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 30, 2009
Greetings, race fans. This past weekend, all three of NASCAR’s major series were in action. The Truck Series was in Millington, TN at the Memphis Motorsports Park for the MemphisTravel.com 200 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts. Meanwhile, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were both in Loudon, NH for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 and Camping World RV Sales 200 presented by Turtle Wax, respectively. The NASCAR Camping World East Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Series also provided additional support; but unfortunately, those races didn’t get the coverage they deserved this past weekend.
I should say that the Camping World East Series was televised on HDNet, but there were still a whole a lot of people who didn’t get a chance to see it. I can tell you that my cable provider (Time Warner Cable) dropped HDNet (and HDNet Movies) at the beginning of June. I bet Mark Cuban’s crying a little about that, since Time Warner Cable is one of the largest cable television providers in the United States. Granted, you had to pay extra for a Premium HD package just to get the two channels… but I digress. Thankfully for the CWES, at least someone was there to put the series on television, because the Modified race (possibly the best one of the weekend) ended up with no telecast at all. That’s weak, to the point where one of the Nationwide Series drivers actually called the sport out on this glaring omission during an interview for NASCAR Countdown. Yes, it was announced this past weekend that the September modified race at NHMS would get tape delayed coverage on SPEED — along with the 150-lap combination race for the Northern and Southern Divisions of the Whelen Modifieds at Bristol Motor Speedway in August — but that doesn’t mean this weekend’s race should get absolutely no coverage at all.
Anyways, let’s move on to the races which were actually televised. Due to the setup of the weekend, I’m going to deviate from my typical chronological order to cover the Truck race from Memphis first instead of the Nationwide race from Loudon.
On Saturday afternoon, SPEED televised the MemphisTravel.com 200 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts. As anyone who actually lives in the Southern United States (not me) would tell you, the big story of the weekend (and really, most of the previous week as well) was the extreme heat. Temperatures nearly reached 100 degrees ambient (air temperature) at the track before the race started, and the heat index made that feel like almost 110 degrees. Apparently, some of the SPEED production crew thought Krista Voda was going to drop like a wilted plant out there during the NCWTS Setup pre-race show, but Voda held up fairly strong despite weather that would have made it difficult to stand up. Apparently, Rick Allen and Phil Parsons also had to do without A/C in the commentary box. That might be worse than being outside, to be honest; you’re stuck in a closed room where the windows can’t open, it’s 100 outside, and it’s humid as can be. What brutal conditions…
Anyways, during the pre-race show NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell joined Rick and Phil in the booth to talk about the series and how it can be improved. O’Donnell seemed non-committal to any potential changes, simply toeing the company line and saying that NASCAR is evaluating things, including potential double-file restarts and another change to the pit stop rules. At this point, the five men over the wall and separate fuel and tire stop rules in the Camping World Truck Series have gone over just about as well as the infamous pit stop rules that were instituted in NASCAR and ARCA at the beginning of 1991. For those of you who don’t remember that travesty — or simply weren’t around back then — what I’m talking about was a reaction to the death of crew member Mike Rich at Atlanta in November, 1990 due to a crash. Because of safety concerns on pit road, tire changes were banned under yellow by NASCAR. Instead, each car had a sticker placed on their windshield to tell them when they were allowed to pit. There was a blue sticker with the number one for odd qualified cars, and an orange sticker with the number two for even qualified cars. After a race was restarted, no one could pit until the second time around, when a blue flag was displayed… allowing the blue stickered cars to pit. The next time by, an orange flag allowed the orange stickered cars to pit… and so on.
Confused? Just try actually being a NASCAR crew chief trying to figure this all out. Oh yeah, and NASCAR docked teams laps for changing tires under caution, no matter the reason why. Despite all that madness, the pit lane speed remained unrestricted (what helped cause the tragic death in the first place) until this convoluted system was dropped in favor of (more or less) the current system we have today by April of that year.
The race coverage itself was OK, but the action on the track wasn’t really helping things for SPEED on this day. In short, the series is not the strongest at the moment, as even though it was a relatively benign event with few wrecks, only 23 trucks finished the race — with 19 on the lead lap. It could be argued that the lack of double-file restarts hurt the racing, but they would only affect the action for a few laps after cautions to begin with. Basically, what I’m saying here is that the trucks aren’t giving SPEED much to work with these days… and that’s a shame. Hopefully, things will get better in the future as the series looks to rebuild and replenish its fan base moving forward. Apparently, there is a meeting coming up soon in which NASCAR may propose some new ideas in order to cut costs. As a result, I’m thinking that a return to the Truck Series of 1996 or so could be in the cards. If anything, I don’t think that they’re going to do as many races next year on superspeedways … that’s for sure.
For some reason, SPEED refused to show a replay of the incident in Turn 1 between the No. 8 of Dennis Setzer and the No. 81 of Tayler Malsam that caused the GWC. No clue why this was so. Neither Rick nor Phil mentioned on air that the SPEED cameras didn’t actually catch the spin, and while the network played some aftermath footage of the incident — they didn’t tell or show much else. The only reason why I bring this up is the fact that Malsam and Setzer aren’t exactly nobodys in the Truck Series this year, as both drivers were in the top 10 in points going into Saturday’s race.
One thing that I didn’t like about the Truck telecast was the post-race coverage… it was ultra lean. After the race ended, there were interviews with the top three finishers (Ron Hornaday, Jr., Brian Scott, and David Starr) as well as Hornaday’s crew chief, Rick Ren. There was a check of the point standings and the unofficial results — but then, SPEED abruptly left the air a little early. I’m uncertain as to why they did such a thing — maybe so their camera crew and on-air staff could get out of the sun and into an air-conditioned room? Seriously, whatever their reasoning, they left the air about 10-15 minutes before their window was up without anything really important coming up on SPEED (I think NASCAR Performance followed the race). It continues to baffle me how post-race coverage could be cut short with that type of scenario in place.
Earlier that Saturday, ABC televised the Nationwide Series’ Camping World RV Sales 200 presented by Turtle Wax from New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This week saw someone on ESPN’s on-air staff finally take Kyle Busch to task for his now-infamous petulance during NASCAR Countdown. In doing so, Rusty Wallace effectively echoed my own personal opinion of Kyle’s behavior. Personally, I wish Rusty, or someone else at ESPN, made this statement earlier in the year. At this point, Kyle Busch would be right at home on a show like the O’Reilly Factor. Even though a statement like that doesn’t make a lot of sense… hang with me here. The O’Reilly Factor, and by extension, almost every other talk show on the 24-hour news channels feature hosts and guests cutting each other off and acting like a bunch of eight-year olds. Kyle Busch’s behavior after races he doesn’t win is kind of similar to such a temper tantrum. The scene at Milwaukee after the Nationwide race is what you can get when you interview Kyle once he loses a race. Like on those talk shows, he never actually answered any of the questions given. He just made his viewpoints and sulked off.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jerry Punch took the week off to relax at home, likely in preparation for the Sprint Cup portion of the NASCAR on ESPN schedule that starts in just one month. Punch’s replacement for the weekend, Marty Reid, did his typical good job on the mic in his place. There is most definitely a different feel to Nationwide telecasts when Marty calls them instead of the Doc.
One major difference occurs right from the drop of the green, as both men choose to handle the presence of the start and park teams in opposite ways. Jerry Punch may acknowledge when those teams go behind the wall… but not always. Typically, he’ll only reference them if something more notable happens to those cars, like the wreck that both Day Enterprises (No. 05 of Casey Atwood and No. 85 of Brad Baker) cars got into with John Wes Townley at Nashville earlier this year. In comparison, on Saturday Reid made reference to each and every one of the S&P teams when they packed it in, including the No. 96 of Willie Allen being black-flagged for not having a crew chief. That is a new one… as there was probably no crew there, either.
Reid also appears to have a bit more emotion in his commentary than Dr. Punch does. Admittedly, the most vivid memory I have of Reid in the booth was the inaugural truck race at Daytona in 2000 on ESPN (Note: A clip of the live call by Marty Reid of Geoffrey Bodine’s crash in that race is available HERE). I was only watching the race that day because a big snowstorm moved in and canceled school here, giving me the opportunity to tune in. When rookie Kurt Busch hooked the No. 46 of Rob Morgan, and Morgan bounced off the No. 52 of Lyndon Amick and came back into Geoffrey Bodine’s No. 15 Line-X Ford, Reid simply said, “Oh, we’ve got trouble! This is gonna hurt!” The rest is history, as it was a moment where Reid showed pure, genuine emotion on air. I’m not really sure how Dr. Punch would have handled that crash back in 2000, but I think that it would have had a completely different feel.
Transitioning back to Reid’s NASCAR call in 2009, there was a little bit of confusion during the first caution of the day on lap 52. Andy Petree was under the opinion that NASCAR would open up pit road the first time by the entrance after the pace car caught the leader. This used to be the case, but it was changed a few years back to the second time around in a move that likely appeased television. You’d think that with the trio being TV broadcasters, they would know …
Also, ABC/ESPN wound up using their popular Up to Speed feature twice. The first one, on lap 35, covered the first ten positions, while the second one on lap 78 covered positions 11-20. However, these features are essentially given an entire segment to themselves, because they are surrounded by commercials. I cannot say that it is a good thing to setup the Up the Speed feature this way… but I don’t work for ESPN.
I do give the network credit for finding the debris that caused the yellow on lap 157, though (a spring rubber). It is still quite rare for debris to get shown on a broadcast, even though fans consistently want it to be shown. Jayski has taken to calling these yellows “Mystery Cautions” for “Phantom Debris” in his short race coverage recaps — because if no one else can see the debris, how do we know it was actually there?
Overall, the day’s coverage had its ups and downs… but clearly benefited from a different face behind the mic in the booth.
Speaking of who wasn’t there in the booth, TNT broadcast the Sprint Cup Series’ Lenox Industrial Tools 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway without a familiar face. Bill Weber, TNT’s normal play-by-play guy, was sent home on Friday night due to an altercation in the lobby of his hotel in Manchester, NH. It is unclear what happened to cause the suspension at the moment; all we know is as a result, TNT suspended Weber for Sunday’s race and possibly beyond.
The last-minute changes resulted in some shuffling of talent on Sunday. Ralph Sheheen, who has plenty of booth experience with short track racing, road racing, motorcycle racing, and the World Rally Championship (dubbed in from Charlotte), was tapped to move up from pit road and take Weber’s place in the booth. This left TNT with just three pit reporters (Lindsay Czarniak, Marty Snider, and Matt Yocum) instead of the usual four. Jim Noble, who typically reports exclusively for TNT’s RaceBuddy service, also helped out a little for the pre-race show.
Weber also usually hosts the popular Countdown to Green (the actual pre-race show, as opposed to NASCAR on TNT Live!, which is the pre-pre-race show). Instead, Marc Fein, who usually hosts NASCAR on TNT Live! along with Larry McReynolds, took over Weber’s hosting duties seamlessly. In fact, Weber was not even mentioned at all on Sunday — it was as if he didn’t exist. Now, I’m sure that some fans would be happy to see him out of the broadcast booth. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Bill Weber on play-by-play, especially knowing how he got the permanent play-by-play gig back in 2004 (Allen Bestwick broke his leg playing ice hockey, giving Weber a chance to sub for Bestwick. It quickly became permanent). I’m fine with him being on pit road and hosting Countdown to Green, but I always thought that NBC/Turner made a mistake switching Weber and Bestwick’s roles. I’ve mentioned in the past that I do not advocate people getting canned, though. I feel that I am no position to do that, having no experience in television. If I were to do that, people would just say something along the lines of “Who died and put you in charge?” and then ignore everything I’ve written.
Speaking of pre-race, I noticed that TNT broke out some photoshopped pictures of various NASCAR on TNT personalities after Kurt Busch talked about his hunting trip with Darius Songalia. That makes me think TNT wants their NASCAR Live! show to be like Inside the NBA with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith. I don’t think that is really possible with the current crop of on-air personalities, though. No one really rocks the boat like Charles Barkley does on the NBA telecasts; and, truth be told, I don’t think NASCAR wants anyone like that remotely near a microphone. Kyle Petty may be the closest that TNT has to such a personality, but he’s really not involved with the pre-race show.
Now, how did Sheheen work out in the booth on short notice Sunday? I think he did pretty well, to be honest. It was definitely a change from Weber, who is about as excitable in the booth on a typical day as Dr. Jerry Punch (not a compliment). Sheheen definitely seemed to know what he was doing, despite never having done play-by-play for a Sprint Cup race in the past. I guess doing play-by-play of a Cup event is like commentating on any live race, with the only difference that the terminology may be different depending on which series is being covered. I think that gut feelings have to be brought into play as the race unfolds, as well. For example, TNT was going to do a Through the Field right around the time that Carl Edwards pitted under green. Sheheen, sensing that Edwards’ stop could be the beginning of a round of green flag pit stops instead of just an unscheduled stop, decided on the fly to audibly cancel the Through the Field in order for the network to cover the action. Good move.
However, there were still a couple of problems that I had with the broadcast.
One issue that I had right at the beginning of the race was with the audio. I swear that I could hear in-car audio layered underneath the regular audio of the cars racing each other. No one in the Frontstretch Live Blog backed me up on this… so maybe it was just me. All I know is that I definitely checked to make sure RaceBuddy was muted (which it was) before typing that into the Live Blog discussion. This was a very weird anomaly to listen to; but luckily, it only lasted a couple of laps.
One thing that I was not really happy with on Sunday was TNT’s job in covering Joey Logano’s incident on lap 181. Apparently, their cameras did, in fact, catch Logano’s spin in Turn 4. However, this angle of the incident never made the broadcast (at least, I don’t remember it making it on there). They never showed the spin in their replays. However, they did show Logano’s contact with the No. 39 of Ryan Newman, and the left rear going down a lap later. Yet, the next day I did actually see the spin that occurred during SportsCenter’s highlights of the race on ESPN Monday morning. Simply put, I shouldn’t be seeing something new there if I watched the entire race. Something just isn’t right about that.
Another issue that I had was the complete lack of utilization of the brake cam. As you may already know, New Hampshire is one of the toughest (if not the absolute toughest) tracks on brakes on the Sprint Cup calendar. That makes them a major story, and there is just something that comes with seeing a brake rotor glowing from hard usage during a race. I don’t know what that is… but there is something about it that is so cool. Yet viewers on Sunday would not have even known that the No. 55 of Michael Waltrip had such a camera installed in his car. In fact, the only footage shown from that camera all weekend was during one of the Saturday practice sessions on SPEED — a great segment which actually showed a really quirky feature. When Waltrip slammed on the brakes, the rotors turned a light blue color (but really bright) instead of red or orange. Larry McReynolds and Steve Byrnes were a little confused as to why this was so, and hoped to get a concise answer (turns out it was the padding installed that was helping turn the color blue). While they were figuring that out, McReynolds did reveal that brake temperatures during the weekend in New Hampshire were running as high as 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, which is way above normal for a NASCAR track. It was a nice statistic I’m sure millions of fans would have loved to have heard the following day … but they never did.
That’s all from TV-land for this week. Next week is the traditional midpoint of the NASCAR season, the Firecracker 400 weekend at Daytona International Speedway. On Friday night, the Nationwide Series races in the Subway Jalapeno 250 powered by Coca-Cola, where I hear Jared Fogle’s going to be the Grand Marshal (you might remember who that is). On Saturday night, the Cup Series races in the Coke Zero 400, back on its traditional July 4th date for the first time since way back in 1992. I will critique both of these races for next week’s entry. The Truck Series has this upcoming weekend (and the next one) off.
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 TNT, 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!
Didn’t see any of TNT’s telecast, but it had to have been better without Weber. Shame he couldn’t be banned from the booth for life.
Happiness is not having to listen to Weber run his mouth. Last Sunday’s telecast was the first one I’ve enjoyed in I don’t know how long!
You have to remember that it is very difficult for SPEED to find room for the modified series races , what with their solid lineup of Pulitzer Prize quality shows . Shows like Truck U , Pinks , Wrecked ,Chop Cut Rebuild , and all of the other big budget blockbuster programming we’ve come to expect from SPEED . Not to mention the constant self promoting commercials that soak up so much time . Where would you possibly find time for actual racing shows among that type of lineup ?
Does anyone else think its very strange that the Bill Weber story is being so carefully ignored ? Kyle Busch or Dale Jr. gets into an “ altercation “ in a hotel lobby and every blog , tv show ,and news paper in the US would have non stop investigation as to what and why . We would know the entire story by that afternoon .Yet , apart from announcing that there was indeed an incident , there is no information about it at all .
Funny, everyone seems to have gotten to a point where they care more about who calls the race than they do about the race itself.
“I swear that I could hear in-car audio layered underneath the regular audio of the cars racing each other. No one in the Frontstretch Live Blog backed me up on this… so maybe it was just me.”
It wasn’t just you. I heard the same thing. (The 5.1 audio really made it pronounced).
According to what I head on Sirius, Bill Weber had a “heated argument over a game of cards” at the hotel they were staying at. I for one would love to see Allen Bestwick hired by TNT and put back in the booth. I sent TNT an email about this and hopefully others will do the same.
I watched the race on Race Buddy and really enjoyed it. No replays but the “Battle Cam” shows that there actually was racing at NHMS. And no Weber made it that much more enjoyable. PLEASE bring back Bestwick. Any network that doesn’t put him in the booth is missing out on a ratings increase.
“I swear that I could hear in-car audio layered underneath the regular audio of the cars racing each other. No one in the Frontstretch Live Blog backed me up on this… so maybe it was just me.”
I heard it too.
I am positive that all the nay sayers could do a much better job than Weber.Whats that you say? no high school diploma,no broadcast experience,no vocabulary,no brains. Oh well I am sure you could all do a superior job than old Bill so I guess I will be listening to all of you knuckledraggers next race, riiiight.
“The race coverage itself was OK, but the action on the track wasn’t really helping things for SPEED on this day. In short, the series is not the strongest at the moment, as even though it was a relatively benign event with few wrecks, only 23 trucks finished the race — with 19 on the lead lap. It could be argued that the lack of double-file restarts hurt the racing, but they would only affect the action for a few laps after cautions to begin with. Basically, what I’m saying here is that the trucks aren’t giving SPEED much to work with these days… and that’s a shame.”
Most of the lack of action on the track is not a product of the racers, or even the track. It is mostly a result of NASCAR meddling with the rules of what was, two years ago, the best racing NASCAR had in any series. Along came the days of the “tapered spacer” (read: restrictor plate), which was hailed as a “cost-cutting measure”, but in reality resulted in more R&D costs for the teams. It’s main purpose is to slow the trucks down so the Sprint Cup cars are the fastest at any given track.
The new pit rules are a joke at best, and downright dangerous at the worst. Before the change, only the lead lap trucks stopped on the first lap pit road was open. Now every caution is a “quickie” yellow, in which all 36 trucks can pit on pit road. That means there is a potential for 180 people to be over the wall on any given caution. With 36 trucks on pit road at once, it’s like jogging through traffic on the interstate.
It’s time for NASCAR to realize the repercussions of their actions before they lose the most exciting series in their fold, or even worse, injure a crewmember or driver with their “cost-cutting measures.”