NASCAR, IMSA and AMA Pro announce Fanschoice.TV
posted by Mike Neff
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Free live streaming of events will allow fans to view previously unavailable live events online
AMA Pro, NASCAR and IMSA announced the launch of Fanschoice.tv today. The free service will stream motorcycle races, sports car races and regional touring and local short track events. The first event will be the AMA Pro flat track 200 from the 1/4 mile dirt track at Daytona International Speedway.
Fans will have access to multiple camera angles, live timing and scoring and a feed from the track’s PA system. In addition to the touring events from IMSA, AMA and NASCAR, three NASCAR Home Tracks have already signed on to be part of the release. Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA., Lake County Speedway in Painesville, OH., and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. will have all of their races available for viewing on the new service.
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour will all be shown on Fanschoice.tv. The awards banquets for both the Whelen All-American Series and the Touring Series will also be streamed.
IMSA coverage will include streaming of its developmental and single-make series, as well as selected practice and qualifying sessions for the two IMSA national sports car series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that are part of the recently-announced five-year agreement with Fox Sports.
NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday September 29, 2009
Hello, race fans. Last weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were each racing in Dover, De. Neither race was adversely affected by weather, although it was a potential issue on both Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, the Truck Series raced at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Las Vegas 350k.
However, before I get into my critiques of those races, a little news piece. Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Ca.) has announced a fan vote to determine the start time of next year’s Auto Club 500. As you might remember, this year’s race coverage started at 2 p.m. local time (5 p.m. Eastern) with a one hour pre-race show. The green flag fell around 3:15 p.m. (6:15 p.m. et).
To vote, go to this link at Auto Club Speedway’s website. There are two choices for the new start time for next year. One is noon local (3 p.m. et), while the other is 4:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. et). The voting page gives advantages for each time. Readers are urged to vote for either one or the other, and there is space where they want you to voice your reasoning for your pick. Personally, I chose noon. You can also voice your choices on the start time via the track’s Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter pages, or by e-mailing the track directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Based on the responses on ACS’ Facebook page, it’s fairly close right now.
Due to the split weekend, and how I prefer to group races at the same track together, I’ll start with the Truck Series’ Las Vegas 350k from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The pre-race has basically become almost routine for SPEED this season. Review the previous event, interview drivers, attempt to humiliate Ray Dunlap in a feature (all in good fun) with one of the drivers, and then there’s a wild card. This week, that wild card was the feature on Matt Crafton and his relationship with Kevin Harvick, complete with clips from the one year (2004) Crafton drove the then No. 6 Goodwrench Chevrolet for KHI.
The race coverage was fairly good, once the lights in Turn 1 got fixed (this delayed the start by almost 30 minutes). Johnny Benson was back in the booth for his third and final race of the year and I believe that he’s likely improved with every race. The excitement was high with the on-track action, although I think they might have overdone it with the comparisons to Daytona and Talladega because of the new gear rule. Yes, it created a different race, but it was not pack racing. The draft did play a role at times, but otherwise, it was a normal Las Vegas event.
However, there were a couple of things that I believe need to be mentioned here. SPEED seems to still have a policy of not mentioning teams that S&P during the race. Yes, they might mention them as part of the SPEED Spotlight at the beginning of the race, like they did at ORP when a bunch of new teams conjured themselves up out of nowhere to attempt the race. However, there is no acknowledgment when these teams bring in it for the night (or day). This needs to change.
Also, some of the camera shots were a little inconclusive when it came to the Ricky Carmichael-Max Papis crash on Saturday. Neither of the camera views of the crash showed whether Papis actually made any contact with the wall. Papis did finish the race two laps down in 18th, so it didn’t hurt him too much.
In the end, it was an enjoyable race to watch, although there isn’t a whole lot of on track action due to the general lack of trucks on the track that are running the whole race these days. This isn’t anything that the SPEED crew can do anything about, to be honest.
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series raced in the Dover 200, aired on ESPN2. Of course, this time of year, Nationwide races on Saturdays have to deal with the juggernaut that is college football. NASCAR Countdown was scheduled to start on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. (which, by the way, is way the heck too late to be starting pre-race to a daytime event in Delaware). The Indiana-Michigan football game, which started at noon went long, which resulted in NASCAR Countdown being pushed to ESPN Classic. Inside Note: The cable box I usually watch races on won’t pick up ESPN Classic for some reason (despite the fact that it comes up fine on the other ones in the house), so I’m thankful I was the only one home Saturday afternoon.
The actual pre-race was a typical affair that started with a review of the race two weeks ago at Richmond, then moved into interviews with drivers and pre-race analysis from Bestwick, Wallace and Daugherty in the Infield Studio. Standard fare here, not great, but not bad. It was passable, although knowing that there was rain in the vicinity (mentioned by Bestwick during pre-race), I’m surprised that NASCAR didn’t move the race start up.
Probably the most notable thing I saw in the race telecast was a big time technical problem that arose during the round of green flag pit stops. Everything went dark for about 30 seconds. Then, the ESPN2 graphic came up on the screen before it gradually faded into a commercial break. ESPN returned from this unannounced break just in time for leader Kyle Busch’s pit stop. Marty Reid apologized for this and referred to it as a “signal interruption.” What actually caused this interruption? I have no clue. It could have been any number of issues.
The combination of a runaway race by Kyle Busch that left only a few cars remaining on the lead lap by halfway and a lack of cautions resulted in a race that heavily focused on the front-runners (specifically, Cup regulars that moonlight in the Nationwide Series). Even the Nationwide-only regulars up front cannot get much airtime. Jason Leffler was invisible on Saturday. It was an outright surprise to me that he finished sixth because I didn’t remember seeing his No. 38 on camera all day. Even Mike Bliss, who finished second, didn’t get a lot of mentions. It’s also worth mentioning that he drew the eighth interview during the post-race coverage, which doesn’t really make much sense to me.
Due to the lack of cautions, the race ended nearly a half hour before the timeslot was through. In that time, ESPN aired eight post-race interviews (seven drivers and the winning crew chief, Doug Randolph). I can understand the crew chief and winning driver being first up for interviews. That makes sense. But, why does someone like Kyle Busch get second crack ahead of Mike Bliss?
There was also extensive post-race analysis from the booth and the infield commentators, and a piece from the Craftsman Tech Garage on post-race inspections. Informative, to be honest.
There are definitely aspects of the Nationwide telecasts that could be improved. There needs to be less of a focus on the Cup usurpers in the series, to be honest. It’s kind of sad that it can feel like some of the series’ bigger teams aren’t even there.
Finally, on Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series raced in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Pre-race was once again centered on the Chasers, although I will admit that the Chasers (with a couple of exceptions) were the strongest teams all weekend. A feature, Side by Side, that I think is new, premiered on Sunday. In this feature, a driver (in this case, Juan Pablo Montoya) is interviewed side-by-side with his crew chief (Brian Pattie). It was interesting and I hope ESPN continues this in the future, even with non-Chasers.
There was also a short piece on tailgating with Brad Daugherty and Marcos Ambrose. Couple thoughts on this. Not sure if Daugherty should have been doing this feature since he’s technically Ambrose’s car owner. Screams of favoritism. Also, this was essentially a three minute commercial for Bush’s Baked Beans, since Jay Bush (the CEO of Bush’s Baked Beans) showed up along with his dog, Duke, and there was plenty of Bush‘s product placement. Thirdly, I could just see that Vegemite sandwich coming a mile away.
Now, I’ll be honest with you. This was not the greatest race on earth to watch. Johnson couldn’t be touched once he took the lead on lap 176. It was hard for me to get excited about while doing the Live Blog. However, the commentators in the booth have to get into the race to make it more palatable to viewers. Rarely should a commentator, or group of commentators be a significant draw to a sporting event, but I think it’s possible for commentary to hurt TV ratings.
Although, I will admit, on Monday, I got to thinking. What would it be like with commentators of other sports (if they had the proper knowledge of the sport) in the booth? NASCAR has had races with people like the late Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Paul Page and others in the booth in the past. Could you imagine someone like the excitable Gus Johnson in the booth for a NASCAR race (he might be perfect for Talladega)? I’m not endorsing firings, swaps (like John Daly has been saying for most of the last three seasons), or anything like that. Just thinking out loud.
On Sunday, ESPN once again focused heavily on the Chasers, leaving little air time for everyone else in the field. The refrains being uttered on Twitter often had to do with a lack of field resets during cautions. Yes, we have the scrolls at the top of the screen. That should not be the only way that fans of non-Chasers can keep track of their favorite drivers. Makes me wonder what it would have been like trying to follow my favorite driver (Johnny Benson) had he continued in the Cup Series full-time after 2003. I think it would have been annoying. Also, visual cues are only so good. Not everyone is a visual learner. Some people prefer to hear things as well. ESPN needs to take this into account.
Also, ESPN needs to take great pains to show the pieces of debris on the track when NASCAR throws these debris cautions. I can remember FOX going to these lengths in the past after a significant fan outcry, so I’m pretty sure that you’re capable of doing the same thing. It probably isn’t that hard, knowing that ESPN always has a bare minimum of 60 cameras on site every week. Although, I will admit that NASCAR’s criteria for debris to cause yellows might be a lot smaller than it once was. During our Live Blog from Loudon, S.D. Grady mentioned that NASCAR saw a bolt on the track during green flag pit stops. They waited until after the stops before throwing the yellow for it. I don’t think that small bolts used to draw debris cautions in NASCAR.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief because the race went over its timeslot shortly before completion. There were six interviews (five drivers and Chad Knaus, the winning crew chief). The point check was added into the scroll during these interviews. There was some brief post-race analysis from the booth commentators and some comments before the infield studio before ESPN left the air around 6:10 p.m. et. Slightly less than ten minutes was given to post-race.
I think that ESPN can still make a good telecast of a Cup Series race, unlike what some other people believe. In addition, I think it can be done with the current people in their current roles. Nobody needs to be swapped or outright canned. There just needs to be a change in philosophy in how these races are covered. The races do not need to be “scripted.” I could understand scripting NASCAR Now somewhat and maybe NASCAR Countdown, but not the races. Races are by nature, unpredictable, and need to be covered as such. I can understand some talking points being thrown around from time to time, but not the entire telecast being based around ideas bandied around in a midday conference call on Tuesdays.
Speaking of ratings, the overnights for Sunday’s race are in and they’re not good. Higher than last week, but not good. 2.7 is the overnight rating, down seven percent from last year. Compared to 2001, the ratings are down over 30 percent. The decline once the NFL regular season got underway is typical, but still very worrying.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is Kansas Speedway’s one Sprint Cup weekend of the year. Three races will held and all are televised, thankfully.
The ARCA Re/Max Series will hold the Kansas Lottery $150 Grand on Thursday evening. I have no clue why. Probably just so the track can have a fourth day of ticket receipts, although it’s arguable that may hurt the ARCA teams and prospective drivers that like to show off their abilities to Cup and Nationwide owners. The race will air live at 5 p.m. et on Thursday night. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons will be in the booth.
Around the time the ARCA race ends, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series transporters will move onto the property. On Saturday, the Nationwide Series races in the Kansas Lottery 300. Coverage will start with NASCAR Countdown on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. et (2 p.m. Central) and the race will follow at 3:30 p.m. However, beware. There is another college football game, Arkansas State vs. Iowa, that is scheduled to start at Noon on Saturday and end at three. Don’t be surprised if NASCAR Countdown gets pushed to ESPN Classic again.
The Sprint Cup Series races on Sunday in the Price Chopper 400 Presented by Kraft Foods. For those of you wondering, Price Chopper is a “supermarket concept” by Associated Supermarkets based around the Kansas City area. It is not to be confused with Price Chopper Supermarkets, based in Scotia, New York, which served as an associate sponsor (on the C-Pillar) on Scott Speed’s No. 82 Toyota at Watkins Glen. Coverage will start at 1 p.m. et (12 p.m. ct) on ABC with a one hour edition of NASCAR Countdown before the race coverage starts at 2 p.m. et. The green flag is tentatively scheduled for 2:15 p.m. I will be critiquing all three of these races for next week’s critique. In addition, I will cover anything else of note that might come up in the next week that pertains to the telecasts.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. And if you would like to contact TNT, ESPN, or the SPEED Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage of NASCAR, please click on the following links:
As always, if you choose to contact the networks by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions in a courteous manner than emails full of rants and vitriol.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
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Hey, give the TV people a break!
How would you like to go on TV for some 5 hours and try to make NA$CRAP sound exciting?
And if I ever hear “a shootout style re-start” AGAIN, IT WILL BE THE LAST TIME EVER I EVEN WATCH A COUPLE OF LAPS OF AN “EVENT”!
Can’t show debris that isn’t there.
Ratings down again, for something like what, five years straight? The Chase has really generated some kind of excitement.
Phil , these Cup races , for that matter ALL of the Nascar series races , have been almost totally scripted for decades . There have been non stop complaints for years about the over the top coverage of Jeff Gordon and now Johnson . The all Hendrick – all the time tv coverage is because the tv people have their favorites ( not to mention the payola from certain teams , drivers , and sponsors ) and each pre race tv production meeting is used to create storylines and invent drama for those particular teams .
You said ESPN can still make a good broadcast of a cup race. If they can, why don’t they? There is a reason the ratings have dropped for the last 5 years. Both the production and the races have been poor. For me, it has gone from “MUST SEE” to “if there is nothing better to do”.
Mark, I’ve never read a more reasoned and correct comment than you just made. Thank you for taking the time to express what many of us feel.
and as Gordon82wins states!
An IMPOSSIBLE situation for ANY TV “nitwork” to show “debris”, that does not exist, on the track!
Can you imagine the control booth going NUTS trying to look at 60+ cameras ALL TRYING to find a piece of NA$CRAP DEBRIS?
How funny that scene would be!
You know why they don’t bother to show the debris, because they simply get tired of looking for it!
Maybe they need to put a paper cup on a long string and pull it across the track when the yellow for “debris” comes out!
Maybe S&P’ers aren’t mentioned on the Truck broadcasts because Phil Parsons is one of the owners of the notorious MSRP Nationwide S&P team?
Maybe the EESPN team would do a better job calling the races if they were allowed to look out the window and call what is happening on the track rather than what the folks in the truck think should be on the screen?
Yes, EESPN should try to show the debris – but NASCAR can’t win when it comes to debris. They get criticized for throwing a caution for debris that can’t seem to be found – but the media would try to crucify NASCAR if they did not throw a caution and a wreck occurred as a result of debris. It does seem to me that NASCAR needs to err on the side of safety when it comes to debris – and I suspect Felipe Massa would agree with me.