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.
Talking NASCAR TV · Phil Allaway · Tuesday March 9, 2010
Hello race fans, and welcome to my small corner of the internet, the weekly recap of the telecasts that we all watch on television. Before I get into the normal critique, one bit of news needs to passed across:
Adam Alexander Named as TNT’s Play-by-play Commentator
Last Wednesday, The Charlotte Observer reported that Adam Alexander will be named the play-by-play commentator for TNT’s six race Summer Series of Sprint Cup races. On Thursday, TNT confirmed this. In addition, TNT announced that Marc Fein will not be returning to TNT’s Sprint Cup races in 2010. Fein has chosen to concentrate on his duties at NBA TV. Fein will be replaced on Countdown to Green by Lindsay Czarniak, who has served as a pit reporter for TNT for the previous three seasons.
Ralph Sheheen, who filled in as the play-by-play announcer after Bill Weber was suspended, and ultimately released by TNT, after his issues in New Hampshire last June, will return to pit reporting. It is unclear whether Czarniak will continue her pit reporting, or move to the infield platform with Larry McReynolds full time. If Czarniak is there full time, it leaves TNT with three pit reporters. In that case, it is unclear whether TNT would simply promote Jim Noble to full on-air status, hire from outside, or simply just go with three pit reporters for the six races. Noble served as a pit reporter for the RaceBuddy service last season.
Rolex Sports Car Series’ Grand Prix of Miami from Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida
Late Saturday afternoon, SPEED brought us live coverage of the Rolex Sports Car Series’ Grand Prix of Miami, a timed sprint race (two hours, 45 minutes) held on the infield road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For the telecast, SPEED had their usual team of the excitable Leigh Diffey, and former racers Dorsey Schroeder and Calvin Fish in the booth. This is a fairly good trio that has worked with each other off and on for years. Diffey actually left SPEED at the end of 2004 and returned to Australia to commentate on the V8 Supercars in his native Australia. He was the play-by-play commentator for the last two years that the series was on Network Ten before returning to the Seven Network for 2007. When this happened, Diffey returned to SPEED in the United States.
The start of SPEED’s coverage was right up against the start of the race itself, so there was very little pre-race coverage. There was only one, taped pre-race interview before the cars were already on their pace laps. Also, this interview was not held during the National Anthem, like at Daytona. You might remember some of the anger pointed at SPEED for that move. SPEED also made use of the iRacing simulation and a Daytona Prototype in the game to show a lap of the track. This was apparently the backup plan, since they had some issues with the typical in-car full lap. Also, this simulated lap was cut short because of the beginning of the race.
The telecast was fairly good to watch, with a lot of action. However, there were some technical issues. There was one point in which all the sound dropped out for somewhere between three and five seconds. Not sure why this happened. However, before that occurred, there were significant issues with ambient sound being almost non-existent at times. This was simply unfortunate. Luckily, those issues were alleviated after lap 35 or so. There was also a strange rewinding of footage on the telecast during a live interview. This is the kind of stuff that typically happens behind the scenes in order to prep for a replay. It doesn’t usually make the air.
Also of note, SPEED managed to have more cars with in-car cameras in this race than in the Truck race that proceeded it. Five cars (the No. 95 Supercar Life BMW Riley Daytona Prototype, and four GT cars) carried cameras, while only four trucks in Atlanta did. I think they might use a different vendor for in-car cameras for Grand-Am as opposed to the Trucks, who likely use the same company (BSI) as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series do.
Post-race footage was quite brief, to be honest. The only post-race interviews were with the winning drivers in each class. In the Daytona Prototypes, it was the No. 01 Telmex BMW Riley for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Only Scott Pruett spoke in Victory Lane, for some reason. Not really sure why his co-driver, Mexican racer Memo Rojas, got the snub. It’s not like he cannot speak English, because he can. The only explanation would be that he might have been unwilling to talk about an incident that resulted in the No. 6 of Brian Frisselle spinning out in the first corner at the start of the race. Would have been nice to see Rojas’ side of the story there.
In the GT class, the winner was the No. 69 Mazda RX-8 for SpeedSource, driven by Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal. Both drivers were interviewed in Victory Lane and were very happy with their runs.
This was an ok telecast, but there are a couple of things that can be improved. First of all, I would have liked an interview with the Brumos Porsche team after the race, since Pruett won that race by only a couple of car lengths, not a runaway by any means. Second, only the top two Daytona Prototypes and the GT class winning No. 69 were shown crossing the finish line. I think that they should show some more of the cars finishing in future races.
Camping World Truck Series: E-Z-GO 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
This was an interesting race to watch on television, with some good coverage. However, it had its own problems as well.
The NCWTS Setup pre-race show debuted a couple of new features on Saturday. The first of which is simply entitled, “Thumbs Up.” This feature basically sees NCWTS Setup host Krista Voda giving props to drivers from smaller teams that had relatively good runs in the previous event. In this case, Donnie Neuenberger in the No. 6, J.J. Yeley in the Daisy Ramirez-owned No. 01 (who was not in Atlanta), Brett Butler, and Team Gill Racing teammates Dennis Setzer and Johnny Benson (also not racing in Atlanta) received the props this week. I think that this is a good idea because it puts the spotlight on those smaller teams for once. In the long run, it could help them attract sponsorship.
Another new feature toward the end of the Setup was a look at tweets from drivers and/or teams in the series. This was coupled with the launch of a Twitter for SPEED’s Camping World Truck Series coverage. How this Twitter page will be used remains to be seen, but it should help to promote the series.
The Setup also had an interesting look at the new pit rules, with the help of Red Horse Racing. Ray Dunlap showed off the new ventless dump can, which looks like the old one, but with what looked like a plastic tube connecting back into the main dump can from where the fuel exited the can. It looked relatively inexpensive to make. Also, teams are apparently not required to use the new cans. They can still use the old ones with a catch-can man over the wall, but they have to sacrifice one member of their tire changing squadron in order to do it. I liked this. I felt like I actually learned something new.
The race coverage was fairly good, but I do have some thoughts. Complaints during the running of the race on Saturday via Twitter pointed to the telecast being heavily focused on the frontrunners, with only a passing reference to teams further down the order. For example, late in the race, SPEED’s commentators mentioned that there was a tight race for positions eight through 14. Did we get to see much of this racing? Not really. Maybe a little bit, but not much. Most of SPEED’s coverage tended to focus on the top 5 trucks. Then SPEED went to commercial, Donny Lia cut a tire in the break, and the caution came out. End of action.
The Speed Spotlight drivers actually got a little more exposure than normal. Usually, the drivers are mentioned during the pace laps and that’s that, unless they come up again in the natural flow of the race. I think that this was good for the future, for the same reasons that the Thumbs Up segment in the Setup is good.
Post-race coverage was fairly good. There were six interviews (five drivers, and Ernie Cope, winning crew chief). There was also a point check and a check of the unofficial results. However, I think SPEED actually left the air a little early, by about eight minutes. Not really sure why this was the case. The truck race timeslot (at least on my cable box) was listed as going from 2-4:30pm. SPEED went to an episode of NASCAR Smarts before going to the regularly scheduled IHBA Drag Racing at 4:30pm.
Kobalt Tools 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway
Televised by FOX with the usual accompaniment of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Pre-race was mainly feature laden, as usual.
The “Slice of Pizzi” feature had Dale Earnhardt Jr. as a guest. I think that FOX Sports has a set format for this feature now. They just give Pizzi the name of whoever he’s supposed to interview, and have him study up on them, pick something that stands out, then have him do something silly with it. This week, Pizzi referenced the 2006 Jay-Z song “Show Me What You Got,”
The thought that comes to mind here is this: How do these drivers benefit from actually talking to this guy? Also, when do they shoot these things? They make it sound like they shoot them every weekend so they’re nice and fresh. However, I’m thinking that FOX shot most of those pieces during some of the media availability time right at the beginning at Speedweeks. Also of note, a small graphic on screen right after the segment advertised Cubed, the online show at FoxSports.com where “A Slice of Pizzi” originated from. I should warn you guys that it’s definitely not for the easily offended. Personally, I could care less about swearing and porn stars and stuff like that, but I know that a lot of my readers consider that to be “smut” (not Jimmy Means) or something similar. I think FOX would do well to put a little “Viewer Discretion Advised” thing below the Cubed graphic when they plug it.
Pre-race also featured a sit down interview with Carl Edwards that Darrell Waltrip conducted. I’m pretty sure Waltrip never would have expected what actually ended up happening on Sunday to occur after that interview, but the general consensus was that Edwards was a little frustrated.
As for actual factual race coverage, I generally thought that it was par for the course. Not awful, but not great either. I could live with it, but I’d like it to be better. During the Live Blog on Sunday, there was a complaint about too much usage of the Digger Cam. Apparently, this resulted in half of one viewers’ screen turning black. That’s probably just due to the placement of the cams themselves. You can see the depth of the pavement in the shot. I actually wonder if those things have the ability to zoom. I know they cannot pan around as they’re fixed into position.
The one major complaint that most of the Blog viewers and I had is the fact that (especially early on), FOX wasn’t giving the potential tire issues the attention that they deserved. On Saturday, there were some tire issues in the E-Z-GO 200. For example, a tire that came off of the No. 95 of Geoff Bodine looked like it had been through a grooving machine. They started early and continued often on Sunday. The FOX team chalked up Robby Gordon’s left rear issues to likely starting too low on air pressure. Plausible, but we don’t know for sure because Robby Gordon wasn’t interviewed, so we don’t know where he started on air pressure. Even Kyle Busch, who didn’t have a flat tire early on Sunday, had a really ugly looking right front tire pulled off his No. 18 Toyota. Busch’s fiance, Sam Sarcinella, took a picture of it and posted it online, claiming that it was killed.
Coverage of action back in the pack was above normal on Sunday, mainly because of how much drivers like Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne were able to run away from the field. That’s good to see in the long run, although it shouldn’t really require the leaders to run away in order for that to happen.
As for the Edwards-Keselowski fiasco on lap 323, I think that FOX handled this well. They didn’t jump to conclusions on the issue, and I credit FOX for having the camera shot that showed Edwards actually turning his wheel to the right in order to turn Keselowski. I’m also surprised that Edwards and Keselowski were willing to talk to FOX on camera after that wreck. The tensions are still very high at this point. This isn’t the place to discuss paybacks and stuff like that, so I won’t talk about that here.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief since the race went over its timeslot. FOX provided viewers with the usual post-race analysis and interviews with the top four finishers. There was also a check of the unofficial results and the top 12 in points.
That is all for this week. Unfortunately, next weekend is “The Great Rest.” Good for NASCAR teams, bad for critics like myself. All three of NASCAR’s major touring series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the Camping World Truck Series) are off next weekend. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no racing on tap. Next Sunday is the season opener for the Izod IndyCar Series, another series that we here at Frontstretch have pledged more coverage of during the 2010 season. Coverage begins with qualifying Saturday afternoon at 1pm EST on Versus. Pre-race begins Sunday morning at 11:30am EDT, with the green flag scheduled to drop at or around 11:55am. Bob Jenkins, Robbie Buhl and Jon Beekhuis will be in the booth for Versus. ESPN refugee Jack Arute, Lindy Thackford, and Robbie Floyd will be reporting from pit road. And for those of you with DirecTV, I think Indycar.com will be showing the race live so that you won’t be out of luck due to the ongoing DirecTV-Versus spat.
Also, note that Daylight Savings Time begins really early Sunday morning. As a result, that 11:30am will feel more like 10:30am.
Even earlier in the morning on Sunday is the season opener for Formula One, the Grand Prix of Bahrain from the Bahrain International Circuit. Coverage from Bahrain begins with live Free Practice No. 2 Friday morning at 6:00am EST. Live knockout qualifying is scheduled for Saturday morning at 6:00am EST.
For those of you unfamiliar with Formula One’s qualifying procedure, it is a three round system. The system was redesigned for this season to allow for a 26 car grid, however, it appears that 24 cars will be in Bahrain. Round One has all the cars out there for a 15 minute session. The bottom seven cars will be eliminated and locked into their starting spots. Round Two (Q2) will have the remaining 17 cars out there. The fastest ten move to Round Three. Last year, this third session was done on race fuel. However, since refueling during races is banned for this season, Q3 will now be on low fuel. The remaining ten cars will then battle for the pole.
Finally, race coverage is scheduled to begin at 7:30am EDT on SPEED with the team of Bob Varsha, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett commentating on the race from North Carolina, but with links to the track. The start will be at approximately 8:05am EDT.
I will cover the IndyCar season opener in next week’s critique. In addition, I’ll give my thoughts on shows like What’s the Deal? and SPEED’s Fast Track to Fame. Also, later this week in The Critic’s Annex, I will look at the Desert 400 V8 Supercar race, also from Bahrain International Circuit.
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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Another weekend , another FOX race broadcast . The same old Mike Joy , Larry McReynolds and DW ( or as they’re often called , Background Noise ) overstating the obvious and pimping for sponsors willing to pay them .
A new name for the Fox broadcast crew. The “Shrill Shills).
One comment on the Cup TV coverage, What happened on the restart when the booth and I did not know kyle was the leader? There was a very awkward pause as confusion seemed obvious.
Looking forward to Adam Alexander in the booth; I think he’ll be a good guy to have there.
I’d like to know what Open Wheel was thinking by putting their races on Versus, and who the bonehead was who signed the contract. I’ve followed that series for decades, and last year missed all the races that were on Versus because I refuse to pay the extortion money to Dish Network to get the highest tier where Versus is. If you want fans to stick with your series you don’t go from ESPN and ABC to a new start up cable channel.
Did anyone else notice DW going on about how the wing makes the cars go airborn and it’s a good thing they are going away, then remember how he went on about how great the wings were and how the cars will not get airborn with them after they first came out? This shill puts his finger in the wind and prattles on about whatever he thinks will play with the fans at the moment. He has no credability at all.
Bad Wolf, I dont think the Indy Car series has the money to pay ESPN to put their races on that network. They went with what they could afford. The IndyCar ratings are even worse than NASCAR’s.
“The FOX team chalked up Robby Gordon’s left rear issues to likely starting too low on air pressure. Plausible, but we don’t know for sure because Robby Gordon wasn’t interviewed, so we don’t know where he started on air pressure.”
Robby says the pressure was at or above the recommended minimums for the start of the race. Goodyear claims his tire was punctured, but I’ve never seen a puncture cause the entire carcass to separate from the tire after only 3 laps.
It’s a good thing they didn’t try to interview Robby – they would have warn out the bleep button, as the F-bombs were flying on his radio.
I think they should move the races from Fox to the Comedy Channel, we would probably get more serious and informed coverage than the garbage Fox gives us.