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!
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday October 27, 2009
Hello and welcome to this week’s critique, entry No. 39 in an ongoing series where I look into NASCAR’s TV broadcasts. This past weekend saw the Cup Series compete on Sunday in the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, while Kroger Supermarkets sponsored races in the other two divisions: the Truck Series’ Kroger 200 in Martinsville and the Nationwide Series’ Kroger On Track for the Cure 250 at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, TN. Due to the way that the broadcast schedule ended up playing out, I’ll have to do my critique in chronological order instead of grouping the races together by which track they were held at.
Before we start the actual critique, I want to cover a couple of things. Many of you may have heard about commentator Bob Griese’s off-the-cuff, inappropriate comment about Juan Pablo Montoya during the Ohio State-Minnesota college football broadcast on ABC Saturday afternoon. Admittedly, I was too busy critiquing the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series races to actually watch this game (and I’m unclear whether it aired here in Albany since ABC shows a lot of regional games), but news of Griese’s remarks leaked shortly afterwards. What happened during the game was they were doing a promo of Sunday’s TUMS Fast Relief 500, with the top 5 drivers in the Chase points on screen. Broadcaster Chris Spielman asked where Juan Pablo Montoya was (he was sixth because of last week’s issues, and thus, not featured). Griese replied that Montoya was “off eating a taco.” Now, even though Montoya is Colombian, he is still susceptible to insensitive remarks of this caliber. It was a bush league remark, and it has no place in a live sporting telecast on network television.
To Griese’s benefit, he did apologize shortly afterward, claiming that Montoya was “…one of the best drivers in NASCAR” and that he “just wanted to apologize for what he said earlier in the game.” At least he’s showing contrition in this instance; however, showing contrition doesn’t mean you don’t get punished these days. The damage had been done, and ESPN has levied a one game suspension on Griese for his comment. As of press time, Montoya is continuing to refuse comment on this issue.
Now, I’ll admit that it’s been a tough week for ESPN. Steve Phillips, a regular on Baseball Tonight, admitted to an affair with a 22-year-old PA on Wednesday and took a “leave of absence” from ESPN — only to be fired Sunday night. The PA, Brooke Hundley, has also left ESPN as of Monday, although it is unclear whether she was fired as well or if she just resigned. It’s a long story that I’m not going to rehash here. Deadspin.com’s ESPN Horndog Dossier last week also exposed former NASCAR Now host Erik Kuselias as a sexual harasser, among other things. As a result, ESPN is not letting anything inappropriate fly this week. Still, I think it’s obvious that Griese really is sorry for his remarks. But like Allen Bestwick told me in Watkins Glen, once you say something, it’s out there and you can’t take it back. All you can really do is deal with the aftermath.
Also, I’d like to respond to some of last week’s comments, which is something that up to this point, I’ve never done in a critique before (although I have responded in the comments section). Don Mei commented about the commentators effectively being shills for NASCAR. I don’t think that they’re “shills” outright, and they don’t always pout out the company line on everything. However, Don is right in the fact that NASCAR commentators over the years have basically never thrown the gauntlet out there much. Prior to 2003, there was the fear that you would have to answer to Bill France, Jr. if you ever did. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised if that made people apprehensive back then. However, today Brian France needs to be questioned… and questioned often. I definitely liked the idea that Jeff Meyer had last week in hooking Brian up to a machine and asking him questions about NASCAR. Since he rarely shows up at the track, I wonder if he watches the races on TV, and if he does, what does he think of the telecasts?
Mark also mentioned last week that we have too many pit reporters that have to justify their jobs with tosses to what amounts to fluff. Now, I will admit that some of the stuff mentioned when talking about certain drivers during races is a little inane and probably doesn’t belong on the race telecasts, but when all is said and done, most of what they bring to the telecasts is pertinent information.
I hope to make responding to comments inside of the critique a weekly occurrence for the remaining races of 2009 and for all of 2010. That’s right, I will be back for another 30+ weeks of critiques, thoughts, complaints, compliments, and other good stuff. So please keep the comments coming. If you’re lucky, I might just reference you in the critique.
With all that aside, let’s move on to the actual races, which is most definitely why you guys are here.
On Saturday afternoon, the Truck Series raced in the Kroger 200. This race was originally scheduled to start around 1 PM EDT. However, rains delayed the green flag until 2:50 PM. Luckily, for me (and all of you that read this critique), I upgraded to a DV-R on Friday. This allowed me to pause the Nationwide race and critique the Truck race live.
I will admit that in the pre-race show, I really liked the feature on Johnny Sauter and his struggles before hooking up with ThorSport Racing. It was another example of how SPEED does a pretty good job of promoting the drivers in the series, which I currently cannot say about ESPN and what it does with the Nationwide drivers. It was a classy piece, well-executed as it documented Sauter’s ups and downs of a career that’s hit the Cup level twice … only to stall out and nearly fall apart before his current deal with Thorsport has given him new life in the Truck Series.
The pre-race coverage (via NCWTS Setup) lasted approximately an hour before SPEED left for alternate programming (NASCAR Performance and NASCAR Smarts). In that time, SPEED showed eight interviews: the aforementioned Sauter feature, some pre-race analysis from Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, and Michael Waltrip, and a couple of other features (the first Martinsville truck race in “The Vault,” which got delayed to Monday, and a segment where drivers were asked whether they would rather go to the Super Bowl or the World Series).
Once the race finally started, SPEED brought us a typical broadcast, which means that it was generally solid. It was enjoyable to watch, for me at least. Even Waltrip kept himself in check for the most part, without the type of rampant promotion that’s become typical during his time in the booth.
One thing that I would like to have had explained, however, was why Red Horse Racing put Timothy Peters in the No. 1 while Peyton Sellers did a one-off in the No. 17 with his own sponsors. Didn’t make any sense to me. The No. 1 of Peters actually had a No. 17 decal on the B-Pillar.
While the trucks were racing at Martinsville, the Nationwide Series started their event, the Kroger On Track for the Cure 250, under sunny skies at Memphis Motorsports Park. Since this was a split weekend, ESPN used their “B” team crew for this race. Marty Reid was joined in the booth by Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie. This was a crew that worked together earlier in the season, to generally positive reviews. The pit reporting corps were represented by the crew of Mike Massaro (who also hosted NASCAR Countdown from pit road), Jack Arute, and Rick DeBruhl.
The pre-race (NASCAR Countdown) show was a significant change from what we have been seeing recently. There were more interviews than what I’ve been used to (I counted at least nine during the pre-race, but admittedly, I was switching back and forth between NASCAR Countdown and the Truck race). Also, of those interviews, ESPN decided to talk to some of the Nationwide-only drivers before they got to interviewing Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards towards the end of pre-race. However, I still think that ESPN missed an opportunity for the race fans to get to know the non-Cup drivers. Maybe just a little get-to-know-you feature with a couple of the drivers that made their Nationwide debuts on Saturday (Richard Boswell, Blake Koch, Matt DiBenedetto, Eddie MacDonald) would have been helpful for fans to establish a bit of a bond with them before the drop of the green.
Now, due to the Truck race telecast ending around 4:45 PM, I could watch the Nationwide race live. (I had paused the telecast at 3:30 PM on the DV-R so I could watch the rest of the Truck race live.) When I unpaused it, I admittedly skipped the opening ceremonies and got right to the race. The action was fast and furious out there on the track. Lots of contact between drivers, and unfortunately, wrecks. Memphis does have the second highest number of cautions in a Nationwide Series race (25, in 2007), so Marty Reid did reminisce a little about that marathon of an event (which was actually 40 full minutes shorter than this year’s race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve).
I also think I heard Rusty Wallace make his first reference to a team actually starting and parking, when Chase Miller got involved in the pileup in Turn 1 that was caused by John Wes Townley’s No. 09 dumping oil all over the track. Instead of parking due to lack of funds, Miller ended up heavily damaging the No. 73 Dodge, to the point DCM has recently pulled out of the final three Nationwide races of the season as a result.
On the negative side, I did experience approximately five audio drop outs during the race on Saturday. I don’t know if this was just me experiencing them, or if it was related to my DV-R (which still isn’t working perfectly as of now). Also, I’m not really sure that ESPN really needed to use the taped Tech Garage segments. They didn’t really add anything to the race broadcasts. However, they weren’t as intrusive to the racing on Saturday… (More to come on that subject in a bit.)
The one downside of actually critiquing a race based off of a time-shifted broadcast is that I don’t really have any frame of reference of when the race ended in regards to its timeslot. By the time I finished the race telecast, it was a little after 7 PM. Based on the race time listed on racing-reference.info, I’m thinking that the checkered flag flew around 6:20 p.m. This would have likely meant that the telecast had about 10 minutes of post-race coverage. In that ten minutes (we’re going off of an assumed 6:30 PM sign-off), ESPN interviewed Brad Keselowski, his crew chief Tony Eury, Sr., and four other drivers. In addition, the unofficial results were shown in the scroll, and there was a traditional points check.
On Sunday, ESPN on ABC brought us the TUMS Fast Relief 500 from Martinsville Speedway. This was an action-packed race, with 21 lead changes amongst 11 drivers. Those 21 lead changes were the fourth-highest number ever recorded in a Sprint Cup race in Martinsville (the record is 25, set back in 1980). So you know the action was pretty good, despite the fact that Johnson and Hamlin combined to more or less dominate the race.
How was the coverage?
We’ll start with NASCAR Countdown. Like we’ve become accustomed to in recent weeks, there weren’t very many interviews on the pre-race show. Only Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and pole sitter Ryan Newman were interviewed.
This past weekend also marked the five year anniversary of the tragic plane crash that took the lives of ten people, mostly people related to Rick Hendrick (his brother, son, and nieces were amongst the deceased). ESPN decided to put a feature on the plane crash into the pre-race show. However, anyone watching it would have noticed that it was clearly excerpted from Together: The Hendrick Motorsports Story. I realized this right away. It hasn’t been that long since it premiered on ABC (only two weeks ago). In addition, this excerpt also aired on the 10 AM edition of NASCAR Now. I think they were a little lazy on this one.
There was also a short feature on the ever popular Jesse Jones Hot Dogs that are sold at Martinsville Speedway. Brad Daugherty spent some time in one of the concession stands, and talked a little bit about the unusual “magenta” color. Having never been to Martinsville, I’d definitely check them out if I ever get to go to a race there. But I will admit that SPEED kind of did this live as well during their extended pre-race on Saturday. Krista Voda was inside the infield concession stand serving ‘dogs to, among others, Ray Dunlap. Also of note is the fact that one can buy a pack of Bailey’s Cigarettes for $5 at that stand. That’s cheap! At Watkins Glen, for example, a pack of cigarettes cost $10 and could only be purchased in the Pyramid souvenir store.
Back to the race coverage; it was OK this week, but a number of problems sprouted up. For example, ESPN used full screen cutaways on multiple occasions on Sunday. One of these was for a cut to Tim Brewer in the Craftsman Tech Garage on Lap 96. The other three were for replays. The third of those, on Lap 263, was a full screen look at Jimmie Johnson’s pit stop from the previous caution where he had lost time. However, ESPN basically missed a lead change in doing that.
Because of this, I believe that ESPN definitely needs to adopt a split-screen setup for replays during green flag action like SPEED has for the Truck Series races. I cannot claim that I know how difficult this is to do from a production standpoint, but I think that it is definitely possible. Doing this would not only allow ESPN to show their replays, but also allow fans to not miss out on things as often as they do.
Also, early in the race Dale Earnhardt, Jr. blew a right front tire (likely due to bead issues) and came to a stop on the frontstretch. This drew the third caution of the day. Normally, this would draw a one lap penalty for drawing an intentional yellow. However, this didn’t happen. Not sure why, but ESPN never really questioned NASCAR’s motives in not penalizing Earnhardt Jr. That was a missed call. Weak. ESPN should have called NASCAR out on that, but they chose not to for whatever reason.
Even with the fifteen caution flags, ESPN still had over a half hour left in their timeslot at the end of the race. They filled this time with interviews with ten drivers, two crew chiefs (Chad Ford and Darian Grubb), and, for some reason, Denny Hamlin’s parents. They also included extensive post-race analysis from the infield studio and the broadcast booth. There was also a quick cut to Tim Brewer in the Craftsman Tech Garage, where he talked briefly about the post-race inspection criteria. I think he had already done that at least once this season, to be honest. It just shows that yes, the networks do repeat themselves at times.
That is all for this week. Next week is Talladega. Action is absolutely guaranteed, as are quirky things. In fact, the track just last week brought in a Creek Medicine Man to perform a “cleansing ceremony,” supposedly to rid the track of the supposed curse put on the land over 170 years ago.
At Talladega, the Truck Series will race in the Mountain Dew 250 on Saturday afternoon. Qualifying coverage will be live on SPEED at 5 PM ET (4 PM CT) on Friday evening. Race coverage will start at 3:30 PM ET, with NCWTS Setup with the race coverage starting at 4 PM.
The Cup Series will race on Sunday afternoon in the Amp Energy 500. Coverage starts on Friday, with the first practice on Friday afternoon at 2 PM ET (1 PM CT). Happy Hour will air at 4 PM, right before Truck qualifying. Sprint Cup qualifying will air on Saturday at noon ET (11 AM CT). Finally, race coverage will start with a one hour edition of NASCAR Countdown starting at noon ET (11 AM CT), with race coverage starting at 1 PM ET. The green flag will fly around 1:18 PM. Also note that Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday morning at 2 AM. So, set your clocks back an hour (if they don’t do it automatically, like my cable box does) before you go to bed on Saturday night.
I will also give my thoughts on NASCAR Performance next week, the Larry McReynolds-hosted program that focuses on the technical aspect of NASCAR racing. In addition, I will talk about any other random tidbits that I find interesting next week, like Joey Logano and Kyle Busch on WWE Raw (which occurred this Monday night).
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 politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
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Phil, it was explained during the broadcast that Timothy Peters runs the #117 truck, so when the owner of the #17 truck shows up, he has to run a different number so there is no confusion.
Back before the 2000 season I used to watch the backhaul feeds of the races on the old C-Band dish. These were the direct feeds that went from the track to the networks, and when they went to commercial break I could still see the racing action and listen to the booth crew. During these breaks they would just be talking between themselves and telling it like it was. They would call BS on certain things and I heard them call drivers boneheads and worse a few times. As soon as they were back on air they would put their gameface back on and and revert back to PC announcers.
Those commercial breaks were some of the best race coverage I have ever seen, and I always wished they could let them loose like that for the whole race. Sadly that all went away when Fox came in, as they scrambled those feeds and put them on KU band.
A lot of things get worse when FOX comes in Bad Wolf . I enjoyed the commercial break conversations between the analysts too , but there were too many people listening and too many opinions being expressed about the drivers and NASCAR . So FOX effectivly shut them up .
As i was changing the channel after the final lap of the race , i believe i heard that a press conference of the top three finishers was scheduled . I assume this will be a weekly thing , probably should have been done decades before now . Maybe the networks and NASCAR are finaly listening to the fans who constantly compliment the F1 broadcasts . Stealing the press conference idea is , i hope , only the beginning . There is an awful lot that the F1 broadcasts do correctly , and the NASCAR broadcasts should copy .
The terrible race broacasts aren’t just ESPN . There haven’t been good race broadcasts on tv since the days of Ned Jarrett , Neil Bonnett , and Benny Parsons . There are some good analysts on these shows . But mostly hack ex-pit reporters who were brought in because …. well i’m not sure why they were brought in .
The coverage of the race from Martinsvill was so bad, the wife and I made a joke about it.. Basically every other sentence was “Jimmy Johnson this..” “Jimmy Johnson that..” We went about the rest of the day saying “Jimmy Johnson bla bla bla”.. It was so funny.. ESPN should be ashamed of the coverage and just goes to show they are simply a ball and stick outfit.. A far cry from the 90’s when they were top rate in Nascar.. Mark above (kudos for doing so by the way) said he intentionally watched a non-Hendrick car, but another car in the Chase and the coverage was bad.. You think?? Seriously, it’s been that way since the Chase started.. As a Stewart fan, I basically heard nothing about him at Martinsville, and yes, he’s still in the run for the Chase, bairly, but still there..
Ryan said: “The race broadcasts of the last few years have been aimed at the new or casual fan . Thats why we get graphics explaining how drafting works , and endless lessons on pit stops , and intense examinations of stategys.”
You know something Ryan, I never thought about it from that view point.. And I’m not to proud to admit I never put that thinking together.. Your so right!! I truly get tired of the drafting graphics, McRenalds telling me what loose and tight means.. What wedge is, or a rubber.. But yet, they can’t find time to talk about The Race.. And endlessly showing me brake parts or the “cut-away-car”.. I don’t give a damn, show me the Race..
NASCAR’s Kerry Tharp will announce the drivers, crew chiefs and/or owners, then ask a question before throwing it to the assembled media to ask questions.
It’s probably better in person, and if Johnson doesn’t win. That’s only because there’s a higher chance for humor.
Mark said “Someday someone should really use a stopwatch and see how many minutes of a broadcast are devoted to Hendrick teams and gushing accolades about Rick and his organization.”
Have you heard of cawsnjaws.com ? They do analyse the race based on commercials, which drivers are talked about, etc. Go check it out.
I was happy to see Denny Hamlin’s parents on the post race interview. They deserved the attention. They mortgaged all they had to put Denny in racing and I am glad it has paid off. I’m sure there are others like them that we don’t hear about and that could be the subject of another segment on some show in the future.
Being an old fan of NASCAR I’ve kept up with the sport since the early 60’s and have seen a lot of changes. The biggest was when they started doing them live.
Saw Erik Kuselias on EESPN college football show last night. Does that mean he’s been given a pass by EESPN or that the above accusation is erroneous? Pretty serious accusation to leave hanging if it is false.