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 October 6, 2009
Hello, race fans. Kansas Speedway brought us week No. 3 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The Cup Series raced on Sunday in the Price Chopper 400 Presented by Kraft Foods, while both the ARCA Re/MAX Series and the Nationwide Series both raced in events sponsored by the Kansas Lottery. It was 150 miles on Thursday for the ARCA teams, while the Nationwide teams raced 300 miles on Saturday.
The ARCA Re/MAX Series raced their 150 mile event on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. local time. At most tracks where the ARCA Re/MAX Series runs as a “support to the support” series to Cup Series, this would have been a Friday night event. Heck, even in midsummer, this would have been a Friday evening race after Cup qualifying. Likely the only reason why this setup was being used is because Kansas Speedway does not have lights. Unfortunately, a Thursday show for the ARCA Re/MAX Series hurts attendance, and also hurts the abilities of younger, up and coming racers to show off their skills to owners of Sprint Cup and/or Nationwide teams who won’t be on the property.
The race telecast on SPEED was slightly tape-delayed. I’m not sure by how much (my guess is 10-15 minutes), but I know it was. This has been par for the course with ARCA telecasts on SPEED this season. If you’re wondering how I figured that out, during the last commercial, which was about three minutes long, only one lap passed. This is rather annoying to those people who are viewing the free timing and scoring on ARCA’s website.
Rick Allen and Phil Parsons were in the booth for SPEED on Thursday afternoon, along with Ken Schrader, who joined in on the fun when a dirt late model race in Knoxville, Ia. got postponed to Sunday night by rain. Allen and Parsons have a solid rapport with each other, mainly because they have been working together for what seems like forever (in reality, a little over five years). Adding Schrader to the mix is sort of like adding Michael Waltrip, but without the self-promotion. Schrader still races every now and then in the series, so he also brings that all important insight.
Generally, it’s always nice to see ARCA races on TV these days, and this was a fairly good race to watch. Lots of action and a thrilling GWC race for the win between Parker Kligerman and Justin Lofton. However, there were a couple of issues I noticed.
First off, the No. 47 of Peyton Sellers, who was on the lead lap in his Cardinal Motorsports SFP-sponsored Chevrolet, stalled on the backstretch during the fifth caution. This apparently happened during a commercial break, as when SPEED returned from the break, a tow truck could be seen pushing the No. 47 to the pits. No reference was ever made to this. Sellers continued on to finish one lap down in 13th.
Another issue that I had (and continue to have with ESPN coverage, but that’s another story) is that references to which teams received Lucky Dog passes (or Free Passes, or whatever you want to call it this week) were relatively far and few between. I guess they slack a little bit on that when Mikey’s not around.
Post-race coverage was essentially non-existent. There was only an interview with race winner Parker Kligerman, a point check, and the unofficial results before SPEED left the air. That is simply not enough, especially for an event on a Thursday afternoon, when they obviously don’t have anything important that they have to get to. They could definitely take the time to at least interview Lofton, or even Grant Enfinger, who finished third. Enfinger runs well every time he drives that No. 83 during the televised races, yet never seems to get the time of day from SPEED.
I don’t think SPEED is doing enough to publicize their coverage of ARCA Re/MAX Series events, to be really honest. Publicizing their coverage better could possibly help the car count in the series, help ARCA find a replacement title sponsor since Re/MAX is “downplaying” their sponsorship at the end of the season, and put the spotlight on more drivers than just Kligerman and Lofton, neither of whom are likely to be in the series next year (They’re likely graduating to the Nationwide Series).
On Saturday, the Nationwide Series ran the Kansas Lottery 300. The race was televised on ESPN2 with a 3:30 p.m. EDT start time. The only reason why the start time was this late was because of ESPN airing another college football game before the race coverage. And, for the third consecutive week, the football game went over its timeslot. Yee-haw. Because of fallout from the Heidi Game of 1968, no channel can break away from a football game before it ends. We’re lucky that ESPN has ESPN Classic in their family of networks, so we don’t have to completely miss out on pre-race festivities because of football towards the end of the season.
Pre-race on ESPN2 was typical, with interviews of the frontrunners, and with pole sitter (and first time starter) Parker Kligerman. I didn’t like the overplaying of Joey Logano’s crash from last week’s AAA 400, to be honest. I couldn’t tell you guys and gals how many times that wreck was shown on television in the past eight days (I’m guessing about 50), but it was way too many. It was almost like Joey was a bully who just got his uppance for the first time.
Clint Bowyer, who grew up about 100 miles from the track, served as ESPN’s In-Race Reporter. As you know, this is essentially an excuse to label the specific driver that ESPN chooses to talk to. The first question, from ESPN’s mailbag, asked Clint whether he favored the Jayhawks (University of Kansas) or Wildcats (Kansas State). I don’t care whether this is viewer submitted or not, it just has no place being asked to a driver right before the pace laps. Maybe they could have snuck it into the feature on Sunday, but it was inappropriate here.
Another thing that I didn’t like was when the No. 0 of Jeremy Clements had his issues on a restart. Marty Reid promised that they would look into what happened to the No. 0 (which, in case you didn’t notice, was some kind of a joint effort between JD Motorsports and the Clements’ family team (normally No. 50)). But unless I missed something, that follow-up never came. Weak.
There were also some technical issues that I noticed. Previously, I was under the opinion that the positions in those pointer graphics could update themselves on the fly using GPS (they did on Sunday, actually). However, this was not the case on Saturday. The positions would only change once the scoring “cycled around” at the end of each lap. That kind of thing would be fine if NASCAR weren’t using those Tiwi devices (the green circular thing on the windshield) and making their timing and scoring available to the broadcasts. I don’t know what was up with this. Maybe a technical glitch.
Post-race coverage was fine. The race ended with roughly 15 minutes left in the timeslot, so ESPN wedged in nine interviews, which is above average. This was in addition to the pre-requisite point check and the unofficial results. I’m personally wondering why they felt the need to interview Joey Logano’s mother, Debbie.
On Sunday, ESPN on ABC televised the Price Chopper 400 Presented by Kraft Foods. This race was preceded by quite possibly the best pre-race features of the entire season, to be honest. The first of which, narrated by Chris Connelly, talked about the Victory Junction Gang Camp and its inspiration, the late Adam Petty. The reason why this ran is the fact that the Petty’s are in the process of building the second Victory Junction camp just five miles away from Kansas Speedway. This feature included footage of Adam visiting youngsters in hospitals and Camp Boggy Creek in 1999 and 2000, which apparently gave him the inspiration for Victory Junction. It even chronicled how Adam ran into some walls trying to get the funding to get the camp built. There were also some testimonials from campers and their parents. The piece is currently viewable on espn.com under the title “Victory Junction: Adam Petty’s Dream.”
The other feature that aired on Sunday followed Clint Bowyer around his hometown of Emporia, Kansas. These types of features are always interesting because it helps fans (I’m definitely a NASCAR fan even though I write about the sport) learn a little about the drivers. Included in this piece was a look around the shop that Clint used to race IMCA Modifieds out of, and the Body Shop at the local Ford dealership where he worked as recently as 2004.
The rest of the pre-race show was focused on the Chase, and Logano’s crash from last week. I’m thinking that FOX would not have given Logano as much air time after his wreck as ESPN did, just going from what happened with Michael McDowell after his huge qualifying crash at Texas last year.
With the race broadcast, it was unfortunately more of the same that we’ve been seeing for the past few weeks. The telecast was still far too focused on the Chasers, although with nine Chasers finishing in the top 10, you almost couldn’t blame ESPN for that. The one non-Chaser to finish in the top 10, David Reutimann, barely got mentioned at all during the telecast. It was actually quite disturbing just how little coverage the No. 00 team actually received for what turned out to be a great run.
I’m not really sure what to make of Dave Burns showing how Juan Pablo Montoya’s tire had a cut in the sidewall. Yes, I think it was important for him to actually show that, but I really don’t think he needed to put his microphone up to the leak. Darn near blasted my ears with that sound. Ouch. Sometimes, a circle in pink, felt tip marker with the word “cut” next to it works best.
I do have some suggestions to make the ESPN broadcasts better in general, in or out of the Chase. First off, there was a lot of confusion with cars on the lead lap immediately after cautions during both races this past weekend. ESPN needs to do a better job of notifying the viewers which cars are taking advantage of the wave around. Most of the time, they don’t even try to mention it.
I’ve mentioned in the past that a graphic should be used to show the teams that have taken the wave around. This should be a two-pronged graphic showing in one column, the cars that will get back on the lead lap with the wave around (if any), and on the other side, cars multiple laps down that are also taking advantage (and how many laps down they will be after the wave through). This graphic should be displayed right after the graphic showing who received the Lucky Dog.
Also, ESPN needs to do a better job of re-setting the field after yellow flag pit stops. This was sorely lacking in both races this weekend. All it takes is Dr. Punch or Marty Reid shouting out who is in which position before the restart. It’s not too difficult to do. Of course, if you’re cutting restarts close with commercials, that’s another story.
Post-race coverage was very extensive on Sunday, since the race ended with nearly 45 minutes to go in the timeslot. This allowed for time for extensive analysis of the race by Dr. Punch, Jarrett and Petree in the booth, and Bestwick, Wallace and Daugherty in the portable Infield Studio. In addition, there were an unheard number of interviews.
18 post-race interviews were conducted, including two with race winning crew chief Darian Grubb. The only Chasers not to be interviewed were Brian Vickers, who failed to finish, and Kurt Busch. Now, I’ll admit that it is pretty rare that someone that finishes two laps down in 22nd (Ryan Newman) gets a post-race interview, but it’s good to see that ESPN used their time wisely.
Once they finished interviewing the drivers, the pit reporters sought out crew chiefs, who were still hanging around the garage and outside of the transporters. This is not typical, since the teams usually hustle to pack up what isn’t already stowed away so that they can leave the track within an hour of the race ending. This was because of the fact that the teams were not sending their transporters home to North Carolina after the race. Instead, teams loaded equipment for Auto Club Speedway into auxiliary transporters and sent them out to Kansas to meet the primary transporters at the track. Immediately after the race, a mass switchover of the equipment began so that the primary transporters could continue on to Fontana, CA.
That’s all for this week. Next week is Auto Club Speedway. I can just hear the groans right now from fans as I’m watching 40+ year old episodes of Speed Racer on DVD. Something that should be noted here is the fact that neither of these races are being held at night. I personally didn’t realize that until about a week ago.
The Nationwide Series races Saturday afternoon in the Copart 300. Coverage starts at 4 p.m. with NASCAR Countdown with race coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. There is no football game right before the broadcast, so we will see a full 30 minute NASCAR Countdown before the Nationwide race for the first time since Richmond. I don’t think I’ll be able to say the same about Sprint Cup Happy Hour, since that is currently scheduled to air right after the Noon football game (this week, it’s a SEC match up between Auburn and Arkansas).
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series has the Pepsi 500. Pre-race is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. EDT (11:30 am. PDT), with the race coverage scheduled to start around 3:15. The green flag, which will be thrown by Audrina Partridge for some reason, is tentatively scheduled for 3:31 p.m. Both pre-race and the race itself will be on ABC. However, before the pre-race coverage starts, ABC will air a condensed version of Together: The Hendrick Motorsports Story at 1:30 (the full story is substantially longer than an hour, and will be released soon on DVD).
Later Sunday night, after the Sprint Cup race ends, the ARCA Re/Max Series season finale, the American 200 from Rockingham Speedway will air on tape delay on SPEED at 10 p.m. EDT. I will be providing critiques on all three of the races and probably some quick thoughts about the abridged Together film (apparently, it’s quite good). Also, thanks to an idea brought up by “Birdie” during Sunday’s Live Blog, I will try to count the number of references to the Chase in the broadcasts next weekend. Wish me luck with that.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. And if you would like to contact TNT, ESPN, or the SPEED Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage of NASCAR, please click on the following links:
As always, if you choose to contact the networks by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions in a courteous manner than emails full of rants and vitriol.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week!
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Whoo Hooo, ROCKINGHAM!!!
Can’t wait for that one.
“All it takes is Dr. Punch or Marty Reid shouting out who is in which position before the restart.”
Jerry “Read-From-The-Telephone-Book Punch shout? The only time he raises his voice in excitement is when doing network promos. The sad thing is that he was an awesome pit-road reporter…
AND! The ratings are so bad, so VERY BAD, due to the ineptness of their broadcasts, I watched an ESPN/NA$CRAP add on TV for the upcoming California race, and guess what??
IT FEATURED THE BLACK #3 CAR!
I take this to mean that the current day cars are not drawing the fans, so they have to revert back to the BLACK #3 from years ago to generate ANY kind of interest in “The Chase”!
NA$CRAP HAS NO SHAME!
(of course, what alcoholic does?)
ARCA racing is not promoted by the networks because ARCA isn’t considered to be popular by the networks .
WooHoo!!! My “Pain in the Arse” Nielsen box did it’s job again. Not one look at the “Show”. And I got to enjoy the NFL while doing it. How’s that competition with other sports going for you Mr. France? You bumbling idiot.