARCA 200 from Pocono Raceway. This race was actually tape delayed to a 4 PM start due to SPEED’s telecast of the start of the Rolex Sports Car Series’ Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. The race actually started at 1 PM in real time, meaning the race was probably over right around the time the race coverage started.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We’re not talking about coverage that was condensed for broadcast, like those reruns of Cup and Busch races that used to air on American Sports Cavalcade (Diamond P Sports’ centerpiece) at 2 PM on Saturdays on TNN in the early 1990’s. But, the production techniques shown here made it clear that it was a tape delay. For example, during the fourth caution, SPEED took a commercial as the cars were coming down the North Straight. Three minutes later, after the commercial break, roughly 25 seconds in the race had passed, meaning that the coverage returned just in time for yellow flag pit stops.
Aside from the obvious production techniques, there were also a couple of small technical issues. For example, there was some freeze up during replays of the first crash of the day, an incident in the Tunnel Turn between the No. 35 of Tom Berte, the No. 43 of Kyle Martel and the No. 04 of Chase Mattioli. I also saw some picture break-up early on in the race as well.
However, there was some good camera work. For example, the cameras caught an electric fan come off of the No. 89 of Chad Beahr and slide on the track surface on the Long Pond Straightaway, the cause of the fourth caution.
Post-race coverage was frugal, but adequate. There were a few interviews, but nothing too substantial, knowing that SPEED had to get back to their coverage from Watkins Glen. There were five interviews during this coverage, with Joey Logano and his crew chief, former driver Billy Venturini, Justin Lofton, Joey Coulter and Patrick Sheltra. These teams represented the top four finishing teams in the race.
Sunday afternoon brought the debut of TNT’s race coverage for the year. The Pocono 500 is the beginning of TNT’s Summer Series. Yes, I know they’re the summer home for the Cup Series, but talking like that makes the series sound like it’s Wipeout on ABC.
Having TNT back means that their 100 minute pre-race show is back. I still do not get the point of this. It comes off like TNT is all but begging for their own NASCAR magazine-style show, but NASCAR won’t let them make one. Also, I think the Dale Earnhardt Jr. sit down interview with Marty Snider aired twice, but I’m not too sure about that. It would not be a bad idea for some more synergy between the individual NASCAR media partners, so that TNT doesn’t have to waste all that airtime on Sunday. Maybe with that done, they could start the race before 2:15 PM. The late start almost bit TNT on Sunday with the rain that moved into the area late in the going.
Having said that, I liked the piece on Dave Marcis. TNT (or at the very least, Kyle Petty) recognizes that many of the fans of the series have either never heard of him, or only remember him failing to qualify for a bunch of races in the late 1990’s. Drivers like Marcis were once the backbone of the series and should be celebrated for their accomplishments and/or longevity. I’m a history buff, so I like seeing this stuff on telecasts. Knowing TNT, they probably have five others already done for the remaining pre-race shows, like last year.
TNT also has their RaceBuddy program, in association with nascar.com. I like it. You get uninterrupted race coverage and a leaderboard. And best of all, it’s free. One thing though. It’s a little weird watching it while having the race on TV as well. RaceBuddy appears to be 2-3 seconds ahead of the TV, so there is an echo effect. Also, there is no window in the mosaic showing TNT’s actual broadcast, so it’s a little weird to listen to on the mosaic. With the in-car view, it’s locked onto a certain car (Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart were the selected cars) for a sizable portion of the race. The Battle channel has one camera on the roof of the main grandstand panning all over the track, looking for close racing.
There is also Pit Road Plus, which covers all the action on pit road and a dedicated pit reporter, Jim Noble, for the RaceBuddy coverage. His role is to give periodic updates on the race, and to interview drivers in the pits and garage before the race. The updates, typically right after TNT takes a commercial break, have Noble recapping the previous segment of the race and potentially breaking news. However, TNT never actually reported how short on fuel David Reutimann actually was. All they said was that he was good to go. In reality, he was short by a lap or two and had to conserve in order to make it to the end. This oversight aside, it’s kinda sad that with a 90 minute plus pre-race, Noble interviewed more drivers for RaceBuddy than TNT did for the regular coverage.
Another thing I liked was the new pit stall graphic used before the race to discuss last minute pit road issues. This looks a lot better than the vertical graphic that TNT has used for the last couple of years, and I wish that FOX and/or ESPN would adopt it in the near future. However, I’m not sure if this is a one-time thing just for Pocono, or if it will continue on Sunday in Michigan.
The Through the Field update was much appreciated. It also stretched much further back than ESPN’s equivalent in their Nationwide Series broadcasts this year. Instead of just the top seven or ten, TNT went back all the way into the 20’s. I used to dread the Through the Field thing back in the NBC days because it seemed to give them license to otherwise ignore racing outside the top 10. Sunday though, the actual race coverage showed a lot more racing for position throughout the field than we have been used to so far this season on FOX. This was a welcome change that nearly everyone was happy with…at least everyone that commented on our Live Blog. It was unanimous in a quick vote that TNT’s broadcast was better than what FOX offered this season.
TNT also had replays of the strange cone removing incident during the first round of green flag pit stops where Dexter Bean apparently got called to pit road at the last second. The result was that Bean roasted his tires slowing his Dodge down, clipping the cone in the process. Michael Waltrip, perhaps expecting the cone to be there when he pitted, locked up his brakes on entry and spun out. TNT also used computer graphic technology properly to show what happened with Michael Waltrip’s second pit road screw-up. Makes me wish that was caught on regular camera…it probably was scary for the crew. I also liked Kyle Petty’s explanation (using video evidence) of how Waltrip, on both occasions, spun out because he was heavy on rear brake bias. This is how FOX should use their FOX 3D feature during a race, but they have almost never done it.
However, with all of the good stuff that TNT delivered in their season debut, there were a couple of things that needed improvement. Debris cautions, for one. The first caution, which came out during the second round of green flag pit stops, was never even acknowledged on air as a debris caution. What the heck? The other was acknowledged as a debris caution, but they never showed the debris, despite Carl Edwards mentioning that he saw it. C’mon now. This is day one stuff.
The second issue I had was about the trends feature, now known as the Subway FreshTake that Larry McReynolds brought over to TNT from FOX. I’ve gone on record stating that I like this. What I don’t like is the feature being moved out of the pace laps to after the mid-point of the race. It doesn’t fit there.
The third issue was the fact that, for some reason, TNT decided to cut their post-race show short. I, personally, have no clue why they did this. The race ended fairly quick, by Pocono standards, leaving nearly 25 minutes for post-race coverage. TNT used 10 minutes, and then left the air at 6:15 PM so they could show “The Wedding Date,” a movie starring Debra Messing as a desperate woman who hires a male escort to serve as her date to a wedding overseas. What the deuce? This movie was scheduled to start at 6:30 PM. In their post-race time, TNT interviewed Stewart, Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Edwards and Newman, showed a rundown of the unofficial results and a look at the point standings. Based on what I saw on RaceBuddy, Stewart was likely told that TNT was in a hurry to get off air, despite all the extra time they had to spare. As a result, he hustled to Victory Lane and was already in position by the time TNT came out of commercial.
With the kind of extra time that TNT had at the end of the broadcast, they easily could have stuffed more interviews and discussion into those 15 minutes. However, they chose not to. Fatigue from being on air for nearly six hours, perhaps? All I know is that I do not want to see a repeat of that in the future.
My overall thoughts on TNT’s first of six telecasts is that it is almost nothing like what FOX has provided for the first 13 races. It was like a breath of fresh air for almost everyone involved. However, there are adjustments that need to be made, the post-race shenanigans being the most important. TNT technically wasn’t getting their money’s worth by going off air 15 minutes early. NASCAR on TNT is not a time buy situation for NASCAR, unlike a lot of Champ Car’s telecasts in the last couple of years before it merged with the IRL. TNT is paying through the wazoo. As a result, it behooves TNT to make the most of those big bucks that they’re paying just to be there.
That is all for this week. Next week is another multiple race site week, week two of the difficult stretch of travel for Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. The Sprint Cup, Camping World Truck and ARCA Re/Max Series are all at Michigan International Speedway this week for the LifeLock 400, the Camping World Truck Series Michigan 200, and the Racing for Wildfire 200 respectively. In addition the Nationwide Series is in Sparta, KY on Saturday night for the Meijer 300 presented by Ritz.
These races will be followed in next week’s critique.
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!
Thanks for mentioning Dave Marcis and his long standing history with the sport. As a long time fan I have seen him win at Talladega back in the 70’s. I wish he would come back as a team owner and hire Nationwide series driver Marc Davis as his driver. The ironic puns of a Dave Marcis/Marc Davis team would be unavoidable.
Totally agree with your critique of the cup race on TNT. I don’t know if it was just me but just the appearance of the broadcast from the ticker to other graphics used looked like something that belongs on TV in 2009, while FOX’s broadcasts looks like they are stuck in 1999. At one point they went through the field all the way up to the 31st place car. How nice is it to know the struggles of a car during the race especially when they finished well i.e. Juan Pablo who had an awful car early on which was actually documented in the broadcast. I was a little confused on why they didn’t show all the cars coming to the finish line at the end of the race, especially when they noted that there were cars wrecking coming to the line, which you could barely see from the camera angle they used. But overall, wow, what a difference from last week to this week. I hope FOX figures out their crap before next year or they are in trouble. Keep it up TNT.
I couldn’t be happier that FOX has been shown the door . I don’t think i could have stood one more self serving moment of Waltrip , Joy , Hammond , McReynolds , or Meyers . Of course we still seem to stuck with McReynolds , but i notice that the TNT director avoids “ tossing “ to him every time he asks , which is constantly . The less we see and hear from McReynolds on these broadcasts , the better . Wally and Kyle know more than enough to field most any question concerning the cars or pit strategy .
No mention of the horrid coverage of the last few laps? The locked-in view of Tony Stewart inside his car while there was actual racing going on? The failure to show what happened to Kahne and Allmendinger? While most of the coverage was a breath of fresh air compared to GOPHER, the end of the race coverage was as bad as I’ve ever seen. Or should I say, not seen?
Phil said: “However, TNT never actually reported how short on fuel David Reutimann actually was. All they said was that he was good to go.”
How is TNT going to know how much fuel David has in his tank? They only know what the crew chief tells them, or what they hear on the radio. The crew chief probably told them they were fine on fuel, so that’s what they reported.
I thought Kyle Petty was unintelligible at times and the “overnoise” of the engines was annoying. I know its a race but whats the point of having commentators if you can’t hear them.
Way, way too many commercials. 141 via 27+ comm’l breaks. Average= 2mins24secs of race time to every 1min of commercials. I thought the entire broadcast was in disarray, poorly executed.