NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday May 25, 2010
Hello, race fans. It’s that time again, where I go over the NASCAR telecasts with a fine tooth comb. This week, the Sprint Cup Series held their annual Sprint All-Star Race and Sprint Showdown, while the Camping World Truck Series served as the main support with their race on Friday night.
North Carolina Education Lottery 200
SPEED brought us coverage of the Truck race on Friday night… or should I say Saturday morning. Due to the rains that ended up washing out qualifying for both the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race for the second year in a row, the race started about three hours late, at 11 PM EDT, and ended around 1 AM.
Way the heck before the race actually started, SPEED was supposed to bring us NCWTS Setup. Instead, the rains put a hold on that. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons talked briefly about the situation, then threw the coverage to last year’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200. It’s a typical standby move in these situations; they didn’t actually do interviews or anything like that at the time because no one was really available. During the track-drying process, Allen and Parsons would then cut back in every half-hour or so to provide an update.
After 90 minutes of this format, SPEED started NCWTS Setup (they stopped short of airing the entire race from 2009, missing out on the final 30 or so laps). New this week is a presenting sponsor for the Setup, Polaris. I find this funny, since Polaris was the presenting sponsor of the race last week in Dover and got the big stiffy. Money talks, man.
The Memory Lane feature, where Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip talk about their favorite races from that particular venue, replaced the Vault feature this week. I’ll admit right here that I prefer the Vault feature instead. It just quenches my historical senses that much more. Also, there’s less of a chance of… bias coming in. In this case, Michael Waltrip selected the 2004 Charlotte race, mainly because he was in contention. That’s a weak move when you really look at it, although in his defense Michael did admit his bias when discussing the choice.
Friday happened to be NASCAR Day, an annual event where the sport makes massive donations to charities, with fans contributing via buying those $5 pins. To that end, SPEED spotlighted a volunteer day that members of the NASCAR on FOX team did with A Place For Hope, a community center in Rock Hill, South Carolina for disadvantaged children. It’s quite sobering, when you think about it, that they were talking about people living with no running water and no electricity inside our country. That was well done.
There was also a one-on-one interview with Aric Almirola, winner of the Dover 200. This interview was based mainly on his run to victory from the previous week. As a result, we didn’t learn very much from it (that is, not all that much if you watched the race from Dover). Still, it is good to see drivers getting additional exposure from SPEED.
There was approximately 50 minutes between the end of NCWTS Setup and the actual start of the race. To fill that amount of time, SPEED conducted additional driver interviews and talked a little about some of the adjustments that could be made to the trucks after the impound time ended (meaning air pressure, wedge, etc.).
Once the green flag dropped, the race telecast again showed the potential influence connected people can have on shaping its content. The first caution flew on Lap 10 for Austin Dillon smacking the wall on the backstretch. Originally, the booth commentators thought that David Starr had gotten in the back of Dillon and turned him into the wall, but the replays showed that wasn’t the case. Confusion reigned. Then, Tony Stewart apparently texted Michael Waltrip (or so he says) that Dillon had a flat left-rear tire that caused the wreck. Waltrip actually said that he was tweeted by Stewart, but it’s unclear whether Stewart actually has a Twitter page that he regularly uses. (There’s plenty of fake Stewarts, though.)
I’ll admit that I didn’t notice the flat until Waltrip mentioned the text, but sure enough, it was going down. Interesting. To expand that idea out, there should be some kind of way for fans to have more input on the broadcasts. The telecasts already have a Twitter page (@NCWTSonSPEED), so SPEED should make more use of it in case they notice something production doesn’t.
There were also some scroll issues early on in the race. Once again, it was the interval dropdown that malfunctioned, failing to show the proper seconds of each car behind the leader. After the 15th position, it simply showed those drivers as being a lap down even though they were not. SPEED’s response to the problem was quick this time; they pulled down the scroll, fixed it, and reloaded it two laps later. But that’s never a good thing.
There were also a couple of issues with SPEED’s coverage of Brent Raymer’s incident on Lap 80. I can understand the quick cut to the No. 85 on fire and Brent getting out. That’s fine. However, there are two things that they should have done, but did not. First off, the only reason why Raymer spun and hit the wall (and Ryan Sieg hit the wall trying to avoid it, which directly led to Sieg’s second wreck right after the restart) was that Raymer touched the grass. This was never actually referred to on air, although I took note as soon as I got a good shot of it. Second, when Ray Dunlap interviewed Raymer (a rarity when you think about it, but required in this instance), he decided to focus on Raymer’s supposed propensity for these high-profile incidents. He failed, however, to ask Brent just what the heck actually happened to cause this mess. That’s important, last I checked.
Post-Race coverage was quite brief. However, that could be assumed going in due to the fact that the race started after the telecast was supposed to be over. SPEED provided viewers with interviews of the winner (Kyle Busch), his crew chief, and Todd Bodine. In addition, there were checks of the unofficial results and the point standings before leaving the air.
This was an OK telecast to watch, but the issue with Raymer stands out. Here at Frontstretch, we’ve talked to Brent Raymer before (Atlanta, March 2009). He is trying to race with the big boys on a very limited budget, and it seems that the only time he gets referenced by SPEED is when something like this crash occurs, and everyone is saying something to the degree of, “We have to stop meeting like this.” It just doesn’t sit well with me.
Sprint Showdown / Sprint All-Star Race
Saturday night brought us the Sprint Showdown and Sprint All-Star Race, one of only two Cup race broadcasts that air on SPEED each year. Chris Myers didn’t make the trip to Charlotte, so Krista Voda hosted the pre-race coverage along with Jeff Hammond from an outdoor stage near pit road. Of note, Carl Edwards has spent the past couple of years serving as a pit reporter in place of Voda during the Sprint Showdown. However, this year, he had to race in it and was not replaced, leaving three pit reporters for both the Showdown and the main event.
This newer, sleeker pre-race stage setup is completely different than the portable studio, and Hammond seems to be able to shine more here than with Myers. It is something for FOX to consider for next year, even if Myers stays – although the shtick needs to go.
Of course, the three hours of NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot that preceded it is a whole ‘nother story. I’ll be covering that later this week. Needless to say, this event does not need three and a half hours of pre-race programming.
After the first break, Jeff Gordon joined Voda and Hammond at the desk to discuss the Sprint Showdown. Gordon had some interesting viewpoints to share on the race. Steve Byrnes then interviewed Carl Edwards and Martin Truex, Jr. prior to the opening ceremonies in Grid Walk-style. Martin Brundle would be proud.
Graphics for the night’s action were a mixed bag. Most were normal ones used by SPEED during practice and qualifying sessions; however, the Starting Lineup used the normal FOX Sports graphics. Not sure why there was such a difference; a cost-cutting move, perhaps. All I know is that it looked out of place.
SPEED, in cooperation with Turner Sports, had “All-Star RaceBuddy” active for Saturday night. This provided an online method to follow the race with multiple camera angles, a leaderboard, and chat. I was happy to see the leaderboard feature returning for this go ‘round; if you remember the “TruckBuddy” from Martinsville in March, it was sorely missed.
The Triple split screen that FOX used in Dover returned early in the Sprint Showdown. My opinion remains the same on it. It’s a pretty good concept; however, it will never get all that much usage. The regular split-screen, which should get more airtime, was used with great effect on Lap 17, when SPEED was able to cover the race for the lead between Roush Fenway teammates David Ragan and Greg Biffle while also covering the one for fourth between Regan Smith, Jeff Burton, and Juan Pablo Montoya. This resulted in Smith and Montoya’s crash in Turn 1 being shown live.
Since the race was on cable (and in my case, Digital Cable), more radio chatter could be used. This is mainly because cable broadcasts are more or less out of the jurisdiction of the FCC’s content rules on obscenity. I’ll withhold my thoughts on the FCC, their content tribunals, and the fines they can and have imposed on networks… anyways, we didn’t see SPEED take advantage. Also, the aforementioned issue with the scroll from Friday night returned during the Sprint Showdown, but in this case, the network didn’t just remove it and take care of the issue. They simply left it up there. Not so good.
The “Hollywood Hotel” did come into use during the time in between the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race. However, it was not referred to as such. Voda and Hammond were just simply there. If you didn’t know that it was the Hollywood Hotel, then you wouldn’t have noticed.
Driver introductions for the main event were long-winded. However, they’re like that every year. It feels like All-Star intros with just 21 drivers takes longer than those for a normal 43-car field. Steve Byrnes and John Roberts served as emcees in this segment, with a whole bunch of cheering fans and live rock music being played.
Watching the telecast of the All-Star Race itself, I noticed that the coverage remained centered at the front. It’s an annoying habit, especially considering that these are the best of the best in Sprint Cup. There are no chumps in this bunch. Having said that, SPEED did do a dropback through the field prior to the mandatory pit stop in Segment One. That was great, although there was actually a good battle for fifth between Joey Logano and David Reutimann that they cut away from in order to continue the segment. They should have at least stuck with that battle until it came to a natural conclusion.
I’m not a fan of how the last lap was handled. Kurt Busch won the race in a green-white-checkered finish with Truex on his tail. I know this sounds Daly Planet-ish, but I know that more than three cars should be shown crossing the line before switching shots (in this case, to Kurt celebrating via his in-car camera). If you have to do that, just put it in a small box on the screen, maybe a dropdown from the scroll.
Post-race coverage was actually quite brief, with the final segment taking forever because of the multiple incidents and yellow flag laps not counting. As a result, there were only interviews with the top two finishers (Kurt Busch and Martin Truex, Jr.), as well as a check of the unofficial results before moving on to NASCAR Victory Lane. I didn’t like this approach. However, since SPEED televised the race, this move was possible to allow NASCAR Victory Lane to be aired live instead of tape-delayed. I will say this much: the transition was very seamless, almost to the point I didn’t notice the switch at first.
Still, looking back there were actually more interviews shown after the end of the Sprint Showdown as compared to the Sprint All-Star Race. That doesn’t make sense, and it’s clear they could have gotten a couple more interviews before leaving. Even a switch to Victory Lane is enough to get most fans watching the race to move on to something else, and they missed out on extra storylines they could have seen in the post-race show instead.
The broadcast was OK, but it’s quite telling that the driver who finished second barely got any air time before the last couple of laps of the race. It’s almost like SPEED has a frontrunner bias, like the Yankees-Red Sox one that some national outlets have been accused of having in regards to baseball. Of course, it’s going to be nine months before SPEED televises a Sprint Cup race again, but it never hurts for someone to point out errors.
That’s all for this week. This weekend is the biggest one for motorsports all year. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are in Charlotte, while the Izod IndyCar Series has its crown jewel, the Indianapolis 500. Here’s your schedule.
Thursday, May 27
Friday, May 28
Saturday, May 29
Sunday, May 30
I will provide critiques of the Coca-Cola 600 and the TECH-NET Auto Service 300 for next week’s critique. In addition, I will also cover ABC’s telecast of the Indianapolis 500. The Critic’s Annex for this Thursday will cover NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot from Charlotte, with emphasis given to the Pennzoil Ultra Victory Challenge held within. This is a change from last week due to the fact that, while interesting, Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are generally not all that exciting. Sad, but true.
For next Thursday’s edition of The Critic’s Annex, I will cover the Freedom 100, a race for the Indy Lights Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that will be held Friday afternoon on Carb Day.
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 the SPEED Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage from last weekend, please click on the following link:
As always, if you choose to contact the network 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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It has always seemed odd to me that instead of putting its all-star event on a big network where everyone can see it, they bury it on a cable channel. If any race should be on FOX (or heck, ABC or elsewhere; they could put this race separately into the tv contracts), it’s this one. You’d think NASCAR would want not only everyone interested being able to see it, but also anyone that might be flipping through channels and deciding to stick with it. If you’re not already a fan, you won’t be watching Speed just to see what’s on.
Excellent recap as usual.
I couldn’t agree more about the excessive pre-race coverage. I liked when TNN covered the event in that they would usually go right into race coverage instead of hyping everything to high heaven.
I agree RamblinWreck. It seems to me to be a little self defeating to put the event on one of their smaller networks.
Split screen or multi screen it’s not going to matter. It costs too much money to monitor camera shots for NA$CAR, being careful not to show the empty stands. Plus multiple cameras are not necessary when you only care about tight shots of the first 3 cars. I can’t wait for these TV contracts to expire. With mud scraping ratings maybe a lesser network will have a chance to provide quality coverage for mud scraping prices. More likely though, the big ones will renegotiate at a lower cost and still show as many commercials.