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 17, 2009
Hello, race fans and welcome to my critique, entry No. 42 in a long series in which we look into the quality of NASCAR’s TV Broadcasts. This week: Phoenix. Of course, before we get into the nitty gritty of the weekend’s racing, there are a couple things I want to mention.
First of all, two weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to give a short review of NASCAR Performance last week. I did write the critique, but finished it a little too late for it to be included in last week’s critique (I did mention this in the comments section from last week). So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the episode of NASCAR Performance from Texas, originally aired on November 7.
As many of you know, NASCAR Performance is a weekly show shot at whatever track that the Cup Series is at. On the show, host Larry McReynolds, along with crew chiefs Chad Knaus, Robert “Bootie” Barker and Doug Richert (a recent addition to the show), discuss the technical aspects of the race cars. The time the show is taped differs from week to week. In Texas last weekend, it appears that the segment was taped during the Truck Series race on Friday night. As a result, there was essentially no audience. For tapings that are not during a race, a small crowd will assemble for the taping.
On this week’s airing, the show started with Larry allowing the three crew chiefs to talk about their days at the track, with SPEED showing some footage from Talladega as an aid (Knaus is Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief, Richert is Robby Gordon’s crew chief and Barker is technically an employee of MWR, but is on loan to Germain Racing as Max Papis’ crew chief). I think this segment is OK, but they’re on a slippery slope. I know these crew chiefs work for active teams in the Cup Series, but there’s always the specter of professionalism to worry about in television. I think all three crew chiefs handle themselves fine, but it’s always at the back of my head.
This folds into a discussion of the CoT’s crushability, as displayed in Ryan Newman’s crash. Knaus made a great point about the A-Pillar on a CoT being more likely to crush in a rollover crash than on the old car because the piece is longer. Honestly, this was an issue in Edwards’ crash back in April, but it was on the passenger side of the car back then.
After a quick commercial break, McReynolds led the panel on a discussion of shocks and how they work in race cars. This discussion centered upon the compression and rebound of a shock. Hendrick Motorsports actually has a shock dyno in their transporter that they can use to test the compression and rebound of their shocks. While the dyno was on screen, Knaus was describing essentially what the dyno does and how he (and other Hendrick crew members) can interpret the data.
The third segment centered around a discussion of Texas Motor Speedway and what the teams have to plan for. After the final commercial break, McReynolds brought up a few talking points. One of those topics was fuel mileage potentially playing a role on Sunday (which it most definitely did), while another was the close points race. Each of the crew chiefs was given an opportunity to respond to these talking points. After those points were addressed, the show ended rather abruptly, to be honest.
My general feelings after watching this show is that the crew chiefs feel that they are a little strapped for time, especially during the shock segment. As a result, they probably cannot convey all the information that they want to. I had the same problem when I was trying to become a teacher. Based on the available information that the panel can talk about, this could potentially be a one hour show every week. However, I don’t think SPEED has the time to make this a one hour show. It’s generally a good watch otherwise.
In the comments section last week, I liked this comment from don mei. Don writes:
“No one who has a financial interest in any NASCAR team should be in ANY broadcasting capacity before, during or after an event.”
I would tend to agree with this, on the reasoning that you’re compromised from day one. You technically have a rooting interest in the outcome, and that is not right. Broadcasters are supposed to be impartial. However, we’ve had this problem in the past with family members in the booth calling races their offspring are racing in. Ned Jarrett comes to mind here. However, he kept his emotions bottled up for the most part, with a couple of exceptions that you and me may remember vividly. Benny Parsons also called some races in which his brother Phil participated in, but I don’t really recall Benny treating Phil all that much differently as a result.
This is an issue not just in motorsport telecasts, but in other sports as well. Bob Griese took the opposite view when it came to doing Michigan football games for ABC in which his son Brian was playing in. He went out of his way to basically come off as impartial. This strategy, albeit not wrong according to S&P (Standards and Practices), actually ticked off Bob’s own mother.
On Friday, the Truck Series raced in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. Live coverage was aired on SPEED with the usual crew of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip in the booth. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander reported from the pits, while Krista Voda seemingly viewed the race from atop Rattlesnake Hill. That will make sense in the next paragraph.
During the Setup, Krista hosted from a campsite on top of the hill (camping supplies were provided by a local Camping World store). This came off as a little weird to me, to be honest (she also seemed a little cold up there). During pre-race, SPEED included a feature (I guess it may have been more of a montage) of Ron Hornaday’s championship clinches, which was fairly interesting. Another feature was based around Kyle Busch’s torching of the field whenever he enters a Truck race.
The race broadcast was your typical broadcast that we’ve come to expect from SPEED. This means that it’s your basic telecasts with (more or less) no frills. I’m fine with that. SPEED telecasts of Truck races have generally been enjoyable to watch this year. I still don’t like the back-to-back commercial breaks, to be honest (for the record, this was between laps 100 and 112 of 150). Ridiculous. I don’t know how many cautions that SPEED thinks are going to occur in a Truck race, to be honest, but they have miscalculated the last two weeks.
The main gripe I have about SPEED’s broadcast from Friday night was the fact that replays were not shown for two wrecks. In my opinion, this is inexcusable. For the record, the two wrecks were the one on Lap 121 involving the No. 22 of Tim George Jr., and the one that ended the race involving the No. 81 of Tayler Malsam. I would argue that not replaying Malsam’s crash is the bigger travesty here, especially since Malsam claims that Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertson’s Toyota) took him out. There was no mention in either circumstance that SPEED did not catch the wrecks on camera, although I don’t think this was the case with the Malsam crash since they cut to it in progress.
Post-race was, for the amount of time that SPEED still had in their timeslot at the end of the race, relatively brief. There were the obligatory point checks (especially since Hornaday clinched the championship) and post-race interviews (six of them in all). There was also the check of the unofficial results, both in the scroll and in a full screen graphic, and post-race analysis from the booth. Then, after that was done, SPEED left the air 15 minutes early and joined an episode of NASCAR Smarts from Texas in progress. I have no clue why SPEED did that. Why not get a few more interviews in there? Did they just run out of stuff to talk about? I guess since Hornaday clinched the title, there wasn’t all that much that could be done to play up the season finale from Homestead.
On Saturday, the Nationwide Series raced in the Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. On ESPN2, the (somewhat) usual crew of Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were in the booth, while ESPN’s quartet of reporters (Burns, Little, Spake and Welch) roamed the pits. NASCAR Countdown was actually quite spartan, to be honest. Most of the pre-race show centered around analysis in the Infield Studio.
There was a cut to the Craftsman Tech Garage so that Tim Brewer could discuss how Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota flunked opening inspection at Texas (they bolted a box to the frame where a piece of tungsten ballast is placed, instead of welding it in). This was penalized by NASCAR deducting 25 driver and owner points. However, one thing that got glossed over was the fact that NASCAR had repeatedly warned the team about this before fining them. When Mike Harmon’s No. 58 team had this violation at Daytona in July, they immediately busted them. Not a fan of that.
In addition, there was a brief cutaway to Paul Page in Pomona, CA to promote the NHRA Southern California Auto Club Finals, which were also last weekend. This seemed relatively out of place, to be honest, but consistent with the cross-promotion of NHRA events on NASCAR Now this season.
The Nationwide race coverage had a heavy emphasis on the Championship. Now, I know that it was the second to last race of the season, but Kyle Busch had the thing won. They didn’t need to constantly show those at the moment points graphics showing the difference between Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. I’ll argue that it was somewhat appropriate after Kyle got involved in the incident with Clint Bowyer, but once he got back up front, that should have ceased. As it stands, it took him falling back in the last couple of laps on Saturday to prevent him from clinching the title in Phoenix.
Post-race coverage was quite brief. There were only four interviews (Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards) conducted during post-race. The unofficial results scrolled at the top of the screen during those interviews. There was some post-race analysis, but otherwise, ESPN quickly left the air to get to alternate programming.
On Sunday, the Cup Series raced in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500k presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway. The usual crew of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree called the race in the booth for ESPN/ABC, while the aforementioned pit reporting corps managed pit road.
NASCAR Countdown was once again centered on the championship, although it made more sense to do so on Sunday than on Saturday. Only four drivers actually got interviewed (Johnson, Martin and the Busch brothers), along with Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus. There was a montage of moments in Mark Martin’s career. This was interesting in that we got to see some real old clips of Mark, from his owner-driver, pre-weight training regimen days. This doesn’t get shown all that much, so it’s kind of notable to mention that Mark washed out of Winston Cup after only a couple of years and went back to short tracks. Other clips shown were of his first Cup victory (Rockingham, October 1989), Martin’s victory at Richmond in February, 1990, and his win at Phoenix in April led to congratulations by everyone, including former car owner Jack Roush. But one notable thing that they didn’t mention was that Martin was penalized 46 points after that Richmond victory, his car flunked post-race tech (those points were more than enough to swing the championship to Earnhardt that year).
There was also a Taste of the Race feature where Brad learned about how to prepare rattlesnake for human consumption. Definitely unusual, to be honest. Brad seemed to like it, though. One story that was not covered during the pre-race was the coming together (again) of Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski during the Able Body Labor 200 on Saturday. I don’t know why this is so, but this was not a good omission.
My thoughts of ESPN’s race telecast is as follows. I’m still not a fan of ESPN’s edict for Dr. Punch to tone it down that was apparently given after the 2007 season. At work, I have plenty of time to sit in what amounts to solitude and think things through. After thinking this through, I’ve come to the conclusion that Dr. Punch is not completely blameless in the mess that has become the broadcast booth. I think he is still trying to figure out where he can go within ESPN’s edict, and still not violate it. As a result, he’s becomes very conservative in the booth, and it’s hurting the broadcast as a result. My suggestion is for ESPN to loosen the reins on Dr. Punch and allow him to show that he wants to be there, which he definitely does, believe me.
As you would expect, there was plenty of talk about the championship and points scenarios during the race, enough to make your head spin. My advice is to only show that stuff every once in awhile, not every 25 seconds or so. As a result, the coverage was stilted towards Johnson, Martin, and Jeff Gordon. To be fair, ESPN did take time to show the great runs by Marcos Ambrose and Jeff Burton, which was good. Martin Truex Jr. seemed to be invisible after the first segment, despite the fact that he finished fifth.
In all honesty, I wonder if the TV partners know how to deal with races that have less than seven cautions these days. It’s almost like they expect a lot of cautions. Admittedly, the drivers haven’t exactly been helping matters in the past few years, but I’m thinking that the TV crews have to prepare for the race assuming that it’s going to go caution-free. In that case, maybe they won’t feel as hamstrung by long green flag runs as they seem to be.
Since the race ended fairly quick, there was an unusual amount of extra time for post-race coverage. In the slightly more than one half hour of post-race coverage, ESPN managed to include 11 interviews, and a point check. Some of those interviews were better than others, though. Shannon Spake made the mistake of asking Jeff Gordon about his championship chances when the results of the race effectively eliminated him, invoking some angry comments on the Internet.
Now, Gordon is still technically eligible for the title, but Johnson would have to be incapacitated in some way so that he would be unable to start the race on Sunday for Gordon to even have a chance. Otherwise, he will be eliminated as soon as the race starts in Homestead. If that very unlikely scenario occurred, Gordon would have to finish no worse than fourth (if he leads the most laps), third (if he leads a lap), or second (if he fails to lead a lap) to win. The chances of this happening are slightly less than nil at this point.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is the last race weekend of the season. For many of you, it may be “good riddance.” For me, it’s quite bittersweet. I like writing these critiques and I like watching races on television. The offseason has always come off as boring to me.
Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts Ford Championship Weekend this weekend, in which all three of NASCAR’s top divisions will host their season finales. Unfortunately, the championship battles are all but over at this point. The Truck Series starts out the action Thursday night with their final practice session of the season at 6:30 p.m. EST on SPEED. Qualifying will air at 5 p.m. EST Friday, then pre-race (NCWTS Setup) will air at 7:30 p.m. EST. The Ford 200 follows at 8 p.m. EST. All track sessions listed here are live.
The Nationwide Series opens up shop at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday. First practice will be aired live on SPEED at 1 p.m. EST on Friday. Nationwide Happy Hour will air at 6:30 p.m. EST. Nationwide Series qualifying will air on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. EST. Race coverage will start with NASCAR Countdown on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. EST. Coverage of the Ford 300 will start at 4:30 p.m. EST.
Finally, the Cup Series rolls into Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford 400. Coverage starts with the first practice session Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. EST on SPEED. Pole qualifying will air on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. EST. On Saturday, the first practice will be televised on SPEED at 1:30 p.m. EST. Happy Hour coverage is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN2. However, be warned. There is a college football game (North Carolina vs. Boston College) that starts at noon on ESPN2 and there is always the threat of an overrun. A potential truncating of Happy Hour could be in the cards. On Sunday, actual race coverage starts with a 45 minute edition of NASCAR Countdown on ABC at 2:30 p.m. EST. Ford 400 coverage starts at 3:15 p.m. EST with the green flag tentatively scheduled to fly at 3:31 p.m. EST.
In addition, SPEED is running a three hour edition of NASCAR RaceDay on Sunday morning starting at 11:30 a.m. EST. I’m going to critique this as well for two reasons. One, because I really haven’t done a full critique of the show for the site. The other reason is the classic “What the deuce are they going to do with three hours to kill” reason. You’ll see my thoughts on the three races and NASCAR RaceDay in next week’s critique, the final full run through of the season. In addition, I’ll comment on a user comment or two, and I’ll come up with some kind of a closing statement to put a cap on this season. That’s what you guys have to look forward to for next week.
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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A well rounded synopsis of “broadcasting” for sure.
And while we all have our comments about the varying formats and personalities, I see the REAL issue as one of WAAAY to much coverage, hour, after hour, after hour, as though NA$CRAP was interesting to follow to begin with.
How would you like to be charged with coming up with programming, week, after week after week, covering the very same old garbage!
Even though I dislike most broadcast personalities (current anyway), I really do think they should be congratulated at times for “trying” to sound excited and fresh!
Just so you know , ALL Cup teams take shock dynos to the races , and have been doing so for years .
Just for fun , lets all count the number of times Jerry Punch says the following words during the up coming race broadcast ..
And heres the one that will need a calculater
I really enjoy your columns about the TV coverage. I like that they are fair and impartial, unlike the Daly Planet which is supposed to be doing the same thing as you, but is obviously anti ESPN and a FOX / SPEED apologist.I hope you continue the column and with good critique of the TV coverage.
Great review of the TV Coverage. Very honest and fair. I think it may be time for a replacement of Jerry Punch, but other than that the broadcast wasn’t bad. While the ESPN broadcast could be improved, I’m not sure its nearly as bad as is being portrayed on the Daly Planet Website.
good synopsis of the coverage. I agree with the comment from don mei and I’ll add one more thing — NO one who has a financial interest or FAMILY in the series should be in the broadcast booth. I don’t bother to watch any of the pre race garbage any more. Too much time to talk about nothing — it’s like the premise of the Seinfeld show, all about nothing and its boring. Plus I don’t need people like Kenny Wallace lecturing me that as a fan I should just “shut up” and take what I’m given by NASCAR and the TV partners. Excuse me? Without the fans watching, there’s no reason for the cars to go around and around.
I like the Speed broadcasts of the truck races and I’d like them more if Waltrip wasn’t in the booth — no NASCAR shills in the booth either. Fox is better at relating to the actual racing than ESPN is but they too suffer from the idea that graphics and animated stuff (Digger) is more important than the race. Last year I started watching only the green flag (when I can figure out when that actually is) the first 10 laps of the race, go off and do whatever strikes my fance and maybe, maybe I’ll come back and watch the last 30 laps when there might actually be some racing. The “points as they run” nonsense is totally “pointless” since it doesn’t matter until the end of the race, so who cares?
For those of you who don’t like the Daly Planet, well, it’s a free country so you don’t have to read it. Just like I don’t have to watch NASCAR on ESPN.
Jerry Punch probably wont mention Jimmy Johnson at all, but I bet he will talk about Jimmie Johnson a few times.