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.
TV Critique · Phil Allaway · Tuesday May 18, 2010
Hello, race fans and welcome to my weekly TV critique. This past weekend, the three top NASCAR series were all in Dover, Delaware for a tripleheader. The Camping World Truck Series raced Friday evening in the Dover 200 presented by Polaris (but presented on SPEED by Pep Boys). The Nationwide Series raced Saturday afternoon in the Heluva Good! 200, and the Sprint Cup Series raced Sunday afternoon in the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey’s Milk and Milkshakes.
However, before I start…
Sunday morning was the Grand Prix of Monaco for Formula One, arguably the most famous race on their World Championship calendar. Fans of the series are well versed on the fact that Monaco is the slowest street course, despite improvements that have boosted the average lap speed over 100 mph in recent years (as recently as the late 1990’s, it was hovering around 92 mph in all-out qualifying trim). That means 78 laps of the tight Circuit de Monte Carlo can take up most of the two-hour time limit.
But SPEED didn’t study up on their history. They allotted approximately one hour and 50 minutes for the actual race to be run before going off to NASCAR RaceDay in Dover at 10 AM sharp. Not surprisingly, with the typical wrecks and Safety Cars (Formula One’s equivalent of a full course caution), the race finished just five minutes before 10. Normally, SPEED would air the podium ceremonies, fit in some commercials, show the post-race press conference, then wrap up the telecast with some closing analysis. Here, they took a commercial break after the checkers flew, then came back with a replay of Michael Schumacher’s controversial pass of Fernando Alonso on the run to the checkered flag while technically still under the Safety Car (more to come here, for sure). There was a quick shot of Mark Webber accepting the winner’s trophy in the Royal Box, then a check of the unofficial results and the point standings before SPEED went to Dover. No interviews, no extensive commentary … just a scramble to get to stock cars as quickly as possible.
Now, we all know that NASCAR is a big draw for SPEED. Also, I don’t know what a live Formula One Grand Prix brings in ratings-wise. All I know is they did fairly well with the recent tape-delayed telecasts a few years back on CBS, which brought in about a 1.1 – the same number you’d get for a Nationwide race these days. FOX’s delayed coverage over the past few years has also done well.
With that much of an audience, the fans who get up at the butt crack of dawn, and in some cases earlier than that, to watch SPEED’s Formula One broadcasts deserve better. What’s worse is there does not appear to be any replays of the race on the schedule, which is quite unusual. To his credit, at least SPEED’s Bob Varsha notified fans that post-race coverage would be on the SPEED Report at 7 PM and on Formula 1 Debrief, which doesn’t air until the Turkish Grand Prix weekend in two weeks. However, that is still not enough. I do not understand why SPEED couldn’t hold off on NASCAR RaceDay for a few minutes, especially since it’s a two-hour program, so that they could properly finish off their coverage from Monaco. Favoring a pre-race show over live coverage is really sad, no matter how you look at it.
SPEED, don’t do that again.
First up is the Camping World Truck Series’ Dover 200 presented by Polaris from Friday evening. Of course, Polaris as a presenting sponsor was only mentioned during NCWTS Setup by Krista Voda in one of those “blink and you missed it” moments. Instead, Pep Boys Auto served as a presenting sponsor of SPEED’s broadcast. The usual crew of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, and Michael Waltrip were in the booth for SPEED, while Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander were on pit road.
NCWTS Setup was a typical affair, starting off with a recap of the Kansas race, complete with even more blushing over the wild dual slides of Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday, Jr. During the week leading up to the race, SPEED talked with some of the other drivers and asked them their thoughts on the action. It was packaged together and also aired during the Setup, an interesting but unnecessary add to the hype.
I did like the Vault feature about the first 10 years of the Truck Series. Looking at some of that old footage just shows how much they’ve changed, and not necessarily for the better. The clips from back then showed grandstands overflowing with fans, and great side-by-side racing to boot. Where was the series at that first season? The 1995 schedule was just 20 races long. Phoenix (which book-ended the schedule) and Milwaukee, one-mile ovals, were the longest ovals, with the rest held at short tracks or on two road courses (Sears Point and Heartland Park Topeka). The short tracks varied in size and shape, from the flat as a pancake one-third mile at Saugus Speedway to the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway.
Transitioning into the race, for the first time all year it was not aired live on SPEED. When the race was actually running live, SPEED was airing a repeat of qualifying instead. I don’t have a firm answer as to why, but I’m guessing they wanted to save the race broadcast until later so that they could attract a larger audience. It was a common practice in the old days; in fact, ABC used it with the infamous United States-Soviet Union hockey semifinal from the 1980 Winter Olympics. Of course, that was 1980, when the vast majority of Americans didn’t have access to anything more than local channels on TV. The threat of result spoilage was low. Today, we have Twitter, websites, and a dozen ways to stumble across instant info, which at-the-track writers used to dump results of a race that actually ended before NCWTS Setup even began.
Now, I know that fans have rules you follow for watching races you can’t see live: Never looking online at all, avoiding websites, TV channels, and so on. But it’s kind of annoying to put yourself through that just to make sure you don’t get spoiled. I know Jayski didn’t post anything about the race until after SPEED finished airing it. However, if the TV partners are going to air races on tape delay, then websites that post results and information about those races in real time must put warnings up.
Tape delay made a noticeable difference on SPEED, as there were a bunch of quick cuts on the coverage that made it look kind of cheap. For example, when Bobby Allison was giving the command to start engines, the cuts made it clear a large portion of the pre-race was simply snipped out.
The sloppiness then transitioned to race presentation. It seemed that at times, the coverage alternated between the traditional setup that is typically seen in live telecasts, and the type of system used for ABC’s tape-delayed CART broadcasts around 2000 in which they would air the whole race, but stop the tape during commercials. It resulted in a jumbled feel to the broadcast.
As for the on-track competition, tires were a big issue. Blowouts caused four of the race’s ten cautions, and other drivers, including winner Aric Almirola, also had problems that necessitated unscheduled green-flag pit stops. I’d argue that the issues struck so many teams, regardless of how they were running, that it was a Goodyear issue. But SPEED didn’t talk about the problem all that much outside of the wrecks and showing us the tire that came off Almirola’s truck when he made his pit stop. I think that SPEED should have had Adam Alexander and Ray Dunlap going up and down pit road after rounds of pit stops under caution, checking tires of many of the top teams since so many of them tasted cold steel on Friday.
Post-race coverage was typical Friday night. SPEED provided viewers with interviews of the top four finishers (Aric Almirola, James Buescher, Justin Lofton, and Ricky Carmichael), checks of the unofficial results and points standings, and some post-race analysis before going off the air.
Like I said above, live telecasts to tape-delayed ones are always preferable. Yes, I understand the concept of waiting until later for a larger audience. But with the proliferation of DVR’s, TiVo, and even VCR’s that all can record on a timer, it is possible to simply air stuff live and let the people who are stuck at work catch it later. I just really don’t see how many more eyes this race got by starting NCWTS Setup at 8 PM instead of 4:30 PM; in the end, I doubt it was all that many.
Heluva Good! 200
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series teams competed in the Heluva Good! 200 televised on ABC by ESPN. Marty Reid, Andy Petree, and Dale Jarrett were in the booth, while Jamie Little, Vince Welch, and Dave Burns manned pit road.
NASCAR Countdown (which was pre-empted in the Seattle market so that KOMO could show an episode of Hannah Montana) had a couple of interesting features. One was about Colin Braun using his “benching” as a learning tool, where the rookie basically went to a lecture with “Professor Kenseth” during the two weeks that he was out of the No. 16. It was pretty cool, and looking back, it definitely helped (Braun ran tenth and his team is now “locked in” to the field for Charlotte).
There was also a collection of quotes from drivers about competing at Dover International Speedway, and a Craftsman Tech Garage feature on the thinking that goes into deciding to take sticker tires on pit stops as opposed to broken-in tires, or “scuffs.”
Overall, the race coverage that we got on ABC Saturday was decent. There was an appropriate amount of enthusiasm from the broadcast booth for what turned out to be a pretty benign race… at least until the end. Having said that, I do have some complaints.
First off, ABC/ESPN repeated a gripe of mine for the past couple of years. Why in the world do they feel the need to pipe in fake crowd noise at the start of races? It drives me nuts. I don’t think ESPN does this with any other sporting event that they televise. It almost makes NASCAR races seem less legitimate by doing it.
The issue of questionable cautions also came up again with NASCAR throwing the yellow for Mark Green’s flat tire with seven laps to go, which directly led to the crash on the restart. It did not appear that Green’s No. 70 hit the wall (although NASCAR seems to think it did, according to their official race report) but the car did have a flat right front tire. There were no replays showing what happened to Green’s car, but it didn’t appear he was any real risk to anyone around him. That would mean NASCAR shouldn’t have thrown the yellow, but without the critical footage to prove it we could only speculate. I don’t like that.
Another issue was that ESPN did not feel the need to show a replay of Michael Annett’s incident on the final lap, shocking especially since they erroneously reported Annett was slightly injured in the crash. It turned out that Trevor Bayne, who was involved in the wreck with Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, and Paul Menard, was the driver who was hurt instead. That’s a crucial mistake.
But with all that said, there was plenty I liked about the telecast. ESPN debuted a new race recap graphic package on Saturday where Bestwick stills narrates the highlights, but the list of topics to cover now appears at the bottom of the screen. Where the topic lineup once was, there’s now a picture showing live action. It was during these highlights on Saturday when Brad Keselowski had his spin, something that under the old setup, might not have been shown live. It’s a good move for future telecasts, and could foretell a split-screen setup where we could have live racing in one picture and a replay in the other, like I’ve been wishing that ESPN could incorporate for the last few months.
Also, there was quite a bit of attention given to Jason Keller for making his 500th career Nationwide Series start. He didn’t have an in-car camera like he did at Darlington, but I always say it’s good that smaller teams (and the drivers for those teams) can get some exposure. It helps them get sponsors.
Post-race coverage was fairly good. ESPN provided us with interviews of winner Kyle Busch and his crew chief Jason Radcliff, Jamie McMurray, Jason Leffler, Reed Sorenson, and Denny Hamlin. There was also a check of the points and some post-race analysis before ESPN left the air.
This was generally fine to watch on TV (unless you live within 50 miles of Seattle and got owned by KOMO, thus leaving you without a frame of reference leading into the race). The complaints above should be addressed as quickly as possible, though.
Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey’s Milk and Milkshakes
On Sunday, FOX broadcasted the Sprint Cup Series’ Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey’s Milk and Milkshakes. The normal crew of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, and Larry McReynolds were in the broadcast booth for FOX, while Krista Voda, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes, and Dick Berggren worked pit road.
Since the Cup Series was racing on Sunday afternoon for the first time since Talladega, FOX went back to a one-hour pre-race show. In the first 20 minutes, they talked a little about the top stories (Vickers’ hospitalization, the Hall of Fame Grand Opening, etc.) and had some pre-race discussion with Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond, and Darrell Waltrip.
Pizzi returned to the pre-race show with “The Best of A Slice of Pizzi,” or “The Rest of A Slice of Pizzi.” It was a bit unclear as to what they wanted to call it, so I’m listing both here for you guys. It was basically a collection of clips, some we’ve seen before this year (like Pizzi getting a piggy-back ride from Jeff Gordon) and others that ended up on the cutting room floor. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: please get this nincompoop off my FOX broadcasts. He ticks me off, adds nothing to the telecast, and alienates viewers. Replace his segments with more interviews.
There was a nice feature on NASCAR racing in the Northeast, which was interesting because this region of the country often gets shortchanged in its contribution to motorsports. Yes, we don’t have very many major motorsports facilities. But being a native New Yorker, I’m glad they focused on it; our state, for example, has over 30 short tracks, most of them dirt, which showcase a bunch of racing.
There was also a feature on the Grand Opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which was held last Tuesday. Everyone involved was very excited about it, which is a good thing.
Chris Myers then conducted a one-on-one interview with Rick Hendrick that was quite interesting to watch. It shows that when he buckles down, he can be very useful to FOX’s NASCAR broadcasts. I think it’s such a shame Myers puts on that stupidity act in the Hollywood Hotel. It’s clearly fake, since when Myers was with ESPN, he hosted the interview show Up Close, where all the show consisted of was a series of 30 minute, one-on-one interviews. Myers also created the “Did You Know?” segment that used to air at the end of Sportscenter, a segment that still airs in a revamped form today as the “Closing Number.” FOX, I implore you to command Myers to drop the “stupid” once and for all, because it will greatly benefit the broadcast.
During the race, FOX had a bumper cam on A.J. Allmendinger’s No. 43 Ford and made extensive use of it, reminding me of the time they stuck a camera on the side of Kyle Petty’s No. 42 Coors Light Pontiac at Bristol in 1996. That led to this replay of a close encounter with Steve Grissom. However, I believe that FOX overused their toy. With something like that, if a driver gets too close to another car, you can’t see anything. That was the case on more than one occasion Sunday.
There were some issues with the scroll moving “as slow as Christmas” on Sunday. I have no clue why, but it seemed to be moving at half-speed. That’s never good. The dreaded “caution in commercial” also came back to haunt the broadcast once again, when Sam Hornish, Jr. spun into the inside wall on the frontstretch. Failing to break out, when FOX returned the teams were finishing up their pit stops. There was only one brief replay of Hornish’s wreck, and they missed part of the stops. It’s something that’s bad luck, but should not be repeated, although I know the network’s gone for ads over action multiple times this year.
On the bright side, FOX did have a nice tri-screen setup on Lap 260 where they showed three separate races for position at the same time. I’d like to see more of that in the 600 on the 30th, if possible. Also of note, FOX debuted a new final lap graphic showing the Top 10 runners instead of just the Top 5. Still don’t think it’s necessary, but it’s a little better than the last one.
Since the race ran short on Sunday, FOX had about a half-hour of post-race coverage. In that time, they gave us interviews with eight drivers (about double what we usually get), and the winning car owner, Joe Gibbs. The network also showed the unofficial results, the point standings, and plenty of post-race analysis. Since the race ended early, there was no need for additional post-race coverage on SPEED.
A lot of fans by this point simply cannot wait for FOX to end their section of the season and for TNT to come in. I’m not the kind of person to say that. I want everyone to televise NASCAR as well as they possibly can; FOX appears to have not done that this year, and that makes me unhappy. For next year, I do not think that we’ll see any major changes, but I hope that David Hill (President of FOX Sports) will advocate a “back to basics” approach. They have all the tools for greatness, and need to stop squandering it before more fans leave the sport.
That’s all for this week. Next week is the Sprint All-Star Weekend from the newly re-christened Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Camping World Truck Series serves as support Friday night with the North Carolina Education Lottery 200, while the Sprint Cup Series takes center stage Saturday night with the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race. On Sunday is the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, where Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France, and his son Bill Jr. will be inducted into the brand new NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Also this weekend is qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Saturday is pole day, where the top 22 starting positions will be set, and Sunday will see the remaining 11 places settled on Bump Day. Whoever wins the pole will get 15 championship points and a cool $175,000.
Friday, May 21
Saturday, May 22
Sunday, May 23
I will provide a critique of the Sprint Showdown, the Sprint All-Star Race, and the Camping World Truck Series race in next week’s critique, while covering Pole Qualifying coverage from Indianapolis. The Critic’s Annex will cover the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
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.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I’m glad that you mentioned the bumper cam, but I just want to harp about it some more because it is one of the most annoying things, IMO, that every network does.
While the bumper cam shots are cool to look at, they completely kill the ability to tell what is going on when they are showing the car with the camera fight for position. It works great for watching cars in front (or behind) of the car with the camera, but is absolutely useless when the car with the camera is in the fight. You can’t tell which car moved. It may have been the car with the camera that slid up through the turn, or the other car could have pinched him down. You really can’t tell at all. Thus, it makes these camera shots completely useless and drives me nuts.
The speed shot, the camera mounted on the wall in turn 1, is a nice shot. But when they use it on restarts (which does seem to be happening less lately) really drives me nuts too. Restarts are when you really want to be able to see as much of the field as possible fight for positions. But it is also when the entire field is grouped up as much as possible, the speed shot looks better then than when single cars are driving by with plenty of space between them. So I am sure this is why the networks choose to use it for the restarts. Argh…
I get the impression with some of these races that the producer (or whatever the title is of the guy that decides what camera shot to air) is not a fan of auto racing and is just picking the camera angles that he thinks looks the coolest. For all I know, this could be done of purpose in order to help attract new viewers that just happen to catch a few minutes of the race. I say this because they make is sound like there are so many first time viewers watching every week… without a knowledgeable race fan in the room, that they have to explain loose and tight every GD week. Some may argue that this is because in other series, they always say under or over steer. Well, if you know what that means, I think you can catch on to the different jargon of NASCAR. Phil, you’re even guilty of this here with your explanation of F1’s Safety Car. Yeah, we may be dumb, but I don’t think we’re that dumb. And if we are, then the explanation isn’t going to help. :)
Phil- did you all have your online blog this week? I couldn’t locate it on the website Sunday.
I like this column but I have to disagree with you about the truck telecast. I’m sure you heard all the complaining from fans about rain races that were moved to Monday being broadcast live. Alot of fans would like to see it broadcast at night so there would be alot of complaining if they went live with the truck race Friday.
Personally, if a race is on when it is not convenient to watch, I will record it and watch it later. The Cup race, even though I was home, I still recorded. I can’t bear watching a “race” on FOX live anymore. I can also watch the race in half the time after I fast forwarding through “the show” while stopping to watch the actual racing.
Not only does FOX use the incar/bumper cams way too much, they use the speed shots way too much as well. Action is happening on the track and all we get are cars whizzing by. SHOW THE D@MN RACE!!! The mentalilty that we must cater to the casual crowd drives me crazy. TNT can’t get here fast enough
I think this was about the 3rd or 4th year in a row that SPEED has tape-delayed Dover’s truck race. I believe it’s the only time of the year they do it because it is the only Friday truck race that is run at a track without lights. But considering they’ve done it several times before, it must work well for them. It seems like another option would be to air the whole race twice (at 4:30 and again at 8:00) instead of airing a repeat of qualifying.
Why can’t Fox have a ticker that is within a lap of being correct like ESPN?
Fox has lost all credibility with me with their truly terrible broadcasts this season.
Fox used to be my favorite, now they concentrate so much on the “toys” and so little on the actual race that it is unwatchable. I will be at the all-star race so I won’t be subjected to the lousy coverage and I am going to boycott watching the 600. It’s Memorial Day weekend, I’m hoping the weather will be nice and NASCAR has shot themselves in the butt with their “manufactured” excitement at the end of the races.
I agree about Chris Myers. Drop the stupid act. I hadn’t realized that he was actually a smart reporter until I saw him on one of Fox’s NFL broadcast. What a contrast and what an absolute shame it is that Fox and NASCAR thinks that this nonsense is the way to entertain race fans.
If they’d like to know WHY people have quit watching, Brian France, Helton and Darby should all be forced to watch the TV broadcast. Then they’d possibly have a clue. If all I’d ever seen of racing was from the last 2-3 years of TV broadcasts, I’d never pay money to see a race.
And yes, Dover was a snoozer this year, just like last spring.
All race teams say is that you win with people, having the best people at the right places. Well for me ,FOX and the people they have cannot ever win when it comes to broadcasting a race. It’s time for a change, DW, Larry, Meyers,and Hammond,all have worn out their welcome with many of us. Mike Joy is excellent but the others lack the broadcasting skills , professionalism,insight, and of course objectivity that us fans deserve when we watch our favorite sport. There are more and more of us. like JerseyGirl and others who have had it with what FOX is giving us. PLEASE FOX, it’s time to retool.
I agree, it is time for Fox to re-troll! DW can hardly get out his stupid race starting babble and Larry Mac needs to stay home and help his kid race and stop his poor use of english and Hammand needs to go away also. They were all good in their day but they clearly have their own tainted view and a love afair with HMS that is so obvious. Meyers and Joy can stay, specially if as you mentioned, Meyers dumps the stupid act. But he could be dumbing down to fit in with DW, LMac & Hammerhead.
I am glad they buried the gopher crap during the race anyway. And I agree with the use of the ‘extra’ camera views, focus on the action or add it in a split screen.
I am surprised that we had a race end without a mysterious caution for a G-W-C finish.
Shame the Nationwide Ensurance (as Jr mispronounces it) ended with drivers who have little to gain ruining a lot of the regular guys days and then saying the race means nothing to them. There are a lot of regulars that need sponsors and the prize money never mind a chance to win a championship, but with the cupcakes ruining almost any chance they have, well they should ban cupcakes from the lower divisions.
I agree on the F1 coverage. I thought it might replay, as it sometimes does, or on Tuesday, as it sometimes does. Neither. It puzzled me that as they showed the race ending they showed Mark Webber hoisting his trophy. Which could only mean that they race had been over long enough for the drivers to be weighed, the 2 songs played and then the trophy handed out. And no replay of F1’s biggest race.
Tune in to Showtime’s This Week in NASCAR if you have the cable network. Meyers is completely different on that show, and while not quite Bestwickian, does about as good of a job as one could ask. If the NASCAR thing should ever go away, at least he can always stand in for Liam Neeson for his next film.
I don’t know why you have a gripe with FOX. There broadcast is far better then TNT or ESPN will ever have. TNT as not been the same since the passing of Benny Parsons, and Kyle Petty is a pure disaster in the booth. All he talks about is how bad of a driver he was and how stupid he is. So he is basically like Chris Myers except for the fact that Myers is funny. And all your knocks againist FOX are all the fun stuff. Thats why I like FOX, they make me laugh and have knowledge of NASCAR. As for the Nationwide series, you said they paid special attention to Jason Keller, that they did in the beginning, but when he was slow on the track after a re-start he was just called a slow car, then he was 35 laps down and they did not say why until the end of the race. As for the excitement, ESPN doesnt have any, and FOX does. And ESPN has a perfectly good broadcaster in Allen Bestwick being wasted for the pre-race show. Marty Reid is not good at broadcasting races. I mean just go back to all the close finishes we have had over the past 5 years. The ones that are on FOX have exciting calls, such as carl edwards and jimmie johnson at atlanta, or ricky craven and kurt busch at darlington. ESPN had a good finish at talladega in the 2007 talladega nationwide race in 2007 between bobby labonte and tony stewart crossing the lin eside by side and the call was andy petree saying “and he gets him” in a monotone voice. TnT had a good finish in the 2007 July race at Daytona between Jamie Mac and Kyle Busch, they were side by side coming to the line, and kyle petty and wally dallenbach were both saying kyle was going to win. how can you call the winner when they are side by side coming to the line. And when they did cross the line inches apart there car was WHOOAAAA!!!! and then kyle saying I think the 26 got him. With bill weber saying it says 26 on the monitor. Not even saying McMurrays name. And thata all I got to say about that
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL WITH THE FOX BROADCASTS?!? I feel like I know the difference between good and bad broadcasting and although I do agree that some of the screen shots can be made better and some of the prerace segments can be made better, FOX has a bunch of committed announcers and that’s why they’ve called these races for 10 years. DW RULES with boogity boogity boogity let’s go racing boys! What a DISGRACE that you (or anyone else for that matter) treat FOX this negatively!
Really enjoyed reading your report. Thanks for keeping FOX and their awful broadcasts honest. I’m glad that there part of the season is about done. They can do a much better job. DW by his obnoxious announcing has helped ruin the memory of a illustrious racing career (well at least through ’92).
FOX has this problem in other sports too. As a College Football fan I was never that impressed by the coverage that they gave to the BCS games that they showed. The Sugar Bowl FOX coverage this year in Tim Tebow’s last game was particularly atrocious. So the NASCAR announcing isn’t the only one that needs help.
I also agree about ESPN and the fake crowd noise. That is really silly and seriously needs to stop. Do they think that viewers can’t tell how fake it is? Pretty embarrassing.
I really can’t believe how NASCAR racing and Television coverage is circling the drain from the highs that both enjoyed during the ’80s and ’90s with less technology.