Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Wednesday April 21, 2010
Hello, race fans and welcome to our weekly TV Critique. This weekend, the action was at the Texas Motor Speedway in Justin, Texas, just a few miles north of Fort Worth. The Sprint Cup Series were the headliners, with support from the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards and the Nationwide Series.
However, before I start, I want to take a minute to talk about the post-race coverage fiasco from last week. As you may remember, FOX announced a new, online-only extension to their post-race coverage to compensate called the Overdrive. It would have provided additional post-race analysis and post-race interviews, available for viewing at FoxSports.com. It’s a great concept, but one that met with a fatal snag: Turner Sports technically owns all online rights to NASCAR footage and has since 2001. Under this deal, any online video content of this type can only be produced by Turner Sports and can only run on NASCAR.com.
There were some negotiations between Fox Sports and Turner Sports on this issue, but they eventually broke down. As a result, FOX was forced to notify fans through their Twitter page this weekend that they would not have Overdrive coverage at Texas. Turner Sports, through NASCAR.com, released a statement in response that read, in part: “NASCAR.COM has proactively approached FOX over a period of time with a variety of collaborative online media options that unfortunately have been rejected.”
Based on this quote, it could be assumed that the two parties don’t really like other very much. If that is so, then the only people that suffer from this animosity are regular race fans, as well as the client they service (NASCAR). It would be nice for the two sides to work out their differences (or even for NASCAR brass to mediate the issue), but sadly, I just don’t see it happening.
The sad part is that FOX had good intentions here. They realized that fans, media, anyone watching on TV were rather ticked off with the lack of post-race coverage from Phoenix. This online show would have given fans the additional coverage that they crave. Unfortunately, because of this overarching deal that lasts until 2014, NASCAR.com and Turner Sports has full control over online rights. This is something that probably never should have happened in the first place. NASCAR owns what amounts to their own production company now, the NASCAR Media Group. They should control the online content and allow certain websites (ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, NASCAR.com, etc.) to carry the footage because this current setup, which is biased towards Turner Sports, is broken: simple as that.
Having said all that, on to the actual racing.
On Friday night, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards had their fourth race of the season, the Rattlesnake 150, at Texas Motor Speedway. This is the second of ten races that SPEED will televise this season. Like at Daytona, Rick Allen and Phil Parsons from SPEED’s Camping World Truck Series telecasts were in the booth.
Unlike most of the ARCA races on SPEED from the past couple of years, this telecast appeared to be live. If you remember past broadcasts, they would go on the air after the cars had already rolled off pit road, but the telecast would be five to ten minutes behind real life. Friday, there were actually three pre-race interviews on the grid before the command to start engines. Before these interviews were recaps of the first three races of the season. Of course, only Daytona was televised. The other two races (Palm Beach and Salem) had footage from one camera.
I still believe that some cameras that are active for Nationwide and Cup Series races are deactivated for ARCA (and not just “signature shots” like the Digger Cam). As a result, some things were not caught very well. Example: Nur Ali’s crash on Lap 3. SPEED had only one shot of the crash from a speed shot camera exiting Turn 4 where you really couldn’t see all that much.
SPEED did employ some good uses of split-screen replays on Friday night, which is good to see. This mainly involved replays running in one box while the live action continued in another.
Post-race coverage was relatively short. There were interviews with race winner Steve Arpin, winning crew chief Tony Liberati, Justin Marks, Craig Goess, a check of the unofficial results, and a point check before SPEED left the air. This is a little bit more than normal, so perhaps I shouldn’t complain.
As a result of SPEED ever so slightly cutting the number of races that they cover each season, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards doesn’t get the coverage that it did nine years ago. Back then, all the races were televised on Speedvision, but not all of them were live. There was also a significant difference in production values from race to race. I do not believe that the series needs to be exclusive to SPEED. I don’t think ARCA believes that, either. Perhaps, they should ramp up negotiations with local sports stations to cover races that SPEED doesn’t. For example, Comcast SportsNet out of Philadelphia covered the inaugural race for the series at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2008. That’s not a horrible idea. Then, they could syndicate the telecast out to other regional sports networks, ones that would only have to provide production (cameras, trucks, etc.). The commentators could be hand-picked by ARCA, for all I care. The pit reporters effectively work for the sport itself already (Tretow definitely does, Venturini doesn’t, but they could easily put Don Radebaugh on pit road as well). They could also try to get another cable network to televise races, but the MavTv experiment didn’t work all that well because the channel doesn’t have a very large reach.
Saturday was supposed to have coverage of the Nationwide Series O’Reilly 300. However, torrential rains postponed the action first to Sunday night, then late afternoon on Monday. As a result, Saturday’s coverage turned into three hours of killing time. But, it was the good kind of killing time.
ESPN jammed, at the bare minimum, 23 interviews into the showers. These interviews with Sprint Cup interlopers, team owners, and Nationwide-only drivers carried the show, with everything from in-depth questioning to pure, laid-back entertainment on the agenda. It strikes me that this was the type of setup where Kenny Wallace would thrive. When he was still in the Cup Series, he was effectively the grandmaster of killing time on-air. Kenny did get a short interview about two hours into the telecast, focused on the low funds of Jay Robinson Racing. Mike Wallace and JD Motorsports also got what was probably their first ever interview on TV. Young guns like Landon Cassill, Trevor Bayne, James Buescher, and Scott Lagasse, Jr. got their due.
The best interview, though, was Dr. Jerry Punch’s with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. This was a long, ten minute (or so) wide-ranging talk about JR Motorsports and his struggles in the Cup Series over the past couple of years. This was great to watch. Apparently, what we saw on Saturday was the real Earnhardt, Jr. No filter here.
The most uncomfortable moment was early on when Kyle Busch was in the Infield Studio with Nicole Briscoe (subbing for a vacationing Allen Bestwick), Rusty Wallace, and Brad Daugherty. Back in Phoenix, Rusty went on record as being unsupportive of Busch’s actions during the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200. This resulted in an uneasy silence from Wallace during Kyle Busch’s time in the Infield Studios. Very weird.
There was also a nice feature on the very first live broadcast of a Grand National (now Sprint Cup) race, the 1971 Greenville 200. A two-hour window was cleared for the broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, with Jim McKay and Chris Economaki in the booth while Ken Squier was in the pits (That’s pretty much as good of an All-Star team as you can get.) If you’ve been reading this column for the past year, you know that I am a history nut. As a result, I ate this up. One thing they didn’t mention was that the 200-lap race took only one hour and 16 minutes to run, resulting in a bunch of time to fill once the race ended. This meant that a bunch of interviews were required in order to fill out the slot. I have no real idea when they were saving that feature for. Perhaps a Wednesday edition of NASCAR Now, since Wednesday is what amounts to old-school day?
When the race actually went off Monday evening, the telecast started off a couple of minutes early after the Liverpool-West Ham United match (being slotted after a soccer match is not bad because they run (more or less) for a fixed amount of time). Marty Reid started off with a brief recap of the Samsung Mobile 500, which had finished about an hour before. Then, it was straight to the opening ceremonies. This is typical of a postponed race. Reid, Rusty Wallace, and Andy Petree were in the booth once again for ESPN, as Dale Jarrett’s vacation continues.
There is one positive thing that I want to mention about the actual race broadcast. About 60 laps into the race, there was a nice, prolonged Up to Speed segment that covered everyone back to about 18th place. It actually got curtailed because of Justin Lofton’s crash on the backstretch. Had that not happened, it probably would have covered nearly everyone on the lead lap. I think extending this production feature was definitely a good move, although I hope it’s not just a one time thing (ESPN’s done that before, only to back off in subsequent races). The smaller teams in the series need all the exposure they can get in order to help them get more backing.
I think ESPN needed to notify the fans about the Competition Caution that flew on Lap 25 earlier than they actually did. As it stands, the first notification on air of it was by Marty Reid as ESPN was going to commercial on Lap 15. This is something that should have been mentioned before the green flag flew.
There was also a little too much coverage of Carl Edwards’ axle issues. I, personally, do not need to see full screen images of Edwards’ team attempting to repair the axle and transmission in the garage area while there is green flag racing going on.
Another thing I didn’t like was the coverage of the fourth and final caution of the race. This was when the two Roush Fenway Racing Fords collided, sending Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. into the inside wall on the backstretch. ESPN did not capture the wall contact, and did not show the No. 6 after it hit the concrere. Did I also mention that it happened during a commercial break? In our Live Blogs, I refer to incidents like this by saying “That’ll be a trapezoid right there.” I say that because in my notes, I denote cautions that come out during commercials with a trapezoid.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief. There were interviews with winner Kyle Busch, Busch’s crew chief (Jason Radcliff), Joey Logano, Carl Edwards (who finished 36 laps down because of his axle issues), and Brad Keselowski. There was also a quick point check. The unofficial results were only displayed in the scroll.
Samsung Mobile 500
Now, onto the big boys.
The Sprint Cup Series was originally scheduled to hold the Samsung Mobile 500 on Sunday afternoon. However, a combination of light drizzle, mist, and a persistent dense fog prevented the proper scheduling from taking place. Like ESPN on Saturday, FOX was once again forced to kill time on air for the third time this season in just eight races.
For the first hour of their coverage, FOX stuck to their typical schedule. This means plenty of discussion in the Hollywood Hotel with Jeff Hammond, Darrell Waltrip, and Chris Myers. There was a little more usage of the Storm Scout, Rick Dickert, than normal because of the ongoing issues with light rain and fog.
Chris Pizzi was back after being thankfully absent from pre-race in Phoenix. This week, his guest was Mark Martin. Martin handled Pizzi similar to how he handles questions during top-12 availability in the Media Center. There was some silence, relatively short answers, and that was about it. Rough segment.
There was also a feature where Jeff Gordon did some training with a National Guard unit, and a feature on how late-race strategy has changed this season with the introduction of the three chances at a green-white-checkered finish. Another feature talked about the history of Texas Motor Speedway (fairly checkered, to be honest, especially the first few years), and of Texas venues prior to its opening, including Texas World Speedway.
There was also a top-10 feature on the biggest crashes on FOX. There were a couple of issues with this segment, in my opinion, very noticeable to anyone who was paying attention. First off, they accidentally included an in-car shot from Tony Stewart’s No. 20 during the 2002 Aaron’s 499 in a clip of the big wreck at the beginning of the 2003 Aaron’s 499. Later on, when they listed the aforementioned crash from 2002, it was displayed as being from 2003. That’s pretty bad.
There were also interviews with drivers (and at least one U.S. Army soldier), but nowhere near as many as what ESPN did on Saturday. Once the announcement went out that the race was postponed, FOX left the air almost immediately, just like they did at Martinsville a couple of weeks ago – leaving half of their timeslot unused.
When FOX returned on Monday morning (11 AM CDT), it was a quick welcome to Texas from Myers in the Hollywood Hotel, then right out to the Opening Ceremonies like at Martinsville. Pre-race analysis from Mike Joy, Waltrip, and Larry McReynolds in the broadcast booth was in between the command to start engines and the pace laps. FOX did a much better job of informing fans about the Competition Caution that was thrown on Lap 25.
Race coverage was typical of what we’ve seen so far this season. It was relatively focused in on the big boys, while other drivers (even some big ones like Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne) got very little exposure at all during the race, yet earned great finishes at the end.
I was disappointed that FOX was unable to gather better camera angles of Brian Vickers’ two separate incidents. The first one was actually fine. This was caught live on the cameras. The second one was terrible. All we could see was smoke, and we never really saw the No. 83 sliding up the track. The other angle FOX used was an in-car shot facing Vickers. As a result, you couldn’t really see anything except for Vickers himself.
Probably the best part of FOX’s broadcast on Monday was in and around the red flag for the big wreck in the quad-oval. Unlike some of the other incidents at the track last weekend, FOX had this one down pat. They were able to get interviews with all the principal people involved in the incident (Gordon, Stewart, Edwards, etc.). The reaction from the drivers to the wreck was a bit unusual, I’ll admit. No one blamed anyone.
In fact, the only person that seemed to be unhappy during their interview was Jeff Gordon, and that had nothing to do with the crash. Instead, it had more to do with the somewhat rough dicing earlier in the race with teammate/protégé/all-conquering overlord Jimmie Johnson. Gordon was unhappy with Johnson’s antics, but couldn’t really display his true thoughts verbally. The fact that Gordon was unhappy with Johnson completely threw Dick Berggren for a loop, though, since this was probably the first time that he’s ever bad-mouthed Jimmie on air.
Since the race was on Monday, post-race coverage was quite brief. There were four post-race interviews (Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch). There was also an update of the DirecTV Head2Head Knockout bracket based on the results of Monday’s race and a check of the point standings. The unofficial results were only displayed in the scroll.
I think that FOX really doesn’t need any more natural or unnatural issues that delay races for the rest of their part of the schedule. These delays, albeit outside of their control, are killing their ratings. I also think the pre-race show needs to dump Pizzi in the worst way. He subtracts from the show instead of adding. Race telecasts need to be more inclusive instead of exclusive, too. I ranted during the Live Blog about wanting to see some excellent racing for Positions 7-15. Unfortunately, it occurred during a break, and by the time FOX returned and cut to it, it was 15 laps later and it was over. FOX needs to realize that they actually have a lot of power over how fans perceive the racing. It’s not even so much what the commentators say on air, but what gets shown (and what often doesn’t).
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is Talladega (cue some cheers and boos). The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are the main draw in Alabama. Meanwhile, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards will serve as the tertiary series on Friday evening.
Outside of Talladega, the Rolex Sports Car Series returns for Round 4 of their championship, the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday. Sunday sees the return of the V8 Supercars to SPEED with the ITM 400 from Hamilton, New Zealand, run this past weekend.
Here’s your telecast lineup for the weekend:
Friday, April 23
Saturday, April 24
Sunday, April 25
I will provide critiques for the three races this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway in next week’s edition of Talking NASCAR TV here at Frontstretch.com. The Rolex Sports Car Series race from Virginia International Raceway and Round Four of the V8 Supercars from Hamilton, New Zealand will be covered in the Critic’s Annex next Thursday 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 FOX, 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.
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FOX doesn’t need to run a post-race show on line. They can put it on television. Heck, they spent 7+ hours on one single 20 inning baseball game last week. Surely some network and local programming was pre-empted for that. So if they can do it for baseball, there’s no reason they couldn’t do it for NASCAR.
One could say that Turner made an outstanding business decision in locking up the internet rights to NASCAR video. Why should they lose out when FOX now wants to get a piece of that pie?
It’s simple really , Turner offered NASCAR a big check , and as we’ve seen many times before , everything NASCAR has is for sale for the right amount of money . Even when it isn’t in their best interest to sell .
If the powers that are fox would actually think and look at track history, they could do a much better job of figuring how long a race will last. 3 hours for 376 laps at Phoenix, come on.
Easy, start the races one hour ealier so they can get the post race in before “The Simpsons”, problem solved.
Why the hell should I have to turn off the TV and run to the computer to get the post race? Maybe I’m old fashioned but I prefer to watch on TV instead of online, even though I do have WiFi, laptop and listen to MRN online instead of that shill DW.
Mark Said :
We just want to get no frills coverage of the cars on the track . ALL OF THE CARS . AND IN WIDE ANGLE SHOTS . SHOW US THE RACING . We can tune to the radio for actual insight into whats going on in the race , because it sure isn’t being provided by FOX .
I Say : AMEN to That
Fox knew all along that they couldn’t do an online post race coverage but they tried to put the spin on it that they were the good guys because they tried. Then try to make Turner out to be the bad guys. Typical of FOX. A simple solution is to just show it on TV. Problem solved. There are alot of people that multitask during the races but I’m not one of them. I just want one stop shopping so to speak. I could care less about the prerace but would like some follow up after the race, and not just of the usual favorites. They say the ratings drop significantly after the race is over, but is it less than an infomercial? I’d be very shocked if an infomercial got better ratings than a post race show.