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 September 28, 2010
Hello, race fans. It’s that time of the week once again. Welcome to Talking NASCAR TV, where critiquing stock car telecasts are the name of the game around here. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series made their second visits to Dover International Speedway, while the Camping World Truck Series had a standalone race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Smith’s Food & Drug Stores 350k
On Saturday night, the Camping World Truck Series was back in action. However, SPEED’s schedule on Saturday included over seven hours of live coverage from the Barrett-Jackson Auction that also happened to be in Las Vegas. Not only did this scheduling quirk mean there was no televised qualifying, but NCWTS Setup was also excised for the weekend. As a result, Krista Voda was not on air at all.
Because of the lack of a Setup show, pre-race coverage was very brief. Rick Allen talked viewers through the current point standings, while Ray and Adam previewed the race from down on the grid. There was also a mini-feature on Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday’s classic car collections, a Barrett-Jackson tie-in – as you might expect. The drivers proceeded to talk about their vehicles (how they acquired them, thoughts on them, etc.) that served as the perfect promotional vehicle for SPEED’s other coverage. Their explanations segued into the opening ceremonies, where there were some technical problems with Holly Madison’s command to start engines – but I think that was more on the track’s end than the network’s.
SPEED employed track level cameramen on the outside of Turns 2 and 4 during this race telecast. You could tell, because their camera shots tended to be very disorienting to watch. Either they were panning the cameras too fast, or zoomed in too far. Regardless, it hurt my eyes a little. Rookies need to start somewhere, but it wasn’t a sparkling debut for them.
Aside from the dizzying camera shots, though, SPEED did a very good job of covering this race. There was plenty of side-by-side action, and there were no issues with enthusiasm from the commentators.
However, I do have some thoughts. SPEED is not the best at notifying viewers about what happened to cause certain drivers to retire from the race. For instance, Johanna Long qualified 16th and apparently failed to complete a lap before dropping out due to transmission woes. This team put far too much promotion into their weekend (they actually put out a press release) to start-and-park, and Long is considered an up-and-coming Diversity drive. Her truck did go out and run the pace laps, but we didn’t see any more of her new No. 20 after that on television. Rick Crawford also made his return to the series in the Tagsby Racing No. 73, but dropped out due to overheating problems that were never mentioned. Interviews with both of those drivers should have happened at some point.
Post-race coverage was fairly decent. There were interviews with winner Austin Dillon and crew chief Danny Stockman. In addition, there were comments from Johnny Sauter, along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings before SPEED left the air. This abrupt departure left me wanting at least a couple more interviews, though, as it didn’t appear that the network was that close on time.
This broadcast was good to watch, but like I said earlier, they need to take some time to give proper updates on drivers who have had problems during the race. Now, I will admit that they did do a good job explaining what happened to Ryan Sieg, but there are plenty of other examples of SPEED simply not doing enough.
Once again, the college football juggernaut threw a wrench into ESPN2’s plans for NASCAR Countdown on Saturday. The Bowling Green-Michigan game, to almost no one’s surprise, ran long (there were seven minutes left at 3:00 PM when NASCAR Countdown was scheduled to start). The decision was made to simply put the pre-race show in a holding pattern rather than move it to ESPN Classic and pre-empt Up Close segments from the late 1990’s.
When the telecast finally came on air, roughly 15 minutes late, there were five interviews, paired with a Craftsman Tech Garage feature on shock setups for Dover. These tidbits were sandwiched around the usual pre-race analysis from the Infield Studio.
The more I watch these races, the more I don’t understand why ESPN cannot show more than the first seven to nine laps of a race before going to a commercial. It’s ridiculous. It’s like they’re racing to get to those advertisements. Here, there were two breaks in just the first 24 laps. Same verse, different day, I guess; it’s not the first time we’ve seen that from this network.
During the event, there was a Craftsman Tech Garage feature (via split screen) on shocks, specifically rebound. I’m pretty sure that this explanation was a repeat feature from the Brewer file, but it was still somewhat pertinent to the proceedings.
Since Danica Patrick was back in the field this past weekend, there was quite a bit of coverage of her struggles early on. Danica was still getting substantial coverage despite being two laps down in 34th. However, since I’m talking Danica, I should mention this solid portion of the coverage: ESPN played radio chatter where Danica complained of a vibration in the right front corner of the car. Tony Eury, Jr. basically told her to maintain; but shortly afterwards, the tire blew, put the GoDaddy.com No. 7 hard into the wall and eventually behind it. You should have brought her in, Tony.
On Lap 85, ESPN mentioned that Jeremy Clements’ No. 04 Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Chevrolet was being black-flagged for a stuck valve. This problem allowed fuel to splash out through the small hole where the catch can usually goes. First off, when did excess, leaky fuel become an offense where you can be black-flagged for it? There was a time that Kenny Wallace drove an entire race at Infineon Raceway with that problem. Isn’t the lack of fuel mileage and having to make an extra stop for gas punishment enough? Also, if this issue was happening, why not show Clements’ car so the viewers can see such a rare problem on a race car?
Another issue was when Kevin Harvick’s Chevy filled up with smoke right at the point that Elliott Sadler and Drew Herring had their huge crash exiting Turn 4. But ESPN chose not to touch on this issue until after all the cleanup was complete, the red flag was withdrawn, and pit stops had already been made. Dr. Punch gave an explanation from pit road about the fire inside of the car five laps after the restart. This incident sounded quite serious, yet it basically doesn’t get covered for 15 minutes? Ridiculous.
ESPN also found a way to be in commercial when all four of the yellows came out on Saturday. I’ve never seen this bad luck before. I know it could be argued that they might have caught the big wreck, but it happened while they were still in break.
Post-race coverage was fairly standard. After talking about Kyle Busch’s brand new Nationwide Series record (11 wins in a season), ESPN did post-race interviews with Busch, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Reed Sorenson, Trevor Bayne, and Danica Patrick. There was also some wrap-up discussion from the Infield Studio.
This broadcast was not the most engaging race to watch. ESPN showed some side-by-side action, but there was too much focus on Kyle Busch, and way too much on Danica Patrick, even after she returned to the race following her crash. The instances I’ve mentioned above are things that should not be repeated in the future. ESPN, you’re leaving fans in the dark on certain aspects of the race. You cannot do that and hope to maintain a decent audience.
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series returned to action. The full weekend schedules on ESPN, ESPN2, and SPEED resulted in Happy Hour practice not being aired on television at all. Granted, we still got to see the fireworks in the first Saturday practice, but fans may have been a little in the dark as to who the best contenders would be on Sunday. Let’s just say NASCAR Countdown didn’t exactly do much to alleviate this confusion, choosing to focus on the Chase rather than the race itself. Hard to hold an audience when you’re not advertising the product you’re showing that day…
A substantial amount of Countdown was dedicated to the whole mess surrounding Bowyer and his penalty. This part of the show included a recap of the Sylvania 300, the failed inspection, the consequences, the press conferences from Friday, the Harvick-Hamlin confrontation, Childress interviews, etc. Tim Brewer gave a demonstration of how Bowyer’s car would have looked at the height sticks, using Clint’s quarter theory. Richard Childress did a live interview on air, as did Bowyer. Mike Helton even joined in on the party from the broadcast booth. Yes, it was the big story, but this much? Pure overkill. However, overkill is standard operating procedure for ESPN (see, LeBron James: The Decision).
There was a feature on Kevin Harvick as well. This segment was basically the five-minute version of what “Riding Shotgun : Kyle Busch” should have been had ESPN not tried to tie it in to Kyle Busch doing the ESPN marathon. Here, Harvick was followed around for the week leading up to the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol. I’ll admit that this portion of the program was interesting to watch, far less ridiculous than the Kyle Busch reality show.
A random occurrence was the appearance of a question to drivers: “If you were in the military, which branch would you choose?” It more or less copied the Bumper to Bumper segments on NCWTS Setup. Of course, since some of the drivers have military sponsorship, some of the answers were obvious, but it was interesting nonetheless to hear what the drivers would say.
In response to recent complaints about constant breaks, I decided to try something new on Sunday. While watching the race, I used the stopwatch function on my iPod Touch to time the length of the commercial breaks during green flag action. I know, this move is a tad ridiculous. It’s the race broadcast equivalent of counting profanities in movies, like what users do at screenit.com. But what I found is that commercial breaks typically run 2:30 to 3:00 in length. Using Jayski’s commercial data, it means that there was just over ten minutes worth of commercials per half hour during the race. This is roughly three more minutes than a typical primetime show.
Race coverage was once again focused on the Chasers. I will say a good amount of time was spent on A.J. Allmendinger when he was leading the race; however, after he was forced to pit with the equivalent of a tack stuck in the right rear tire, his coverage fell off quite a bit.
With all the green flag racing on Sunday, ESPN only did two Up to Speed segments during the event. The first of these did not occur until Lap 283, while the other was a dreaded reminder of what time of year it is. That’s right; the Chaser-only Up to Speed is back in play. I am highly opposed to this concept, as it ignores drivers that are up front and having good runs in favor of those in the Chase.
Speaking of drivers being ignored, there always seems to be one each week that has a great run, but gets minimal coverage. Sunday, that was Paul Menard. Even Matt Kenseth, who is in the Chase, got ignored to a degree. ESPN never really covered the work that was done to his Crown Royal Ford. I was thinking that he was meat after the blown tire; but in the end, he was the first car one lap down in 18th. They just wrote him off for the day without following up.
The most ridiculous thing that viewers will take away from Sunday’s race was the fact that someone at ESPN thought it was a good idea to take a commercial break coming to ten laps to go at a track where laps in the race take roughly 24.5 seconds. What were they thinking? The only reasoning I can come up with is that they needed at least one more break during the race to satisfy sponsor’s needs. This race was relatively quick, so they likely assumed that there would be 35-50 laps to go at this point. The only good thing that I can say about the move is the fact that this break was the shortest one of the race, two minutes in length.
Since the race finished about 4:20 PM on Sunday, there was plenty of time for post-race coverage. However, ESPN chose not to fill it all. There were interviews with Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus. In addition, there were comments from Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and A.J. Allmendinger. There was then a check of the all-important Chase points before ESPN left for Sportscenter, 20 minutes early.
Granted, a good chunk of Sportscenter that early on Sunday is dedicated to the race, but it’s just not the same as if the crew already at the track was in charge, rather than Sportscenter anchors in Bristol, CT. They could have easily done more interviews, or broke down the race some more at the track until 5 PM.
That’s all for this week. Next week, the Chase continues with the annual jaunt to Kansas Speedway. The not-so-wide open spaces will play host to the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series this weekend. In addition, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards will race on Thursday evening. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series will have their season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night. Here’s your listings for the week (all times are in Eastern Daylight Time, please adjust for your time zone):
Thursday, September 30th
Friday, October 1st
Saturday, October 2nd
Sunday, October 3rd
Note that there is no coverage of qualifying for the Nationwide Series, nor the first practice session on Saturday for Sprint Cup due to the Petit Le Mans coverage from Road Atlanta, combined with plenty of college football action on the ESPN family of networks.
Next Tuesday, I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series telecasts produced by ESPN. The third telecast will be a toss-up between the ARCA race and the Izod IndyCar event; whatever doesn’t make the website will be covered in the Critic’s Annex in our Frontstretch 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 the ESPN or SPEED Channels 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!
If NASCAR wishes to understand why their ratings are going south, they need to look no further than ABC/ESPN. What is with this anyway. ABC was running Sunday Afternoon movies instead of the race. NASCAR needs to seriously look at dropping ABC/ESPN and get a partner willing to show the race and put some real coverage into it. Thank goodness for HotPass At least I can watch the race through a drivers windshield, which is better than watching commericals all day and a little bit of the race.
Thank god for raceview. At least I know my driver is in the race, even if it is a computer program. The regular tb coverage is bad beyond description. I think your comments are way too positive. I would describe the weekend coverage as putting lipstick on a pig, but that would be insulting the pig. I finally hit record and turned over to the NFL to watch the Steeelers. Way better show.
I believe that as ratings decline, the Networks get less revenue per commercial, so they have to show more commercials to make up for the loss in revenue. It’s a short term gain at the expense of the long term health of the sport.
Here’s a good indication for the decline in TV audience:
Number of times selected drivers were focused on:
The last one says it all.
Another reason for the commercial overload is the fact that the networks paid wayyyyy too much for the “privilege” of showing the “races.”
Will there be another TV deal at all?
I’m at a loss of words to describe nas$car’s current condition. Let’s just say it’s critical.
The commercials are simply a fact of life . Thats how the shows get paid for . But promos for up coming shows are very very tiresome . Instead of every single c- break , how about the networks cut down self promotion to two or three times an hour . And since there are fewer and fewer sponsors willing to put money into nascar programming , the few that do get shown over and over and over again . And they aren’t real good quality commercials to begin with . Montel and his scam for instance . And then there are the commercials from a year or two ago that we all got sick of seeing . After a layof , they’re brought back out of mothballs to irritate us again . Great marketing strategy .
The way I saw it they went to break with 12 laps to go, not 10.
Holy crap, I was watching the commercials Sunday afternoon and it must have been a slow day or something because out of nowhere they broke to a Nascar race. WTF?
Hi, couple of clarifications. The final break was with 10.5 laps to go. It was two minutes long guaranteed (I timed it).
The races in the Chase (with the exception of Charlotte) were moved to ESPN due to apparent conflict with e/i requirements on the West Coast. Of course, that’s garbage due to the fact that FOX aired the races that started at 1pm Eastern earlier this season.
DUMP ESPN/ABC. I can’t believe that NASCAR seems to forget that when ESPN starts their coverage NFL is right around the corner, and that’s all you see on ESPN is NFL, look at how many shows they have dedicated to NFL. If NASCAR was smart they would give FOX more races, meaning through the Summer, like through Daytona in July. Then let TNT/NBC take over the rest of the way.
Phil, you were right, it was a track issue when Holly gave the command. We heard nothing in the stands, then the engines started.
My biggest peeve about the CUP race was going to comml with 10 laps to go. WTH? Never should a comml be shown with 10 laps to go regardless where they’re racing.
hey jerry, you got jj stain on your chin.
‘I’m at a loss of words to describe nas$car’s current condition. Let’s just say it’s critical.’
Couldn’t agree more midasmicah with disastrous races and disastrous coverage it keeps on swirling around into possible oblivion.