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 July 21, 2009
Hello, race fans. I hope you enjoyed your weekend. I certainly did. I had fun, not just critiquing races but relaxing, sleeping in, and hanging out with a group of employees at the local YMCA. Going into this weekend, I had planned on only covering the Truck and Nationwide Series races. However, I had not noticed that SPEED was covering the ARCA Re/MAX Series event as well. I guess it was supposed to be tape delayed, but I’m not sure how much it was tape delayed by — not by much. All I know is that this setup led me to critique three races over a period of 5 1/2 hours. Not really ideal, because of the constant switching back and forth … but enjoyable just the same.
First up Saturday night was the Truck Series’ Built Ford Tough 225, held at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY. Generally, this was a fairly good telecast, definitely helped out by the good, hard racing at the front of the field. However, I do have a couple of gripes.
One of them came out of the second caution on Lap 54 for J.J. Yeley’s crash. SPEED never showed the audience a replay of the wreck, which is kind of sad. Makes me think that they completely missed it, didn’t want to show it, or simply ran out of time. Regardless of your reasoning for doing that, you must notify your audience. If SPEED did not have any footage of Yeley’s crash, then they should have owned up to it. Have Rick Allen mention that they did not have any footage of the crash and apologize … don’t just ignore it. Which leads me to my next point.
I have had issues this season with how SPEED has handled the myriad of S&P (start and park) teams in the Truck Series. Unlike the Cup Series, where you might see a maximum of four or five cars S&P, in the trucks, it’s a much bigger issue. On Saturday night, 12 of the trucks, a full 1/3 of the starting grid started and parked out of 36 starters. Now, I’ve been critical of how FOX, ESPN and TNT have handled the issue, but I haven’t really talked about how SPEED’s treatment of it has gone this season.
So, what is their philosophy? It’s simple: pretend like its business as usual. The SPEED commentary crew basically glosses over the issue and never really talks about it at all, as if none of these S&P’s are even happening. That’s astounding, for at this point, unlike the Cup or Nationwide Series, there is basically a demarcation line in the starting grid around 25th to 26th position. If you qualify higher than that, you’re likely going to run the whole race. If not… there is a good possibility that you will S&P. Mind you, there were three trucks that failed to qualify for Saturday evening’s race, and I don’t really know what the plans were for those three teams. I do know that Dillon Oliver brought sponsorship to the Stott Classic Racing No. 02 from Potencia Energy Drink, but I’m not sure about Jack Smith or Ryan Mathews.
Anyways, back to the point; SPEED just pretends like these teams don’t exist. This is not good policy, in my opinion, and will only lead to more of these outfits. SPEED also doesn’t recognize when these trucks go behind the wall (it’s an issue on their ARCA telecasts as well, since Allen and Parsons anchor them minus Michael Waltrip). It is possible this “oversight” is also SPEED policy, though. I’ve discovered this year that each outfit seems to operate differently. It also seems to depend on who the play-by-play man is. Whereas Dr. Jerry Punch might ignore S&P teams, Marty Reid will at least mention them when they pull off, for sometimes strange reasons (Ex: Willie Allen being black-flagged at Loudon for not having a crew chief).
The result of S&P’ing is that teams just start pulling off the track gradually, and the only way that fans know about this is seeing the teams listed as off the track in the scroll. That’s it; that’s all fans get. I want a little more coverage of this right now, though. I know I’m not the only person that’s ranted about this, either, because John Daly went on about it (via Twitter) Saturday night. He suggested that NASCAR help out some of the smaller teams with tire bills. I don’t see that happening… but it’s a thought.
I was happy with the coverage of side-by-side racing through the field on Saturday, but with all the S&P teams and legitimate mechanical issues, only 19 trucks finished the race — which is far too low of a number. I can only hope that more teams can get sponsorship in order to compete properly.
Later on Saturday, I was faced with the prospect of critiquing two separate races going on at the same time at two different venues. The ARCA Re/MAX Series’ Click It or Ticket Buckle Up Kentucky 150, aired on SPEED, was on at the same time as ESPN aired the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 for the Nationwide Series from Gateway. This created a rather annoying situation where I had to constantly switch back and forth so that I could talk about both races. I had given thought to just watching the ARCA race at 9:30 PM (since there was no scheduled repeats) while waiting for the repeat of the Nationwide race. However, the Nationwide race repeat did not start until 3:30 AM… so that was nixed.
In the interest of clarity, to begin I’ll state my thoughts on the ARCA telecast. This is due to the fact that the ARCA race started first (by a couple of minutes), and that it was at Kentucky Speedway as well as the aforementioned Truck event.
The one thing that I have never really liked about combination weekends involving the Truck Series (or Cup Series) and the ARCA Re/MAX Series is that despite the fact that they have experienced TV crews at the track covering the races, it seems like they intentionally use lesser production values during the ARCA coverage. For example, SPEED used just two pit reporters for the ARCA telecast (Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander). I also think that some cameras (I’m not sure which ones) may be deactivated during the ARCA race. As a result, ARCA Re/MAX Series races televised on SPEED have similar production values (at times) to ARCA races covered on lesser networks, like the MavTV deal last year. An example of this is the fourth caution, when Brad Reithmeyer and Josh Richards collided and crashed on Lap 40. SPEED’s cameras missed the contact and only caught the tail end of the wreck on one of their cameras.
Since ARCA is down to only 11 televised races this year from the full slate in recent years, they have to treat those races as showcases for the series. I’d also argue that they need to have more in-car cameras available in more cars for the race telecasts. This season, SPEED has mainly used footage from just one or two cars in their telecasts (the No. 2 of Tim George, Jr., and sometimes, the No. 44 of Frank Kimmel). Instead, I think four cars with in-car cameras is a good rule to live by for smaller series.
As for the actual racing out on the track, it was very good. I especially liked the action-packed fight for the lead between Parker Kligermann and Grant Enfinger. Good stuff. And, if there was a quick lull in that battle, SPEED cut back to show other ones further back.
At the same time as the ARCA race was on SPEED, ESPN2 broadcasted the Nationwide Series event. Due to the mess that was the TV schedule Saturday night, the pre-race show (NASCAR Countdown) started while the Truck race was still on. I’d like to think that will not be the case next season. With television, having the races staggered on each other like that would hurt both races ratings-wise.
Having said that, the pre-race show included features with Kevin Harvick working for a local Jimmy John’s (a chain of sub shops). On a personal note, we had a Jimmy John’s in Albany, NY last year, but it only catered to state workers. Thus, it maintained hours that were unfriendly to anyone who doesn’t work in Downtown Albany (10-5 Weekdays, 9-3 on Weekends, or something like that). As a result, I never got to try the place before it went under. Another feature included Carl Edwards at the All-Star Game at Busch Stadium.
I’m thinking that ESPN would do well to come up with a graphic that shows which cars have to drop to the rear of the field for both the Cup and Nationwide Series telecasts. In my case, it is not so much an issue with the Cup Series since it’s fairly easy to figure out who has to start in the rear on Sunday (or Saturday night). However, it is not so easy in the Nationwide Series. In addition, Marty Reid (or Dr. Jerry Punch) should audibly make note of drivers who voluntarily choose to drop to the rear of the field as well.
Like I mentioned earlier, Reid continued his typical routine of making note of teams that went behind the wall early. The first car to do this was the No. 42 of Kevin Hamlin, who had qualified tenth quickest earlier in the day. He literally disappeared within a couple of laps. Eight cars S&P’d within the first 15 laps.
I was not really sure about the placement of the first Up to Speed segment since it literally led right into the pit stops. This is new, since it’s usually done right in the middle of the run. I guess it was beneficial because it informed viewers on the changes that the teams were planning to make right before they made them. I think they should have started it a little bit earlier, though, because ESPN almost ran out of time before the pit stops started.
Reid notified the viewers that the Full Throttle telemetry comes from the leading car on the restart; in this case, the No. 18 Toyota driven by Kyle Busch. This answers a question that I posed in last week’s critique. Perhaps Marty actually reads this article in his spare time?
On another positive note, I liked the fact that ESPN broke out of commercial to show Kevin Harvick out of gas on the backstretch. However, at the time I was not 100 percent sure it was actually an early return at first. I thought that they came back at the “regularly scheduled time” out of the break and Harvick had just slowed down off of Turn 2. Whatever the answer, I’m happy to see any network come back from break without missing a storyline.
I’m not sure what the “Opportunity Up to Speed” that ESPN was doing was all about. Was this a new name for a version of Up to Speed that would focus on Nationwide-only drivers, or just another sponsor for Up to Speed? We’ll never know because right as they started it, Brendan Gaughan and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. collided and crashed in Turn 1, bringing out the sixth caution flag. To ESPN’s credit, they provided the audience with interviews from both Gaughan and Stenhouse, allowing the audience the chance to gauge the responses, which is always good.
If there was one thing I didn’t like Saturday, it was some strange video feed action during the fifth caution (the one for the Scott Lagasse, Jr. crash). The picture just “got weird.” It’s kind of hard to explain, but it kind of reminded me of those MTV Video Music Award broadcasts from back around 2005 when they were constantly plugging Sony’s new cameras, which created an experience similar to movies for an almost-live telecast. I thought it was strange then… and it’s strange now.
Overall, though, I think this was a very good broadcast to watch. If ESPN’s Nationwide telecasts are going to be like this for the rest of the season with Reid in the booth, then I’m all for it.
That’s all for this week. Next week is Indianapolis. The Cup Series has the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Sunday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, IN, often referred to as “the big track” in the Indianapolis area. This race, following the off week, begins the ESPN portion of the schedule. It will be the trio of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett, and Andy Petree in the booth for the Cup Series from here until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, a few miles away in Clermont at O’Reilly Raceway Park, the Truck Series has the AAA Insurance 200 Presented by J.D. Byrider on Friday night and the 27th running of the Kroger 200 for the Nationwide Series on Saturday night. These two races both have coverage starting at 8 PM, and will be shown on SPEED and ESPN, respectively. I will provide a critique of all three of these races for your reading pleasure. In addition, I will also include a short rant about the policies of how TV networks refer to the races they’re doing. I’m not a fan of it… so be prepared for that!
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. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. 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!
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Early in the truck race, SPEED went to commercial with Hornaday closing on Malsam for the lead. When they came back, Malsam was in the process of wrecking, having already been passed. There was no mention, let alone a clip, of Hornaday taking the lead.
I heard Darrell Waltrip say in an interview that Jeremy Mayfield was really only waiting for Nascar to offer a settlement to him so he would go away . I wonder if we all took up a collection , could we make Waltrip go away .
Start and park teams are treated as “business as usual” in the coverage because they ARE business as usual.
As long as last place pays more than the cost of bringing a car to the track and qualifying it there will be people who, in slow economic times, can’t afford to race but can afford to qualify who figure that last place money is a way to make a living.
Start and park cars have been there in the past. Assuming the socialist nuts currently in power fail at preventing the economy from recovering the start and park “problem” will go away when more people can afford to actually compete.