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 June 1, 2010
Hello, race fans and welcome to that weekly place where major race programming is put under a microscope and analyzed. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were both racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. In addition, the Izod IndyCar Series held their crown jewel, the Indianapolis 500.
On Sunday afternoon, ESPN on ABC brought us live coverage of the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500. For the 46th year in a row, the race was televised on ABC — the 25th year in a row live. The normal duo of Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear was in the booth, but there were a couple of slight changes to the on-air crew. For the 500, the network added a fourth pit reporter, Dr. Jerry Punch, to the group to go with Jamie Little, Vince Welch, and Rick DeBruhl. Also, Brent Musberger made the trip to Indianapolis to serve as a overarching host of the coverage.
The telecast started off with an expanded, one hour pre-race show. Typically for ABC telecasts of the Izod IndyCar Series, these are half-hour pre-race shows, but it just drives home how much more important the Indianapolis 500 is compared to other races. The intro to pre-race was based upon some sort of action movie, not sure which one. Four drivers to look out for in the race were referenced in the piece. Scott Dixon was the “Iceman,” while Danica Patrick was referred to as “The Siren.” Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti were also mentioned.
Much of the pre-race show was focused upon Castroneves and the potential of him joining Al Unser, Sr., Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt as four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500. Castroneves had the quickest car for most of the month, turning the fastest lap of all of May during his last qualifying attempt. Unfortunately, once the race came around, he didn’t have much for Franchitti.
There was a sitdown feature with Graham Rahal and his father/car owner Bobby in which Graham discussed his drive behind the wheel, among other things. This was fairly interesting since Rahal has been underexposed since he came to the Izod IndyCar Series. There was also a Sport Science feature on the effects of high speed on drivers. This is a first for Sport Science being featured during a race telecast. Generally, I like the short features. However, I preferred Sport Science when it was still its own show on Fox Sports Net before ABC/ESPN bought the rights to it.
During the race broadcast, ABC pulled out all the stops. Ten cars carried in-car cameras during the race, up from the usual six. Most of them are the usual cameras above the driver’s helmet, but Danica Patrick had one that was facing her in the cockpit. However, this camera was not used all that much.
One of the many gripes I’ve had with NASCAR coverage this year is the general failure to pick up debris. This has been less of an issue with ABC/ESPN than with FOX this year. ABC/ESPN was able to show parts of the fuel filler that Will Power pulled off the fuel rig during his first pit stop, which fell off the car and caused a debris caution.
Other positives in the broadcast included timely interviews with drivers that had been eliminated in incidents, and generally not dumbing down the broadcast for the benefit of the viewing audience.
Also, ABC broke out of commercial after Ryan Briscoe crashed on Lap 148 to show coverage of the incident. Just before that, viewers saw part of the wreck live via the Side-by-Side setup that the Izod IndyCar Series uses in their broadcasts. I wish we had that for NASCAR races. As it stands, we get Wide Open Coverage on TNT of the Coke Zero 400, and that’s it. If advertisers get their way, that’s all we’ll ever get. NASCAR needs to get proactive on this in the future. Remember, Side-by-Side was created for NASCAR by Turner Sports back in 2000, under the “No Brakes Coverage” moniker.
Meanwhile, the Craftsman Tech Garage made an appearance to explain the new for 2010 placement of the rain light onto the back of the attenuator box. This simple movement of a light changed the aerodynamics on the back of the car. Unlike with NASCAR events on ESPN, no one was in the Tech Garage during this segment. As a result, Scott Goodyear narrated this feature from the broadcast booth. This is the first time that the Craftsman Tech Garage has been used during an Izod IndyCar Series broadcast. It is unclear whether the Craftsman Tech Garage will see additional use in the network’s two remaining races.
Even with those good things, I did have some problems. Chiefly, the coverage of Mike Conway’s horrific crash coming to the white flag. Since it happened so close to the end of the race, coverage of the incident carried into post-race. By that point, ESPN seemed more concerned with Ashley Judd (Dario Franchitti’s wife) than Conway’s condition. I don’t know what it is with Izod IndyCar Series coverage in general, but the drivers’ wives seem to get more coverage in the series than with NASCAR telecasts. The wife (or girlfriend) of the winning driver almost always gets an interview on-air. Sunday was an exception, but ABC had Dr. Jerry Punch basically chasing her on the way to Victory Lane. I’ve always thought that Ashley Judd gets too much coverage on Izod IndyCar Series telecasts, but covering her over a very serious incident is just wrong, simple as that.
Earlier in the race, ABC did an “Up to Speed” segment like ESPN does for their Nationwide Series races. However, during this segment, Sarah Fisher had an issue that eventually put her out of the race and caused quite a scramble on the track. The network should have cut away and documented this. Instead, they stayed with the Up to Speed to the next commercial and never really followed up with what happened to Fisher. That’s terrible.
Post-race coverage was relatively extensive, despite the race ending within five minutes of the end of the timeslot. There were nine interviews, seven with drivers, the winning car owner (Chip Ganassi), and the IndyCar Medical Director, who talked about Mike Conway’s condition. No interviews with Ryan Hunter-Reay or anything like that, though. It was unclear on the broadcast why that wreck happened, but news after the race suggested that Hunter-Reay ran out of gas and Conway ran over him as a result. There was also post-race analysis from the broadcast booth before ABC left the air.
TECH-NET Auto Service 300
On Saturday, the ESPN crew televised the Nationwide Series TECH-NET Auto Service 300 presented by CarQuest on ABC. Due to the Indianapolis 500 running on Sunday, there were some on-air crew changes here as well. Replacing Marty Reid in the booth was Allen Bestwick. Nicole Briscoe filled Bestwick’s spot in the Infield Studio. On pit road, the network went with three pit reporters. Dave Burns was the only one of the normal group in Charlotte. He was joined by Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake.
NASCAR Countdown started off with a recap of All-Star week (Sprint Showdown, Sprint All-Star Race, NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony). There was also a Craftsman Tech Garage feature on heat sensitivity. This is pertinent because this race was held in the daytime for the first time since 2004, and Charlotte Motor Speedway is the most sensitive track to sunlight on the circuit.
Marty Smith narrated a special feature on the Fort Hood tragedy that also aired during pre-race. Admittedly, it was not bad, but it seemed out of place. The only real tie-in to what was going on at the track is the fact that it is Memorial Day Weekend.
During the race, Brian Vickers joined Briscoe and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Studio. Vickers would give some insights to the action going on out on the track, and generally did a pretty good job in there. However, Vickers did sound quite groggy. I’m sure that he would have much rather been driving the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota.
Post-race coverage was typical for Nationwide Series races on ABC. There were only a couple of post-race interviews aired. The unofficial results were only shown in the scroll, and there was some brief analysis before ABC left the air.
This was an OK race to watch on TV. I’m still trying to get used to Bestwick being back in the broadcast booth. He has a different style as compared to Marty Reid, but it’s generally fine to listen to. I do worry that he might come off as a bit of a “know-it-all,” which is something that I struggle with myself on a daily basis. For example, late in the race, Bestwick mentioned there was a good chance based on numbers that there would be a late caution. Sure enough, there was one with 14 laps to go when Trevor Bayne got into the wall. Bestwick effectively said “Told you so” to Jarrett and Petree in the booth. Dale and Andy sounded amazed on air, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they felt a little anger towards Allen at the time.
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series raced the Coca-Cola 600. FOX televised the race with their usual on-air crew of nine people.
Pre-race coverage started off with Darrell Waltrip giving fans a quick look at how they put together their NASCAR broadcasts. Fairly interesting. We learned from that piece that FOX has less cameras at the track for Cup races than ESPN does. ESPN freely admits that they have a bare minimum of 60 cameras at the track for Sprint Cup races. Waltrip admitted that FOX has 50 at the track. Since this was the last race of the FOX portion of the season, giving thanks to the fans for watching was a theme throughout the broadcast, which I’m perfectly fine with.
FOX brought in three cast members from the new A-Team movie to the track this weekend. Steve Byrnes interviewed them about their experiences. It was a rather painful segment, since all three clearly knew zilch about the sport (Biel admitted it). It’s understandable, but the segment was still quite painful to watch.
Darrell Waltrip then conducted a one-on-one interview with Jimmie Johnson based around his recent “struggles” that seem to have come about since the re-introduction of the rear spoiler. FOX also showed features about the history of stock car racing in Charlotte, including classic footage from the old Charlotte Speedway (site of the first race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series), and of the year’s rivalries to this point (Keselowski-Edwards, Johnson-Jeff Gordon, Hamlin-Kyle Busch, etc.)
For this last race of the FOX portion of the season, a revised package for the race recaps during VISA Race Breaks was unveiled. Somewhat based upon what ESPN has been doing recently during Nationwide races, this new setup has a live shot of the leader in a box on the left side of the screen, while the recap highlights are in the right box. Towards the end of the recap, the scroll was added on top of that. Not half bad. Maybe this setup will return next year.
Yes, that use of a split-screen above was very nice. However, FOX still insists on showing full screen replays during green-flag action. The example I have for this was the replay of Regan Smith’s slide towards the wall on Lap 72. This was just after a restart, and there was plenty of battling for position on the track at the time. Knowing that FOX has a split-screen setup for these situations now, I don’t like that very much.
There was a significant amount of action that fans missed due to commercials. It’s a dang shame, to be honest. Auto racing is the only sport today that has this problem. Soccer used to as well in the U.S. prior to World Cup ’94. I know I mentioned this while talking about the Indy 500, but we need to have some kind of Side-by-Side setup for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. The breaks come so often these days that a lot of action is missed. NASCAR needs to work with the advertisers and networks to create something that is equitable for everyone.
With only eight cautions for the whole 600 miles, FOX had about 20 minutes of post-race coverage. In that time, FOX conducted four interviews (Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, and Jeff Burton). Burton only got interviewed on-air due to the fact that he got in a heated argument with Kyle Busch after the race because contact from the No. 18 cut Burton’s left rear tire, dropping him back to a 25th-place finish. There was also a check of the Unofficial Results and the Point Standings before FOX left the air seven minutes before their timeslot was up.
Now that FOX’s season is over, I know that a lot of you readers are breathing a sign of relief. There will be no more Pizzi on TV, although I swear I saw him on SPEED at some point during the All-Star Race. The gopher is gone for the summer, but his merchandise still remains.
Darrell Waltrip will be doing NASCAR RaceDay in Kyle Petty’s place for the next six weeks as Kyle Petty goes up to the booth. Larry McReynolds will go to the Infield Stage with TNT for the next six weeks, while Mike Joy will relax for the most part, and do some work for SPEED (either covering practice sessions at Cup races, or working a Barrett-Jackson auction telecast.)
This year’s FOX portion of the season was an improvement in some areas over last year, but they regressed in others. Much less Digger this year than last year, and no cartoons. However, the introduction of Pizzi to the telecasts definitely hurt the pre-race show. He’s got to go. Replace his segments with more interviews.
I think that the lower number of cameras (at least compared to ESPN) at the track is why FOX has missed a few things this season. I believe that there may have been a cut in the number of cameras on FOX’s NASCAR broadcasts this season due to the costs becoming too high to produce the race broadcast for FOX Sports. That’s not because of NASCAR becoming less popular, but because of FOX earning less revenue due to the bad economy. It remains to be seen whether this continues next season.
Finally, we come to the booth. Darrell Waltrip seems to run the show up there even though he’s not the play-by-play man. He seems to have cutoff power over both Joy and McReynolds, and I simply don’t think that he should wield that authority. This power grab can adversely affect the telecasts at times.
Also of note is the irregular usage of the English language. One Twitter user told Waltrip that they needed grammar lessons (ouch!). Waltrip simply replied that “We aren’t what you’d call ‘slick’ TV announcers, just guys that love the sport.” I tend to agree with that notion, since it means that the coverage is more genuine, but some people do get annoyed with the improper usage of the English language. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want Waltrip’s Boogitys to go out the window, though. That has been played out for years.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend begins the split month, where NASCAR’s major series are all racing at different venues. The Sprint Cup Series will be at Pocono Raceway for the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 on Sunday. The ARCA Racing Series Presented by Re/MAX and Menards will serve as the main support Saturday afternoon.
The Nationwide Series will be back at Nashville Superspeedway Saturday night for the Federated Auto Parts 300. This race will see the debut of Vince Welch in the broadcast booth for ESPN. Currently, it is unclear as to how many races that Welch will do from the booth this season.
Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series will be at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night for the WinStar World Casino 400k, the main support race for the Izod IndyCar Series Firestone 550k. Here are your listings for this upcoming weekend.
Friday, June 4
Saturday, June 5
Sunday, June 6
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series events in next week’s edition of Talking NASCAR TV here at Frontstretch.com. I will cover the tape-delayed Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 for the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Re/MAX and Menards in next week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex, only available in the Frontstretch Newsletter. Also, don’t forget, in this week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex, I will be covering Carb Day from Indianapolis, and the Freedom 100 in particular.
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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Was it my inattention, or did they miss the first two passes for the lead during the Indy 500? (The first because they were showing mid-pack action and the second because they were yapping about Danica Patrick. The third pass was shown because it happened during side-by-side coverage.)
Like you, I was puzzled and disapointed by their failure to follow-up on Sarah Fisher.
As far as the Sprint Cup coverage goes, I have one thing to note from the post-race coverage. I was a bit annoyed with their placement of the self-congratulatory “What a great season we’ve had on Fox” talk, which was right after the race ended. That’s the sort of thing that should be saved for the very end of the broadcast.
IMO commercials wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t show 2 minutes of “Nascar on Fox” promo’s going to and 3 minutes of “side story no one cares about” coming out of commericals. I mean, we tune in to watch racing, not fluff.
Phil – do you email your columns to FOX as you encourage us to email them? Perhaps you should.
Nascar should not have a problem working out a split screen with advertisers, after running Digger along side at races. Makes you wonder.
In the Nashville area they went to the news about 10 min. before schedule, cut into time they had for Cup post race coverage. I understand little post race coverage if the race went over, but when you have the time built in and still cut the coverage short. Yes I know I could have went to Speed, but everyone does not have this option.
I also noticed all the praise for Danica, for staying out of trouble. Danicas now in the ?? position, like she was really motoring the car to the front like TK did. Yes she did stay out of trouble and finish sixth, good job, not great job. Yes this was much better then I could have done.
There is happiness in the world today , the sun is shining , the birds are singing , there is an overall feeling of having had a black cloud lifted . FOX IS GONE . HOOORRRAAAYYY !
The Indy race was well produced as usual . I did think it strange that the final lap crash wasn’t covered more , but they were probably waiting for updated info instead of filling time by reshowing the crash over and over . Ashley Judd is a celebrity , people ( read that race fans ) like celebritys , so it’s no surprise that she got interviewed . And look at the constant gushing over Jeff Gordons’ wife , who honestly most people had never heard of until they were married .
The IRL has led the way in innovations for twenty years . The Safer Barrier for instance . NASCAR had to be FORCED to bring it to their tracks . The same goes for the side by side commercials . It isn’t NASCARs’ idea , so they will be in no hurry to introduce it , no matter how good the idea is .
I do have to make a comment on the Rolex race shown on Monday . That was maybe the worst job of televising an auto race i’ve ever seen . Yes , even worse than NASCAR on fox . ALL of the action was missed by the cameras . ALL of the major stories were missed except for the opening lap debacle which they over did to death . A truly terrible race broadcast .
Mark, I agree, I believe ABC was waiting on info about Mike Conways condition before continually showing the replay. They did not want to show if this was a deadly crash. Some producers actually have PRIDE, INTELLIGENTS and COMPASSION.
I noticed something during the televised pit stop competition at Indy . I remember watching the NASCAR version just a couple of weeks ago and thinking that an estimate of 200 people in the stands would be very optimistic . And then i see the crowd at the Indy competition and it had to be 10,000 or more . Nascar had better contact the IRL about how to put on a pit crew competition . And by the way , the IRL competition was far more interesting than the Nascar version .
I agree Mark, happiness, FOX is gone. I hope this year the people at FOX watch the TNT races and learn from them.Kyle isn’t perfect in the booth, but he and Wally are miles better than poor DW and Larry Mac. Their act has worn out it’s welcome with me.Too many negative issues , they need some big changes at FOX.
I understood Ray Evernham to say on EESPN that when he was still active he had statistics on how many cautions had occurred and when for past races at most tracks to help him predict when a caution might occur, especially in the latter part of races.
You people who think DW is good I must ask, how closely are you watching? I have a friend who calls me most every time DW is wrong about something he says or he sees. Believe me, DW is wrong a lot. If you don’t believe me, Give your phone # to my buddy and you’ll see for yourself.Your races will be ruined by annoying phone calls.
Even though Ashley Judd is a celebrity, that is not an excuse to plaster her all over the screen after a major accident has happened on the track. Yes, she is the race winner wife, so show her celebrating, but showing her running down pit road before they even showed the 1st replay of the crash was wrong. Other than that and not following up on Sarah Fisher, I think ABC/ESPN did a nice job with Indy.
Brent Musberger should never be allowed near a race track, though. He knows nothing about auto racing and should just stick to college football. Him trying to hype up the race like he knew what was going on was just painful to watch, especially when they asked him for his opinion.