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 · Monday November 2, 2009
Hello, race fans and welcome to entry No. 40 in an ongoing series where we look at the television coverage that NASCAR gets on a weekly basis. Before we start, I should state that I had a bunch of issues with my DVR this week. Yep, it’s still not perfected. In fact, it’s worse now than last week. On Sunday night, the thing just died, basically. As a result, I could not critique NASCAR Performance for this week. I can just push that back to next week, luckily.
Also last week, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch hosted WWE Raw at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY. I will admit, Joey and Kyle looked awfully out of place there. They’re skinny little dudes compared to the wrestlers. Also, Busch screwed up the script at one point, mispronouncing Kofi Kingston’s name (Don’t worry, I watch wrestling so rarely that I didn’t have a clue who he was, either). Also, note that Kofi actually broke part of the windshield on Kyle Busch’s show car at one point. That breakage was most definitely not scripted.
Joey seemed to just be there, if you know what I mean. He didn’t do much of anything besides stand there and let Kyle do all the talking. Maybe they should have just had Kyle host alone. Obviously, having Sprint Cup racers on Raw doesn’t do much to curtail NASCAR-WWE comparisons, but what can we do?
On Saturday afternoon, the Truck Series raced the Mountain Dew 250 Presented by Fred’s at Talladega Superspeedway. The usual crew of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip was in the booth for SPEED. Adam Alexander, Krista Voda and Ray Dunlap were reporting from pit road. Since this race was run on Halloween, the NCWTS Setup definitely had a Halloween theme. For the second consecutive year, SPEED’s on-air crew dressed up in costumes for pre-race. Last year, the theme was the classic 1939 movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” This year, the crew had a Batman theme (the classic 1966 campy TV Series starring Adam West). Dunlap and Alexander were Batman and Robin, respectively, while Voda was Batgirl. The booth commentators were the bad guys. Allen was the Riddler, while Waltrip was the Joker and Parsons was the Penguin. Seemed fitting, I guess. Even non-SPEED employees got in on the act. The Goodyear Blimp pilot was wearing an Elvis mask and one of MRN’s commentators was wearing a Pumpkin costume. It’s obvious that the SPEED crew had a lot of fun with this and I’m happy for them. A happy on-air crew makes for a better broadcast, in my opinion.
Our own Matt McLaughlin doesn’t agree with me here, claiming that SPEED should have devoted their resources elsewhere. That would be true if the pre-race show was nothing but prancing around in costume. However, work got done here, so I’m fine with this. The comment about Krista Voda’s thighs was just wrong, though. That’s just a mean-spirited attack and has no place in a column, in my opinion.
Aside from the costumed shenanigans, there were interviews with seven drivers and a couple of features. One of the features was on Mario Gosselin, who unveiled a new primary sponsorship from MyTireMonkey.com this weekend. It chronicled his struggle to get his small team to the track each weekend. Very informative. Another (the “Bumper to Bumper” segment) concerned drivers’ favorite or most memorable Halloween costumes. A couple drivers (like Ron Hornaday) basically said no comment, while Todd Bodine mentioned that he couldn’t mention it on TV. However, we still got some good ones, like trains and “Snake Man.” David Starr also talked about how his wife picked out a Pimp costume for him to wear to a costume party in Texas.
There was also a replay of Mike and Chrissy Wallace’s appearance on NASCAR RaceHub from this past weekend in the pre-race. This played up the significance of the circumstances surrounding Saturday’s race (the first ever father-daughter pair to start a NASCAR race together). In the race, Chrissy drove admirably and finished 13th, while Mike had issues, lost a lap, then dropped out after a piece of the left side sheetmetal peeled back, drawing a black flag. Before Mike could even get the No. 48 to pit road, the hood peeled back, prompting Michael Waltrip to say that the truck was “falling apart.” I guess that when things go bad, they really go bad.
The race telecast was very good. There was an ample amount of excitement in the broadcast booth, which is something that I have come to stress in these critiques this season. I do have to say that SPEED did miss the restart from the third caution (when one of Ron Hornaday’s cowl flaps came off). As good as this broadcast was, I can’t let them off the hook for that.
Speaking of Hornaday’s cowl flap, SPEED had some great camera work in showing how Hornaday’s flap opened up completely and broke off solely because of air pressure and bump drafting. Good stuff.
Post-race coverage was quite brief because of the rain that delayed the start of the race. The race started a half hour late because of the rain, and the seven cautions would have helped the race overrun its slot even if it started on time. As a result, there were only a couple of interviews (Winner Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola and Todd Bodine), and a quick point check. The unofficial results were kept in the scroll.
On Sunday afternoon, the Cup Series raced in the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. ESPN on ABC provided the broadcast with their usual crew of Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett in the broadcast booth; and Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns on pit road. Allen Bestwick, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace populated the Infield Studio.
The pre-race show was expanded to an hour for the race, presumably so that more information could be stuffed in. ESPN has been a little screwy with their NASCAR Countdown lengths this season. Pre-race prior to the Chase always seemed to be an hour, then it got cut to a half-hour once the Chase started. Charlotte’s was less than a half hour (25 minutes or so, just about as long as an episode of Whew!, a 1979 game show on CBS that was truncated to 25 minutes (including commercials) in order to make room for a five minute CBS Newsbreak (It’s pretty good, look it up on YouTube).
In the lengthened pre-race show, ESPN interviewed seven drivers, all Chasers with the exception of Brad Keselowski, who won at Talladega back in April. Also, there was a fairly nice feature on Blake Bobbitt, the then-17 (now 18) year old whose jaw was broken from flying debris in the infamous Carl Edwards crash. In that feature, we learned that Blake’s father runs a Chevron gas station/convenience store and works seven days a week to support her. They saved the money in order to buy the tickets to go to Talladega (this was Blake’s first ever NASCAR race), and had a great time. Blake’s father wanted her to sit as close as possible (in order to get that “rush”). Blake then talked about her surgeries, the long recovery from those injuries, and how she has coped (fairly well). This was nicely put together, but I think it seemed out of place. It looked like something that would work fairly well on Outside the Lines, or as one of those features that air on SportsCenter every now and then (just not this time of year). Unfortunately, ESPN has not decided to put this video up on their Web site like they did with the Victory Junction piece back at Kansas.
There was a short segment in the Craftsman Tech Garage where Tim Brewer showed race fans where the restrictor plates are installed on the engine (on top, underneath the carburetor). Admittedly, this same demonstration was done by Hermie Sadler on NASCAR RaceDay about an hour before ESPN’s telecast started, so it was effectively a repeat for me. I’m wondering whether ESPN thinks that much of their NASCAR audience actually watches SPEED’s programming. Guess not.
Another thing that I have noticed recently is that they are basically making their crew cam man almost like a fifth pit reporter. Mark “Hollywood” Armstrong essentially gets his own stand-up where he talks about strategy. It seems weird to look at. Then, Armstrong “throws it” off to someone, in Sunday’s case, he threw the telecast to Dr. Punch. Last week, he threw it to Shannon Spake, who was standing ten feet away (very awkward). I don’t know what to make of this. Is Armstrong trying to get on-air training for a potential new career?
As for the race, it was clear that Mike Helton’s edict in the driver’s meeting on Sunday morning affected the on-track product. Heck, it affected Saturday’s product. The race had 58 lead changes, but only bits and pieces of the event were exciting. The rest of the race was literally a follow the leader nose to tail right next to the outside wall affair. Normally, ESPN does not take positions against the action on the track, but Sunday’s racing led the analysts in the Infield Studio multiple times to voice their displeasure.
Brad Daugherty is against the yellow line rule, and I would tend to agree with him. Previous to the repave at Talladega, the grass ran up to the apron on the backstretch. With the repave, it’s now paved all the way to the inside wall. This is generally done to decrease the threat of blowovers, but doing this now really makes the yellow line rule necessary. What I think could be done to alleviate this is this grippy pavement that I’ve seen in use at places like the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. That track has these colored strips where the pavement is grippier and slows cars down. Perhaps this could be used. That way, there would be no need for the yellow line.
Rusty Wallace voiced his displeasure with the follow the leader dynamic, saying that it was robbing the fans of the good money they paid to come to the race. On Lap 119, commentator Dale Jarrett said that there were “69 agonizing laps to go.” Now, you could take two meanings from this statement. One, it could be seen as an indictment of the nervousness of the drivers. The other meaning could be that he was also annoyed with the on-track action. I would probably assume it’s the former, but you never know.
ESPN was quite slow in reacting to the Lap 5 crash of Paul Menard and Joe Nemechek in Turn 2. Even after Dr. Punch referenced the crash (“There’s trouble in turn 2”), ESPN still cut to a rear bumper cam in the middle of the pack before cutting to what amounted to the aftermath of the wreck. This is actually a new issue. Usually, ESPN is fairly good at cutting to wrecks when they happen. It’s just that they’re not the best at finding side-by-side racing and showing it on air. They chose to stay with the pack for a few seconds before cutting back to the wreck. My best guess for this refers back to the compound tour I took in August. They have six people in a small room that monitor all the cameras. They have to shout out which cameras actually caught the wreck. My guess is that very few cameras (maybe only one or two) actually caught the crash, so it took a little while for the crew to get the shot.
There was a technical issue when Allen Bestwick tried to do his race recap later in the race (for some reason, the graphics and pictures didn’t come up). Being the professional that he is, Allen simply worked around this, giving fans a vocal recap (essentially) of what had happened up to that point.
After Ryan Newman’s blowover, ESPN’s on-air personalities waited until the radio transmission was sent out saying that Newman was okay before doing anything speculative of his condition. This is par for the course for media partners, but a couple of our Blog viewers on Sunday thought that they could have made a statement earlier. John Potts noted the borderline “relaxed” demeanor of the safety crew when they checked on Newman’s condition. Had Newman really been hurt, arms would have been waving around and people running around (Ex: Stanley Smith in July, 1993. Smith suffered a basal skull fracture in the infamous crash when Jimmy Horton went over the wall and landed outside of Talladega Superspeedway). This allowed the crew to take their time. Dr. Punch in the booth talked about the precariousness of righting the car (done with the help of a tow truck) in order to make sure Newman doesn’t get hurt anymore. This draws on his vast medical experience. Punch really came off as more of an analyst right here than at any point in the broadcast.
Post-race coverage was very brief due to the fact that the race ran up against the end of the timeslot. As a result, there were only interviews with race winner Jamie McMurray and Chasers Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson. The unofficial results were never shown on-air due to the fact that NASCAR was still trying to figure that out (and did not until an hour or two after the race ended). ESPN did show a very unofficial point check of the top 12 before leaving the air, though. I personally don’t really understand the rush to get off-air on Sunday. It’s not like they were up against the six o’clock news. It was 5 p.m. when the race coverage ended. Here in the Albany, NY area, we got a syndicated show called Cars.tv at 5 p.m. Whoop-dee-do about relatively low-rated syndicated fare. Many people’s ABC affiliates probably went straight to infomercials after the race. I’d like to get an idea of what ESPN was trying to get to so got darn fast on Sunday from my readers, so please post what came on after the race in your market (also, list your TV market for reference purposes).
Well, that’s all for this week. Next weekend is a tripleheader at Texas Motor Speedway. The Truck Series races Friday night in the WinStar World Casino 350k. The action will begin on SPEED at 8:30 p.m. EST (7:30 p.m. CST) with NCWTS Setup. The race coverage is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. EST. The green flag will likely fall around 9:15 p.m.
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series races in the O’Reilly Challenge, a 300 mile race. Coverage starts with both Nationwide Series practice sessions on SPEED Friday morning starting at 10 a.m. EST (9 a.m. CST). Qualifying will be aired on SPEED at 6:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. CST) using the typical “time shifted” schedule. For the actual race, a 45 minute edition of NASCAR Countdown will air on ESPN2 starting at noon EST (11 a.m. CST), with the race coverage starting at 11:45 a.m. local time. Look for the green to fly around 12:55 p.m. EST.
On Sunday afternoon, the Series races in the Dickies 500, Race 34 of the season and the eighth Chase race. Coverage starts on Friday with the one pre-qualifying practice session. This will be aired live on SPEED at 1 p.m. EST (noon CST). Qualifying will be aired at 4:30 p.m. EST (3:30 p.m. CST). On Saturday, the Cup action starts bright and early with the first practice session live on SPEED at 9:30 a.m. EST (8:30 a.m. CST). Final practice, also on SPEED, follows at 11 a.m. EST (10 a.m. CST). On Sunday, race coverage begins with a 45 minute long NASCAR Countdown on ABC at 2:30 p.m. EST (1:30 p.m. CST). Race coverage follows at 3:15 p.m., with the green flag expected around 3:31 p.m. EST.
In addition, I’ll bring you my thoughts on NASCAR Performance that I promised you for this week, but Time Warner Cable decided to nix. Of course, that’s still dependent on them actually fixing their little machine that sends signals to their cable boxes. If anything else of note comes up this week that pertains to NASCAR’s TV broadcasts, I’ll be sure to have a take on it.
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.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I tuned into the Nascar Holloween weekend Nascar race from Talledega and all I got in my treat bag was a rock.
1: Regarding the pre-race Tech Garage segmant—ESPN doesn’t even acknowledge other broadcasters. All they know is that their so-called “Tech Garage” is such an awesome enhancement to the viewers’ experience that they try to use it whenever they can, regardless of whatever else is going on. “There’s a 3-way battle for the lead, so let’s switch to Tim Brewer over in the Craftsman Tech Garage, where he can explain in his exciting monotonous drawl how the drink straw attaches to the cup…”
2: ESPN’s taking their time switching over to the Menard-Nemechek wreck is certainly not a “new issue.” They have always ridden the late freight when it comes to catching on-track incidents. Too many times DJ has remarked about a big wreck going on in another section of the track, and I will turn to my girlfriend and do a three-second countdown before they switch over to it. A number of times I’ve actually watched a wreck starting on the edge of the screen just as they switch away to something much more scintillating, like another interminable close-up shot of a chaser running by himself. The only thing unusual about this race was that Dr. Jerry Punch must have accidentally glanced out the window and remarked upon it.
3: Their post-race coverage was, as usual, more of the same—rush through the Victory Lane interview as quickly as they can, do a couple more (chasers, of course) and cut away to infomercial. An hour of inconsequential fluff before the race, and pretty much nothing after. Par for the ESPN course.
If there were any justice in this world NASCAR would drop ESPN for “actions detrimental to stock car racing” and hand over the reins to TNT. That way we’d get at least half a season’s worth of good racing broadcast. Heck, maybe it would get FOX to actually act professionally if they were to get some real competition…
I watched a fair amount of the truck race, and the broadcasters did a fine job of dressing as and portraying IDIOTS!
Actually, they kept changing their statements to “fit the moment”, rather than any objective discussion of the racing, or whatever one wants to call it.
EXAMPLE: one of their MANY repeated strategic points of the race was the restrictions NA$CRAP placed on the drivers about bump-drafting, you are NOT allowed to bump- draft! Time and time again, each announcer made sure they worked that edict into their
BUT! Wait, low and behold, part way thru the race, there was bump drafting going on! So now their story changes to “well, as long as you know what your doing”, or “as long as you get your car centered on the car in front”, and so forth!
ABSOLUTELY no questions of just WHY the “rules” suddenly changed!
NONE! Just explain away the situation, don’t try to question why NA$CRAP says one thing, yet does/allow another during the race itself.
And toward the end of the race, the three dudes in the booth are discussing what will happen in the closing laps, two (2) of the announcers kept saying “well, with three (3) laps top go” (which there was)! Then this other dude, don’t even know his name, but not a racing type, (you can tell, all he needs to do is open his mouth), he states, well WITH SIX (6) LAPS LEFT!
Do they drag these idiots out of woodwork to become a “race announcer”?
How sad, but then again, NA$CRAP deserves the very worst!
All these announcers need are the official NA$CRAP POM-POMS!
Sure wish they were on the GONG SHOW! They would be GONGED out of the booth!
And yet more, did it EVER occur to the netowrks that ZERO races finish “on time”?
Four (4) hours plus, of “pre-race” broadcasting, and 30 seconds max of “post-race” broadcasting BECAUSE THE RACE TOOK LONGER THAN EXPECTED!
After all these many years, you would think that someone, just someone from the nitworks (pun intended) would finally realize that races are not over till there over, period!
Some times, they do not even give a final finishing position listing, due to “time constraints”!
Kinda like that is not important to viewers.
Whoops, checkered flag, well good night everyone!
Read your newspapers if you want to know who finished where! Not our business to tell you!
The yellow lines delineate the race track . There have to be boundries . Whether the yellow lines have traction or not isn’t an issue . The drivers are for the most part pretty good at driving , i’m sure the yellow lines as boundries don’t present much of a problem for them once they know and understand the rule .
Rick on the Truck race has the same problem as Dr Punch on the Cup race…when there’s an accident, they can’t remember who is driving what vehicle. They just call out numbers until their fragile brain engages.
what did the post race interviews have in common? Besides the winner ther were Hendrick cars. Forget about the 2nd and 3rd place cars, we must get something from all the Hendrick drivers! The TV boradcasters love affair with the Hendrick teams is nauseating. If I was Home Depot of Budweiser I would let them know it too.
I didn’t even realize until Monday that the #20 and #9 finished second and third. And don’t make excuses that Nascar was “trying to figure it out”. Bull.. They have transponders on the cars and sensors in the track. Remember? That statement from this writer does not hold a drop of water and is an excuse, not a reason why ESPN screwed up. But heck, I got to see an interview with all the Hendrick drivers so I guess I’m blessed.. Lol.. Oh, I do believe that ABC owns ESPN.. Get it, ESPN on ABC..
I’m in Atlanta, and at 5p, my ABC affiliate (WSB) went to something called “to be announced,” according to my listings. I couldn’t tell you what it was, though, as I switched it off without another thought. I think they were selling something.
I am also getting real sick and tired of Jimmie Johnson all the time!! Did anyone else notice that the announcers gave him the smooth move of the race award (or whatever it is that they call it!) for missing the first accident? When they showed the video replay he was driving along in a whole line of other cars and you couldn’t even see the accident that he was given credit for so cleverly missing !!! Usually for Talladega I am glued to the TV for the entire race. This one was so boring that I was actually switching back and forth between the so called race and Party at the Hard Rock on truTV !!
JohnP said: “And don’t make excuses that Nascar was “trying to figure it out”. Bull.. They have transponders on the cars and sensors in the track.”
When there is a yellow flag flown during the race, NASCAR uses the transponders and the scoring loops to determine the running order. However, on the last lap, NASCAR uses video replay to determine the finishing order, NOT the transponders. That’s why it took several hours to determine who finished where due to the multi-car accident.
And between each viewing they had to do a body shot and snort a line of coke off a stripper’s ass while counting their money, right?
Hey Kevin in SoCal, a little risque today are we? “And between each viewing they had to do a body shot and snort a line of coke off a stripper’s ass while counting their money, right?”
Part of that sounds good anyway!
But, I digress, be assured NA$CRAP could and should use transponder data to determine the finishing order! It is accurate!
However, then they would not be able to selectively decide who finished where!
More NA$CRAP “race day decisions”! YUK!
The transponder is at the exact same place on each and every car. Thus that transponder the crosses that scoring loop first is awarded that spot! Even if that car is upside down which is becoming more and more common in NA$CRAP these days!
But, after a line or two of that powdery white stuff off the strippers ass, things do get convoluted! But also remember, they have to communicate back to Daytona Beach where King Brian is in a stupor from sucking down all those suds, and other things, while the race is going on in Dega!
Douglas, I had to throw something in there for the conspiracy crowd, you know? :)
Nice one Kevin!
In light of the scurrilous rumor you reported last week about Erik Kuselias, which apparently is untrue since I saw him still on ESPN a couple of days ago, any reason I should attach any degree of credibility to any of this article?