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 February 16, 2010
Greetings, fans and welcome to this week’s critique, entry No. 49 in a limitless series where I look into the NASCAR broadcasts that we all watch. This past week brought the main events of Speedweeks for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series at Daytona International Speedway. In addition, the Sprint Cup Series also had their qualifying races, the Gatorade Duels, in order to set the grid for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
From what I could tell, SPEED’s coverage of the Gatorade Duels was similar to what we saw from last year. First, there was no Chris Myers, who didn’t show up on any of the broadcasts until Sunday (more on Myers later). Instead, Krista Voda shared the “Hollywood Hotel” with Jeff Hammond. This is generally considered to be a good pairing and they play off each other fairly well. Steve Byrnes, Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum were on pit road and provided the performances that we’re used to.
In the booth were Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. There was no “Boogity” at the beginning of the race. I’m starting to wonder who actually owns the rights to that infamous phrase (and yes, it is copyrighted). I’m starting to think that FOX owns the copyright, even though it’s most easily identified with Waltrip.
Speaking of Waltrips, Michael Waltrip joined Voda and Hammond in the Hollywood Hotel for the second Gatorade Duel after crashing out of Duel No. 1. Waltrip was admittedly nervous, since his crash threatened to keep him out of the Daytona 500. To their credit, FOX did not constantly cut to Michael during the race. However, they did keep a camera on him at all times to gauge his emotions. This was shown in a montage after the race ended. I’d argue that there may have been some favoritism shown towards Michael since he was the first interview after the second Duel ended, before anyone that was actually in the second Duel was interviewed.
One gripe that was mentioned during our Live Blog of the Gatorade Duels was the fact that SPEED did not show a split screen of the race for the victory and the race for the transfer spot at the end of the Duels. I can understand the gripe here. The poster described the race for the win to be “meaningless.” However, in both duels, the battle for the transfer spot and the leaders were in the same pack. Also of note, you probably saw early on in the Daytona 500 on Sunday (before the pothole started wreaking havoc) that track position was very important due to the slickness of the track. Getting that good starting spot definitely helps. Of course, no one actually thought that the race would go into darkness again despite starting at 1:20pm.
The quad pits appeared during the rounds of pit stops under caution. I’m not a fan of this graphic because it leaves the fans guessing as to who’s in front of who. Luckily, this was changed for Sunday (see below).
Friday was a complete and total washout. ESPN’s coverage of what was supposed to be Nationwide qualifying consisted of analysis in the Infield Studio and interviews conducted in the motorhome lot by Marty Smith. Meanwhile, on SPEED, live coverage of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 was quite short before the official word of the postponement came down from NASCAR. Three interviews were conducted, along with a recap of off-season news and a flow chart of driver/crew chief/team changes. After the race was called, SPEED showed coverage of last years’ race to fill time.
Saturday brought the season-opening races for the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Now, you might remember last week’s critique, where I got on SPEED’s case for over-hyping Danica Patrick’s stock car debut. I claimed at the time that SPEED’s focus towards Danica hurt the rest of the broadcast. It was quite blatant at times. When it was officially announced last Monday that Danica would run the Drive4COPD 300 in the No. 7, I feared that Danica’s decision would hurt the overall broadcast. Was this the case?
I do think it did hurt the pre-race a little. The first segment of NASCAR Countdown was almost completely dedicated to Danica. However, other drivers did get interviewed, and there were other features, including a nice sit-down interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that was conducted by Marty Smith. However, there was no real mention of the lengths that Jack Roush went to get Paul Menard into the field on Saturday (bought out five separate teams, spending six figures in the process), or of the fact that Danica wasn’t the only woman in the race. Chrissy Wallace was briefly on camera during pre-race, but she wasn’t interviewed. She was dumped into the wall by the aforementioned Menard before the first lap ended.
Once the race started, Danica did get some airtime, but not a whole lot while she was still out on the track. Patrick’s inexperience with the aerodynamics saw her lose the draft and get lapped. When this happened, ESPN would periodically update Danica’s status with a drop down box below the scroll. I’m fine with this, and I believe that this method will be used to keep track of point contenders later this season.
Saturday also marked Dr. Jerry Punch’s return to pit road in a race situation. Of note, Punch still spoke like he was in the booth. Maybe that’s just his “TV voice” these days, but being on pit road often requires a different voice. For what it’s worth, I thought Dr. Punch did fine in his return to the pits. Also of note, Dr. Punch is more or less replacing Shannon Spake on pit road for now. Spake announced via her Twitter feed on Friday that she will be returning to the track at the end of next month. This creates a quandary for ESPN. What happens? Will they go with five pit reporters every week, or will they create a “four weeks on, one week off” schedule? That’s anyone’s guess at this point.
The general opinion of the race telecast is that once you got away from the Danica factor, it wasn’t half bad to watch. The enthusiasm was quite high, and the action was pretty good. It appears that questioning methods by the pit reporters have improved over the winter, which was a gripe that many fans had last season. Having Marty Reid in the booth is a big change over Dr. Punch from last year, but Reid’s been in the booth long enough that I’m just about used to him being up there now.
I do still have some thoughts. For one, I have no idea why ESPN still feels the need to pipe in fake crowd noise at the beginning of races. Two, I’m not 100 percent sure if this was just me, or if other viewers had this problem, but it seemed like there were some microphone issues. The voices sounded pixilated, while the screen was perfectly fine. Weird.
Also, I believe that ESPN was incorrect in stating that there were no S&P’s at Daytona. But, what Brad Teague did in the No. 04 Chevrolet was effectively a start-and-park (Frontstretch reporters in the pits at Daytona confirmed only a small tool box was in the team’s pit). However, since Teague spun out right after Chrissy Wallace’s wreck, NASCAR determined that Teague crashed out, despite the car not having a scratch on it. Have to be a little more cognizant of those types of things.
Post-race coverage was quite short. ESPN interviewed race winner Tony Stewart, his crew chief Butch Hylton, and four other drivers before quickly leaving the air. However, it’s not like they were rushing in order to get to another sporting event. They were rushing to get to Sportscenter at Daytona, which was effectively a one hour show hyping the Daytona 500. I don’t understand the rush, to be honest. A preview show doesn’t need to be rushed onto the air, since it can effectively air anytime before the race starts.
Later that night, SPEED televised the rescheduled NextEra Energy Resources 250. In addition to a repeat of the off-season flow chart that was on Friday’s telecast, pre-race included a short look into a day in Austin Dillon’s life as a freshman at High Point University, and a look into the formation of Kyle Busch Motorsports out of the ashes of Xpress Motorsports. I generally enjoyed these features.
Allen, Parsons, and Michael Waltrip did a good job of calling the action during the race. However, Michael may have been borderline with all the talk about Brett Butler and his performance. In his defense, he did choose Butler as his SPEED Spotlight driver. However, Butler is the son of Ken Butler, CEO of Aaron’s, and at one point was a development driver with Waltrip’s race team. Broadcasters have to watch out for that stuff.
The commentators did take the drivers to task for their over exuberance to engage in bump drafting out on the track that caused multiple wrecks. The booth pounded home the fact that the bumpers on the trucks don’t line up, which leads to tuck under situations that lift the rear tires of the truck in front off the ground.
Post-race coverage was typical for the truck races. There were five interviews for the top 5 finishers and a look at the unofficial results. That is about all we hope for, especially when the race spent so much time under caution.
Finally, the Daytona 500 came on Sunday. SPEED came on air live with NASCAR RaceDay at 9am EST, and from that point on, there was continuous live coverage from Daytona for the next 11 hours. That’s a long day for the TV guys to be on air, not including the hours of work before going on air.
FOX started their one hour pre-race show with effectively a segment on news and notes. This was a nice change, as you may remember from last year that I would get on the TV partners for shoving the news well into pre-race. There was also a feature on all the new rule changes that NASCAR has instituted for this season (new spoiler, restrictor plate, new policing rules, etc.) with the help of various drivers. It’s unclear when this was shot, but it may have been before Speedweeks. There was also a pre-race concert (really a three song set) by Tim McGraw. I could care less about having a concert before the Daytona 500, but…it’s the Daytona 500. It’s to be expected by now. I can’t really grade the concert because I’m not a country music fan and don’t really listen to McGraw. That’s another website.
The Digger cartoon has thankfully been excised from the pre-race show. If you saw my critiques last season, you know where I stand on that gopher. However, just because Digger is gone from the pre-race doesn’t mean that he still won’t be around. He still shows up in the race broadcast and is still more prominent in this smaller role than Cleatus, the robot. As a result, the Digger Count will continue this year. I counted 16 Digger appearances on Sunday, all of the animated variety.
In Digger’s place in pre-race, FOX is running a weather report, similar to what they do during FOX NFL Sunday in the fall. I think this is a good idea, as it means that FOX is going to be upfront about potential weather this season. We’ll have to wait until rain threatens a race later this year to see how dedicated FOX is to this.
Of course, it’s always good to have racing back on TV, not just so I can critique it, but because I enjoy watching it. I don’t have a miserable life and want to go off on people just to feel better about myself. Having said that, I did have some issues with the broadcast. Apparently, Darrell Waltrip didn’t notice the bunches of fans that did leave the race during the red flags for pothole repair, because he was claiming that “no one left.” Now, maybe the vantage point he had from the broadcast booth was the best, but we know that people did depart from the track during the delays. Our writers at the track actually talked to some people who were packing up and exiting early. Some were angry with NASCAR for screwing up, others simply weren’t prepared for cold weather (remember, this is Florida we’re talking about here), while others likely needed to get home so they could go to work on Monday.
In our Live Blog, there were also complaints about the amount of commercials. Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about the ads because they help FOX pay for their portion of the schedule. However, the segments between commercial breaks seemed to last longer during the red flags than outside of them. I have no actual proof of this, but they did seem that way. Of course, having said this, I’m sure Ramsey Poston’s going to put his crack staff at work to prove me wrong.
During red flag situations, networks have to do their best to fill the time. FOX spent significant time interviewing drivers and crew chiefs during the two red flags. I counted 38 driver interviews total, although a few of those were repeats. During the first red flag, Brian France stopped by the booth to advise viewers on the situation. After France left, Waltrip took a tone of being very happy with the decisions that NASCAR was making with the repairs. This angered some viewers. Some, like Paul Tracy, via his Twitter feed, responded with quotes that I cannot repeat here on Frontstretch since we’re a family friendly website.
Another thing that FOX did during the first red flag was to go through Hammond’s outdoor classroom. For some reason, Chris Myers decided to take on the appearance of being a complete moron about the inner workings of race cars and parts, etc. Chris, I know you’re not the technical mind here, that’s why Jeff Hammond is present, but c’mon now. This is your 10th year with FOX. This clueless shtick has got to stop. It’s annoying and makes you look unprofessional.
Other viewers became angry with Mike Joy’s explanation of the weather being the primary factor in causing the pothole. I’ll admit right here that it was a major contributing factor to the pothole. The weather in Daytona was colder than normal for basically all of Speedweeks. In addition, there were a couple of days of drenching rains. However, you cannot dismiss the age of the track surface (32 years) from the discussion. I’m a Northeast guy, and so is Mike for that matter, so the shear thought of blacktop lasting 32 years, or even half that without crumbling is foreign to me. The winters are too harsh here.
There were a couple of new features that I should mention. The quad pits that I mentioned in a negative tone from the Gatorade Duels have been given an overhaul. Now, there is the traditional triple pits setup on the left side of the screen. On the right side of the screen is a fourth box taking up the upper right one-sixth of the screen. Below that is the traditional view at the end of the pit lane. I believe that this will work a lot better than the old quad pits design in the long run. Also, on the last lap, the scroll changes to a new graphic that shows the top 5 in real time, then scrolls through the entire field as they come across the line. Time will tell as to how this is perceived.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief, but knowing that the telecast was nearly three hours over time because of the red flags, it’s understandable. There were interviews with race winner Jamie McMurray in Victory Lane (where he cried), Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer. In addition to the interviews, there was a full rundown of the unofficial results and post-race analysis in the booth before FOX left the air.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the NASCAR convoy moves on to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The doubleheader from last season is out, due to a total lack of interest. As a result, the Camping World Truck Series is off for the next two weeks, while the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams each make the long haul out to San Bernardino County.
Coverage starts on Friday with Nationwide Series practice on SPEED at 2pm EST. Sprint Cup practice follows at 3pm EST (Noon PST), then a second Nationwide practice (Happy Hour) from 4:30-6pm EST. Sprint Cup qualifying is scheduled to air on SPEED at 6:30pm EST.
On Saturday, coverage starts with qualifying for the Nationwide Series at 12:30pm EST (9:30am PST) on SPEED. That is followed up by two Sprint Cup practice sessions from 2:30-3:30pm and 3:30-5pm.
Saturday race coverage starts at 5pm EST with NASCAR Countdown, a half-hour edition, on ESPN2. Official race coverage of the Stater Brothers 300 starts at 5:30pm with the green flag scheduled to fall around 5:46pm EST.
On Sunday, coverage on FOX is scheduled to start at 2pm EST (11am PST) with a one hour pre-race show. Race coverage of the Auto Club 500 starts at 3pm EST with the green flag scheduled to fall around 3:16pm EST. I will critique both of the races and give my thoughts on whatever may happen in the world of NASCAR TV.
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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So I may be the only one in America that can’t STAND the new earlier start times. I had this nice little routine of going to Church – getting out at noon – heading to Moe’s – and coming home for a nice nap before the race starts.
I hit the grocery store after church this week and almost missed the command to start engines.
Not enough hours in the day. MOVE THE RACES BACK!
The coverage for the ARCA and Nationwide race was pretty good . I can’t stand watching the mindless drivel on the pre race shows so i’ll have to take your word for their performances .
I had several friends over for a 500 party this weekend and it was their first time watching a NASCAR sanctioned event. I got really tired of having to explain what the announcers were discussing when they mentioned “drafting” and “tight vrs. loose”. I think FOX could do a better job of enlightening new fans to the terms they use in their broadcast. I thought I remembered grafic explaining these terms in the past (that’s how I learned)
They did think it was cool that the drivers got out of the car for “Half-Time” interviews. It works in the NFL and NBA. Maybe we should put a brief break in each race to interview the drivers thoughts and review 2nd half racing scenarios. This would also allow for additonal commercial time (FOX missed almost EVERY caution) and provide the viewers with a break.
6 hours is a LONG time for a race broadcast. NASCAR needs a way to bring new fans into the sport.
I personally am very happy with the earlier start times. Sorry, VABlueGrass, we go to church on Saturday night, so I can’t feel your pain. Without the two red flags, the race would have been over in plenty of time for our Sunday Supper and for that I’m grateful. Our Sunday evening family time has been massacred for years due to Nascar and it will be nice to have that time back.
VABlueGrass: It always goes something like this…..Gentlemen, Start Your Engines. Skip your nap and get with the program. Earlier start times are back and likely here to stay.
Ms Mel: Duh! Racing is not basketball or football, although Brian France would love for it to be the NFL. Let’s throw some more stick and ball terminology at NASCAR or completely foul things up by halting the race at the midpoint for a bathroom break. New fans my foot! They need to salvage the fans they had that KNOW what’s going on without the need of listening to Racing 101 for 500 miles.
Chris Myers is still the most plastic and ingenuine individual I’ve ever seen in the racing broadcast field. He’s never said anything that didn’t come off a sheet of paper in front of him. He isn’t playing clueless, he’s really that uninformed and uninterested. He should stick with baseball where he belongs.
Ol’ DW continues to be grating and irritating. Sad thing is, most anyone who remembers Darrel Waltrip as a driver has long since abandoned the sport due to disinterest. Time to send DW to the house.
I cringe at FOX coverage of NASCAR. They’ve dumbed down racing to the level of professional wrestling. Thank goodness the gopher wasn’t AS prevalent at Daytona. Let’s hope he falls further off the radar in the future.
Someone please tell Darrell Waltrip to take a lesson from Brad and Rusty and not talk about his vested interests. ie his brother, Toyota, Aarons etc. Lose the rodent! Please no more movie previews that last twice as long as a commercial break.
Krista voda hasn’t a clue
Chip – without new fans the sport will die.
NASCAR and NASCAR’s coverage have a responsibility to educate new fans as well as maintain the integrety of their broadcasts to appeal to the long-time fans. Not as easy of a task as everyone seems to think.
VaBlueGrass: (I also live in VA, by the way…) I have been excited about the new start times for months! I really didn’t enjoy getting out of church, eating lunch, then sitting around and waiting for 3 hours for a race to finally start. It messed up my whole Sunday afternoon routine!
Of course, with next week’s race being at California, you’ll have plenty of time for naps both before and during the race…
The new rules made Daytona better. Lets not judge Fontana before we see it race under these new rules, too. Last year’s race was better than usual, and I am hopeful that with the new rules, this year’s race will be good as well.
What new rules? They don’t use restrictor plates, the shark fin, or bump draft in California. Status quo this weekend.
Ms Mel,how is the fact that you invited clueless people to your Racin’ Party anyone’s fault but your own? If you don’t like ‘Splainin then don’t invite. Most new fans learn more from friends, who know more than Fox’s, dumber than 101, broadcasts.
How come no one has said a red flag at Daytona is more exciting than a green flag at Fontana, yet? <facepalm>
Chrissy was interviewed with her father, Mike. MW is borderline hysterical when he has a microphone in view. He has effectively stopped my truck race watching. Soon now his brother will have me watching the cup race on Raceview.
Phil , it sounds like Bowles is starting to rub off on you with his wild conspiracy ideas about start and park teams . However it only takes a little bit of brain power to realize that Brad Teague only needed to pull into the garage and shut the engine off . Why on earth would he feel it necessary to flat spot tires ( at $200 or more each ) and risk damaging the car on the apron if all he wanted to do was quit ? I imagine your pit source for the small tool box ( as you might know , tool boxes are used for seating in 95% of races , if you don’t wreck you wouldn’t NEED tools now would you ) was the master investigator himself Bowles . I’ve read enough of his nonsense to know you can’t rely on his observations . The black helicopters always seem to be hovering over head where hes concerned .
Excellent review. I don’t understand either why ESPN still uses fake crowd noise. That is really lame and terribly obvious. It needs to stop.
I thought the potholes were a disastrous situation. I really didn’t agree with Waltrip that the break was a halftime. The Daytona 500 is meant to run straight through with nothing except weather stopping it. The track issues could have been studied more during the offseason. The track needs to be repaved immediately.
I thought the finish was entertaining but it did not make up for the “Super Bowl” of NASCAR being brought to a screeching halt by potholes.