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 November 10, 2009
Hello, race fans, and welcome to my weekly critique, entry No. 41 in an ongoing series in which I look into the TV broadcasts that we watch on a weekly basis. This week, NASCAR’s top three series were all at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. However, there are a couple of things that must be addressed before we start.
First of which, as you may know, NASCAR’s PR Director, Ramsey Poston, last week gave his two cents about ESPN’s coverage at Talladega. In his short comments on the ‘NASCAR Says’ blog at nascar.com, Poston claimed that the ESPN crew was disappointed with the action at Talladega and let their feelings pour over into the broadcast. Well, we’re not going to rehash Talladega here, but this is stuff that I mentioned last week. I can never tell with ESPN whether it is actual despair about the race or just the way the broadcast is planned out.
However, we have more to the story this week. Landmark Newspapers’ Dustin Long conducted an interview with the somewhat secretive, way-too-private-to-be-the-CEO-of-NASCAR, Brian France. In that interview, Long asked France about ESPN’s broadcast from Talladega. This was Fance’s exact quote: “I didn’t see it. I really didn’t see all of it.” Long then asked France if he talked to anyone associated with ESPN/ABC about the telecast, to which France responded with an outright no.
The general opinion that some of the readers in our Live Blog on Sunday took out of this piece is that France may be unable at this point to relate to normal race fans. If this is true, then it’s a crying shame. France needs to make himself available to drivers, team owners, crew chiefs, and what have you. France would also do well to drop in on a fan forum every once in awhile. As it stands now, who knows what that guy is up to? He’s invisible, and thus, potentially out of touch with the sanctioning body’s needs.
Now, we know that France rarely shows up on television. When he showed up for the announcement of the inaugural class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame on October 14, it was the first time I’d seen him on TV in months. When he wants to come out and be the face of NASCAR, he can. However, I don’t think he really wants to, as he basically inherited his current job from his late father.
As for your comments from last week, I had to sift through the remarks about alleged drug usage involving France to get to anything that I can print here. We’re not starting those types of rumors here; none of that’s proven. All we do know is that J.C., his relative, got busted for cocaine recently. The user “slander” stated that NASCAR should evoke the blanket “Actions Detrimental to Stock Car Racing” clause in order to root ESPN out of NASCAR coverage in favor of expanded coverage from TNT. That would be interesting if NASCAR tried to do so, although I think at this point, it’s not happening and if it did, I don’t think NASCAR would initiate it. ESPN is currently paying NASCAR up to $270 million a year to broadcast NASCAR races and other programming. I don’t think they could get that from Turner Sports or another media partner to replace ESPN at this point (nor would anyone pay that much). They like that $270 million too much.
Also, I have to mention that I really did not like the scheduling that SPEED put out for Friday night at TMS. Nationwide Series qualifying started at 6:30 p.m. EST and was only given a one hour timeslot. I knew going in that this wouldn’t be enough, and at 7:30 p.m., they cut away from live qualifying to go to Trackside Live. SPEED could have just advertised the Trackside program after the Truck race as the main airing, to be honest. There is no reason why that needs to be aired live when you have live qualifying going on at the track that you’re televising. Please don’t do this again.
After the debacle that was Nationwide Series qualifying, SPEED presented the WinStar World Casino 350k from Texas Motor Speedway. The usual crew worked on the telecast, meaning that Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip were in the booth for SPEED while Krista Voda, Adam Alexander, and Ray Dunlap handled pit road. Pre-Race (NCWTS Setup) started out in the typical way, with a recap of last week’s Mountain Dew 250 from Talladega. In between the seven interviews, there was a feature on Turner Motorsports, a new team that will be campaigning two trucks full-time next season (in practice, this is the Win-Tron Racing team that has raced in the ARCA Re/MAX Series for the past few years).
The ‘Bumper to Bumper’ feature was what amounted to a Q&A with Todd Bodine, which was quite interesting. There was also a feature about the drivers’ wives and girlfriends about how they conduct themselves at the track. This seems to be the kind of thing that probably should have run last week, to be honest.
The race coverage was more or less what we’ve come to expect from SPEED this season, which is a generally well put together package, with a couple of things that I wish they would fix. Once again, they missed a restart this week. In addition, they still do not really recognize those trucks that are S&P’ing. Maybe that’s because of Phil Parsons’ presence in the booth … I don’t know.
But the one thing that I really don’t understand from Friday’s telecast was the fact that SPEED took back-to-back commercial breaks under green late in the race. The only explanation that I can come up with is that they were expecting the race to take longer to run than it did, necessitating them to take the extra break in order to fulfill their ad obligations.
Since this race was relatively short, the post-race coverage was chock full of interviews and analysis. Eight drivers and the winning crew chief (Richie Wauters) were interviewed on SPEED. There was a fair amount of wrap-up analysis from the booth as well.
On Saturday, the Nationwide Series took to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Challenge. The big story before that race got underway was the ongoing saga surrounding Danica Patrick potentially coming to the Nationwide Series to drive a part-time schedule for JR Motorsports in 2010. One feature focused on getting opinions from drivers about Danica coming to NASCAR.
There were a pretty good number of interviews during pre-race (nine), and a near completely pointless cut to the Tech Garage. I should mention that my dad came up to visit from New Jersey while this race was on Saturday. Why is this worth mentioning? Because while we watching the race on ESPN2, my father and I got to discussing the coverage. I should state for the record that my dad is not a race fan. Yes, he took me and my buddy Brien to the Bud at the Glen in 1998, but that’s the only race he’s ever been to. He’s more of a stick and/or ball fan. His opinion of the coverage? He thinks that it needs to be catered towards the core fans. Right now, it’s designed to appeal to casual and/or new fans, which may be hurting ratings as a result. He used soccer coverage as an example; they just call the games for the fans watching, give analysis, and that’s it.
The race on Saturday definitely had a green flag feel to it, so ESPN focused on individual stories when there was no racing for position on the track (i.e. — Bobby Hillin Jr.‘s return to the series in the No. 81). When the action heated back up, they showed that action.
Post-race coverage was relatively short. There were only five post-race interviews. Those were with winner Kyle Busch and his crew chief, Jason Radcliff. In addition, there were interviews with Casey Mears, Jason Leffler and Brad Keselowski while the unofficial results ran in the scroll during said interviews. In between the Radcliff and Mears interviews, ESPN ran the points standings graphic. The Busch interview was the last of the five, and ESPN left the air almost immediately afterwards.
The race on Saturday was OK to watch. I cannot do anything about Kyle Busch running away with the race (again) and ESPN did the best with what they were given. As for Marty Reid, he definitely works well with the Nationwide telecasts, although he can play off of Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie better than Petree and Jarrett, to be honest. I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to group Reid, Wallace, and LaJoie together for all the races next year.
On Sunday, ESPN on ABC presented coverage of the Dickies 500 from Texas Motor Speedway. It was the usual crew of Jerry Punch, Petree and Dale Jarrett in the booth, while Alan Bestwick, Brad Daugherty and Wallace held down the fort in the Infield Studio. The typical crew of Spake, Burns, Welch and Little controlled the pits.
As usual, we’ll start with the pre-race show, NASCAR Countdown. Sunday’s 45 minute edition was briefly interrupted (without fanfare, for some reason) by an ABC News Special Report. Wasn’t expecting that, but that’s something you can’t control — and it must have been chaotic in the TV trucks. There was a pretty good feature on the anatomy of crashes, complete with sound bites from Dr. Dean Sicking, the creator of the SAFER Barrier. I’m admittedly a nerd who did science competitions in high school (Science Olympiad), so I found that interesting. There was extensive discussion of the extrication of Ryan Newman from his blowover flip at Talladega. As our John Potts described back on November 1st in the Live Blog, this was completely done to protocol, and Dr. Punch more or less echoed that. I think the cut to the Craftsman Tech Garage with Tim Brewer at that point was unnecessary, though.
There was also a “Taste of the Race” segment where Daugherty went to a temporary Brookshire’s grocery store setup behind the backstretch. Now, I have no issues with that, but what I do have an issue with is the unrecognized Bush’s sponsorship. Daugherty basically says something along the lines of “Hey! You got my favorite!” The camera then pans down to the cans of Bush’s Baked Beans. This wouldn’t be a problem if Bush’s didn’t sponsor Daugherty’s race team. And this is the second time this has happened, although this instance wasn’t as blatant. ESPN needs to put it right out there that Bush’s sponsors that segment, in order to save face.
Also, there was a brief concert by ZZ Top, who also served as the Grand Marshals of the race. Personally, I’m not a fan of pre-race concerts like that, because they just prolong the pre-race show.
As you may expect, Sunday’s race coverage was outright overkill. It drove me nuts. Yes, Johnson having his wreck was the big story of the race, however, ESPN let it become almost the only story on the broadcast. During Sunday’s Live Blog, a poll was taken about whether the increased Johnson coverage hurt the broadcast. The results were 2 to 1 that it did. Yes, it’s nice to know what happened to Johnson, but I swear they showed the replay of the wreck like 20 times during the race. ESPN even had a clock on the repair time (it turned out to be one hour and eight minutes, or 117 laps). Then, after the race, NASCAR Now showed the wreck a reported 30 more times in a one hour timeslot.
Aside from the constant rehashing of Johnson’s wreck, the ESPN cameras kept focused on Johnson too much. In all honesty, I’m surprised that ESPN didn’t give a little more focus to the fact that Johnson was under the minimum speed at multiple points during the race. To continue on that point, it was made clear that the minimum speed (or really, maximum lap time) was 33.27 seconds, or 163.308 mph. I think that this should be listed in the race statistics every week, to be honest.
There was only one debris caution during the race, and ESPN actually found the debris on the track. However, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was, even with the help of my DVR. I guess it was a water bottle, but it looked like a bunch of tearoffs clumped together to me.
There were four “Up to Speed” segments during the race, which is more than normal. Of those, only one covered any driver further back than 11th. I wish they would give a little more coverage to those teams back there.
Since the race only had five cautions, the race ended relatively early. That is, if you consider 6:50 p.m. EST early. ESPN did 10 interviews in that time, and multiple point checks. Even with the post-race coverage, no one mentioned the fact that Kurt Busch won the race by over three-quarters of a lap (25-plus seconds). I thought it was 13 seconds at the finish, and only realized differently when I checked NASCAR’s result sheet later in the evening. Even with all the surplus time, ESPN kept the unofficial results in the scroll. Of the three media partners, ESPN is the only one to show them there.
That’s all for this week. Next week is another NASCAR tripleheader, this time at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The action starts with the Camping World Truck Series’ qualifying coverage at 4:30 p.m. EST (2:30 p.m. local). Pre-race coverage (NCWTS Setup) starts at 7:30 p.m. EST, with Lucas Oil 150 coverage starting at 8:00 p.m. EST. SPEED will broadcast all the events.
The Nationwide Series is also in town for the Able Body Labor 200 (for reference purposes, this is a company that provides labor to worksites). Coverage starts Friday morning with the first practice session at 11:30 a.m. EST (9:30 a.m. local). The final practice session will air at 3:30 p.m. EST. Both of these will air on SPEED. Qualifying is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. EST (10:00 a.m. local) on SPEED. Finally, race coverage starts with NASCAR Countdown from Phoenix at 4:00 p.m. EST (2:00 p.m. local) on ESPN2. The green flag is schedule to fall around 4:45 p.m. EST.
Finally, the Cup Series will race on Sunday in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500k. Coverage starts Friday with the only pre-qualifying practice session airing at 2:00 p.m. EST (12:00 p.m. local) on ESPN2. Qualifying coverage will follow at 5:30 p.m. EST, right after NASCAR Now. On Saturday, the first practice session will be carried on SPEED at 1:30 p.m. EST (11:30 a.m. local). Happy Hour will be aired at 3:00 p.m. EST on ESPN2. However, there is a Georgia Tech vs. Duke college football game that starts at 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday. Precedent says that the practice coverage will be at least slightly curtailed due to that game.
Finally, the pre-race coverage is scheduled to begin on ABC at 2:30 p.m. EST (12:30 p.m. local). Race coverage will start at 3:15 p.m. EST, with the green flag falling around 3:30 p.m. EST. I will provide a critique for all three of these races, along with anything else I find important.
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 need to use the term “poetic justice”, as regards JJ being taken out by Sam some three (3) laps into the “event”!
What I mean is, good ole JJ has never said anything against the POS!
Good old lilly white, or is that just plain vanilla, JJ just accepts what NA$CRAP wants him to. BLINDLY!
So, the “poetic justice” part comes in when a fellow driver, driving of course that POS, you know, the car that simply does not handle at all, twitches in the corner and taps JJ!
And the rest is history!
Can you see where I am headed with this?
Or is this called: live by the sword, die by the sword?
Wait…. Jimmie Johnson wrecked on Sunday?… I must have missed that.
To be fair, that and Rowdy’s triple attempt were the only two story lines of note. Unless you count Kasey Kahne’s EPIC struggle to stay make the top 10 in points and get that coveted spot on stage.
Or those struggling to crack the top 35… who are they again?
I suppose that rookie of the year “race” between Joey “Sliced Bread” and Peanut Butter and Jelly…
What about the farewell tours of Michael Waltrip and Bobby Labonte…
Yeah, cause 4-straight championships doesn’t deserve a majority of the air time. I guess thats why on Saturday Prime Time ESPN airs Boyton State vrs. Northwest Alaska instead of USC/Notre Dame.
See Kevin… there is something good about SoCal. Just not racing.
Phil, I notice you never say anything about the actual horrible play by play done by Jerry Punch on Sundays. Hopefully this isn’t because of the interview you did with him.
Re: Brad Daugherty’s blatant Bush Bean’s promo: when the segment is introduced with the cutesy cartoon intro, it shows that the segment is sponsored by Bush’s. It isn’t a large logo and there is no vocal announcement, but it is there. That’s why I thought is wasn’t odd that they blatantly showed that the infield temporary grocer had the product.
My thoughts on Dr. Punch are as follows. He is hamstrung by the edicts brought down on him in late 2007 that has more or less forced him to just pose questions all the time. Now, I’ll admit that he’s not the best guy out there in the Play-by-Play role, but I don’t think he’s being utilized in the booth correctly by ESPN. If you look at older, pre-2007 races that he did play-by-play for, it’s like you’re listening to a different person.
Also of note, I don’t think Dr. Punch reads this critique, but I’m confident that he reads Daly Planet. I can’t elaborate because it was off the record (gotta keep to journalisic ethics here), but believe me when I say that he does. The commenters at Daly Planet tend to share John’s opinion that Dr. Punch needs to be in the infield studio and Bestwick in the booth. I wouldn’t be opposed to such a move, and neither would Dr. Punch if it were suggested by ESPN.
Mary, thanks for the clarification of the Bush’s sponsorship of the Taste of the Race feature. They should announce that Bush’s is sponsoring it vocally and make the logo a little bigger, though.
No one who has a financial interest in any Nascar team should be in ANY broadcasting capacity before, during or after an event.
The alleged drug abuse by Brian France was actually in reference to J C France , Jim Frances’ son .
Why didn’t ESPN televise the Busch race? It’s their baby. ESPN never announces anything that is televising on SPEED. Why should SPEED give up their programing for an ESPN show.
It doesn’t bother me which drivers’ stories they deem important. You’re never going to make everyone happy with that anyway, so I think ESPN focuses on the championship battle first and foremost.
But good grief, it drives me crazy when they cut to the guy in the garage area or play a driver interview while the race is going on. THAT drives me nuts. I just want to see the RACE!
Thanks Phil for your article. I agree with most of your insights. However, I don’t agree with some of the responders here who think that John Daly’s site is the epicenter of NASCAR media websites. Many consider it a site with well intentions, but made up of one person making a lot of phony posts. Until there is a way to check if multiple posts are made by the site’s owner, I don’t give much credence to sites like Daly’s. Sites like FS who have quality writers don’t have pages and pages of responses to their best articles, indicating to me that is what is normal. Guess I am a skeptic, but I know I am not alone. Anyway good job Phil. I hope NASCAR reads your stuff and takes it seriously.
24Crazy, ESPN did televise the Nationwide race on Saturday. As for referencing NASCAR races on SPEED (Mainly the Camping World Trucks), they do seem to be a little random at times.
Before I forget, I did write up my thoughts on NASCAR Performance for this week, but I submitted the rest of the write-up before I finished it (we have deadlines to keep here at Frontstretch). By the time the NASCAR Performance piece was finished, the rest if the piece had already gone through Round 1 of editing. It will be included in next week’s critique, guaranteed.
Neither could I figure out exactly what the “debris” was that caused the caution – but it appeared to be “soft” as the track worker picked it up! You also failed to mention that the debris caution just happed to fly as Jeff Gordon was about to be lapped – imagine that!! Dr. Punch seems like a nice guy – but he just doesn’t have it as a lead announcer. He actually put me to sleep on Sunday!! No need to comment further on the constant replays of the JJ incident – overkill !!
Thank goodness for the NFL, …watched about 5 actual laps of the race. Why do I stay interested in the NFL year after year, but NASCAR is just getting so old?…and worse every year…..same stuff, big waste of time. I spend more time on FS than I do watching the race in any given week. Must be the entertainment value!!! (and I mean that as a compliment!)
I must bud in and say the “Up to Speed” or “Through the Field” segments are, in my opinion, a complete waste of time — as are any pit-reports that only talk of track-bar or air pressure adjustments. Who cares? They are always loose or tight and what does it add to the race to know they let out a half pound in the right front or took 2 rounds of wedge?
Also, watching pitstops are worthless too! Especially when there is green flag racing going on — what purpose does it do to focus in on some car for 30 seconds to see if they are slow by half a second versus someone else?
Please take me back to the days of early ’80s ESPN when the race coverage started when the cars headed off of T4 for the green flag and the focus was on on-track action!!!!!! Not inane updates on how much air pressure someone is letting out. Geesh!