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 April 27, 2010
Hello, race fans, and welcome back to our weekly look into the stock car telecasts that we all watch. This past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Talladega Superspeedway was our focus, with the “Aaron’s Dream Weekend” playing host to three major races: The Talladega ARCA 250 for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards, the Aaron’s 312 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and the Aaron’s 499 (or 532) for the Sprint Cup Series. Like most restrictor plate events, the general consensus was all three provided some of the best competition of the year within their respective divisions.
But with the drivers providing nail-biting finishes, was the quality of TV coverage good enough to match the excitement? Read on to find out in the latest look at how FOX and SPEED are covering the broadcasts.
Talladega ARCA 250
On Friday evening, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards held the Talladega ARCA 250. SPEED televised the event, with Camping World Truck Series commentators Rick Allen and Phil Parsons in the broadcast booth. NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader, making a rare TV appearance, served as a third booth analyst, while Jim Tretow and Wendy Venturini were on pit road.
The telecast started similarly to SPEED’s ARCA broadcast from Texas, with a recap of recent action in the series. In this case, they only recapped the Rattlesnake 150 instead of a number of races, since the network covered ARCA just last week. There were also pre-race interviews with pole-sitter Dakoda Armstrong, Steve Arpin, and Brandon McReynolds (son of Larry) before the green flag flew.
As you might remember from last year, I have chastised SPEED for time-shifting these races in the past. This was an issue once again Friday evening. I don’t know what SPEED’s reasoning is for causing the slight tape delay, but it’s very noticeable and irritating to fans trying to follow the race live. You know, as recently as a couple of years ago, a TV network could get away with a small adjustment like this one and no one would even notice. However, the creation of sites like Twitter has been a game-changer; now, any lag, even a minute, means you risk having the race spoiled for your viewers. Friday’s event was televised on a five-minute delay; as a result, I already knew about the race’s big crash from Twitter posts before it showed up on my screen. Weak.
Now, if the networks still really feel the need to tape-delay stuff, they should come up with a setup similar to what ABC (and to a lesser extent, ESPN) used to do for CART races in the late 1990’s. Back then, they would tape-delay races in order to air them at a later time, but they chose to show the race in its entirety. When they would go to a commercial break, the race would effectively pause until the advertisements were over, keeping the viewers from missing a single lap. Having said all that, I would strongly prefer live, non-delayed coverage – but anything would be better than what SPEED gave us Friday night.
As for Schrader’s addition to the show, I was puzzled by his presence. He’s actually pretty good in the booth, but the former Cup driver was never able to contribute all that much to the telecast. Essentially, Parsons was usurping Schrader on a regular basis, keeping him from participating in the conversation on several occasions. Maybe next time, SPEED will make an effort not to underuse him so much.
During the third caution, the network showed a feature on new safety rules instituted recently by ARCA (with the help of Frank Kimmel). At Texas, ARCA mandated the shark fins that NASCAR is now using, hoping they’ll help keep cars planted firmly on the ground. Also of note, the series is actively testing drivers’ Carbon Monoxide levels. Apparently, five random drivers will have to have their levels tested via a finger prick each week. I know NASCAR tests drivers for the same thing (see: Brad Keselowski nearly not being allowed to drive in the Aaron’s 312 on Sunday), but it’s unclear about how they go about their testing. SPEED ran a little short of time and had to cut the feature off in order to show the restart; however, they re-ran the piece in full later in the race. They shouldn’t have needed to show it twice, but it was definitely one of the better stories they’ve done this year.
On the other hand, I’m not really sure why SPEED felt the need to cut into the telecast for an update from Virginia International Raceway (VIR) about Grand-Am qualifying. It seemed out of place, especially since the network didn’t go to VIR for coverage after finishing up at Talladega. In fact, they didn’t show anything from VIR until their live coverage of the Grand-Am race Saturday afternoon.
As for ARCA’s post-race coverage, it was normal enough. There were five post-race interviews (winner Dakoda Armstrong, Tim George, Jr., Patrick Sheltra, Craig Goess, and Grant Enfinger). There were also checks of the unofficial results, along with post-race analysis before SPEED left the air.
I suppose that I really shouldn’t be too critical of SPEED’s ARCA coverage, since the series only has ten races on television this year (as of right now). However, if you’re only going to have ten of your races televised, they should show off your series as much as possible. So far this season, I am not really sure that SPEED’s accomplished that for ARCA. Like I said earlier, these telecasts need to be live: not almost live, actually live. SPEED also needs to do a better job introducing these drivers to the TV audience. A fair amount of viewers of these races don’t know more than maybe a couple of these names when you really get down to it, leaving the network responsible for telling their stories and getting people hooked. It could be argued that Daytona would have been the perfect time to take this step, expecially with Danicamania in full swing. Yes, they could still promote Danica’s first stock car start (and they did), but a little extra time spent on everyone else would have gone a long way towards building momentum for the series beyond that race.
Normally, I would cover the Nationwide telecast from Talladega here. However, due to the threat of severe weather in Alabama on Saturday, the race was moved to Sunday afternoon. This was one of the series’ races scheduled to air on ABC, a potential ratings coup for the second-tier division. But as a result of the race being postponed five hours before the coverage was scheduled to begin, ABC simply repeated Monday’s O’Reilly 300 from Texas Motor Speedway after advising viewers of the situation in Talladega.
Having said that, we trudge onwards to Sunday afternoon, where a doubleheader took place.
First up was the Sprint Cup Series with the Aaron’s 499, aired live on FOX. The theme of the broadcast didn’t take long to figure out, with video footage of ghastly wrecks popping up before Chris Myers even got a chance to speak. Let me tell you, if there is one thing that I actually got sick of coverage-wise during last weekend, it was the constant discussion of crashing. In all honesty, I should have kept a count on how many times I saw a replay of Carl Edwards’ flip into the catchfence last weekend. My estimate is 46, but I don’t really know. All I know is that it was too much.
Pre-race started with the wreck montage, followed by a feature on “The Big One.” Well, I don’t need to explain that one. We know what that is. But what I will say is done right, a feature on a crash can be interesting and not sensational in nature. For example, NASCAR RaceDay’s feature about Bobby Allison’s crash was exceptional, a visual version of what I wrote in my Turning Back the Clock entry last Friday in the Newsletter. However, FOX’s Big One was sensational to the n’th degree; and by Sunday afternoon, after a week of continuous, similar footage I was effectively crashed out. It didn’t help FOX’s case that they devoted an entire feature to the aforementioned Edwards crash from last year later in the show.
The Slice of Pizzi feature saw Chris Pizzi out in the infield at Talladega asking stupid questions to campers this week. I’d argue that the campers put up with Pizzi just like the drivers have so far. The idea is apparently to take drivers (and in this case, fans) out of their comfort zone, but I think it just annoys everyone. Pizzi won’t be on the pre-race show in Richmond on Saturday night, since it will be only a half-hour in length, and I’m hoping it’s not just a one-time thing. FOX needs to ditch this feature for next season, period. I’m fine with Pizzi doing his thing on Cubed (FoxSports.com’s online show that’s part of Lunch With Benefits), despite the constant criticism that the show gets (it’s inappropriate, it objectifies women, they curse, so on and so forth). However, Pizzi’s simply not meant for FOX’s NASCAR Coverage. He needs to go.
There was also a feature on last fall’s debacle, which started the movement that eventually led to the “Have at it, boys” mentality that NASCAR is following now. The feature was far more pertinent than all that talk about wrecking, because the new mentality is one of the main reasons why we saw 88 lead changes on Sunday. It was definitely the highlight of the pre-race show – so why was it buried so deep within it?
Moving on, anyone watching Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 definitely noticed the rather large number of commercials. These breaks didn’t seem shorter than normal, but there were certainly a lot more of them, enough to seriously break up the action on the track for the viewer. Now, I generally don’t comment in these critiques about commercials because that is something that is outside of our control. The TV partners pay what I consider extortion for the rights to televise the races, and they need to make revenue in order to profit. However, in this case I feel that the amount of breaks made it hard at times to follow the race.
Also, I need to clarify something. With 18 laps to go, FOX went to commercial. But leading to that break, Mike Joy said that this would be their final set of commercials for the race. Right then, he should have added the words, “If the race goes green all the way to the end from there.” TV veterans understand that when circumstances changed, the network used “floater” breaks since the race ended up under several extended yellow flags. But as it stands, there were three or four commercial breaks before the race ended, throwing some fans up in arms based on Joy’s comments just prior to the slew of late-race cautions. I’m not personally upset or anything like that, but I understand why it may have thrown some viewers for a loop.
Could FOX have done better in managing their commercial load? I think so. Let’s put it this way: TNT purposefully makes Daytona the only race that they do their “Wide Open Coverage” for a reason. More things happen during commercials at a restrictor plate race than at any other sporting event. That’s where I really wish that advertisers were open to a Side-by-Side setup, so we don’t miss things. Remember, what we now know as Side-by-Side was originally created by Turner Sports for NASCAR telecasts in 2000, under the name “No Brakes Coverage.”
Also, in the critique of this weekend last year, I criticized Darrell Waltrip for displaying favoritism towards his brother Michael. At the time, I said, “[Darrell] Waltrip has to be careful not to cross the line. As an analyst, Darrell must be objective, and simply cannot show favoritism towards his brother. Sure, it’s fine to want him to do well, but he has to watch himself.” My statement remains the same, although the circumstances this year are slightly different. This year, Darrell gushed over Michael simply getting his No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota to lead a lap, shouting “YES!” on-air in a move that interrupted a conversation inside the booth. Considering Sunday’s race, in which 29 drivers led a lap and the lead changed 88 times (officially), it could be argued that being out front for a lap didn’t even matter. I still think Darrell’s conduct in this case was simply inappropriate, though.
The updates regarding the DirecTV Head2Head Knockout also continued on Sunday. I have no clue why they waited so darn long to start that competition; it should have coincided with the actual NCAA Tournament. Instead, it started two weeks after the tournament ended, when people are tired of brackets instead of thrilled by them. I just don’t get it. However, I’m fine with FOX making a $250,000 charitable donation in the name of the winning driver.
Another gripe that I had on Sunday (and this is really with coverage at Talladega in general and not just with FOX) was with the overuse of the rear bumper cams. Viewers cannot really see all that much now, especially with the substantial increase in bumpdrafting in recent years. Also, with the small little cardboard pieces underneath the cameras where sponsor logos were placed no longer in use, it’s very difficult to tell which car the shot is coming from. TV partners should cut down on rear bumper cam usage during plate races in the future.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day from FOX’s broadcast came after the checkered flag. The network gave us the typical five post-race interviews, a check of the point standings, and unofficial results before leaving the air. However, at the end of it all a new wrinkle appeared: FOX effectively sprung additional post-race coverage on SPEED for the viewing public out of the blue.
The extra segment, lasting about 15 minutes, consisted of additional interviews and post-race analysis hosted by Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond in the “Hollywood Hotel.” Of note, the show did not carry the Overdrive name that Fox Sports was throwing around for their online post-race show that was nixed. But the unannounced move clearly appears to be here to stay; FOX owns the SPEED network, and can easily move programming within it around at will. Could this be David Hill’s revenge against Turner Sports? Perhaps; but whatever the reason, NASCAR fans across the board were happy to see the switch.
In all honesty, this move was probably the way to go from the start. It’s good to have the additional coverage, and I’m grateful. My one gripe is simply why FOX couldn’t interview Juan Pablo Montoya on the regular broadcast before the extension on SPEED (he finished third). Someone who finished that high should always be interviewed on the main network before they sign off.
Just 20 minutes after the Sprint Cup Series broadcast ended, ESPN2 came on the air from Talladega to air their broadcast of the Aaron’s 312. There was no NASCAR Countdown coverage due to the late start. Instead, there was simply a recap of the Aaron’s 499 that just finished, then the command to start engines.
Marty Reid, Andy Petree, and Dale Jarrett (back from vacation) were in the booth for ESPN. Dr. Jerry Punch, Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, and Shannon Spake were on pit road. Jamie Little and Vince Welch had the week off.
My thoughts about having Side-by-Side for restrictor plate races are the same with ESPN’s coverage as with FOX’s. We viewers miss a lot of action during these breaks.
Something that I noticed during the telecast was that ESPN spent some time showing us some of the smaller efforts out there, like Chrissy Wallace in the No. 0 for JD Motorsports and Parker Kligerman in the No. 42 for Team 42 Racing. We need to see more of that.
With the wreck on the last lap, I’m not sure that ESPN gave it the type of coverage that it really deserved, knowing just how big it was in scope. You had Dennis Setzer going into the catchfence in Turn 4, and a whole bunch of cars simply torn to pieces. I’m surprised that it got as little coverage as it did. Maybe it was just the fact that Talladega was a rescheduled race, and because of that, everyone wants to get out of there as fast as possible (but do their best while still on air). Also, it should be noted that Marty Reid made a mistake, as the fencing that Setzer’s No. 92 hit wasn’t actually brand new. It looked very similar in design to the old fencing, a system that’s been up in the turns since 1994 (although I seriously doubt that exact fencing has been up that long, since they rust over time).
Considering the rescheduled time slot, post-race coverage was relatively brief. There were six post-race interviews (winner Brad Keselowski, Jason Keller (fourth), Johnny Borneman III (fifth), then three guys involved in wrecks (Stenhouse, Edwards, and McMurray). There was also a check of the point standings, while the unofficial results remained in the scroll during the post-race interviews. In all honesty, I wish ESPN could have caught up with some of the other drivers involved in the big crash, like Dennis Setzer, Kenny Wallace, Scott Wimmer, or Justin Allgaier before leaving the air.
Other than the issue I noted above, though, ‘Dega was a very nice race to watch on TV. There was a lot more usage of radio transmissions on air than normal, both live and taped. The coverage was extensive, and it sort of reminded me of what we saw from ESPN at Talladega in the late 1990’s in that regard. I hope we get more telecasts like this one from them later this season.
That’s all for this week. This weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series move on to Richmond International Raceway. The Nationwide Series races on Friday night in the Bubba Burger 250, while the Sprint Cup Series races in the Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400.
Meanwhile, over in Kansas, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Izod IndyCar Series will be in action. However, there has been a switcheroo for this year. The Izod IndyCar Series will hold the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 on Saturday afternoon, while the Camping World Truck Series’ O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 will go off on Sunday. Last year, it was scheduled to be the reverse (before rains delayed the race to Monday).
Friday, April 30
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Saturday, May 1
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Sunday, May 2
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I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series in next week’s column. I will also cover the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 in next week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex.
Also, stay tuned for this week’s Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter, where I will cover Saturday’s Bosch Engineering 250 and the ITM 400 Hamilton.
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 emails full of rants and vitriol.
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Your comments about DW rooting for his brother reminded me of something. When Waltrip was up front DW couldn’t say enough how well “Michael Waltrip” was doing, but when he started a wreck he became just “the 55 car”.
Mike “ Windbag “ Joy can announce any plan he likes for upcoming commercial breaks , but it isn’t his decision to make .
SPEED doesn’t promote ARCA because SPEED is pretty much owned by NASCAR . The hours and hours of useless NASCAR reality shows are paid for by NASCAR . Infomercials really .
Once again , a perfectly good race ruined by the Three Stooges in the booth . Not to mention the director . They finally start to use wider shots of the cars , but flip from shot to shot like an MTV video . All you have to do is widen out the shots and let us watch the racing . How hard is that to understand ?
Yeah , we were all holding our breath for Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond to give us their brilliant insights at the end . Sure wouldn’t want to miss that .
I can’t exactly put my finger on why , but i really enjoy the combination of Reid , Petree , and Jarrett . Probably because they seem interested in telling us about the race , not about how smart they are , or who they know , or who they used to work for .
Bad commercial placement ruined the flow of the race on Fox. DW has been unprofessional for so long that I can’t even listen to him speak. He is wrong so often in his commentary that it makes no sense at all. I don’t understand why Mike Joy has stopped doing any PXP for the races. The booth just seems to be doing random stream of conciousness stuff, not actually calling the action on the track. Plus the usual terrible camera work by Fox — wide shots, guys, wide shots – let the fans SEE the race, not the bumpers.
ESPN has done a better job of covering the Nationwide races. Marty Reid does a great job and I enjoy it.
I love the bumper cam from time to time, and this is one of the only tracks it really gets much airtime… I never stop being amazed at how these cars run touching each other, so I have no problem with excessive bumper cam use for the plate races.
They should give DW a weekend off, though; he’s clearly uncomfortable at the plate races, hates bump-drafting, and therefore is not what we want in the booth. Can we get Kyle Petty up there, please?
It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they got rid of the bumper cams completely. They don’t really add much. People have seen it tons of times before and it just confuses everyone, especially when you can’t identify the car that the camera is showing.
I honestly beleive that Mike Joy has given up. DW talks so much that he seems to think he can do PXP now. I still beleive Joy is the best in the business at pxp but he has given up on trying to do his job since the other 2 in the booth won’t let him do his job.
Phil said: “as a result, I already knew about the race’s big crash from Twitter posts before it showed up on my screen.”
Dont blame Speed, blame yourself. I DVR the races and I stay off all NASCAR websites while I’m watching the race so I dont get any spoilers.
Also, speaking of Carl’s crash from last year, they’re still using Waltrip’s commentary about Kyle Busch spinning Dale Jr at Richmond (“Oh no, he turned him, no, no no!”) as the audio to describe the accident between Keselowski and Edwards. How odd.
DW, objective? You have to be kidding.I’m totally shocked FOX can’t see just how bad this guy is. I read these different columns on TV coverage and there are so many legitimate and accurate criticisms of DW’s on air skills, which are very poor.Please FOX get DW out of the booth before you drive fans away.