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 · Tuesday August 25, 2009
Hello, race viewers. The infamous Bristol night races have historically featured close racing, wrecking, and tempers. However, the wrecking and tempers have decreased significantly since the track was reconfigured in 2007, creating “graduated banking.” As a result, the races this past week lived up to the old ideals of Bristol, but with more competitive racing for position because of the banking allowing for side-by-side action and multiple grooves.
But, before we get into the critique, I have something that I need to address. Earlier this summer, I wrote about how it is generally wrong that the companies that sponsor the races are basically hit up for additional monies (via an ad package) in order to get their race name mentioned on TV more than once an hour. While I am still not a fan of this, I do have some additional knowledge on the topic now that I think my readers might find interesting. The day I left to drive out to Watkins Glen, I received an email from Mike Joy, NASCAR on FOX’s Play-by-Play man and a regular reader of my critique columns here at Frontstretch.
In the email, Joy effectively set out what the policy is regarding mentioning of race names in the current TV contract. Prior to 2001, the networks could effectively do whatever they wanted. Most just used the real race names. The only exceptions were Michigan on CBS when Miller sponsored the race (due to an exclusivity deal with Anheuser-Busch) and Charlotte in 1981 (referred to as the Charlotte 600). The real names of those races were never used on air.
Today, re-titling of race names in the above fashion is a violation of the TV contract. However, they still don’t have to use the official race names. If the network declines to use the real name (i.e. “The Price was Wrong”), they can refer to the race as “NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing on (Insert channel here),” or as “NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing on (Insert channel here), Presented by (Insert telecast sponsor here).” The actual factual race name must be used at least once per hour.
Now that I’ve gotten that little tidbit out of the way… back to Bristol. Did the race telecasts live up to the races themselves? Let’s find out.
The first race of the weekend was the UNOH (University of Northern Ohio) Perfect Storm 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds on Wednesday night. This race was actually a combination race for both modified divisions (north and south). Mike Joy and Dick Berggren, both Northeast natives, were in the booth for SPEED’s telecast.
The result of this tape delaying was a choppy, disjointed broadcast because of the editing. A bunch of laps in the second half of the race, including a caution and a brief red flag, were edited out so that the race could fit in its one hour time slot. The five to ten minute halftime break (been awhile since I saw one of those) was heavily edited as well. Also, there was an issue in the scroll where Eric Goodale was listed as the driver of both the #58 that he drove, and the #50 that Tony Hirschman crashed.
Having said all that, Joy and Berggren were definitely having fun with the broadcast. That is what I want to see in the booth. It was a different feel having just Joy and Berggren up there, perhaps because it had been the better part of 15 years since there was such a pairing. Also, while I feared that the Cup drivers in the race, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne, would take up too much time on the broadcast, that was simply not the case. They were complete non-factors, with Newman crashing out early and Kahne just not having the speed. After they dropped out, they were not even mentioned at all, which I’m fine with.
In conclusion, I would have greatly preferred this race to have been televised live. It would have solved most of the issues that I mentioned above. However, I still had fun watching the telecast, and Joy and Berggren were very upbeat in the booth.
Later that night, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced in the O’Reilly 200 Presented by Valvoline. I had a couple of issues with this telecast, mainly in the presentation. First off, SPEED missed the last restart while they were showing commercials. The green had already been out for two laps by the time that SPEED came back from commercial. This is not wise to do with 25 laps to go in a race at Bristol, mainly because you can miss a lot in a couple of laps at this track.
Another thing I didn’t like was how SPEED was trying to convince the viewers that there is some kind of rivalry in the Truck Series between Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday. As far as I’m concerned, to claim that there is a rivalry is a stretch at best. I think there’s none at all. Busch is not full-time in the Truck Series and skipped most of the recent events in Hornaday’s recent five race winning streak. Based on what I’ve seen this season, Kyle Busch has a stronger rivalry with at least three or four other drivers in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series than Hornaday in the Trucks.
I did like the piece with Johnny Benson that aired during the pre-race show where he talked about his super modified crash at Berlin Raceway (which he co-owns) and his recovery. It was good to see Johnny doing fairly well after that scary crash, and I’m sure Truck Series fans were happy to see him both on the broadcast and at the track during the pre-race festivities.
After a dark day on Thursday, Friday brought NASCAR’s top two series into Bristol Motor Speedway’s confines. The Nationwide Series had a one-day show Friday for the Food City 250. Unlike the rest of the Nationwide Series races since the Sprint Cup Series came back to ESPN, the “A team” of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett, and Andy Petree was in the booth for the race.
The differences were quite evident between the A team and the squad led by Marty Reid, albeit not as substantial as they were back in July when the switch was made. Before Reid took over in what we have been led to believe was a full-time play-by-play role for Nationwide Series races for the second half of the season, Dr. Punch started to give the S&P teams a little more attention. That continued here, but not quite to the level of which Reid performed earlier. Reid will likely return next weekend in Montreal, along with Randy LaJoie and Wallace.
The big wreck on lap 53 that took out Kyle Busch was really a mixed bag for ESPN. I feel that Dale Jarrett was, perhaps, a little too harsh on Chase for his actions. Keep in mind that this was his first start at Bristol in the Nationwide Series, and that it came together last minute. Austin admitted Friday in an interview during qualifying that Jason White was originally scheduled to S&P the No. 07, but had to opt out for some reason. Austin was thrust in there last minute, and was using Jason White’s seat to gain experience instead.
Also, knowing that Austin had a flat tire, I think that there would have been a yellow before Austin would have been able to get down to the apron anyway (if he had stayed up near the wall). I’m thinking that had he stayed up high and let the field go, the car might have spun out on him in the roughly two laps that it would take him to get off the upper line. Austin likely knew this, and this was why he was feverishly signaling out the window so that he could get to the apron as soon as possible. This accident was just one of those racing incidents caused by something outside of Chase’s control.
I give ESPN credit for actually getting interviews with all the principals involved in the crash, including Kyle Busch. In Busch’s case, ESPN basically followed him back to the No. 18 hauler, where he went inside to cool off before coming back out to talk about five to ten minutes later. Reed Sorenson and Chase Austin did interviews next to their broken automobiles.
The Austin-Busch-Sorenson wreck also saw an unexpected circumstance: An on-air interview with Armando Fitz, acting as the car owner for Chase Austin. Personally, I’d thought he exited the sport and sold his owners’ points (from the No. 22 last year) to Pete Szekeres. But, there he was in the pit stall. Dr. Punch knew that that it was Fitz, but the graphics department didn’t know that (they identified Fitz as Pete Szekeres). I had actually never seen Fitz on screen before, so I had to go to Google Images during the race and look up Fitz because I honestly didn’t know what he looked like (or Pete Szekeres, for that matter). I guess the No. 07 getting the No. 22’s points from last year was more than just a shift on paper.
I did have an issue with the way that replays were presented during the seventh caution of the night. For those of you following along, the seventh caution was the crash involving Brian Scott (in the No. 11 this week) and Peyton Sellers. The replays shown after the wreck showed Sellers and Scott spinning off of turn 4, but cut off before they hit anything. The booth commentators concluded based on that replay (I’ll admit that it was a little difficult to tell from that angle) that Sellers simply got loose. However, ESPN had more stuff that wasn’t shown for quite awhile. Eight laps into the caution, ESPN showed the wreck from a previously unseen angle where Scott effectively took out Sellers. In addition, they played audio from Scott’s radio where he basically said that he was going to push him out of the way. Well, he did; but it did seem like, in hindsight, that the replay was a little late and out of order.
Another piece of graphical advice that I’d like to give is to not use the “Leader” graphic, or the “Lead Change” graphics that go on top of the scroll during cautions. It’s kind of pointless and unnecessary, especially since the wave-around rule has essentially abolished the scenario where cars can be on the tail end of the lead lap.
Post-race on Friday night was actually quite similar to the post-race from Michigan on Sunday. The race went over their time slot, so ESPN had to rush off the air. In that time, they fit in short interviews with the winner (David Ragan), his crew chief (Mike Kelley), and the second and third place finishers. There was no points check before the coverage ended, which is quite annoying knowing that the commentators talked about the points for a good chunk of the race. Even if it’s just in the unofficial results scroll during the Victory Lane interview, please try to fit that in there for the viewers.
Saturday night brought on the Sprint Cup Series’ Sharpie 500 (the last night race at Bristol for Sharpie, but this was not mentioned, mainly because Sharpie didn’t buy the ad package). Last week, the pre-race show (NASCAR Countdown) was attacked for not being able to adjust to the stories as they break during the race weekend. Did this get any better at Bristol? Slightly. There were not any glaring omissions like at Michigan, but I think that ESPN should make a point to at least review the events of the Nationwide race as part of the pre-race show. Not only would it be a good idea, but it might help boost the fan base for the Nationwide Series.
As it stands, the one hour pre-race show was a combination of multiple features (one on Stewart-Haas Racing, another on Martin’s 1,000th NASCAR start, one (with the help of Tim Brewer) on brakes at Bristol, and a feature on anger) and multiple interviews (11 or so, slightly more than average). I generally liked the features, especially that one about anger.
However, the race telecast suffered from some of the same issues that the Nationwide one did. For example, it took forever to get a good replay of Kevin Harvick’s crash. I don’t know why the cameraman shooting the stack-up behind it didn’t zoom out in order to show Harvick spinning into the wall. Some have claimed that ESPN uses tight shots in order to emphasize their HD capabilities. Well, I just want to see the whole story… and to do that, sometimes you need to go wide.
Based upon the aforementioned shot that mainly showed the stackup behind Harvick’s crash (and Kurt Busch’s spin), the commentators thought that Bowyer spun out his teammate. Yes, Harvick had some contact with Bowyer, and Bowyer hit the wall as a result, but he didn’t cause Harvick’s crash. About six to eight laps into the caution, another replay was shown where it could be seen that Jamie McMurray actually got into the back of Harvick by accident and put him into the wall.
Saturday’s telecast also saw the debut of some features that highlight the Chase. First of all, the scroll was given a makeover to allow for certain drivers to have their names on a green background. Those drivers (12 in all) were in the Chase as of that moment. Drivers with yellow backgrounds were still in contention mathematically to get into the Chase, while those who had already been eliminated had the normal white lettering on a black background. Officially, drivers as far back as Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were still mathematically alive for the Chase going into Bristol (the drivers were 20th and 21st in points entering the race). This confused some viewers, since they had effectively been written out of Chase contention by everyone and their brother for months now. Most people (including ESPN’s own commentators) only saw four legitimate contenders (Kyle Busch, Vickers, Bowyer, and Reutimann) that could usurp one of the current top 12 drivers and get into the Chase. For the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta on September 6th, only those drivers within 390 points of 12th will get the yellow background (this will be the aforementioned four drivers, plus Ambrose and Jeff Burton).
Another feature that made its first appearance of the season was the Up to Speed feature that was focused on the Chasers (and for now, prospective chasers). This is generally not welcomed due to the fact that it completely ignores drivers out of the Chase, no matter how good they’re running. We’re now at the point of the season in which someone can race in the top 5 for much of an event, but still be nearly completely anonymous on the race telecast since they’re not in Chase contention (Mike Bliss at Richmond in September, 2004 is a blatant example of this). Effectively, the only way for a non-Chaser to get any publicity during the Chase is to win.
Also, in closing, I was also keeping tabs on ESPN’s RaceCast while doing the Live Blog on Saturday night. At one point, David Gilliland moved his No. 71 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet into the eighth spot early on after starting 12th. On their leaders graphic, the top 8 cars are shown using ovals. Apparently, ESPN never counted on TRG ever getting into the top eight at any point of any race, as the oval representing the No. 71 was a yellow oval with a question mark in it. Wow. Was not expecting that.
That’s all for this week. The Sprint Cup Series takes their fourth and final weekend off for the season next weekend. However, that does not mean that there won’t be any action on television to watch. The ARCA Re/Max Series and Camping World Truck Series are having a doubleheader at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday evening. The ARCA Re/Max Series will start the festivities with the Ansell Cut Protection 150 at 6:30pm, while the trucks will follow up with the Chicagoland 225 at 9:00pm (All times listed Eastern Daylight Time). Both races will air live on SPEED.
Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series will be at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge on Sunday (Note: I’ve always wondered why the length of this race is measured in miles when the race is in Canada, where the metric system is used). Race coverage will start around 2:30pm on ESPN2. I will critique all three of these telecasts for next week.
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!
This scrolling of who is in, who is out, who still has a chance, quote: “Officially, drivers as far back as Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were still mathematically alive for the Chase going into Bristol (the drivers were 20th and 21st entering the race)”.
IS ABOUT THE DUMBEST THING I HAVE SEEN IN A LONG, LONG, TIME!
To see Jr.s name as “still in the hunt”, was a slap in the face to the any fan that pays even the slightest of attention!
A full NINE (9) cars would have had to drop immediatley out of the race once the green flag dropped, and Jr. would have to drive to victory lane, in three (3)consecutive races yet!
Yep, elephants can fly!
Well, you know it is
Why even watch? Their (ESPN) killing the sport with their STUPID tactics!
Jr. has a better chance of winning the lottery that he does make the chase!
But he still has a chance! Right?
Don’t you really wish ESPN was a REAL sports channel?
I believe it was Matt Hirschman in the 50, not Tony.
Did anyone else notice Jamie Little say that Kyle Busch had not won since Las Vegas? And then later she said Kyle had not won since May but mentioned a different track? (Sorry I cant remember what track she said). Wow.
What Joy failed to mention in his e-mail , is that nothing has changed . If the race sponsors are willing to pay the network some extra money , then the race will be referred to by its contractual name . If the network does not receive its shakedown money , the the race will often be referred to by another name . And sadly , the same holds true for Joy and his cohorts . Pay them extra and your company will memtioned and shown on screen in direct prportion to the amount you pay them . Refuse to pay extortion money , and your company will be called “ and four new tires “ during the pit stops .
Cool, Mike Joy reads this column? Then pass this on to your cohorts Mike. Get rid of Jerry Punchline and put Alan Bestwick in the booth. Having to listen to “Well, folks”, while he doesn’t give a rat’s a$$ about what’s going on, doesn’t come close to endearing me to his broadcast. Send him back to baseball where he belongs.