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.
TV Critique · Phil Allaway · Tuesday February 9, 2010
Hello, race fans, and welcome to entry No. 48 in a long-running series where I look into the television broadcasts beamed into our households. This week, I’m covering the first weekend of SpeedWeeks (hooray!). But, before we get into the critiques, some news.
First off, Nascar.com will be offering free RaceBuddy coverage of the Gatorade Duels. Perfect for those who have to work first shift on Thursday and cannot leave early. I’m not one of those people, because I fully plan on leaving work at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday so that I can get home in time to critique not just the Duels, but NASCAR RaceDay as well.
Secondly, JR Motorsports announced on Monday that Danica Patrick will drive the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in the Nationwide race on Saturday. As much as I wish Danica the best in the race, I also hope this doesn’t necessarily hurt the broadcast. More on this below.
One more tidbit. SPEED screwed up in the promotion of the Budweiser Shootout Selection Show on Thursday night. Originally, this was marketed as being live. However, it was not. The program ran on a delay of approximately an hour. How do I know this? A few writers that are notorious for Twittering were in attendance and tweeting the starting spots in real time. For example, I already knew that Carl Edwards was on the pole for the Shootout before the broadcast aired.
Now, for the critiques. On Saturday afternoon, FOX aired live coverage of Pole Qualifying for the Daytona 500. I’ll admit I was at work at the time that the coverage was on. However, working in the office of the Imaging Department in a hospital on a Saturday can be quite slow, especially in the mornings. During such down time, I was able to walk out to the waiting room, check what channel the TV was on (since it was already on FOX, I didn’t have to change it), and swivel the TV so that I could see the coverage in the office. As a result, I got to see almost the entire session when work didn’t get in the way. However, I couldn’t take notes.
This session was fine to watch, for the most part, but there was one thing worth noting. Early on, there was a full screen interview with Robin Pemberton while Paul Menard was out on the track. Pemberton was talking up the changes made to the CoT for this season, which is nice to have before the season gets underway, but it just doesn’t work here with a live telecast. I would be fine with this interview airing during pre-race of the Budweiser Shootout or the Daytona 500, when there isn’t on-track action at the time. You could even conceivably air it during Sprint Cup qualifying sessions on SPEED, due to the way they’re setup (they are time-shifted by 20 minutes or so).
After qualifying ended, I scurried home from work in time to catch SPEED’s coverage of the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Re/MAX and Menards’ Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 from Daytona International Speedway. It appeared that the NASCAR Live! show leading into the race coverage served as a de facto pre-race show here because there was literally no pre-race. During this time, SPEED taped an interview with Danica Patrick that ended up airing during the pace laps.
The telecast started right with the command to start engines. What this said to me was that SPEED may have ditched the five minute delay that was used over the past couple of years for ARCA races on the channel. Darrell Waltrip joined Rick Allen and Phil Parsons for the telecast on SPEED and brought his opinionated nature with him.
Looking back at this telecast, one thing stands out. It’s the same problem that ABC had back when Todd Harris was the play-by-play man for the IRL races (and from what I understand, these were bad days). It was Danica Patrick, all the time. It was ridiculous how much coverage she got during this race, not just on SPEED’s telecast, but online as well (more on this below). One example that I can give is when the third caution came out on Lap 26 (the Jill George/Jesse Smith crash). SPEED’s cameras were focused on the lead pack, and specifically, Patrick’s No. 7 when the crash broke out. Allen was on his game, announcing the wreck exiting Turn 4. SPEED didn’t cut to the wreck for 7 seconds and only got aftermath footage on air live.
Also, the Patrick story completely overshadowed everything else there. This made it look at times like it was Danica Patrick, and 42 other drivers out there. Other stories were almost completely overlooked, like the fact that there was a record six women in the race (Jill George, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Milka Duno, Leilani Munter, and Alli Owens, in addition to Patrick), or even the fact that Booby Gerhart won again — his sixth at Daytona. It’s ridiculous.
Another thing that I was not pleased about was how the SPEED commentators didn’t mention the idea of a time limit for this race. Writers and teams at the track knew that the race had to finish by 6:55 p.m. EST, so that a performance by the Zac Brown Band could take place. The sheer thought of that is stupid, in my opinion, but this did come into play. It was never acknowledged on air by SPEED, but crew members interviewed on pit road as early as the Red Flag for Jill George’s flip made reference to this.
During our Live Blog we were convinced that this was why ARCA didn’t throw the caution for Terry Jones’ issues and Alli Owens’ spin coming to two laps to go. As it stands now, the race ended at 6:52 p.m. Had they thrown the yellow, the race would not have restarted at all. Maybe this was an extension of the whole Jinx thing that I mentioned last year (the “don’t talk about the rain so it doesn’t happen” thing)
However, not everything was bad in the broadcast. Darrell Waltrip was definitely on his game (Just in case anyone wants to know, there was no “Boogity” here, since it’s not his show) during the race. For example, he took some of the drivers to task after the first caution (the multi-car crash that started when Bill Baird spun in Turn 1, collecting Steve Blackburn and eight others who piled in) for not slowing down and plowing into the wreck. If you remember my critique from this race last year, I took Allen and Parsons to task myself for not doing that, even though this was a much bigger problem last year.
Also during the race, SPEED had what amounted to a “Danica Cam” available on their Web site. Reportedly, this was popular enough that people were having trouble accessing it before the race started. I didn’t have any issues getting in, but I accessed it after the race started. The Danica Cam consisted of a revolving setup featuring at least two in-car cameras in her car, and one camera on the roof of the Tower that followed Patrick at all times (sort of like “Camera 1” on other race broadcasts). This ran on what amounted to a five second delay to the race broadcast on SPEED, but ran the whole race, including the commercial breaks. This allowed Danica Cam viewers to see Danica’s spin from the in-car view before the TV audience could.
No news as of right now about how many people viewed the Danica Cam at SPEEDTV.com, or the race itself on SPEED, but ARCA’s Web site reported record site usage on Saturday. According to ARCA’s site, 118,000 people visited the site on Saturday and generated over 715,000 page views. This triples the previous highs for the website.
Post-race coverage was very brief. Since the race was already 22 minutes over time once the checkers flew, there was only time for interviews with race winner Bobby Gerhart, and the aforementioned Patrick. I don’t even think a full field rundown was given before SPEED ended the telecast and went to NASCAR RaceDay.
Admittedly, this was not the best telecast I’ve ever seen. However, it will probably go down as one of, if not the highest rated ARCA race ever on television because of Danica Patrick’s presence. I doubt that camera crew quality would be an issue because it was likely the same crew shooting this race as the crew that shot the Budweiser Shootout. I just hope that ESPN’s Nationwide races this year won’t have so much emphasis on Danica.
After a truncated edition of NASCAR RaceDay, coverage of the 32nd annual Budweiser Shootout started on FOX at 8 p.m. The pre-race show was a little different than what we’re used to. There was a brief discussion of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 between Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip that involved a lot of Danica talk. At the time I was thinking, “I really hope that this doesn’t set the tone for the entire season, or I am going to be sick of this very quickly.”
Luckily, that was the only mention of Danica in the entire broadcast. After this discussion, FOX cut to the performance from the Zac Brown Band (taped, of course). There were no interviews on FOX before the opening ceremonies began, which was a little weird. All of those were done during the NASCAR RaceDay show. Last year, I did mention that NASCAR RaceDay should be the pre-race show before these races begin, but if you’re going to do that, move NASCAR RaceDay to whatever channel that the race is going to be on.
The race coverage was pretty good for the most part, but there was one major issue. All throughout the weekend leading up to the race, SPEED and FOX had been stating that the Budweiser Shootout could not end under caution.
Well, it did end under caution.
I had thought that that was a crock at first, to be honest. I knew NASCAR wasn’t going to change their GWC rules for a 187.5 mile non-points race. However, SPEED seemed pretty sure of themselves, even incorporating the “Shootout can’t end under caution rule” into a question in the Lightning Round of NASCAR Smarts. If NASCAR Smarts were a real game show, you’d have an S&P issue there, and you would have to have one or both contestants back on a future episode, like so many game shows before NASCAR Smarts has done.
Also, I’m not a fan of the so-called “Quad Pits” being used during rounds of stops held under caution, though. The Quad Pits did return on one occasion on Saturday night. In the past, FOX has taken that to the next level during the Daytona 500 with the “Quint Pits.” Hopefully, the “Quint Pits” won’t return. The reverse grid scroll is back as well. I understand what FOX is doing here (trying to replicate the driver introductions, I think), but they need to make up their minds on what they’re going to do here, and stick to it.
As for Digger, one of my favorite whipping boys (or “Whipping Anthropomorphic Creature”) from last year, I have heard rumors that his “influence” on the broadcast will be curtailed this year, due to fan outcry. I hope so. As it stands, he appeared five times during the Budweiser Shootout broadcast, and almost all of these appearances were before the Green Flag came out (three still pictures and two animated shots). It’s still a little early to be able to tell whether that is going to be the norm for this season, or if it is just a one time thing. However, it could be argued that Digger had a breakthrough with his appearance in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel back around Christmas.
I still plan on keeping up the Digger Count at least for the beginning of the season, although I don’t think we’re going to see a race with 50 Digger appearances again anytime soon.
Post-race coverage consisted of just a couple of interviews with winner Kevin Harvick and second place finisher Kasey Kahne, with the unofficial results in the scroll. There was also a brief post-race discussion before FOX left the air. I guess this was because the race ran a little long due to the five cautions.
Aside from the “Race can’t end under caution” mix up, I think that the broadcast went well. Ratings that have been released for the Shootout show similar ratings to last year. I hope that there are more post-race interviews on Sunday, and I’m assuming that pre-race was an aberration, a one-time thing.
That’s all for this week. This week brings a series of debuts on television. Last night, SPEED’s new show, “What’s The Deal” with host Jimmy Spencer premiered. Wednesday night sees the premiere of Inside NASCAR on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST. It appears that John Daly doesn’t have Showtime at his house, so I’m not really sure when he’s going to put out a review of that show (He’ll find a way, believe me). I do have Showtime here at my house, and I will be watching. My initial plan was to critique the show for the Off-Week Critique, which will run on March 16. However, I might move it up, potentially to the Feb. 23 critique since the Trucks won’t be in Fontana this year.
Also, there’s the all-important on track action to critique. After being dark for three days, practice for the Cup Series starts back up on Wednesday with two practice sessions. Both will be televised live on SPEED from noon to 1:30 p.m. EST and 2 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. EST. The Nationwide Series also opens with a two hour practice session from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Originally, this session was not going to be televised at all. However, on Monday, ESPN issued a special press release to announce that it would be televised. The graphic advertising this on Monday’s NASCAR Now specifically said “Featuring Danica Patrick” on it. After this session ends, the Truck Series will have their first practice session of the year. This is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will be televised live on SPEED.
Thursday brings coverage of the Gatorade Duels from Daytona. As you know, the 60-lap (150 mile) sprint races will determine the grid for the Daytona 500. Man, it’s complicated, and it shouldn’t be. But, this isn’t the place to rant about that. When it takes ten minutes in a YouTube video to describe the mess, like our own Brock Beard did last year, something’s wrong. Coverage will air on the SPEED Channel for the third straight year, with NASCAR RaceDay Built by the Home Depot (Serving as the de facto pre-race show) at 1 p.m. EST. Race coverage starts promptly at 2 p.m. EST.
Before the Gatorade Duels coverage begins on SPEED, they will televise the final practice session for the Camping World Truck Series, which is scheduled to run from 9-11am EST. Afterwards, the Nationwide Series will have their final practice session at Daytona starting at 11:30am EST. Coverage of this, which lasts until 1:00pm EST, will be aired live on ESPN 2.
Later Thursday evening will be SPEED’s live coverage of Pole Qualifying for the Camping World Truck Series’ NextEra Energy Resources 250. This is scheduled to start at 6:30pm EST and is allotted a two and a half hour time slot on SPEED.
Friday has one practice session for the Sprint Cup teams that will be held starting at 1:40 p.m. EST and will run an hour. SPEED will televise this session live starting at 1:30 p.m. Afterwards, the Nationwide Series will hold Pole Qualifying for the DRIVE4COPD 300. Live coverage begins on ESPN2 at 3 p.m.
Later that evening will be the season opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 for the Truck Series. Coverage on SPEED will start with NCWTS Setup at 7:30 p.m. EST with actual race coverage following at 8 p.m.
Saturday will have the final practice, or “Happy Hour” for Sprint Cup teams. Live coverage of this crucial session will start at 10:30 a.m. EST on SPEED and run until Noon. Immediately afterwards, covering of the season opening DRIVE4COPD 300 will start on ESPN2. ESPN2 will air a one hour edition of NASCAR Countdown starting at Noon, while race coverage will start at 1pm. The green flag will fly around 1:25 p.m.
Finally, Sunday (Valentine’s Day) brings us the big show, the Daytona 500. SPEED is going all out for pre-race, with a special three hour edition of NASCAR RaceDay Built by the Home Depot starting at 9 a.m. EST (Man, that’s early to start pre-race). At noon, FOX will have their own one hour pre-race show leading up to race coverage starting at 1 p.m. (a full two hours and change earlier than last year). The green flag is scheduled to fall around 1:19 p.m.
I will bring you critiques of all three points races and the two Gatorade Duels for next week. In addition, if anything of note comes out of the two qualifying sessions, or the practice sessions, I’ll be sure to comment on that as well.
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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If you think the Nationwide race Saturday will be less wall-to-wall Danica, you’ll be disappointed. I’m sure she’ll get coverage all out of proportion to her success on the track, not unlike her boss, Dale Junior does. And that’s to be expected from any network sports coverage, like it or not. Who gets the most coverage in a golf broadcast (when he’s not hiding)? Tiger, of course. Who gets the lion’s share of TV time (or at least announcer attention) during an NFL game? The star QBs. TV sports almost always focus on the biggest names at the event. Like it or not, that’s what most viewers tune in to see in this celebrity crazed society, so that’s what the networks provide. Complaining about it is like complaining that water runs downhill.
Having said that, I didn’t think the ARCA coverage was too bad. Most viewers should know who Patrick Sheltra, the Gerharts, and Alli Owens are at least, if they cared about the race overall and not just Danica (and for those who cared only about her, the rest wouldn’t matter anyway). Let’s face it, Danica was a huge star among racers only known by true, hardcore race fans (which doesn’t even cover most NASCAR fans, who only care about NASCAR), so nobody should be surprised she garnered so much attention.
I thought that Danica would at least give the Nationwide Series a much-needed boost even if it’s for a completely non-racing related reason. But if the Nationwide coverage is all Danica all the time, as I’m sure it will be, fans will tire of it very quickly.
Ms. Patrick was the raison d’etre for watching the SPEED ARCA race. To suggest otherwise invites ridicule and scorn. This author is living under a rock. ARCA is what they do to wring another sawbuck out of the fans that are already there. This time ARCA rolled a natural. And got a good show out of her. I’d take an image of my opinion and check it for a malignancy.
augh…danica….she’ll be the topic of major discussion on saturday. here in atlanta they were already talking on the news this morning how she’ll be racing against her boss, dale jr. joy!
i felt so sorry for the other women who were competing in the arca race. hopefully those gals will run the entire series. ali owens got a good shout out when she was trying to gain on bobby. unfortunately that horrible wreck. thankfully she walked away.
no more danica coverage. then next week it will be the same thing in california.
The commentators were sickening in their adoration of Danica. I turned my TV on mute. I could not stand them. Ugh, no more Danica for me . Had enough.
Anyone who thought the coverage of Danica was over the top should be used to such things . Jeff Gordon , Jimmy Johnson , Earnhardt Jr have been over hyped for years . The breathless reporting on Johnsons crash repair in the garage for instance .
This author is mining something bad out of his own life, and onto Danica. This is a very obvious projection.
I thought the ARCA telecast of the race was great, in fact the only reason I bothered watching to see see Danica smash that #4 Monster car, and she did it.
This author needs to be fired and replaced by Brock Beard. This rookie author lives under a rock.
The word “Danica” can be found 29 times on this page… oopppss 30!!!
I’ll tell you right now, I would have watched the ARCA race on Saturday regardless of who was in it and whether I had to write about it. Why? Because I’m a race fan. I like to watch all kinds of races on TV.
I knew going in that Danica was going to be the main story, as it will be on Saturday. However, that does not excuse a presenter from covering all the other bases.
As for the screw-up regarding Keyed-Up Motorsports mentioned above, I did not see that. As I mentioned earlier, I had to work on Saturday. However, I did DVR qualifying. Unfortunately, Time Warner Cable’s been having issues lately with their transmissions. When I got home from work Saturday, I found my TV picture frozen and that my DVR didn’t pick up that run. I also missed Mears’ run at work because I was taking phone calls at the time.
There was no more mention of Patrick during the ARCA race than there is of Jimmie Johnson during a Cup race.
Personally, I’m sick of hearing about him—and his pregnant wife. So he’s feritle, so what?
Besides, Patrick made a hellofa run. She can drive, as opposed to Milk ‘n Donuts, who probably shouldn’t be allowed on any track, anywhere. You know before the race that she’ll take out somebody.
In case you haven’t noticed, Danica is all over the news. Why would a second tier racing series NOT make a big deal about it? As someone stated earlier that this was likely the most watched ARCA race ever. Hmmmm do the math. As a sidenote the woman can drive….
The amount of coverage on Danica during the ARCA race was sickening. It’s bad enough that the Speed announcers were yapping non-stop about her,but it’s worse when they can’t even focus on an incident on the track because they’re too busy watching her(check the Dakota Armstrong spin). At least this is one of the few articles I’ve seen that doesn’t make a huge deal about the big one that shouldn’t have been. While true,they should’ve slowed down,hopefully they’ll learn their lessons. Not all ARCA Superspeedway races are this way either,I can think of a few with few incidents or none at all.
Get used to it. This is exactly what NA$CAR wants and FOX is going to be there to lap up the drippings. Return to tradition? I don’t think so. Brian France stepping to the front? So what. As long as he’s in charge, the circus will continue.
I hope they don’t over due talking about Danica.
Get used to it. Who’s face is front and center on this site’s home page?
I heard an explanation by one show of the concentration on Danica. They said that showing her and discussing what she had to learn was for the benefit of all those that know nothing or very little about racing. I did enjoy that. However, I don’t agree with ignoring the other stories of the day like the number of other women running, what happened to cause the cautions, etc.