Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday May 11, 2010
Hello, everyone, and welcome to our weekly feature about the motorsports-based programming that is made available for your viewing pleasure. Last weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were both racing at Darlington Raceway. Also this week, I’m going to cover the changes that have been made to NASCAR Smarts for this season and give my thoughts on it.
However, before we get into the races, there are three things that must be covered.
First off, I have a slight correction from last week’s critique. In the Richmond edition, I stated that Allen Bestwick was in the booth for the first time since his hockey injury in 2004. That was not true. Back in 2007, Bestwick served as the play-by-play man for Busch Series standalone races for ESPN (Ex: Nashville, Milwaukee, etc.) in place of Dr. Jerry Punch. I’m sorry about that screw-up.
Also, some TV news has broken in the past week. It appears that Jimmy Spencer’s show, “What’s The Deal?,” has been canceled. The show has been taken off the schedule. and a slightly revamped Monday night sees “Sounds of NASCAR” take its place at 10:30 PM. Truthfully, I was never the biggest fan of the show, but I’m sure that there some fans that will be sad to see it go. It is unclear in what capacity that Spencer will be used on SPEED, but co-host Ray Dunlap will retain his pit road responsibilities for SPEED’s Camping World Truck Series telecasts.
Also, on Monday SPEED announced the creation of a new “Authenticated Broadband Channel,” dubbed SPEED2. SPEED2 will be available to anyone who can currently receive regular SPEED at home. It will carry live programming, and video-on-demand programming as well. Currently confirmed to be included on the channel will be coverage of DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), the British Touring Car Championship, the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring, Formula Two, and more. In addition, shows that have been pushed off of the network in recent years, like Behind the Headlights, Victory by Design, and Motorsports Mundial, will be available for viewing. SPEED plans to beta test the channel next month, with a full launch scheduled for July.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think that this move is great for motorsports. People can enjoy overseas racing more often without having to wait until January to watch at odd hours, and there’ll be a wider, more diverse amount of programming available for fans of racing of all types.
Moving on, let’s get into the actual critique for this week.
As you may remember from when I looked at the show last season, NASCAR Smarts, now in its second year, was brought in to replace Tradin’ Paint, a show where Kyle Petty went toe-to-toe against a guest writer of the week in a highly opinionated program. Kyle Petty was retained, but thrown into a trivia show with a format that seemed to change every week.
This year, the setup of the show is similar, but there have been a couple of changes. The most notable of these changes is that fans are no longer paired up with the SPEED personalities (Kyle and Rutledge, typically). Now, it is the two fans up against Kyle and Rutledge (or, in the case of last weekend, Rutledge and Hermie). I’m not really sure if this makes the show any better, to be honest. It just means that the SPEED personalities don’t get to snipe at each other anymore. Kyle Petty has told me in the past, hanging out with himself and Rutledge is part of the fun of the show, but I still feel like this element has been squashed a little bit.
Also, the Media Center segment with clips from drivers was scrapped last year. This change is a good thing. It was replaced with a “Mystery Driver” segment, where a silhouette of a driver is shown, along with a couple of facts about that driver. Contestants must guess who the driver is for 30 points. This is OK – certainly better than what it replaced. In the Lightning round, the number of questions has also been reduced from ten to eight. It’s a slight adjustment, but not necessarily for the better.
Finally, the White Flag Question is no longer based upon a fan poll. It could be argued that doing it based on fan response was unfair to the show participants. Now, it is more like a normal Final Jeopardy. Each team gets a different question to answer, and they wager points before the question is asked.
To be really honest with you guys, this show just does not capture my attention. It comes off as being quite boring to me, and this is coming from someone who is a history and trivia nut. It’s even more surprising considering shows with audience participation are the ones that work best on the SPEED Stage. Even the detestable Fast Track to Fame might work better on the SPEED Stage than NASCAR Smarts does. But as I’ve watched the series unfold, I’ve found a show like NASCAR Smarts is hurt by audience participation, because they could do things like give away answers. Game shows in general just work better in studios as compared to on a portable stage. I don’t think that this show is going to see 2011, mainly because very few people watch it at the track. I’m not sure what the show’s ratings are like, but they’re probably not stellar.
Royal Purple 200
On Friday night, the Nationwide Series held the Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway. Coverage was provided by ESPN2 with Marty Reid, Rusty Wallace, and Andy Petree in the broadcast booth. Dave Burns, Dr. Jerry Punch, and Jamie Little were on pit road.
NASCAR Countdown was a typical Friday night affair. There were five interviews during the show, and plenty of pre-race analysis from the Infield Studio. There was also a brief update on Larry Pearson’s condition after his massive hit during March’s Scotts EZ Seed Showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway. Granted, the mention was actually a teaser to a sit-down conservation with Dr. Jerry Punch that will air Wednesday on NASCAR Now’s “Wayback Wednesdays,” but it was still nice to see how Larry is doing. Additional features included a brief montage of quotes from drivers about driving at Darlington, and a Craftsman Tech Garage feature about hitting the wall and the effects that can result from it.
Also of note, ESPN made a slightly unusual choice for their In-Race Reporter on Friday night. Most of the time these days, ESPN will have one of the double-duty drivers serve in the role. Friday night, they had Jason Keller take over, which I found interesting. The selection also comes with an in-car camera, the first time that a TriStar Motorsports car carried one since 1996. It appears that ESPN is finally on board with the idea of trying to promote the series’ standalone drivers better, which is great to see.
The race coverage that we were provided was quite good. There was a lot of enthusiasm in the broadcast booth, and I’m happy to see that. However, I think that there was a little too much focus on the Gibbs teammates (Hamlin and Busch) that dominated the race.
Split-screen usage was up this week, allowing fans to see multiple races for position on the telecast. I still do not know why we cannot get replays in a split-screen, like what SPEED has done in the past for Camping World Truck Series races.
With the nine cautions on Friday night, post-race coverage was relatively short. Still, ESPN did give fans a decent amount of coverage in the time that they had. There were interviews with the winning crew chief (Kevin Kidd), as well as the top-5 finishers (Hamlin, Busch, McMurray, Kahne and Leffler).
Overall, this was a fairly good telecast to watch. ESPN has raised their game this season and is finally producing a good final product. However, the shuffling of personalities around this season seems to be a lot more frequent than usual. As a result, when Sprint Cup returns to the ESPN family of networks in July, the primary crew might not have as much time together as they have in the past. Hopefully, time apart won’t become an issue.
Showtime Southern 500
Finally, we come to the Sprint Cup Series’ Showtime Southern 500 on Saturday night. Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, and Larry McReynolds had the call in the booth for FOX. Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Dick Berggren, and Matt Yocum were on pit road.
Pre-race coverage was standard fare for a shortened show. There was no “A Slice of Pizzi” feature, like I mentioned would be the case last week, thankfully. There was the typical amount of analysis from the Hollywood Hotel with Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond, and Darrell Waltrip. There was discussion of the matchups for the DirecTV Head2Head Knockout, which was in the Final Four last weekend. I’m already on the record as not really caring about it, but they have to justify it, I guess. This week also resulted in a new caveat in regards to the Head2Head drivers during the race. In the scroll, FOX highlighted those drivers still in the competition by putting a blue background around their name at certain times during the race, similar to what ESPN does in the run up to, and during the Chase.
I know that Saturday’s pre-race coverage resulted in the live coverage of Yankees-Red Sox being moved to FX at 7:00pm EDT. However, I think that FOX was reminding us of that way too much. Living here in the Northeast, basically equidistant from the two cities means that I put up with Yankees-Red Sox stupidity year-round. I’ll admit to being a baseball fan, but I stay out of that rivalry. I swear, though, that we couldn’t go two minutes without seeing some kind of update on the game. Why? I don’t think there is a whole lot of carryover fan-wise between baseball and NASCAR.
Early on in the race, there was some discussion on our Live Blog that FOX wasn’t making any reference to the fact that Showtime was sponsoring the race. I paid special attention to this during a rewatch of the race and discovered that they did make reference to the race’s name, as per the TV contract. However, the terms of the deal involving race name mentioning strikes me as weird. I think that getting your race’s full name mentioned on-air more than once an hour should be included in the cost of buying the title sponsorship for the race.
I don’t know why, but it appears that as time goes by, Mike Joy seems to give himself a lesser role on the broadcasts and allows Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds to take center stage. Admittedly, they are more well-known (PL, at least Darrell is considered to be more well-known) than Mike, but Darrell and Larry are officially considered to be analysts, not play-by-play commentators. I feel that Darrell oversteps his bounds from time to time in the booth. Mike had said on the record that if Darrell or Larry are in the middle of something, he will generally let them finish their thought before jumping in. This is polite and all, but at times, it is not necessarily the best strategy.
I liked the looks back through the field that FOX did Saturday night, something that has been done a couple of times this year during long runs. It doesn’t have a fancy title like TNT does with “Through the Field” or ESPN with “Up to Speed,” nor does it really involve the pit reporters very much, but it gets the job done. It reminds me more of what ESPN used to do in the 1990’s during long runs, where they would just look back through the field and Jenkins and the gang in the booth would talk about drivers whenever the camera got back to them.
Since the race ended a little late, there was very little time for post-race coverage. A clear cut sign of cutting things short is when FOX shows the courtesy screen of backers before airing any interviews. FOX did end up talking with winner Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, and Kurt Busch, as well as going through the unofficial results and the point standings before leaving the air. There was no additional post-race coverage on SPEED due to live coverage of AMA Supercross from Las Vegas on Saturday night, so what was listed above was all the post-race coverage that fans got.
When I watch a FOX broadcast, there is just simply a different feel to them as opposed to anything from ESPN, SPEED or TNT. It’s not that it isn’t professional, although I do admit that the “Boogitys” get on my nerves from time to time. There’s just something I don’t like about what FOX is putting out this season. It’s probably too late to see any noticeable changes in their coverage for this season, since they have only two more point races to cover, along with the Sprint All-Star Race on May 22nd. Hopefully for next year, there are some changes made to the overall feel of the broadcast in order to bring it back to a more traditional one. No one needs to be replaced or moved around for that to happen, but perhaps a new thought process for the broadcasts is needed.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, all three of NASCAR’s major series are back in action at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. The Camping World Truck Series races Friday evening, while the Nationwide Series is scheduled to go on Saturday afternoon. Finally, the Sprint Cup Series will race Sunday afternoon. In addition, the Formula One World Championship will be in Monte Carlo for the glitzy Grand Prix of Monaco.
But first, today is the Grand Opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. SPEED will be there to provide live coverage of the opening.
Tuesday, May 11
Thursday, May 13
Friday, May 14
Saturday, May 15
Sunday, May 16
I will provide critiques of all three NASCAR races from Dover in next week’s Newsletter. Believe me, there will be a rant about tape-delaying the Truck telecast in there. I currently do not plan on covering Monaco in a critique. For this week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex, I will be covering Wind Tunnel, A SPEED favorite, with a look at NASCAR Victory Lane scheduled for next Thursday.
Editor’s Note: The Annex can be found inside our free newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. And if you would like to contact ESPN, or the SPEED Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage of NASCAR, please click on the following links:
As always, if you choose to contact the networks by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
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The Nationwide race was very well done . Andy Petree is what an analyst is all about . He knows his stuff , but doesn’t feel the constant need to be the whole show . I miss Dale Jarrett for the same reason .
Mike Joy is staying in the background because Mike Joy does not take criticism well . He reads the reviews , he reads the blogs , he knows how hated the fox broadcasts are . His response is to stay in the background , then he can let the others take the blame for the poor quality of the shows .
Only a few more weeks and we’ll be rid of of fox for the rest of the season . Then we’ll get to see more cars on screen than just the handfull of fox faves .
I have a feeling that the viewership for all of these stupid nascar themed shows is the 30 or so unfortunate looking hicks that stand in front of the stage cheering wildly and holding up signs that were handed to them by the shows’ producers . Because i sure haven’t noticed any “ smarts “ on any of the shows .
I think the SPEED 2 channel will be no different than the original . Lots of Monster Truck racing and infomercials . SPEED doesn’t have the budget or the interest in actually broacasting races , so they will broadcast races produced by others , and 75% of each show will be commercials . Which is exactly what SPEED does now .
I like fox television but I would like to see some changes made to coverage of the NACSAR race, I being a retired person have seen a change over a lot of people, They want to glamorize there selves and DW does this better than anybody that I have ever seen. At one time he was one of my favorite drivers but not ant more. Dump him!!! this a view of many people that I know. We are tired of hearing about how grate he was and how grate his brother is, and how grate Toyota is.(Shouldn’t be there anyway) We get tired of him beating his own drum, Lets get back to raceing.
I’m not sure why Mike Joy has decided to take a backseat to DW and Larry in the booth. I think this is a huge mistake and is, along with the absolutely terrible camera work, the reason why people find it difficult to enjoy the Fox broadcast. I think we should send Mike a roll of duct tape to use at his discretion or permission to tell DW & Larry to just shut up.
If they want to get people to watch the races on TV or inspire them to buy a ticket to see the race, then TV needs to SHOW and call the race to get people interested. This drivel, IMO, is driving people away from the sport.
Most of the people that I know listen to PRN/MRN and watch, not listen to FOX.
DUMP DW, THEN WE MIGHTHEAR SOMETHING BESIDES HOW GREAT HIM AND MIKEY ARE. everytime dw opens his mouth we already know what is about to come. mike joy probably keeps quiet because he doesnt want to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person, such being DW. thank god fox is about done for the season.
Thanks for mentioning the insipid ‘Fast Track To Fame’. That show is terrible! Who watches it? Speed went and cancelled TWIN and replaced it with rehashes of last week’s race, and lame (lack of) talent shows. Why??? These shows are useless.
And speaking of terrible, can anyone explain to me what Napa was thinking when they had Martin Truex ‘sing’ in their new commercials? Those are terrible, and I won’t shop at Napa because of it (and I’m one of those who actually think Michael Waltrip is entertaining, though sometimes a little over the top). I don’t need to see two middle-aged men singing about their crew chief fantasies in a Napa commercial. Nope. Don’t need that at all.
I don’t find the Fox coverage to be horrible. Last year, it was clearly superior to ESPN/ABC’s coverage.
But, you’re right that it’s a bit off this year. Like there’s something missing, it seems. I agree that DW gets excessive, and the failure to rein him in is probably the main problem with Fox’s coverage. Mike Joy is good, and I really like Larry McReynolds’ insights.
Sick of DW and his man love for Kyle Busch. His voice cracks like he is about to cry when he talks about Kyle. I think that is because so many people compare KB’s driving to DW’s. But he goes to far over board. on him like their isn’t 41 other drivers out there. DUMP DW
Love your articles. One thing—-I am in the mtn time zone and getting up at 5:00AM sunday to watch the F1 race sucks. I wish Speed would tape delay to at least 8:00 am mst. It is obvious DW is partial to toyotas and with their problems, I don`t think it`s smart right now. Thanks
Thanks for the opportunity to voice my opinion. IMO, DW needs to be drop kicked off the air. For one, his “boogity” remark before the flag drops is ridiculous, the same can be said for McReynolds’ remarks. Why are they allowed? Second, DW had some talent, but what talent he had was in the car…..not behind a mic. If he would shut up and let the people who have a clue talk, the broadcast MIGHT not be so bad.
Last week, when I saw the three stooges in the booth for their pre-race garbage, all I could think was “Jelly-Bellies”. I am constantly reminded of the characters in the old Bob Newhart Show and their entrance line.
‘Hi! My name is Larry. This is my brother Darrell, and my other brother Darrell.’
Can they ‘Crank It Up’ for the whole race?
Hello, guys and gals. Got some responses for you this week.
Michael, my overall goal with the critiques is to make it so that fans don’t have to mute the broadcasts and listen on MRN. It’s on a low-power AM station here, so a regular clock radio won’t work that well. Besides, if I did that, I wouldn’t be doing my job.
Mike in SoCal, your comment reminds me of a commercial discussion we had during Mirror Driving last week. The NAPA Know How commercials are a bit annoying, but they are memorable. Even though you don’t like them, they’ll stick with you for quite a while after they stop airing them.
Jim, there usually is a replay of the race somewhere between 1-3pm EDT on Sunday, depending on whether there is a live race or not.
Finally, phraint, the best answer I can give as to why FOX allows McReynolds and Waltrip to do their thing before races is that it’s become routine now. Darrell said on his Twitter page a few days ago that Darlington was the first race that he used his refrain back in 2001. That was the 5th race of the year back then. Now, it’s beyond passe after being done over 150 times. I’d say dump it, but Darrell has the copyright and can do whatever he wants with it.
I believe that FOX could care less about the product they provide. After all, this is the same network that provides a Sunday night cartoon marathon. As long as they can keep pumping out the commercial time, screw the “fans”. Quality is not their mission.