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 · Tuesday May 4, 2010
Hello, race fans. It’s time for Frontstretch’s weekly look at the TV telecasts we watch. This past weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were both at Richmond International Raceway near Richmond, Virginia. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series paired up with the Izod IndyCar Series at Kansas Speedway. The Izod IndyCar Series race will be covered on Thursday in the Critic’s Annex, only in the Frontstretch Newsletter.
However, before I start, I just want to make reference to something that happened during practice coverage on SPEED Friday. The discussion in the broadcast booth was about various pseudonyms that Tony Stewart has either been referred to as in ads, or actually raced under. Some confusion started about the name “Smoke Johnson.” Eventually, none other than our own John Potts was able to email Larry Mac and give him an explanation – one that he then turned around and paraphrased live, on-air, to the audience.
I find this interesting only because it gives some kind of an idea of what commentators can do in the booth during actual sessions. In addition to commentating on the on-track action, they do check e-mails on laptops or mobile devices. Those people luckily enough to have one of the commentators’ e-mail addresses (which there, unfortunately, are not a lot of) can potentially help broadcasts.
But all fans, to a reasonable degree, should be able to get involved with the race broadcasts. When FOX first started covering NASCAR, they had poll questions for the fans where they could either go to FoxSports.com and vote, or use a Cingular (now AT&T) cell phone by texting 191.
Last year, FOX gave the fans the opportunity to e-mail questions to an Answer Guy at FoxSports.com. This had no impact upon the telecasts themselves (other than a little promotion during them). TNN in the mid-1990’s used to have a call-in line where fans could ask questions. That type of thing could be done via e-mails, or even tweets. I’ve referenced the fact that FOX’s NASCAR coverage does, in fact, have a Twitter feed. I’d suggest that they make use of it and encourage fans to send them tweets and/or e-mails for use during the broadcast. Heck, ESPN already does with their fan-submitted questions for their In-Race Reporter.
With all that said, on to the critiques:
Bubba Burger 250
On Friday night, the Nationwide Series ran their first race of the year at Richmond International Raceway, the Bubba Burger 250. ESPN2 provided the coverage. The most notable thing about this coverage was with the shakeup of on-air personalities. Normal play-by-play announcer Marty Reid was in Kansas to provide commentary for the Izod IndyCar Series’ Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, which aired on Saturday afternoon. As a result, Allen Bestwick, normally the grandmaster of the Infield Studio, filled in the booth. It was the first time that Bestwick called a Nationwide Series race in the booth since 2004 (before the unfortunate broken leg). Bestwick was joined there by Rusty Wallace (in place of a vacationing Dale Jarrett) and Andy Petree. The shift left another opening in the Infield Studio, which was filled by Nicole Briscoe.
Jamie Little and Vince Welch, in addition to their roles as pit reporters on ESPN’s NASCAR coverage, also serve in a similar capacity for ESPN’s five Izod IndyCar Series races on ABC. So, they were absent for the weekend. Mike Massaro served as a fill-in, leaving ESPN with only three pit reporters for the night. Shannon Spake served as host of NASCAR Now last week, and likely didn’t have the proper prep time that I revealed in last year’s behind-the-scenes piece (remember, covering these races is a seven day-a-week job).
NASCAR Countdown included a montage of the wrecks involving Roush Fenway Racing’s three drivers (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Carl Edwards, and the now-benched Colin Braun), with some discussion about how the team can improve. Wallace shares the opinion of a lot of us here at Frontstretch that the current testing ban is ridiculous and hurts the sport in general. It’s good to see that someone doesn’t think that this move is benefiting the sport and also not saving money. The larger teams couldn’t save any money if their lives depended on it. Sure, they could make cuts, but they’d spend more somewhere else to make up for it. Pre-race also included four driver interviews and the now-standard recap of the race at Talladega.
Race coverage was actually not all bad on Friday night. There was plenty of action on the track, and ESPN made a point to show as much of it as possible, which is definitely good to see. There was some especially good camera work in showing Mike Wallace’s rear end disintegrating on the restart from the first caution. As a result of the failure, part of Wallace’s driveshaft broke and rear-end grease coated the track. Andy Petree claimed that he hadn’t seen that in quite awhile, if ever. It’s a new one for me, to be honest.
Allen Bestwick has a different style in the booth as compared to Marty Reid. By no means is it inappropriate, but just different. I’m fine with it (Bestwick is apparently scheduled to do four more races in the booth when Reid has conflicts), but it will take a little getting used to. For example, Bestwick is not quite as vigilant as Reid is in pointing out those who have gone to the garage. He’ll mention them, but not as quickly as Marty would. Bestwick’s strength is in directing traffic. Anyone who was a regular viewer of Inside Winston Cup on Speedvision/SPEED when Johnny Benson, Ken Schrader, and Michael Waltrip served as the driver panel would know what I mean here. Those same qualities come to light in the Infield Studio with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. In the booth, Bestwick effectively directed Rusty and Andy around the telecast, and it came out nicely. We didn’t see anyone try to “take over the broadcast,” or anything like that.
I also liked the Up to Speed segment where ESPN covered everyone on the lead lap from Laps 152-166 (at the time, there were 16 cars on the lead lap). I generally think that ESPN has upped their game this year, and that’s good to see. Last year was a bit of a mess, and 2007 and 2008 were effectively spent shuffling people around in order to find a group that would mesh well. But in 2010, they’ve definitely hit on something.
Post-race coverage was typical of what we’ve seen so far this season. There were interviews with five drivers and the winning crew chief (Paul Wolfe). The unofficial results ran in the scroll during those interviews. There was also a check of the unofficial point standings, and a reminder of how you can buy tickets to any of the next ten Nationwide events (I still think that $50 GA tickets for Road America is quite steep…)
Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400
On Saturday night, FOX brought us coverage of the Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400, that great race in which Crown Royal gives one contest winner the opportunity to have the race named after themselves (this year’s recipient is a double amputee who competes in the Paralympics). As was the case back at Phoenix three weeks ago, there was only a half-hour pre-race show on FOX as opposed to the full hour we normally get. Of course, a half-hour is still more than enough knowing that prior to that half-hour, there are still the two hours of NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot on SPEED…
The Pre-Race Show consisted of the usual features that would show up in a shortened pre-race production (interviews, analysis with Myers, Hammond and Waltrip in the Hollywood Hotel, Gas-N-Go, etc.). Pizzi didn’t make an appearance, and likely won’t return until Dover in two weeks. There was also a fairly interesting one-on-one segment featuring Kasey Kahne and Darrell Waltrip. This was put together mainly because Kahne was running the Budweiser throwback scheme that was designed to commemorate not Darrell Waltrip’s championship in 1985 (although it was while running that scheme), but Junior Johnson’s election to the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Because of the scheme, it seemed like Waltrip was trying to butt in on the fun, which is not really all that nice.
I’ll admit right here that I liked the throwback paint scheme and wish that older schemes could be used more often. However, Vito Pugliese already wrote an article this season about potential throwback schemes that could be used this year a few weeks back, so I won’t pre-empt him. On a side note, this scheme led to some discussion about Earnhardt Jr.‘s No. 3 for Daytona in our Live Blog, where I mentioned that it is based on the scheme Earnhardt ran in 1981 for Rod Osterlund, J.D. Stacy (after he bought Osterlund’s No. 2), and for Childress after Earnhardt couldn’t put up with Stacy. As a result, it technically has the wrong number font and is, thus, inaccurate. Of course, accuracy of re-creations is a whole ‘nother article altogether…
There was also a brief montage of the on-track incidents of recent weeks involving Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, which also included radio and interview quotes. This is overblown, but I can understand why FOX felt the need to cover it again.
With the race coverage, FOX tended to focus on front-running cars. As a result, fans never really got to see certain drivers moving their way up through the field. For example, Marcos Ambrose slowly moved up the order during the race from his 20th starting position, but never really got a mention on television until the last quarter of the race.
The infamous controversy of showing debris also reared its ugly head once again Saturday night. After a round of green flag pit stops early on in the race, only nine cars remained on the lead lap. Jimmie Johnson, running in ninth, was fighting with leader Kyle Busch to stay on the lead lap. Just as Busch got a fender in front of Johnson, the caution came out for debris. No one ever found that debris and showed it to us. Now, it could be assumed that there was none, meaning that the whole yellow was a sham. Maybe there was some, but they never found it. I don’t know how many cameras FOX had at Richmond last weekend (a bunch, obviously), but they probably should have been able to pick up something. Or, at the very least, notify the audience that you cannot find the debris.
FOX often talked about the “Richmond Break-Down” during the broadcast as a blanket term for brake study. However, there were no brake cams in use on Saturday night (or Friday night, for that matter). Has BSI soured on brake cams after MWR’s trick rotors at New Hampshire last year?
I still wonder about the point of FOX’s Crank It Up segment, which has been a feature of the broadcasts since 2001 but I, personally, have never really cared for. Does it always have to be right after a restart, when there’s plenty of good action for position? Why not put it in the middle of a green-flag run? Also, you could just use the regular cameras instead of cycling through a series of in-car shots.
Another gripe, albeit minor, involves the in-car cameras that FOX uses. I guess I could just assume which cars have them, but FOX does not display who does anymore at the beginning of races. You just figure it out as you go. I don’t like this procedure, to be honest, and believe that the cars that have them should be acknowledged in some way before the race begins.
Post-race coverage on FOX was relatively brief due to the fact that they were extremely close to the end of their timeslot. As a result, there were interviews with only the top four finishers (Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, and Jeff Burton). There was also a check of the unofficial results and the point standings, but there was not a lot of discussion of the fact that Harvick took the points lead over Johnson as a result of his third-place finish.
The extension of post-race coverage on SPEED returned again Saturday night. This coverage featured some more post-race analysis, a second check of the points, and interviews with Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson. Of course, FOX and SPEED also failed to promote this switch again. I think that it’s a good idea to have this extension to the post-race coverage on SPEED if you can’t have it on FOX proper, or online, but you have to promote it. Reference it multiple times on air, and on SPEED programming as well. Your Twitter feed could also be used to advertise the transition. Maybe it’s too late to institute these methods of promoting this additional post-race programming this year, but I’d strongly recommend doing it for next year’s 13-race slate. As it stands, the extra post-race coverage from Talladega got a .3 in the Nielsen ratings. It was a 50 percent increase over the programming that was airing on SPEED at the time (a first-run AMA Supercross Lites race).
O’Reilly Auto Parts 250
On Sunday, the Camping World Truck Series raced in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway. SPEED provided the TV coverage with Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, and Michael Waltrip in the broadcast booth. Adam Alexander and Ray Dunlap worked pit road.
Due to the Sprint Cup Series being in Richmond on Saturday night, Krista Voda did not make the trip to Kansas. As a result, Rick Allen hosted NCWTS Setup from the broadcast booth. This resulted in a different feel for pre-race coverage, but it worked out just fine. The Setup started off with a recap of the first four races of the year, mainly because NASCAR has the infinite wisdom to spread the first five races of the year over 12 weeks. It had been a month since the truck teams had been at the track.
The Setup also included a nice feature about Brett Butler (and to a lesser extent, his brother, Ken III) and their company, Alpha Dog Training in Georgia. It can be viewed online at this link. Butler talked about training stray and shelter dogs so that they could be adopted by families, and about how they train drug sniffing dogs for law enforcement. Here, Brett was shown mixing together a batch of fake drugs to hide in a locker and have the trainee find. He quipped that NASCAR was going to randomly drug test him every week once it airs, which was a little funny.
Another feature had Rick Allen and Ray Dunlap tagging along with a group of drivers on a flight aboard “Fat Albert,” the transport plane for the Blue Angels that provided the flyover prior to the race. This started with a quick briefing on what was going to happen, then up into the plane. Most of the footage on the plane consisted of reaction shots of Dunlap and Allen, mainly since it’s… kinda dangerous to have a cameraman standing up and not bracing him/herself on something while the plane is turned at a 60 degree bank. I can understand that. It definitely seems like Rick liked it, but Ray? Not so much. Maybe it was Ray’s somewhat uncomfortable-looking seating arrangement. I will admit that I could have done without Rick’s Fat Albert impression. If I want to hear that, I’ll watch Family Guy or something else (I will admit that even though it wasn’t bad, SPEED is simply not the place for it).
Race coverage was pretty good, with lots of enthusiasm to go around. Of course, the on-track action helped to make that possible. There was plenty of competition for position throughout the race. Also of note, SPEED’s commentators seem to talk about the action at Kansas a little differently than the commentators on ESPN do. There was a lot of reference to side-by-side action in past races and close competition. To someone who may have only seen Sprint Cup races at the track in the past, this might come off as a foreign concept, knowing what Sprint Cup races at Kansas Speedway have been like over the past few years.
As you probably have heard by now, the race ended up being red-flagged for a little over a hour and a half due to a thunderstorm that drenched the track with heavy rain and marble-sized hail. During this delay, SPEED had a little fun. Ray Dunlap spent part of the time skipping around in the rain like he was Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz (again). I only say again because he ended up dressing up like Dorothy for Halloween at Talladega back in 2008. Pretty silly-looking, to be honest. The rest of the time was mainly spent doing interviews and discussing the race, which I’m fine with. They also took the time to replay the Fat Albert feature from the pre-race show right before the drivers were called back to their trucks.
After the rain, there was the epic battle for the win between Sauter and Hornaday. Hornaday had to come from the back of the lead lap to challenge Sauter, and they almost wrecked each other in the process while trying to avoid lapped traffic. SPEED seemingly couldn’t get enough of it, even showing a series of full-screen still shots from their replays. This was definitely not necessary, and I hope that SPEED doesn’t do it again. Especially since when they were showing these still shots, there were still five or so laps to go in the race and there were still battles on track for position. As far as I’m concerned, if they really wanted to do that oh so bad, it could have waited until after the race.
Post-race coverage, due to the overall length of the broadcast, was quite brief. There were interviews with the top 3 finishers (Johnny Sauter, Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Todd Bodine), a check of the unofficial results, and a check of the points before SPEED left the air. That happens when a race is over an hour overtime, so I’ll live with that.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend sees even more night racing. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be racing at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. The Nationwide Series races Friday night in the Royal Purple 200, while the Sprint Cup Series races Saturday night in the Showtime Southern 500.
On Sunday, SPEED will air tape-delayed coverage of Round 5 (Races 9 and 10) of the Australian V8 Supercar Championship, the City of Ipswich 300, from this past weekend at Queensland Raceway in Ipswich, Queensland. If you’re wondering, the now-infamous wreck involving that Mini that cart-wheeled over a tire barrier, through a chain-link fence and into a spectator area actually occurred during a support race for this event.
Weekend Racing Schedule
Saturday, May 8
Sunday, May 9
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in next week’s critique. The City of Ipswich 300 will also be covered. With the overall lack of motorsports on television next weekend, the Critic’s Annex will take a second look at NASCAR Smarts. There have been some changes since the last time I wrote about the show, and I will cover them there.
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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The crank it up segment has always been used as a way for the fans to enjoy the sounds of race cars ( the real reason many people are race fans to begin with ) without the droning voices of the three stooges . I have to say , it is refreshing to hear those clowns shut up , if only for a minute or two . If only they could use one particular in car camera and mic on each re-start and let the fans hear what the driver hears going up through the gears without the yammering of the booth . Wishfull thinking i’m sure .
Don’t worry about that, Mark. I fully intend to watch the Spanish Grand Prix. I’ve been watching F1 since 1993 (with a break at the beginning of 2001 since the series went exclusive to then-Speedvision, a channel I didn’t get at the time).
Nascar Talk on Fox Gosh I thought I was the only one! I was really getting tired of that whole crew not paying any attn to the rest of the field and how they were moving up and back and mixing it up. why do you think we run 43 cars and attempt to put 43 SPONSORS on the cars. If you dont feature ALL the cars and drivers the fans dont get the actions of their drivers (Im an AJ fan #43)and the other sponsons have paid good money to get their product on TV.
Fox has become a total joke as far as Cup coverage. Bad camera work and the booth monkeys who have NO idea how to present the race to the fans. Note to DW — it’s NOT all about you.
The ESPN coverage of the Nationwide race on the other hand was very good and I enjoyed watching the race. Hope they can keep it up when they take ove the Cup series in July cuz if not, the sunny summer days will call my name and I will not be inside watching the “race to the chase”. Just cover the race, its why I tune in.
I normally keep quiet about the race broadcasts because they are what they are. However, I cannot hold my tongue on the efforts from Saturday night. At the beginning of the race I noticed several cars were smoking going into turns 1 and 3. I’m not sure why, it might have been the brake material or it might have been the way the tires were reacting to the heavy braking. Whatever the case, it occured all night and didn’t get more or less pronounced as the event unfolded. For some reason, around the 3/4 point of the race, DW and crew suddenly noticed this phenomenon behind Kyle Busch’s car. Speculation ran rampant about a potential disaster for the No. 18 the rest of the evening. They completely ignored the other 10-12 cars who were doing the exact same thing. I realize that the announcers watch the track as well as the broadcast, but when something was so obvious throughout the event I cannot understand how they only noticed it after 300 laps and refused to acknowledge it was occuring on any other cars. Somebody should have gotten in their ears and told them what was happening the whole race.
Thanks for listening to me bitch.
Of course it’s not ALL about DW. It’s about Michael too!
GET RID OF BOTH OF THE WALTHRIPS…THEY BOTH STINK OF COMMENTATORS…
I have no idea Speed is doing post-race show for Fox, does it airing the show immediately following the end of Cup Race?
Also, I don’t like that “Pizzi” show at all, I hope that show never returns because I don’t any quality of that show exist. It is not funny to me at all.
Christine, the post-post race show on SPEED that I mentioned is a recent creation by Nascar on Fox, likely because of the snub they recently received when they tried to launch an online post-race show called The Overdrive. It comes on SPEED approximately 1-2 minutes after the coverage on FOX ends.
And, Christine, you have proven my point about how FOX needs to promote this more. Thank you.
If all Waltrips and Wallaces were banned from TV, the world would be a much better place.
Mike I also noticed the smoke from numerous cars Sat. Night, they made a big deal out of it at Martinsville, but said next to nothing Sat. Everyweek they tell us loose and tight and about the lucky dog and wave around, stuff the most can figure out if they watch more then a week or two, but something that might actually interest someone, not a word. Go figure.
It’s because it’s all about them, not the race. Isn’t it funny how you never see ‘Ole DW out among the fans anymore? Not showing your face is probably cheaper than a huge security force.