Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
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 March 2, 2010
Hello, race fans. Hope you had a great weekend. Welcome to my 51st entry in Frontstretch.com’s weekly TV critique series, where I look into the racing shows and telecasts making their way across our airwaves. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Shelby American and Sam’s Town 300, respectively.
Sprint Cup Qualifying for the Shelby American
On Friday, SPEED televised their usual “TiVoed” version of Sprint Cup qualifying starting at 6:30 PM EST. Normally, I don’t comment on this show because it’s quite regimented. You see every driver’s two-lap run, and SPEED covers everyone more or less equally without much of a problem. However, there was a major technical issue on Friday evening that interrupted the flow of the broadcast. During the qualifying session, a generator in the TV compound blew, causing an energy surge and knocking out electrical power to trucks and various parts of the track itself. As a result, SPEED could not show the last ten or so drivers’ runs when they planned. Alternate programming had to be shown until Trackside Live with Danica Patrick and Juan Pablo Montoya came on at 8:30 PM.
Let’s just be honest here. NASCAR’s TV partners use an incredible amount of electrical power in order to bring us these telecasts. According to ESPN, the compound on any given weekend needs enough juice to power a small town, and for most of us, it would take years to use as much electricity as they do in just one day. Thankfully, the issues were able to be fixed relatively quickly.
Sam’s Town 300
Saturday brought the Nationwide Series to Las Vegas for the Sam’s Town 300, and with the move came some unplanned on-air changes for ESPN. In the week leading up to the race, Dale Jarrett’s father-in-law was hospitalized due to ailments. As a result, Jarrett chose to stay back in North Carolina and not make the trip to Las Vegas. Rusty Wallace filled in.
NASCAR Countdown started a couple of minutes late due to the Ole Miss (Mississippi)-Alabama basketball game running a little bit long. Luckily for ESPN, this didn’t affect their schedule at all because the start of the race was delayed by 90 minutes due to rain. In order to fill time that would have otherwise been used to show the race, ESPN had drivers inside the Infield Studio for extended interviews. The guest list included Brendan Gaughan, Brad Keselowski, and Mark Martin, with several others questioned outside the truck during the delay. Danica was also heavily involved, interviewed not once but twice. Personally, I think once was enough, although both interviews came out fine in my opinion.
The race telecast was actually pretty good. I’d almost argue that having Danica Patrick in the first three races of the season is forcing ESPN to give a little more exposure to teams further down the order. It still isn’t enough, though. Since Saturday’s race was Danica’s last in the series until New Hampshire in June, they’ll have to find several new angles to look at for the next couple of months to replace her airtime. Let’s hope those include looking at different drivers struggling to work their way up through the ranks.
Moving along, the post-race interviews were quite brief… and with good reason. ESPN2 was supposed to show a college basketball game, Illinois State-No. 22 Northern Iowa, starting at 8:00 PM EST. But because of the rain, the race didn’t end until 8:45 PM EST. ESPN shifted the game to ESPN Classic while the Nationwide race finished up, then looked to get off the air as quickly as possible once the race was over. Even still, the entire first half of that game was aired only on ESPN Classic. As a result, there were only a few post-race interviews, with Ernie Cope (Kevin Harvick’s crew chief), Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards making the cut.
However, there was a little controversy that came out of the short post-race coverage. Kyle Busch, who finished 16th, was unhappy with the way he was portrayed on ESPN after the event. The telecast showed Busch walking away towards his transporter, while Marty Reid talked about him a little. To be honest, I didn’t see anything wrong with what ESPN showed Saturday. I thought it was the equivalent of an “establishing shot.”
But an hour after the race, Kyle wrote an angry missive toward ESPN on his Twitter feed. He said, “Surprise, surprise. ESPN showed me walking away, giving the impression I declined [an] interview. Negative, never even asked me. Thx camera man.”
Now, it is true that ESPN never asked Kyle for an interview. Time was tight, and Kyle finished 16th, meaning he had no TV-based media obligations after the race. However, Busch’s Twitter comments put ESPN on the defensive. This is not necessarily unexpected, since ESPN is quite protective of themselves and don’t like it all that much when people say things about them that are untrue. An email from ESPN PR’s Andy Hall reconfirms that in addition to the fact that ESPN never asked Busch for an interview, it was never implied on air that he refused one. If Kyle, or any other driver, does refuse an interview, it will be mentioned on-air. In addition, the “establishing” shot was possible due to the fact that Busch parked his No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota on pit road where the drivers who finished in positions two through five parked – meaning cameras were everywhere as TV prepared to speak with those top teams. In closing, ESPN also stated that it is “never our intention to portray anyone in [a] negative light.”
Kyle Busch has been silent on this issue since Saturday night, but I’m sure by now that someone has talked to him and he knows ESPN’s side of the story. I don’t expect a public apology from Busch to ESPN, but ESPN will more than likely desire some kind of a private apology at some point in the near future.
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series raced in the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There was no pre-race concert this week, as FOX is now getting into their normal routine of how their coverage works for 2010. However, Michael Waltrip showed up in the “Hollywood Hotel” during pre-race to promote Fast Track to Fame, a new SPEED show which premiered Monday night. (The clips shown were the same exact ones shown on NASCAR RaceDay earlier on Sunday.) Advertising cable shows like this one on network television is quite rare, bit with the FOX/SPEED connection it’s probable more of this stuff will come up as the season goes on.
Chris Pizzi was back this week with a brief interview of Jimmie Johnson. I’m not really sure what to make of Pizzi at this point, but Johnson was quick with a retort. He said, “How can I take you seriously?” during his interview. That was when Pizzi donned a bib, bottle, and pacifier in order to give Johnson an example of his upcoming parenthood. Jimmie, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think Pizzi is meant to be taken seriously at all. At this point, I’m assuming that he’s just playing a character.
Just to be honest, I’m not really sure what FOX was thinking when they inserted Pizzi into the pre-race show. I know they needed something to replace the much-maligned Digger cartoons, but was this some attempt to grab the 18-34 demographic? All I know is that at this point, it’s working horribly. In fact, I don’t think this segment could possibly survive out all the way into the end of May. Maybe when Michael Waltrip is on with Pizzi, he’ll put him in his place.
To FOX’s credit, there was very little mention of Kim Kardashian’s presence at the race. For those of you who were unaware, Kardashian was launching a new fragrance (called simply the Kim Kardashian Fragrance) through Sephora. As a result, she was technically sponsoring the No. 36 for Tommy Baldwin Racing, and served as the Grand Marshal for the race. If you’re wondering why she didn’t give the command, Kim stated on her Twitter feed that “I wanted 2 be respectful and let Mr. Shelby say it!” Once again, those are her words, not mine. Fine by me.
The telecast FOX gave us on Sunday was fairly good, with no outright favoritism or anything like that from the guys in the booth. There was one gripe that came up during the Frontstretch Live Blog, though. That was the fact that FOX took a commercial with 22 laps to go while Johnson and Jeff Gordon were battling for the lead – the last one they had to take before the checkered flag. Due to the way that FOX returned from commercial break, it is a little unclear as to whether what turned out to the pass for the win occurred while they were away, or right as they returned. I think it happened during the break.
Something like this has happened many times before during NASCAR races. The 1998 Save Mart/Kragen 350K at then-Sears Point Raceway, which came down to a duel between Jeff Gordon and Bobby Hamilton, is one example. The duo was putting on a pretty good battle for the lead, but unfortunately, ESPN had to go to a commercial break with 11 laps to go. The second they did, Gordon made the pass for the win on Hamilton in Turn 11. Jenkins even said, “They’re gonna miss the pass for lead…” before they cut to commercial.
The idea was thrown around in the Live Blog for there to be a minimum number of laps at the end of the race that must be shown commercial-free, if no cautions fly. I’m not sure if there’s already such a clause in the TV deals that would require it, but it’s definitely something to think about for the future. Granted, it’s not like an AMA Supercross race I saw on TV about eight or nine years ago that had the following setup: “It’s the final lap, the action’s great! Let’s take a commercial break!” (The quotes are a paraphrase, but a producer actually did that.)
There was also another graphical screw-up with the last lap graphic, for the second week in a row. When the error was noticed, FOX immediately dropped it and went back to the normal scroll. I think that FOX may be running out of patience with this graphic and may outright ditch it if it gives them anymore issues. Personally, I think it’s unnecessary to begin with …
Post-race coverage was relatively sparse, knowing that FOX had 20 minutes to play with at the end of the race. In that time, they managed only four interviews: Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Harvick, and Logano. There was also a check of the unofficial results, a points check, and some post-race analysis. ESPN is generally more efficient with post-race interviews than FOX is, quantity-wise. You can argue that the interviews may be of a better quality, but sometimes, I want quantity as well.
Other Racing Series and Shows
As for the V8 Supercar Championship Series’ Yas Marina 400 telecast on SPEED, I will be covering that in the Frontstretch Newsletter on Thursday. It will be a common feature within the Newsletter critique from now until their season ends in early December in Sydney.
Also, I must remind my readers of SPEED’s new schedule for Monday nights!
Officially, they start the lineup now with the game show “NASCAR Smarts” at 7:00 PM EST. The show is actually a rerun of an episode from last season, not the one from last weekend. “NASCAR Race Hub” continues at 7:30 PM. At 8:00 is a new show called “Fast Track to Fame,” a talent competition that will be held at each race venue. Even though it only tangentially has anything to do with racing, I’ll have a critique of the series coming up soon. At 9:00 PM is another new series, “The Racing Chef” with Nicky Morse. SPEED describes this show on their website as follows: “Each week, the Racing Chef visits local establishments on the NASCAR circuit, prepares signature dishes, and shares the love of racing and food with the drivers, teams and fans.”
Sounds like something Benny Parsons would do for a fun segment during ESPN race broadcasts around 1990.
At 9:30 PM is a show called “Sounds of NASCAR”, which is described as a barrage of sights and sounds from each Cup race. I think this is the show that acts as a half-hour look back at each race, using pictures from the broadcast of whomever’s showing the race (in this case, FOX) and audio from FOX and MRN Radio. At 10 PM is the duo of “NASCAR In a Hurry: Monday Edition” and “What’s The Deal?” However, make sure to check your listings because, in my case, they were not posted correctly on my on-screen guide.
Also of note, Darrell Waltrip is officially on Twitter now. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/allwaltrip. He joins a growing list of NASCAR Media personalities with pages on the site, including Steve Byrnes and Matt Yocum from NASCAR on FOX, Kyle Petty and Ralph Sheheen from TNT, and no less than four members of ESPN’s NASCAR on-air crew.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series will both be in Hampton, Georgia for the Kobalt Tools 500 and Atlanta 200, respectively. Weekend coverage begins with the first practice session for the Camping World Truck Series on Friday from 1-2:30 PM EST. This is followed by Sprint Cup Series practice from 2:30-4:00 PM EST and Camping World Truck Series Happy Hour from 4:00-5:00 PM EST. After an interlude, Sprint Cup Series qualifying will come on at 6:00 PM EST. All action will be shown on SPEED.
On Saturday morning, the action starts bright and early with Camping World Truck Series qualifying at 9:30 AM EST. After that wraps up, the Sprint Cup Series will hold two practice sessions, the first of which will air from 11:00-11:45 AM on SPEED. At Noon, Sprint Cup Happy Hour will begin and run up until 1:30 PM. At that point, NCWTS Setup comes on in order to lead up to the Atlanta 200 at 2:00 PM EST.
On Sunday, coverage begins with NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot at 10 AM EST. FOX’s coverage begins at Noon with a one hour pre-race show. Race coverage begins at 1 PM, with the green flag expected around 1:16 PM.
But that’s not all the motorsports action coming this weekend. After the Truck race on Saturday, SPEED goes off to Homestead-Miami Speedway for Round 2 of the Rolex Sports Car Series (Grand-Am), the Grand Prix of Miami. Live Coverage on SPEED begins at 5:00 PM EST. This is a timed race, scheduled to last 2 hours and 45 minutes. On Sunday, while the Cup race is on FOX, SPEED will air Round 2 (Races 3 and 4) of the 2010 V8 Supercar Championship Series, the Desert 400 from Bahrain International Circuit. This taped coverage will air at 2:00 PM EST on Sunday.
The current plans have me critiquing the Atlanta 200, Kobalt Tools 500, and the Grand Prix of Miami as part of the regular critique for next week, along with any other pertinent news. The V8 Supercar critique will likely fall into my new annex critique for next Thursday morning in the Frontstretch Newsletter.
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 ones full of rants and vitriol.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Phil , please don’t use the name Benny Parsons in ANY comparison with the current batch of tv crap .
FYI, Michael, Kyle IS a brat!!
No mention of that audio whine during the shots of the racing.
It sounded like a giant mosquito in the background. It was very distracting.
It did not happen during the overhead shots, but did on ground level shots. It must have been a particular Mic.
There is one reason the Faux broadcasts focus on a select group of drivers, and it’s all about money. I gaurantee that each time an in car camera is used it is all about that sponsor sticker in the shot, each time one of the usual suspects is given way too much air time based on their performance it’s about sponsor money, and each time Danica is shown it’s about Go Daddy’s deep pockets.
The race coverage stopped being about the actual racing when Faux came in and paid way too much for the broadcast rights back in 2000. Since that time each camera shot and each mention from the booth is calculated for generating revenue at the expense of the race on the track. Each and every stupid tech segment is sponsored by a corporate interest, so that’s why we get so many segments splaining basic stuff like “Loose or Tight”, toy cars and cutaway cars on rotisseries.
Look close the next time you watch a race and see if you can spot the product placements and commercials disquesed as racing content. Faux has turned the race coverage into one huge infomercial with the biggest shill on earth in the booth.
I thought the Fontana coverage had reached a new low but once again Fox proved me wrong. The Vegas coverage was horrendous. This season it’s going to be a race between Fox and ESPN to see who can present the absolute worst coverage. So far, Fox has jumped out to an early lead. Both Fox and ESPN need to shut down their infield studios. Fox needs to dump DW, MacReynolds, Myers, and Hammond and bring in Steve Byrnes.ESPN needs to put Bestwick and Jarrett in the booth. They can dump Crusty, Drab Brad, and the rest. Too many chefs spoil the broth. In this case, too many commentators ruin the broadcast. If there are 43 cars racing, we should be able to see all 43 cars and not just on the parade laps. And while the media is going gaga over Danica, they seemed to have forgotten what the real problems with the sport are. Just another distraction to keep folks from paying attention to the issues that are plaguing the sport.
Phil, great critique, as usual. Michael, great post, which is rather rare in these parts. Take Johnboy60’s, for instance. That took a lot of brain power to concoct. Was ESPN trying to spark up a little controversy with that shot, absolutely! Do they deserve an apology from Kyle about his twitter comments, absolutely not! He didn’t say anything offensive, just expressing his opinion via twitter. I think most drivers/athletes in that situation would have done the same thing.
Not sure why there is complaints about other drivers not getting exposure in the Nationwide series. If Danica wasn’t there, it wouldn’t matter. They would just focus all their attention on the Cup regulars in the race. So either take Danica or the Cup regulars. Either way the other drivers will not get much attention. It has been like that as long as the Cup guys have been racing in this series.
Phil said: According to ESPN, the compound on any given weekend needs enough juice to power a small town, and for most of us, it would take years to use as much electricity as they do in just one day.
Is that more or less than Al Gore uses at his Tennessee home, and during his junkets across the world promoting his theories?
Why are people blaming Speed for focusing too much on Danica Patrick? ESPN does the Nationwide broadcasts, not Speed. Blame ESPN.
When I first read your review of the FOX coverage on Sunday, my first thought was is this April 1st, April fools and your column was a joke..That dumbed down coverage with DW, Larry, and Hammond is just plain insulting and aggravating to watch. The fact that you felt it was OK makes me wonder whether you should be doing this.The poor attempts at humor and other issues are too many to list. It’s disappointing having to watch that coverage that is so insulting to the fans.Also, your link to the FOX does not work.