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 June 8, 2010
Hello, race fans, and welcome to our weekly look at race broadcasts. Last weekend was the first of many where the Sprint Cup Series ran separate from NASCAR’s other top divisions. The Sprint Cup Series appeared at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, while the Nationwide Series raced at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee and the Camping World Truck Series was at Texas Motor Speedway near Justin, Texas.
WinStar World Casino 400k
On Friday night, SPEED aired coverage of the WinStar World Casino 400k from Texas Motor Speedway. Due to TNT’s Summer Series beginning this past weekend, there were a couple of on-air changes. Firstly, since Adam Alexander is TNT’s new play-by-play commentator, he was not in Texas this week, preferring to focus on his new job. Krista Voda, normally just the host of NCWTS Setup, took his place on pit road and will do so for the next couple of races. However, Voda continues as the host of the Setup. Phil Parsons will come down from the booth to take Alexander’s place on pit road during pre-race festivities.
NCWTS Setup included a sitdown interview with Johnny Benson about his race in the No. 18 and his plans for the rest of the season. It was here that we learned just how close Benson was to a full-season sponsorship deal that would have put Benson in a third Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. There was also a feature on Nelson Piquet, Jr. and his adjustment to NASCAR, transitioning after spending his entire career in open-wheel racing, which I found to be quite interesting (for those of you who missed it, Piquet really wants to introduce NASCAR to his countrymen in Brazil).
One thing that concerned me a little bit here was in the Memory Lane segment where Michael Waltrip and Parsons pick a race and describe it. Parsons chose the four-race stretch that Brendan Gaughan utterly dominated. That’s perfectly fine, but the way he described it made it sound like he was affiliated with the team (Orleans Racing) at the time. There was a lot of “we’s” coming from Parsons in that piece. If so, this could be considered an unprofessional moment.
During the race telecast, I liked the use of the split-screen for the replay while showing live action early in the race. Hopefully, this can be used in other broadcasts later this season.
However, there are a couple of things that I wasn’t a fan of in the telecast. The second caution was thrown for debris on Lap 74. I don’t think SPEED mentioned what this yellow was until after a commercial break, and the better part of five additional minutes after the break had passed. Not cool. At the time, it seemed to me that they had thrown the yellow for nothing.
The double commercial break that I often ranted about last season also made a comeback towards the end of the race Friday night. Never been a fan of that. When SPEED finally returned, the race was under caution for Ricky Carmichael’s crash, and we missed it. Just awful. I despise that garbage. It’s not like the race wasn’t going to fill its timeslot — it went to the expected length.
Commercials also caused SPEED to nearly miss the last restart. This is nuts, especially knowing that it was a Green-White-Checker restart. Usually, there would be some kind of buildup towards the ending … but not on Friday night.
Post-race coverage was relatively short, since SPEED was seemingly in a hurry to get off the air. There were quick interviews with the winner Todd Bodine, his crew chief Mike Hillman, Jr., and Johnny Sauter. In addition, there were checks of the Unofficial Results and Point Standings before SPEED left for a repeat of Trackside.
This broadcast could definitely use some improvement, due to the reasons I presented above. But overall, it was OK to watch. Allen, Parsons, and Waltrip were their usual selves in the booth.
Federated Auto Parts 300
On Saturday night, the Nationwide Series raced the Federated Auto Parts 300 from Nashville Superspeedway. As this is another standalone weekend, ESPN brought some changes to the on-air group. This race served as Vince Welch’s debut in the broadcast booth in a play-by-play role, while Marty Reid took the week after Indianapolis off. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree joined Welch in the booth, while Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, and Shannon Spake were on pit road.
NASCAR Countdown, according to my on-screen guide and the listing on ESPN’s TV Listing page, espntv.com, was supposed to be a full hour. In practice, it ended up being more along the lines of a half-hour due to the tape-delayed airing of pole qualifying running long. I’m fine with this, only because this race really didn’t need a full hour of pre-race coverage (Actually, very few with the exception of the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 do).
There was a nice feature during Countdown on the massive flooding that hit the Nashville area recently and how race teams pitched in to help the relief effort. This interspersed local television footage with original interviews and was quite well done. The rest of NASCAR Countdown consisted of interviews and pre-race analysis, mainly from the Infield Studio.
From what I could see and hear on the telecast, Vince Welch seemed quite nervous in the booth. Then again, I can’t blame him. I’d be nervous, too, if I got thrown in there basically cold to commentate on a Nationwide race. He seems like a different person. On pit road, Welch reminds me of a younger Jack Arute. Here, Welch sounded a little like Dr. Jerry Punch in the booth from last year. And, we remember how well that went over.
Welch made only a passing mention of Willie Allen having to start the race from the pits after serving a two-lap penalty for “unapproved adjustments.” Usually, when you make unapproved adjustments during an impound situation, you just get sent to the back. This is the first time I’ve seen someone get forced to start from the pits in a NASCAR race. It just doesn’t make any sense. I doubt Willie minds all that much now since he got a Top 15 at Saturday night after making up the two laps, but it just seemed so weird at the time. ESPN should have given us a better explanation of how Allen could get docked two laps before the race even starts.
Post-race coverage was pretty decent, since the race finished inside of its three-hour timeslot. There were interviews with winner Brad Keselowski and his crew chief, Paul Wolfe. In addition, there were interviews with Carl Edwards, Brendan Gaughan, Paul Menard, Justin Allgaier and hometown man Willie Allen. There was also a look at the point standings during post-race, while the unofficial results remained in the scroll.
The Welch experiment in the broadcast booth is a work in progress, for sure. I believe that as he becomes more comfortable up there, he’ll become better as a commentator. Saturday, he was tentative. and it showed. Luckily for him, he has three more tries this year up in the booth to improve.
Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500
On Sunday afternoon, TNT presented coverage of the Sprint Cup Series’ Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500. This was the first of TNT’s six-race Summer Series. This year, the network has made quite a few changes both on-air, and to RaceBuddy. First off, Adam Alexander is in as the play-by-play commentator, replacing the fired Bill Weber and the interim commentator, Ralph Sheheen. Wally Dallenbach and Kyle Petty return as booth analysts.
Sheheen moves back to his role as a pit reporter, while Matt Yocum and Marty Snider also return to pit duties. Lindsay Czarniak has been moved off of pit road for this season, and she has been replaced by Phil Parsons. This serves as a return of sorts for Parsons, since he worked at least one TBS broadcast in the booth back in the 1980’s, when he was sharing a car with brother Benny.
Meanwhile, Czarniak has been moved to the Infield stage with Larry McReynolds, replacing Marc Fein. Fein has decided to focus on the work he does for NBA TV.
There is also a new pre-race setup for TNT this year. For the past three years, TNT has had 90 minutes of pre-race programming prior to the race coverage. The one hour NASCAR on TNT Live! has been ditched for this year. Countdown to Green, formerly just a half-hour, has been lengthened to an hour.
RaceBuddy has been improved for 2010 with screens that are apparently 28 percent larger than last year. The screens have two settings, live and quality. The live setting is like last year, but with bigger screens. The quality setting gives you a better picture, plus the ability to rewind the feed, thus creating your own replays. I think that this is a bit of a gimmick, to be honest. I didn’t use it that much, but maybe some of my readers did. The service also has tweets from teams and live chat. The leaderboard leaves a lot to be desired, though. It’s slow to update and doesn’t show intervals; in fact, it only shows driver’s position and their last lap speed. I hope Turner Sports can fix that for upcoming races.
Countdown to Green re-introduced some of TNT’s features from the past. The Ponytail Express, where Kyle Petty rides his Victory motorcycle from race to race and takes in various sites along the way, returns this year, but Rutledge Wood does not. My best guess is that Rutledge had a conflict with taping for TopGear USA. Wally’s World is back as well, more or less unchanged (Sunday’s piece covered getting off of Turn 3). However, I find myself yearning for the days in which Wally would scare the bejesus out of people in the two-seater. During the rain delay coverage, TNT replayed some of those old clips.
There was a Pride of NASCAR feature on Mario Andretti, mainly focused on when he won the 1967 Daytona 500. As a history nut, I find this type of feature interesting. However, Andretti had only 14 starts in what is now the Sprint Cup Series, so there was not all that much that could be covered in that piece. Czarniak also conducted a sit down interview with Joe Gibbs that was quite interesting to watch.
The one thing that I did not like about pre-race was the noticeable lack of driver interviews. Only four or five actually made the broadcast, while many more (conducted by Jim Noble) were exclusive to RaceBuddy. I guess that’s the way RaceBuddy pre-race coverage is going to be this year, which is not really that much of a stretch.
As most of you already know, the race start was delayed for two hours due to rain. During that delay, Czarniak and McReynolds continued to host the coverage, but from inside of a studio. Apparently, it was on the second floor of the infield pagoda overlooking Victory Lane, but with a giant screen behind them like what FOX had with the Hollywood Hotel.
TNT provided viewers with nearly two dozen interviews of drivers and crew chiefs during the delay, in addition to more analysis from the broadcast booth, and Czarniak and McReynolds. In instances where TNT needed to kill time, they aired some file footage, like replaying the Wally’s World feature from Countdown to Green, which wasn’t really necessary. They also replayed the Pride of NASCAR piece on Richard Petty from last year, where Kyle interviewed his father.
Adam Alexander started out a little rough in the broadcast booth, making a couple of minor flubs early on. However, later in the race, Adam seemed to come into his own, settling rather nicely into his new gig. I think that Adam will be fine as a play-by-play man over time.
I’m not sure if I can say the same about Phil Parsons on pit road. Parsons’ strength is in the broadcast booth, as he is not the strongest interviewer on earth. Also, Parsons’ mere presence on the telecast looks quite weird knowing that he is the principal owner of PRISM Motorsports, a team that start and parks almost all the time.
On Sunday, he threw out softball questions so that drivers didn’t have to answer what they didn’t want to answer. For example, Parsons was the man assigned to talk to Kevin Harvick after his run-in with Joey Logano. He then proceeded to lob a softball at Harvick, and Harvick didn’t even really talk about the incident, other than to say that Logano should have given him the position, which is ludicrous knowing that there were two laps to go. Parsons needs to improve his questioning methods for the rest of this Summer Series.
A new feature for this season that debuted on Lap 38 is “Closing the Gap.” This is a graphic that shows the distance, in feet and inches, between two cars. It changes in real time, and is meant to show how distance changes between cars at different points around the track. In practice, it is essentially the answer to a question that was never asked.
One thing that irked me was with the fourth caution brought out by Casey Mears’ spin on the restart from caution 3. Apparently, David Reutimann spun as well, and they had a shot of this from the roof-cam on the No. 00; however, they did not include it in the race broadcast. I only noticed it during the RaceBuddy-exclusive post-race show.
I mentioned earlier how I didn’t like how TNT (and Parsons in particular) handled the whole Logano-Harvick incident. It goes further. It was unclear where Denny Hamlin was when the caution came out, and he has since stated that he thinks he was 100 yards from the start-finish line when the yellow flew. But how could we tell? We never did see where he was. TNT should have had a shot of where Denny’s car was positioned when the yellow came out; although in the end, this incident is just one more reason why NASCAR should mandate yellow lights inside the car.
Post-race coverage was quite extensive, knowing that the rain put the race 90 minutes-plus into overtime. TNT had five interviews in their regular post-race coverage, along with a check of the points, unofficial results, and some analysis. The RaceBuddy-exclusive extension had replays of interviews with Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano, along with three more interviews.
Based on what I saw Sunday, TNT has a lot going for them this year. I just hope that Phil can become a little better at his reporting job.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, all three major NASCAR series are back in action. The Sprint Cup Series will be racing in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Raceway on Sunday, joined by the Camping World Truck Series on Saturday and the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Re/MAX and Menards on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series has their second consecutive non-Sprint Cup support race. They will race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky.
Here’s your weekly TV viewing schedule:
Wednesday, June 9
Friday, June 11
Saturday, June 12
Sunday, June 13
&- Joined in Progress *- Tape Delay
I will be providing critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch.com. The Critic’s Annex will discuss either the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Prelude to the Dream or the ARCA race. Check out the Thursday Frontstretch Newsletter to find out.
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 TNT, ESPN, or the SPEED Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage from last weekend, please click on the following links:
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.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I’m having a lot of trouble understanding how Phil Parsons looked “ wierd “ as a pit reporter . I’m a race fan , and i didn’t find his presense “ wierd “ . Phil is far better known as a former driver and broadcast analyst than he is as a car owner . So if you hadn’t gone way out of your way to inform the readers about Phil owning a team , one of your so-called start and park teams , i really don’t think it would be an issue for anyone but you Phil . Phil Parsons using his many years of race broadcast skills and racing knowledge on the TNT races is certainly not “ wierd “ .
Phil said: “this incident is just one more reason why NASCAR should mandate yellow lights inside the car.”
Yes yes yes, a thousand times yes!! A solid, or even blinking, yellow light that lights up on the dash when the caution lights are on, should help a lot. And they would stay on until the one-to-go signal is displayed.
I do have a problem with Phil Parson being paid by the networks for being in the booth or on pit road (to me he losses all credablity by being a start and park owner). I do not believe Phil went out of his way to state that Phil Parson was the owner of a start and park team.
I went to ASA races about 10 yrs ago and thay already had the dash lights and an audible warning system (came over drivers radio) to notify of caution. Once again nascar drags behind.
When I first saw that Phil Parsons was going to be on TNT this year my first comment was, “Why does he need another job? He makes enough money already with his two start-and-park teams.” Until he stops taking advantage of NASCAR’s system, he does not belong on TV, especially in the Cup Series.
It seems clear to me that having Parsons on the broadcast compromised TNT’s credibility. Parsons is obviously not a racer and his money-grubbing S&P operation is a big story, but I doubt TNT will ever address the topic when it has the king of S&P’ers calling the race. Baldwin and Nemechek obviously S&P at times so they can actually race down the road, but so far it is clear that Parsons is in Cup just to make a buck, not to race, and from time to time knocks out real racers.
I would like to see Dr. Dick Berggren kept on as a pit reporter for the whole year.
He put him in the wall… HE PUT ‘IM IN THE WALLLL!!!!
HA HA HA… no more DW for 6 months.
I agree that Phil Parsons presence is rather strange on pit road. There he is interviewing other drivers and crews while his teams merrily stop and park away. How strange!
And I agree that his questioning of Harvick was really weak. What softball questions. He just let Harvick quickly change the subject. If that is his example of pit road questioning it is highly unimpressive.
At least Tony Stewart was able to get in his comment that the racing was ‘stupid’. I could not have agree more.
I am not sure about anyone else, but I could never figure out what was going on till the last 50 laps when there was no commercials. The whole race was 5 minutes race then 5 minutes commercials, i actually timed a few. Then you have 1 minute of on screen advertising. Can we please just watch the race? I wish the guys were excited as the MRN guys. They tell you what is happening step by step, when you are watching tv, you miss a lot of the good racing that is going on because they don’t cover it. I also don’t think they interview enough people. There are more stories than just the top guys or the top sponsor guys. Mark and Jeff got in a bad wreck, did they interview them? NO, why? Because the feud was better, yes it was good but what about everyone else.
TNT’s coverage is waaaay better than FOX’s As for PP, to S&P is just such a honorable way to be @ the track. NOT