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 August 17, 2010
Hello, race fans. It’s that time once again — critique time! This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were at Michigan International Speedway. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series had a standalone race at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night. How were these telecasts to watch on TV? Let’s find out.
Too Tough To Tame 200
On Saturday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned to Darlington Raceway for the first time since 2004 to run the Too Tough To Tame 200. SPEED provided the coverage with their usual on-air crew.
NCWTS Setup started out with a look back on some classic finishes on the egg-shaped oval. The problem with this little montage is that all the great finishes were in the Cup Series, not the Trucks. Granted, it’s always nice to see classic footage, but this is not the Sprint Cup Series that we’re talking about here; it’s the Camping World Truck Series. There were six pre-race interviews conducted by Alexander and Dunlap, which I believe is a fair number for a half-hour pre-race show.
The Vault feature returned, after a long hiatus, in order to recap the 2002 race at Darlington, won by Ted Musgrave. That was so long ago ESPN2 had the exclusive rights to the then-Craftsman Truck Series, meaning viewers heard Dr. Jerry Punch’s call of the race in the background underneath the narrator. The series was quite different back then. But, it could definitely be used as a learning experience for viewers since very few of the teams in that race are still around.
There was also a feature on Brett Butler’s rookie season in the series and what he’s learned so far. Brett appears to be realistic in his goals, and he’s at least worth watching in the future.
When it came to the race broadcast, SPEED mainly stuck with their main storylines. This meant that they covered Ken Schrader’s exploits after having to change a battery before the start, point leader Todd Bodine, and whoever was up front. Having said that, the broadcast booth was very informative with the on-track action. In all honesty, that’s about all I really need from a race broadcast these days.
SPEED did make a mistake in identifying a Lucky Dog recipient during the seventh caution. Yes, the No. 46 received it; however, SPEED mentioned the wrong driver. The No. 46 was being driven by J.C. Stout on Saturday night, but SPEED referred to Stout as Clay Greenfield. Greenfield has driven the No. 46 a few times this season, including Nashville on August 7th. Whoops.
A new level to the scroll was introduced during the race. Instead of it showing the manufacturer, lap times, or interval behind the wall, it would show the number of points that each driver had. I don’t like it very much, to be honest. It’s jumbled up and just not ideal.
Since the race had nine cautions, post-race coverage was relatively brief. SPEED provided viewers with interviews of winner Todd Bodine and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr., Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, and Ron Hornaday. There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings before SPEED left the air, having just filled their slot.
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series returned to Michigan International Speedway for the 19th running of the Carfax 250. ESPN had their usual group of personalities on hand for the call.
Since Saturday was the second race for the new Nationwide Series cars (Challengers, Mustangs, etc.), ESPN decided to go with a one hour pre-race show. I generally don’t believe that was necessary. Also, due to Nationwide Series Technical Inspection running extremely long (something Kenny Wallace called NASCAR out on for starting too late during coverage of qualifying on SPEED), Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour was running at the same time (on SPEED) as the first half-hour of NASCAR Countdown.
In addition to an expanded amount of pre-race analysis from Bestwick and the gang in the Infield Studio, ESPN showed a feature where Andy Petree went to Penske Racing to learn about some of the differences between the old car and the new car with the help of Justin Allgaier’s crew chief, Chad Walter. This was aided by some graphics from ESPN. Informative, I guess. Andy then joined the broadcast for continued discussion about the car and how Cup CoT information can carry over to the Nationwide machine.
Tim Brewer added to this line of discussion with a Craftsman Tech Garage feature on the front springs and how these cars can coil bind. Later on, Brewer did a second feature on the “spoiler ears” on the cars and how they can be adjusted.
Allen Bestwick did a sitdown interview with Dodge President/CEO Ralph Gilles and Roger Penske about the new Nationwide Dodge Challenger. Penske’s portion of the interview was based around his relationship with Dodge, while Gilles talked about the transferring of technology from the Nationwide Challenger to the street car. These Q & A sessions looked like they were only an excerpt of a much longer feature, but what we got to see was pretty interesting.
Following a recap of last years’ Carfax 250, ESPN showed a feature on Brad Keselowski in which Brad talked about his driving style and how he feels like he needs to be the center of attention. I’ll admit that this interview was interesting to watch.
This race also brought Danica Patrick back into the picture for her sixth start of the year. Mainly because she’s Danica, ESPN decided to give us constant updates of her position on track. Of course, the result was a bunch of disjointed updates where the broadcast booth interrupted what they were talking about to cover Danica’s struggles (she finished four laps down in 27th).
Once the race started, ESPN focused as much as they could on actual battles for position, which is always good to see. However, the first green flag run went for 62 laps. In that time, Brad Keselowski pulled out to a mammoth 11-second lead over the field. When that happens, ESPN could have two options. One is to hope to find a good race further down the pack to cover. The other is focus in on individual stories and try to make it interesting. For most of Saturday’s race, ESPN chose the latter out of necessity.
There was an instance of an uncensored F-Bomb making the broadcast when Rick Yeomans, rear tire changer on Mike Wallace’s No. 01, had some issues on his first stop. Yeomans was serving as ESPN’s Over the Wall reporter. After the stop, Reid acknowledged the obscenity and apologized. Now, I guess that’s expected these days, but I don’t believe that it’s necessary. It’s one thing if Marty cussed on-air, but someone swearing in the heat of the moment during a bad pit stop is almost to be expected. Most people that would get offended hearing something like that on TV would do it themselves in that situation.
Since the race ended quickly, there was plenty of post-race coverage to be had. There were 11 post-race interviews, and a check of the point standings. The unofficial results were kept in the scroll. Once the interviews were done, there was an additional Craftsman Tech Garage segment on clutch issues that nearly derailed Brad Keselowski’s race.
The Sprint Cup Series returned to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday for their second visit of the season. ESPN had their usual group of on-air personalities, except for one. Jamie Little got the week off. Mike Massaro took her place on pit road.
Kevin Harvick’s crew chief, Gil Martin, briefly joined Brewer in the Craftsman Tech Garage to discuss changes that were made to the No. 29 prior to the race. As far as I know, that is a new aspect of pre-race. I find it interesting. Now, there are times (Talladega) where this concept cannot be used, but I think it will be beneficial in the long run.
Marty Smith made a rare NASCAR Countdown appearance to talk about Jack Roush’s return to the track after his plane crash. The same clip of Roush explaining what happened in Oshkosh that was played during NASCAR Countdown on Saturday (and multiple other times throughout the weekend) was replayed here. Smith, introduced as a NASCAR Now reporter, is probably the third or fourth-most experienced NASCAR reporter personality with ESPN these days, behind Punch and Massaro. As a result, I believe that he is underutilized on NASCAR broadcasts — with the exception of NASCAR Now. It would benefit ESPN to give him a bigger role. If this means Marty is conducting pre-race interviews, so be it. He works relatively well with other drivers in features, so that’s doable as well.
ESPN decided to constantly remind us of Michigan’s tendency towards long green flag runs throughout NASCAR Countdown and into the race. I guess that’s accurate, since it occurred in the Nationwide race and in the Cup race, but we generally don’t need to be reminded more than once. With the many diehards that watch the races, maybe not at all.
In Watkins Glen, ESPN debuted their RaceTracker graphic, which is effectively a combination of the lap tracker used in their qualifying coverage and TNT’s Closing the Gap feature. However, I think that this actually works better than Closing the Gap because it estimates when a “catch” might occur. Also, TNT’s graphic is more dependent on the actual pictures. ESPN’s can operate independent of the pictures.
Another new graphic that appeared during the race on Sunday was a mileage comparison graphic. Such a thing is only possible via the transponders that all the cars carry on their windshields. This graphic displayed the total distance traveled in the race up to that point. This is interesting in that it gives a visual representation of how using different lines on the track equates to total distance traveled over a period of time.
This year, ESPN is also showing all of the races to the finish line to the viewers. This is a step up from last year, when sometimes, as few as three cars would be shown before cutting to either an in-car camera or a celebrating crew.
Post-race coverage was fairly typical. There were post-race interviews with Kevin Harvick, crew chief Gil Martin and car owner Richard Childress from the winning No. 29 team. In addition, ESPN also had interviews with Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano (post-argument), and Kasey Kahne. Carl Edwards, who finished third, joined the Infield Studio for his regularly scheduled chat during Sportscenter.
Generally, this telecast was a very good one to watch on Sunday. ESPN showed as much of the action on track as possible. When Harvick ran away to a seven-second lead, action further down the ladder was shown. The enthusiasm was quite high, especially on the restarts. It’s quite a change from the constant complaining last year about commentators sounding bored.
That’s all for this edition. Later this week, all three of NASCAR’s top series will be at Bristol Motor Speedway. In addition, the Whelen Modified Series (Northern and Southern Divisions) will run a conjunction event at Bristol right before the Truck race on Wednesday night. Here’s your schedule:
Wednesday, August 18
Friday, August 20
Saturday, August 21
Sunday, August 22
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series races from Bristol next week, while the Modified race will be covered the following Thursday, inside the Critic’s Annex in our FREE Newsletter.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. And if you would like to contact ESPN or the SPEED Channel personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage 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!
The coverage of the cars crossing the finish line should be made a rule by NASCAR . If you want to televise a race , you are required to show every competitor thats still running going across the line at the finish . If we miss the winners crew high fiving each other , then so be it . There is far more to each race than just the winner or the top five finishers .
ESPN’s coverage of the race on Saturday wasn’t that good. They did a much better job on Sunday UNTIL they messed up the camera shot at the finish line. C’mon guys — every fan wants to know where their guy finishes and not just by seeing it on the scroll.
Keep a camera shot fixed on the finish line at the end of the race. Use a split screen to follower the winner/happy team/wife/whatever so that fans can see the cars cross the finish line.
I’m less upset about watching cars cross the line as I am about the fact that it seems every time something happens on the track, ESPN is at commercial or they just miss it completely. It took about 5 minutes and 4 different camera angles before they were actually able to show what happened with Busch’s engine. It was like that all day.
Also, are the races this unexciting that ESPN has to generate false excitement by providing us false information. Twice they mentioned Biffle having problems as he’s passing another car on the track. Talk about confusing viewers.
Then Jarret after the last restart saying Biffle is the car to beat as he falls back in the field.
Rusty saying that fresh tires are so important as Harvick, who didn’t even pit the last caution, pulls away from the field.
Dougherty trying to convince us that something is up with the 48 team just because they are not in the Top 5 every week. You would think after 4 years people would get this. The tracks are not in the chase so they do not pay special attention to these tracks, so he is not always in the front. His cars are good and he will be a threat once the Chase starts I can assure Brad Dougherty of this.
Other than the false sense of excitement, I actually didn’t think this was one of the better races at Michigan.
The TV cameras should show the in-car shots out the front windshield for a longer time so it will show how the cars are handling and moving around and gaining or losing on the car in front. They tease us with three or four seconds when it would be better for a lap or more.
Speaking of the 48 , why didn’t ESPN bother to mention the Hendrick cars during the race . No mention of Gordon starting so far back , or how many cars he passed . No mention of the 48 team at all during the race . And no mention at all of Martin . Not even Earnhardt Jr. . It seems ESPN only wants to focus on all of the other competitors and ignore the Hendrick cars . If they don’t pay any attention to the Hendrick teams , stock car racing is going to die off completely .
Time slot for race 12-4:30
Hey, Martin: lots of us are sick of hearing “Hendrick, Hendrick, Hendrick.”
There are other cars & owners, and it was a delight not to have the convicted felon’s team shoved down our collective throats yet another time.