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
Tuesday March 4, 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 · Thursday August 6, 2009
Hello, race fans. First off, I’m sorry that it’s Thursday and you’re just getting the chance to read this critique. The rainout on Sunday has played havoc with our typical weekly schedule here at Frontstretch, with articles having their days switched up and some pieces being swapped between the website and the newsletter and vice versa. Therefore, I’m sorry if this information seems late to you guys.
However, before I start, I must make an apology. In last week’s critique, I stated that ESPN did not mention Allstate’s sponsorship of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at all, instead always referring to the race as the Brickyard 400 presented by Golden Corral. This was not true. Last week, NASCAR’s own PR man, Ramsey Poston, contacted the site to refute this point, proving four examples in which Dr. Punch referred to the race as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. However, I stand by my previous statements in that I believe that the terms of the TV deal — one which requires race sponsors, no matter how big they are, to purchase a minimum amount of air time in order for their race names to be used on air more than a couple of times per race—is ludicrous. I have thought this since 2001, and it continues to remain the television equivalent of a check-in, or bag fee.
With that said, let’s get on with this weekend’s thoughts on the telecasts.
Last weekend, there were four major races on the stock car racing calendar. The Sprint Cup Series and the ARCA RE/MAX Series were at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series was in Newton, Iowa on Saturday for the inaugural U.S. Cellular 250, which was a rousing success. In addition, the Camping World Truck Series was in Nashville for the Toyota Tundra 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Due to the weekend setup, I’m going to start with the Nationwide race from Iowa Speedway first. And, man, did I enjoy the action on Saturday.
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series ran the U.S. Cellular 250 presented by Northland Oil and TMC Trucking at Iowa Speedway. The pre-race show was a typical effort from ESPN, but I liked that ESPN had Joe Balash, the Nationwide Series Director, in the booth during the pre-race show to talk about the track and how much they liked it (which was quite a bit).
Once the race started, you could tell that ESPN had two main focuses in their broadcast. One of them was Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Kevin Harvick having to start at the rear of the field because they had other drivers qualify their cars (Jeremy Clements, Auggie Vidovich, and Cale Gale, respectively). Of course, this was a repeat story from ORP, one that needed to be tracked but not overly reported. The other was basically the race for the lead… there was no in-between. As a result, there were quite a few lost stories during the race.
At least Marty Reid took it upon himself to give shout-outs to the teams that were running well on Saturday that weren’t getting that coverage that they really deserved. Those cars included the No. 72 of Benny Gordon, the No. 26 of Michael McDowell, the No. 28 of Kenny Wallace, and the No. 10 of Kelly Bires, amongst others. While that’s nice and all, that does not really give those teams the coverage that they rightly deserved during the non-caution segments.
On the plus side, I did like the explanation given for Kyle Busch (I think)’s pit selection. This was because it was next to the No. 49 of Mark Green in the second Jay Robinson Racing Chevrolet. It was noted on air that there were no tires in the pit stall and, at best, a skeleton crew. They may have been non-existent — I couldn’t quite tell if there was a crew in the stall at all based on the view. All I could see was a relatively small rolling tool chest.
From what I’ve seen, a lot of viewers had issues with loss of perception of what was going on at the track due to constant tight shots and in-car views. In-car views are very cool, but they’re not what they once were. Unfortunately, the in-car view that many of us grew up with is effectively no more. This is mainly due to the design of today’s race cars making those shots impossible now. The seat designs of today make it impossible for a panning camera in a traditional location to see much of the driver, as additional roll bars and the headrest block much of the view. I’m fairly sure panning technology for in-car cameras is still around; however, the days of fast-panning cameras, like what Dale Jarrett had in the 1988 Budweiser 400k at Riverside (recently aired on ESPN Classic) are long over. They actually irritated some drivers, like Earnhardt, back in the day with their usage.
In their place are the tight shots that people seem to have so many problems with appear to be typical of ESPN. It’s “their thing,” if you will. In my opinion, though, it’s not the best way to go about broadcasting a NASCAR event — I don’t care which event it is. In the future, I’d like to have ESPN use more wide shots in their broadcasts. They help viewers get an overall view of what’s really going on. Yet it seems like the only way that fans really get this on an ESPN broadcast today is the rare appearance of the blimp (or helicopter) view. That view rarely appears outside of outros from commercial breaks, though.
Also, ESPN missed a couple of incidents on track. The first of these was Aric Almirola’s wall contact, which brought out the fourth caution of the race. ESPN showed the No. 40 Westerman Companies Chevrolet after Aric pulled it onto pit road and into the garage area, but there was no replay at all of the crash. There was also no interview with Almirola. Now, it’s possible that Almirola may have declined to be interviewed. That’s life. It happens … but the public needs to be notified of that.
As far as talent, what I have seen over the past few weeks is that the group of Reid, LaJoie and Wallace is possibly the best possible combination of booth commentators for the Nationwide Series right now. Reid is definitely into the series, and his enthusiasm is contagious. LaJoie and Wallace are also solid together. In the case of Rusty, it’s a far cry from the shakiness that he displayed while doing the IndyCar telecasts in 2006, or his first year doing NASCAR on ESPN in 2007.
Later that evening, SPEED broadcast live coverage of the Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra 200. The first thing that viewers noticed about this race was the four-man booth. Since the race was run at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon (really Gladville), Tennessee, Darrell Waltrip decided to make an appearance. This resulted in a busy booth, very similar to the race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last year when Ned Jarrett dropped by. Comparing the two, the control of traffic was probably better on SPEED Saturday night than it was on ESPN last year.
Granted, Darrell decided to add in his “Boogity Boogity Boogity” to the call of the beginning of the race. I expected it, to be honest. I have no real opinion of it showing up, though, as it had been awhile (about two months) since I heard it. I don’t necessarily pine for it. I probably pine for it about as often as dead birds pine for the fjords. But, I can put up with it much more easily than I can put up with Digger.
Generally, I thought this was not all that bad of a telecast. I do think that SPEED may have been trying to play up Hornaday’s accomplishment as being bigger than it was. SPEED was equating Hornaday’s five in a row with the five in a row streaks by Richard Petty and Bobby Isaac in 1971. In my opinion, the feat is undoubtedly incredible. However, this is the Camping World Truck Series, not the Sprint Cup Series. If Hornaday, or someone else accomplished this in the Sprint Cup Series, then it would be that much more significant.
Now, we come to the action at Pocono Raceway. The reason why I designed this critique in this fashion was so that I would not have to jump from Pocono to another track and back to Pocono.
Before the Nationwide race ran on Saturday, SPEED provided live coverage of the ARCA Re/MAX Series’ Pocono ARCA 200. Steve Byrnes was joined in the booth by special guest Kyle Petty for the race. Petty continued his now normal routine of commentating while tweeting, an idea that’s become popular with many fans watching the telecasts. In addition, Rutledge Wood was also there (although never heard on air) and posted some pictures from inside the booth during the race. This was pretty cool, to be honest. Gotta love that scoring screen that the commentators have at their disposal. It’s the size of the TV I use to watch the races here at my house.
Kyle is probably the most brutally honest commentator in all of stock car racing at the moment. When asked why he wanted to become a stock car racer as a kid, he gave two answers. One (the so-called PC answer) was that he came from a rural area (Randleman/Level Cross, North Carolina) where kids often followed in the footsteps of their parents. He specifically mentioned that there are third and fourth generation farmers in his hometown. The Non-PC answer was simply “I was too lazy to do anything else.”
The TV coverage also brought some new tidbits of knowledge out. For example, Tim George, Jr. (No. 2 Ruby Tuesday Toyota) was sent to the rear of the field for indexing his steering wheel. This is commonplace in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series, but it is against the rules to stop after leaving pit road to do it in the ARCA Re/MAX Series. I think it’s a strange rule, to be honest. It’s probably also rooted in the fact that the ARCA Re/MAX Series races on a lot more short tracks than NASCAR’s top three series do, so it’s more of a precaution than anything else (due to track width). Remember, this series used to race at places like Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Indiana. That place is small and narrow. Still a quirky rule, though.
Something that I often notice in ARCA telecasts in weekends where they share the track with one of NASCAR’s big three series is that the ARCA telecast seems to miss some stuff, as if they either turn some cameras off for the race or put some less experienced operators on the camera platforms. I’m definitely voting for the former here. As a result, a couple of the incidents did not have the best camera shots. The crash on lap two involving Chris Lafferty (No. 89 Chevrolet) was only caught in a shot that missed why he had gone high in the first place. The other incident was when Dakoda Armstrong’s No. 4 Dodge burst into flames on the frontstretch. Byrnes and Petty assumed that something from the previous dig in and wheelie caused that fire, but the cameras missed the car bursting into flames.
I also do not understand the tape delaying of the race. Yes, it’s not by much (seven to eight minutes, if I remember right), but it’s noticeable. Why do they do it? Is the race start time not dictated by the media, so SPEED has to slightly delay it so they can fit in an interview or two before the engines crank?
With that said, I value any ARCA Re/MAX Series coverage these days, and overall, this was a pretty good telecast to watch. I fear what is going to happen TV-wise to the series next year, especially since Re/MAX is pulling back their sponsorship due to the housing slump.
On Sunday, the Cup Series was supposed to go off for 500 miles of action at Pocono Raceway. However, heavy rains the morning of the race, dreaded weepers, and more showers in the afternoon conspired to delay the race to Monday.
Sunday’s telecast turned into a series of interviews with drivers (I think they interviewed half of the starting field, including drivers that don’t usually get interviewed, like Scott Speed.) There were reminiscences of prior races, and even some good-natured ribbing from Rusty Wallace at Dr. Punch, Petree, and Jarrett’s decision to all wear purple ties. It was an enjoyable way to spend a lost Sunday. Of course, I’m saying that after watching no less than seven races on Sunday online in order to fill the void.
One of those races was the 1990 AC Spark Plug 500 from Pocono, which aired on ESPN. This is an underrated race that ESPN Classic should air at some point. However, the fact that Earnhardt didn’t win it may hurt the ratings. It amped me up for a good race on Monday, and Monday’s action did not disappoint for once. But, did the telecast hold up?
Due to my work schedule on Monday, I could not watch the pre-race material. This was because I was en route home from work in order to participate in the Live Blog. From what Mike Lovecchio tells me, there was a brief introduction to the broadcast, then the opening ceremonies and an expanded interview (meaning more than two or three questions) with the In-Race Reporter, Carl Edwards. I arrived home at the tail end of this interview with Edwards, but in time for the race.
I was not pleased with the coverage almost completely focusing on the top 10 in the first 30 laps of the race, with Tony Stewart and his issues being the only exception. I don’t like that. There is plenty of racing for position throughout the field, but it appeared that early on, ESPN had an agenda that they were following to a T.
I will admit that I found it notable that Dr. Punch took the time to mention that Mike Wallace’s No. 64 was not just black-flagged, but parked by NASCAR for not having a pit crew, like Joe Ruttman was at Rockingham in February, 2004. However, NASCAR let Wallace race at the back of the field for 30 miles before they gave him the heave ho, unlike Ruttman, who was parked after a lap or so.
I think that ESPN’s commentators maybe should have taken issue with the caution thrown (No. 2) for the tire carcass from Paul Menard’s No. 98. It came to rest on the inside of Turn 3, next to the inside wall. That yellow did not need to be thrown—simple as that—especially since it was right around time for green flag pit stops.
I was happy with the action later in the race, but the shots needed to be a little bit wider so that viewers could see a little bit more of the action. In addition, those wider shots would allow viewers to better see how these swooping moves are setup. A good version of a “Swooping Move” caught from an in-car camera can be found at the beginning of this clip from 1987. The camera there was located in the middle of the car, but could be swiveled around 360 degrees. I miss those.
Something that definitely should not have been missed by ESPN was the bump under caution that got Robby Gordon a five lap penalty following his second spin out. They should have had a camera following him all over the track under that caution, to be honest. Kudos should be given for ESPN playing the audio on air where Robby claimed that he was going to take out Stremme. The resulting second spinout was definitely intentional on Stremme’s part, but due to the pictures given to us viewers by ESPN, I have no clue why he retaliated. I’m forced to assume that Robby’s threat was relayed to Stremme over the radio, and David acted accordingly. I kind of doubt that. My guess is that the bump happened under the previous caution, and then NASCAR decided to punish him after the fact… which is not right.
I think that ESPN also spent too much time dissecting the whole Johnson story later in the race at the expense of other teams that probably could have used the coverage. Shannon Spake had an interview with Chad Knaus, where Knaus told Spake that they had fixed the problem. However, Knaus never mentioned what the problem was. I wish Spake could have asked Knaus what the problem was so that we viewers could have heard it (I’m assuming at this point that it was a bad spark plug). After the race, when Jimmie Johnson was interviewed, he claimed to not know what was wrong with the car.
Another example of reporting which could have been better was that until Wednesday, I had heard nothing about Reed Sorenson’s Carbon Monoxide issues. I wish this could have been discussed on the broadcast.
The lack of excitement in the last 30 laps was also quite stirring, to be honest. I think my mom even noticed this, and she’s not a race fan. She probably doesn’t understand why I started following NASCAR back in the early 1990’s, but never discouraged me from following it, even quenching my thirst for more. That’s all I’m going to say about this issue for now…
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be at Watkins Glen International in the town of Dix, NY (seriously, it’s not officially in Watkins Glen, but it does have a Watkins Glen mailing address) for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen and the Zippo 200, respectively. However, I will not be critiquing these races. Why not? I will be representing Frontstretch.com on the premises, so I won’t have the ability to do it. I plan on having a substitute critique the broadcasts for next week.
However, while I’m there, I am going to have a couple of one-on-one interviews with ESPN on-air personalities. With the tone of some of the critiques I’ve written so far this season, this is a bit of a coup for me. This will result in a written piece or two on Frontstretch in the next week or so.
As of this writing, I am already confirmed to have a sitdown interview with Allen Bestwick on Friday afternoon right before Pole Qualifying (that will get in this year, thank God). In addition, I plan on talking with Shannon Spake, and the Holy Grail interview with Dr. Jerry Punch is likely in the cards (That’s right). However, I do fear a Bissinger-Leitch like affair potentially occurring in the Punch interview since I’ve been quite hard on him this season. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the aforementioned confrontation, it occurred on an episode of Costas Now last year on HBO. The subject was New Media, specifically blogs, and their impact on sports journalism. I don’t think it’s going to happen, because I think Dr. Punch is professional enough to not let feelings like that get in the way, but it’s going to be at the back of my head.
These interviews and a tour through ESPN’s on site production facilities (during the Pole Qualifying session on Friday) are designed to give me a higher understanding of what goes on during a broadcast. I hope these opportunities will be a benefit for my column.
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!
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Here is why the TV casts really suck when it comes to the CUP series in particular.
Scenario: King Brian has often stated he does NOT attend the races in person, thus relies on the TV coverage. So, comes race day, King Brian is in his easy chair, TV is on, Martini in one hand, his “pleasure tool” in the other, he is READY for the race!
And of course the telephone sitting on the stand ready and rarin’ to go!
EACH word spoken by the race-casters is filtered thru King Brian’s mind, such as it is anyway, the SLIGHTEST deviation from the PRO-NA$CRAP script, is cause for King Brian to pick up the telephone and call the booth (of course, the biggest dilemna here is, what hand does King Brian “shake loose” to use the telephone?)
The one with the Martini?
Or the one giving him “equal pleasure”?
WOW! What a choice to make!
This of course interupts King Brians pleasure for sure, and his subsequent “conversation“to the offending announcer is none to kind! Of course reminding said announcer where his paycheck is coming from!
A man gets really agressive when you take away either HIS ALCHOLIC DRINK, or his MANLY PLEASURE! (well, the good news is he is not driving at this point, so the roads of Daytona are safe for a while anyway.)
And of course, the later in the race, the worst the penalties!
And all of you thought King Brian was only pulling our “pud”!
How do you think a phrase like “he must have cut a tire down” got started? (just after
“Never again will a GOODYEAR tire just “fail”, it is ALWAYS a “cut” tire”!
“Yes Sir King Brian”.
By the way King Brian, is that “BLUE GOOSE” you have in your glass?
MMMM, wonder just how close this scenario really is?
Is it REALITY? Or is it FICTION? Decide for yourself!
I’ve often thought that a lot of the problems with the camera shots was the advent of HDTV. The angles have nothing to do with the action, rather how “cool” the shot will look plastered on the big screen. Like anything in NA$CAR broadcasting, it’s way over used. Of course, King Brian will like anything “plastered”.
First , i wouldn’t be so sure that ESPN doesn’t have the Gordon- Stremme incident on tape . They always seem to be able to come up with every tiny incident , why not this one . Now why they aren’t broadcasting it is another question .
I thought the higher qualified driver got to pick his pit stall before the lower qualified driver, right? So when Kyle Busch made his pit stall selection, he had no idea which team was in front or behind him. I’ve heard this story mentioned several times before where the media comments on what a good decision a team made with their pit stall selection. But it doesnt make sense to me.