NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday March 23, 2010
Hello, race fans and welcome to my personal abode, the weekly TV critique. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were in action at Bristol Motor Speedway. They were also joined by some legends of the sport who came together for the Scotts EZ Seed Showdown, a 35 lap race in USAR ProCup cars.
Scotts Turf Builder 300
On Saturday afternoon, ESPN on ABC brought us live coverage of the Nationwide Series’ Scotts Turf Builder 300. Pre-race coverage was mainly discussion-based, to be honest. The entire first segment was spent talking about the race from the “Infield Studio” with Allen Bestwick, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Of course, due to space constraints, they weren’t in the infield at all. They were outside of the track behind the backstretch.
There was a three-way discussion between Bestwick, Wallace and Jarrett in the broadcast booth about the additional SAFER Barriers that were added at the entrance and exits of the turns. In addition, there was also a Tech Garage segment about the SAFER Barriers featuring Tim Brewer. Let’s just say this, Bestwick claimed on air that the ringing from hitting the barrier with the ball peen hammer hurt his ears. Having personally been inside of the Craftsman Tech Garage, I can say with some conviction that it’s not the biggest place on earth. Point being, it would really hurt your ears if you were inside of the Tech Garage because of the confined space.
There was also a lot of talk about how Joey Logano needs to “man up” and maybe dish out a little authority every once in a while. Knowing what actually ended up happening in the race on Saturday now, these comments are even more pertinent.
Race coverage was noted by a collection of really tight shots. As you may remember from last season, this was a bit of an issue since it made it a little hard to gauge where everyone was.
Post-race coverage was brief due to the fact that the race was on ABC instead of ESPN 2. As a result, there were interviews with winner Justin Allgaier, runner up Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. ESPN did attempt to interview Joey Logano, who was dumped out of fifth into the wall by Harvick coming to the checkers, but he declined the interview. Other than the interviews, there was only some additional post-race analysis before the telecast ended.
The Scotts EZ Seed Showdown brought a whole bunch of retro graphics and logos from ESPN. A brief montage of retro opening clips were played before the coverage began. In order, they were the ESPN Auto Racing intro from 1986, ESPN Speedworld from 1993 and 2000, and the current intro. After the montage, an HD version of the original Auto Racing logo from 1981 was shown, which I’ll admit that looked real nice and shiny.
One thing that I actively wondered about during this race was the fact that ESPN did not refer to the race as the Scotts EZ Seed Showdown. Instead, it was known as the Saturday Night Showdown. Now, we know about the ad purchasing requirements for regular race names to be mentioned on air more than once an hour, but this was not a NASCAR-sanctioned event. This is one of those classic “we’re here, so we might as well televise it” sort of things, which is similar to how SPEED treats races in Grand-Am’s Continental Tire Series (formerly the Koni Challenge). As a result, this doesn’t make any sense to me.
Continuing the retro theme, all microphones had the original ESPN logo on them (the one with ESPN surrounded by a red oval, used from the 1979 launch until 1984), and older music was utilized going to and coming back from commercial. This was all mixed with current-style graphics. As a result, I think their retro theme was a little confusing. They should have picked an era and stuck with it, maybe even fashioning specific graphics for the race.
Pre-race interviews were interlaced with classic footage. Good idea, but I’d rather see the driver talking when he is getting interviewed. The classic footage is much better preceding the interview.
The race coverage itself was pretty good. Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace brought enthusiasm to the booth. However, Rusty admitted on air that he found it a little tough to commentate on the action when he would rather just watch—remember that he drove in this race last year, and rule changes in eligibility kept him from potentially returning.
Unlike last year, there was no scroll on the screen. Instead, there was a graphic in the upper right corner of the screen with the old ESPN logo that showed the lap counter, the leader, and the track condition. Think of it as an updated version of the laps to go counter that ESPN used in 1994 and most of 1995 before they started using the pylon.
There was a lot of discussion about how the cars, actual USAR ProCup Series cars this year instead of the UARA late models used last year, were much faster than last year. Harry Gant was turning low 16’s in the Hot Laps session. Towards the end of the race, winner Rick Wilson was turning laps around 15.7 seconds. Those cars were plenty fast.
I definitely agree with Marty Reid’s notion that the fun was taken out of the race after Larry Pearson’s crash. What was a fun match race became very serious after Larry Pearson spun into the wall, then was T-Boned in the driver’s door by Charlie Glotzbach. Rusty defended Glotzbach’s actions, saying that he would have reacted the same way in that situation.
The crash resulted in requests for the race to have been stopped permanently after the crash, or never to have the legends back again. The booth never made any reference to these ideas. However, I think there are some changes that should be made to this event in the future. Firstly, there should be an increase in required safety equipment. A few of the drivers, most notably Harry Gant, were using open-faced helmets and very few, if any, were using HANS Devices. This was noted on the broadcast, but mainly as a way to reinforce the throwback theme.
Somehow, ESPN, and the booth commentators miscounted the number of laps remaining after the Pearson crash (there were four to go instead of five). Therefore, when Wilson crossed the line to take what they thought was the white flag, it was really the checkered. This led Reid to comment that they “got gypped.” In reality, ESPN screwed up. No apologies were made on air for this error.
Because of the Pearson crash and the long cleanup from the wreck, the telecast went overtime by almost 20 minutes. As a result, there was only one quick interview with winner Rick Wilson before track workers could even pull in the Scotts EZ Seed Showdown banner behind Wilson’s No. 75. After that, there was a quick look at the results before ESPN left the air.
Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway
FOX seems to have a format for their pre-race show these days. At the beginning, they stuff in some analysis from the Hollywood Hotel, and some special features. A Slice of Pizzi, from Cubed, is in here, along with the short weather segment from the “Storm Scout,” Rick Dickert, are also in here. At the beginning of the third segment or so, the actual interviews begin.
There was still a lot of references to the Brad Keselowski-Carl Edwards incident two weeks ago in Atlanta, which was a little annoying since its been so overexposed lately. Luckily, once they started showing their interviews, they simply got it over with before people went nuts. Interviews were shown with Brad, Carl, and Robin Pemberton during pre-race. Since Pemberton is effectively the Colin Campbell of NASCAR these days (Note: Colin Campbell is the Senior Vice President, Director of Hockey Operations and head disciplinarian for the NHL), it is important that he is front and center when it comes to these issues.
FOX brought us another of Darrell Waltrip’s…sound-offs during the pre-race show, where he talked a little about feuds, while posturing and showing examples of past run-ins i.e.Earnhardt talking about Rudd at North Wilkesboro, 1989, Harvick angry with Biffle in the Busch race at Bristol in 2002, Terry Labonte after getting wrecked by Earnhardt in 1999 on the last lap, etc. Darrell described the emotions that go on with drivers during these controversial incidents. He caps it off by saying that he’s perfectly fine with bumping and such between cars, but that he’s opposed to “cheap shots.” I’m fine with that. You basically wouldn’t have NASCAR without bumping. Retaliation does play a role with bumping, but I believe that outright wrecking someone is wrong.
Also, Digger commercials were back in the broadcast this week for the first time this year. They appeared on SPEED, as well). Yes, I still think they have no place in the broadcast, but I know why they were re-introduced for this week. On March 30th, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray (just realized this Friday afternoon, to be honest). As you all know by now, Digger had a cameo in the movie. Plugging Digger tangentially means that they’re plugging the movie.
There was a little discussion about Bristol being the last race for the much-maligned wings. This weekend at Martinsville, four inch tall blade spoilers will be back. When asked how it will affect the racing, the commentators in the Hollywood Hotel said that it would significantly improve the racing and just be better for the series. A glowing review. Of course, they haven’t even put a car out on an intermediate length with the spoiler yet, so that remains to be seen. Today’s test at Charlotte Motor Speedway will speak volumes.
The SAFER Barrier additions, which took up nearly an entire segment on ESPN’s NASCAR Countdown on Saturday, earned only a brief mention by Myers and Hammond at the very end of the pre-race show before opening ceremonies.
The race telecast was more of what we typically see from FOX. There was definitely a focus on the action up towards the front (meaning the top 10), while very little coverage was given to cars further back in the pack. This is a shame, to be honest. There is plenty of action back there to showcase from time to time. Having said that, Sunday’s race had a lot more action for the lead than the average race at Bristol. There were 29 lead changes, most of which occurred under green setting a record. It’s not an overall record. That is held with a dubious 40 from the 1991 Valleydale Meats 500. But, it’s the most lead changes at Bristol in years.
FOX did make note of Dave Blaney dropping to the rear of the field at the beginning of the race after qualifying third. The blank quarterpanels, and hood, and TV panel were noted and they outright stated that they didn’t think that Blaney was going to hang around on the track all that long. That, in itself is a shame.
Sunday’s race also broke a 55 race sellout streak at Bristol that dated back all the way to 1982. This was only briefly mentioned on the broadcast coming back from a commercial break on lap 246. Pictures showed a bunch of empty seats at the half-mile oval. Mike Joy described it as full on the frontstretch and spotty on the backstretch and turns. Previous to this year, you had to either “know someone,” buy tickets through StubHub for a ridiculous markup, or inherit them. Now, we know the reasons why this could be the case…the economy, extortion artists, weather, etc. I think FOX could have given this a little more than just lip service, though.
Same thing with the flat tires. There were quite a few tire issues on Sunday with blown or corded tires. However, I think that these issues were mainly setup-based, like Martinsville last year. Still, FOX should have covered that a little more closely.
Like Saturday’s Nationwide race, FOX’s post-race coverage was more skimpy than normal because the broadcast went over its timeslot. There were interviews with the top three finishers, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch, some post-race analysis, and a check of the point standings before FOX left the air.
Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series return to action at the .526 mile Martinsville Speedway. The Camping World Truck Series races on Saturday in the Kroger 250, while the Sprint Cup Series runs on Sunday in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500. These races will be included in next week’s critique, along with any other NASCAR TV-related news and notes.
Also, the Izod IndyCar Series will have their second race of the season, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday. I will critique that race as well.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. And if you would like to contact 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.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You didn’t mention the most annoying part of the coverage. The booth monkeys didn’t talk about what we were seeing on TV but what they saw elsewhere on the track. Dw’s mouth overshadowed everyone and made for a horrible race to try to watch. The direction was horrible with no flow.
Some people have stated that McReynolds and DW do not do any prep work for the races and just basically wing it for the broadcast. When they run out of things to say, they start calling the race over Joy. I’m starting to beleive that as truth.
I saw at least 2 instances during the race where Joy was talking about one of the lesser known teams and giving them some airtime when McReynolds would chime in “There is a battle going for 7th place” or the like. Of course the camera would go to the 2 cars thus killing any airtime for that team or their sponsor.
At Atlanta they showed Ambrose for a full lap around Atlanta and didn’t say one word. Absolute silence. I’m all for silence in the FOX broadcasts, but I’m sure it had more to do with the fact they had no info on him. Its really unprofessional and basically shows everyone where FOX is at right now with their broadcasts.
I feel bad for Joy as I think he is one of the best in the business but is being brought down by the other 2 clowns in the booth.
Larry McReynolds has stated multiple times in the past that he does a lot of prep work for races. He carries around a notebook full of information that he can use in the broadcasts (I’ve seen him in the garage before).
I don’t know about Waltrip, but I seriously doubt he thinks he can just waltz into the broadcast booth and “wing it” for 4 hours. He definitely does something to prepare. I don’t know what that is, but it’s something.
However, having said that, commentating on a race is not done to a static formula (at least, I don’t think it is). Pre-race, maybe, but not the race itself. Stuff happens, and whoever’s in the booth has to adjust.
Fox could have saved themselves a lot of filler pre-race stuff by just watching the driver intros with their songs.
I’m sure DW does prep work for the broadcast. Like my wife, he probably starts by jacking his jaws as soon as his feet hit the floor out of bed.
Something has to be done about FOX’s broadcast crew. They have brought down the bar of broadcasting to impossibly low levels. If their were Razzies given out to worst announcing crews they would win them hands down.
ESPN still has much work to do in improving their announcing but FOX continues to sink to new depths. I wouldn’t be surprised if their announcing hasn’t run away fans from watching and listening to the races on TV. I know quite a few of the races have been mediocre but the booth crew and the silly ‘Hollywood’ Hotel just make them that more unendurable.