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 September 15, 2009
Hello, race fans. The Richmond race weekend every September has always been an exciting weekend. Good racing is nearly guaranteed and, since it’s a short track, there is plenty of contact to go around. However, since 2004, this weekend has taken extra importance because it is the last race before the Chase for the Cup begins. Thus, it’s an all out free-for-all for a group of drivers trying to lock themselves into the 10-race playoff at the last minute.
However, this week started out on a much lighter note for some of stock car’s best. On Wednesday night, 19 full-time Sprint Cup drivers, two NHRA Funny Car drivers (Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon), Aric Almirola, and the driver of supposedly undetermined age (although it’s probably somewhere around 78 or 79) Red Farmer gathered at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Oh. for the “Prelude to the Dream.” The “Prelude to the Dream” was originally scheduled to be run on June 9th, but rain forced the card to be postponed. Due to the rescheduling, a couple of drivers originally scheduled to run had to back out: Jeff Gordon due to a conflict, and Bill Elliott and Carl Edwards due to injuries.
The “Prelude to the Dream” itself was a pay-per-view broadcast put together by the FOX production staff for HBO. The event cost $24.95 and those buys, along with other donations, went to help four separate charities. Those charities are the Wounded Warriors Fund, Fisher House, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and Operation Homefront. All of the TV personalities for FOX (Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip, Matt Yocum, and Dick Berggren) donated their time and came to Western Ohio on their own dime.
The FOX crew considers the Prelude to be a laid back affair where they can have a bunch of fun, and it definitely shows. Everyone involved was definitely having a good time. With pay-per-view, it also meant that it was a marathon. The only breaks that the booth got during the broadcast were during the three 30-second breaks for plugs for companies that helped to sponsor the telecast.
The action was pretty fast and furious, with passing on the track, multiple grooves being used, and everything. Generally, races on dirt tracks don’t have all that many cameras. I’m not sure of the number of cameras that they had at the track on Wednesday, but it was much lower than anything we’ve been used to when it comes to Cup broadcasts. That was to be expected, though. There were a solid eight cars with in-car cameras at Eldora, and they all were pointed towards the drivers themselves. I didn’t notice any of those onboard cameras that were pointed forwards in any of the eight cars. Now, as far as I’m concerned, yes, this can be done. It’s been done for years with the CORR Series, and even with the Whelen Modified telecast a few weeks ago at Bristol.
There were also plenty of interviews during the telecast, far more than what we’ve been used to outside of rain delay coverage. I liked that. Oh yes, and since it was technically a FOX telecast, this must be said. By the way, there was no Digger. He had no place there at Eldora, and thus, he did not appear.
In conclusion, I liked watching the “Prelude to the Dream” and think that it’s a great way to benefit charities and just have some fun. The idea of why the Cup Series, or one of the other major NASCAR series doesn’t race on dirt, was brought up during the broadcast and I think it’s something worth looking at for the future (although the splitters would probably have to go to make it happen). The ARCA Re/MAX Series already has two 100-mile races on dirt each year. However, those dirt races are at the Illinois State Fairgrounds (the “Springfield Mile”) and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, both flat one mile dirt ovals.
However, for divisions like Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series, I wonder if there is a dirt track that can: 1) Hold the necessary crowds and 2) Handle 43-car fields, both on the track and in the pits. The 43-car field rule, instituted in 1999, forced renovations to most of the short tracks in the Busch Grand National Series (at the time) and was a contributing factor to Hickory being forced off the schedule (along with the fact that the track couldn’t raise a $500,000 minimum purse). NASCAR is holding firm to the 43-car field, as far as I know. Dirt races in NASCAR outside of the Whelen All-American Series and the former O’Reilly All-Stars Series are incredibly rare. The Goody’s Dash Series (before NASCAR stopped sanctioning it) did a one-off at Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Savannah, Ga. a few years ago. Before that, it was 1979 that a NASCAR sanctioned pavement series actually raced on dirt (the then-Winston West Series at the former Ascot Park in Gardena, Ca.). I could potentially see the Camping World East and/or West Series sticking a dirt race on their schedule (I can see it now: The Lebanon Valley 200), to be honest. I don’t know if any dirt track is feasible for either of NASCAR’s top 3 series, though.
In addition to the racing at Richmond, the Truck Series also had its own race, the Copart 200, at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. This race was essentially a standalone event for the trucks and run on Saturday afternoon.
The pre-race show, NCWTS Setup, was essentially a typical affair from SPEED. Fairly well put together, it started off with a recap of the Lucas Oil 200 from Iowa. One feature included a look at the relationship between Mike Skinner and his wife, Angie, including a look at him learning to dance. A second feature showed the changes that have occurred in Timothy Peters’ career this year, from running an underdog team (Premier Motorsports) out of a two car garage to driving for Red Horse Racing and how it’s helped his confidence. This was the first that I had seen of the “two-car garage” that the team used as it’s shop, reminding you about how what Peters has done already is amazing. It was no bigger than what some weekly racers use for their race cars.
The audio problems that hampered part of the Iowa broadcast were thankfully nowhere to be seen on Saturday. I don’t know what was up in Iowa to be honest, but the volume issues were definitely not evident in Illinois. As a result, Benson could be heard more clearly on the broadcast.
Speaking of Benson, I think he’s still trying to find his legs up there in the booth. Before I go on, I will admit that I’m a Benson fan and have been since way the heck back in 1992, when ASA had the Player’s Ltd. Cup, a series of races held in Canada at tracks like Mosport International Raceway, Cayuga Speedway and Race City Speedway (Calgary, Alberta). Right now, though, it seems to me that having Benson in the booth is like having two Phil Parsons up there. The only difference is that Parsons has never (to my knowledge) driven a Camping World Truck and has never raced in the series. Benson has that experience from having driven in the series for the last three plus years, and thus can relate to all kinds of issues from an inside perspective.
SPEED’s coverage late in the going made me confused. I have no clue why Crafton had to come to pit road in order to serve his penalty if all they were doing was sending him to the end of the line. I didn’t notice tires being changed or adjustments being made to the truck. Judging by the way Crafton came back through the field after the restart, he probably did take tires… but SPEED missed it. Perhaps NASCAR wanted to give Crafton a “talkins’ to.”
Because the race ran long, the post-race was extremely short. It featured interviews with only the winner (Mike Skinner), points leader Ron Hornaday, and Matt Crafton. It also featured two separate point checks, with different margins between Hornaday and Crafton. When SPEED was leaving the air, Rick Allen mentioned that NASCAR was considering docking Crafton a lap for illegal passing before the green came out on the final restart (evidently, this did not happen). Due to time constraints, no replay was shown to show where this could have come from. From the wide angle shot used on the restart, it looked like Crafton was passing on the right, which is legal.
What was SPEED trying to get to so quickly? NASCAR RaceDay from Richmond. Essentially, they left a live race so that they could hype another race (that, due to rain, did not start until after 8 p.m.). 24 minutes were cut out of NASCAR RaceDay because of the truck race running long. This really did not affect the RaceDay telecast at all (some of the ancillary stuff that probably was going to be included got washed out). Personally, I think that they could at least tie up some loose ends before they left air in Madison and got down to Richmond.
On Friday night, the Nationwide Series ran the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 (a very unwieldy name to say, honestly) at Richmond. ESPN2 broadcasted the race with the trio of Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth, along with the usual quartet of Spake, Welch, Little and Burns on pit road.
Personally, this broadcast was not the best I’d ever seen. It wasn’t horrible, but it was OK. There was a significant focus on the leaders (Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin before his contact with Edwards and subsequent green flag pit stop), but that has been typical of the Nationwide Series broadcasts this season. Even with the relatively long green flag runs, there was only one “Up to Speed” during the race. It only covered the top 10.
Marty Reid did his typical job in the booth, which is generally good and is what we’ve come to expect out of him this season. Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett did fine, but the trio can only do so much with what the production crew gives them to work with.
I was not a fan of ESPN’s choice to take a commercial right during an intense battle for the lead between Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards while they were negotiating lapped traffic. I think that ESPN has the power to hold off on these breaks until the action calms down a little, but this was just terrible placement.
The post-race coverage was slightly more extensive than normal since the race ended just a little bit quicker than ESPN thought it would. Eleven interviews were sandwiched into the post-race coverage, along with post-race analysis from the booth, and from Bestwick, Wallace and Daugherty in the Infield Studio. However, the Victory Lane interview that Jamie Little conducted with Carl Edwards was quite rough. Yes, we know that Edwards has a broken foot and won’t be backflipping any time soon. However, it seemed like half of Little’s interview with Edwards was about the lack of a backflip and the idea that some people would be unhappy not to see it. To his credit, Edwards answered all of Little’s questions, but I just did not like that interview. Usually, Jamie’s more solid than that. Oh, and before you ask, no, I did not formally introduce myself to her while I was in Watkins Glen. She did say hello to me at one point, though.
On Saturday night, the Cup Series held the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. This was the first Cup race of the year aired on ABC. The remaining races (“The Chase”) will be shown on network television. ESPN’s usual Cup crew of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree provided the call for ABC.
I guess us race viewers have gotten used to the races being exclusive to basic cable over the past few months, as Saturday night’s race was the first Sprint Cup race on network television since May 31st. As a result of the race airing on network television in prime time, more commercials than normal would be required to pay for the telecast. This was something that I honestly assumed would happen going into the race, but some fans were undoubtedly caught off guard.
I’ll admit right now that this telecast has become my least favorite of the year ever since the Chase was created for 2004. This is because all of the focus goes toward the Chasers and those that were trying to get in at the expense of everyone else in the field. On Saturday night, even some of the Chasers that weren’t locked in (like Ryan Newman) got the snub.
Essentially, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch, who were in that dogfight for 12th, received the lion’s share of TV coverage Saturday night. Almost no one outside of the top 10 in the race, unless they were a Chase prospect, or in trouble (stalled, wrecked, etc.) got any airtime. Now, I’m pretty sure that the Mars Corporation and Red Bull were plenty happy with the coverage, since they got most of the exposure money (I’m not a hundred percent on how that works, but generally, companies earn more money the longer their cars are on screen), but everyone else was likely seething. Mind you that this was without either car having an in-car camera. If either one did have one, there probably would have been even more focus on them.
Unfortunately, this is what the Chase creates. The sad truth is, I don’t know how I would have covered this race had I been the director. Busch, Vickers, and Kenseth have to get their air time since they’re on the bubble. So do the other 11 Chasers. The other drivers need to get their time as well, but sometimes there just isn’t enough time to get everyone on the air.
I’m generally for a more inclusive broadcast and this was definitely more exclusive than inclusive. I was watching an old TNN race from New Hampshire (1998 Jiffy Lube 300) the other day where, during a green flag run, they took a few laps and went back through the entire field (that was on the track at the time) and focused in on every car and play-by-play man Eli Gold related where every single car was in the running order and a little about that car. Now, personally, I never liked TNN broadcasts back then because Gold’s voice grated on me (I would have been 13 at the time), but this wouldn’t be a bad idea to throw in during a green flag run. If you’re going to use tight shots all the time to show off your HD capabilities (that it’s debatable how many viewers really care about), you might as well use them to show everyone.
Also, ABC missed the restart from the fourth caution due to commercials. Normally, I’d really pound into them for that, but it was a local commercial break. These are required in most sporting event telecasts and cannot be cut, like the national broadcasts can.
I was not a fan of the way that the cameras panned for the races off pit road during the race. Typically, the camera is fixed at the line where the cars are exiting off pit road so that we could see the race off. However, on Saturday night, ESPN chose to pan up pit road during the exit, which was a little weird. Then again, Richmond is not a typical race track. Because pit road has a slight curve to the left before the end, there doesn’t appear to be a camera position that is straight across from the exit like at most tracks. This led ESPN to experiment.
The race off pit road with less than 20 laps to go was the worst of all. Since the focus was only on Busch and Vickers, ESPN did not really show the final race off pit road. All they said that was that Busch beat Vickers off pit road (which is true). The view of the cars exiting pit road was from behind the pit wall, apparently from the view of Busch’s crew. No order was given of the top 10 until right before the restart, unlike a normal rundown as the teams hit the pit out line. This should never be repeated under any circumstances.
Post-race coverage was, once again, completely centered on the Chasers. All 12 of them got interviewed in the post-race show. The only non-Chasers to get any on-air time were Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, who just happened to be the last two drivers to be eliminated from the Chase. This is very similar to what ESPN did last year.
That’s all for this week. Next week is the first week of the Chase. The venue: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (still seems weird saying that) for the Sylvania 300. Coverage will be on ABC and kicks off with a one hour edition of NASCAR Countdown at 1 PM EDT. Race coverage will start at 2 PM, with a green flag expected around 2:15 PM.
The Nationwide Series takes next weekend off. Their next race is at Dover on Sept. 26. However, the Truck Series is also in New Hampshire this weekend for the Heluva Good! 200. Coverage starts with NCWTS Setup with Krista Voda at 2:30 PM, with race coverage to follow at 3 PM on SPEED. Why so late a start? Because before that comes on the air, there is the New Hampshire 100, a Whelen Modified race. And SPEED is going to televise that as well. The modified coverage starts at 1 p.m. And even better, all signs point to the Modified race being a live telecast, unlike the Bristol race last month. This means that there won’t be any strange cuts. I will be critiquing all three of these races for your reading pleasure 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!
I hope you’re not surprised to hear that Nascar ALWAYS ran on dirt for the first 3 decades of their exietence . They still should . While a venue large enough to accomodate the crowd is certainly an issue ( though Bristol was covered in dirt several years ago and they have the seating capacity ) thats not the reason they will never run on dirt . The reason is that Brian , all of the Nascar hierarchy , and the sponsors would never agree to getting their nice clothes and shoes covered in dirt , dust , or OMG mud.
Yes, the Eldora show was FOX , the worst tv production crew on earth , so just think how much better it would have been if done by a competent network.
The main issue for a dirt track would be… can the COT run on dirt or would they need to develope a car specifically for dirt. If that were the case then I don’t see it happening. With “cost containment” be the mantra of the day a special dirt track car isn’t likely.
Anybody getting real tired of Jerry Punch’s favorite line ( ad nauseum ) “ if the race ended now “ ? We’ll still have to hear it every two minutes , but now it will refer to the Chase instead of the lead up to the Chase .
Mark – totally agree about the “if the race ended now” comments. The race isn’t ending now, so whatever drivel is about to come out of your mouth – are you listening Jerry Punch? – is totally irrelevant.
Whats the countdown to the 500? I’m looking forward to bringing back the “Digger Drinking Game”.
Drink everytime you see Digger. Wait… how did those races end?
The chase is over-hyped, end of story.
I have no idea what the “Prelude” race looked like on the tube, but being there is great!
It’s far and away the best race I attend every year and wouldn’t miss it.
Stewart and his friends put on a great show year after year, and the facilities are first-rate for that kind of venue.
Now if they could just figure out how to keep it from raining on the June date . . . .
Great show, Tony!