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 October 5, 2010
Hello, race fans. It’s that time of the week once again. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, the piece where I take a look into race telecasts and critique their value to you, the people who watch. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were at Kansas Speedway. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series held their season finale Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Before I start, South Park Studios announced on Sunday that the second-half season premiere of South Park will cover NASCAR for the very first time. The episode, entitled “Poor and Stupid,” will cover Cartman wanting to race in NASCAR and fearing that he cannot reach the level of other drivers. The episode premieres Wednesday night at 10 PM ET on Comedy Central. I would be watching this show regardless of whether it was covering NASCAR or not, but since they are, I plan on critiquing this episode in the future. All I know so far is that some of the paint schemes on cars are based off the real thing – including the one Cartman will be driving.
Cafes do Brasil Indy 300
As always, the telecast on Versus started with IndyCar Central. Lindy Thackston was situated in the infield this week instead of out in the concourse behind the grandstands. The main reasoning for this change appeared to be a very small crowd, although that was never mentioned specifically on air.
The coverage started with a recap of the Kentucky Indy 300, then followed into interviews with Helio Castroneves and Will Power. Later interviews included Simona de Silvestro, Alex Lloyd, Dario Franchitti, and Power. A “Professor B” segment with Jon Beekhuis talked about shock absorbers, also known as dampers.
Executive Director of Marketing for Phillips-Van Heusen (parent company of Izod) Mike Kelly joined Thackston on the set for an interview. I do not understand why they did not use wireless mikes for the interview subjects. Instead, Lindy pointed her mike. That works for pit road interviews, but here it looks low-rent on a set.
Mike Conway also joined Thackston for his on-camera interview with Versus since his massive crash at the end of the Indianapolis 500. This interview served as more or less a “catching up” task. OK, but very bland.
Versus dispatched Danica Patrick (under the title Danica Talks…) to interview IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard about the major issues surrounding the series. This segment included info on the new car for 2012, as well as the aero kits designed for it. On paper, it sounds interesting because Danica can be quite fiery at times. In practice, this probably would have looked similar if any of the Versus pit reporters asked the questions, or even if posters on the IndyCar Series section of the MySpeed Forums asked them. We also didn’t learn much.
The race coverage was most definitely centered on the championship battle between Will Power and Dario Franchitti. Versus had a drop-down box from the scroll that showed the margin between the two drivers and made prodigious use of it throughout the race. Coverage of the event was also centered upon the two contenders. Simply put, unless you were one of those drivers, or you found yourself up front at some point, you weren’t getting on TV.
I can understand a certain amount of focus on championship contenders in a race, but what we got Saturday night was absolutely loony. Versus missed incidents on pit road because of their tunnel vision. During a green flag pit stop sequence, Ernesto (E.J.) Viso left the pits with his fuel filler still connected. Half a lap later, the broken filler part fell off the car and came to rest in the backstretch grass. Versus caught the bouncing filler part on camera live and noted that since it came to rest in the grass on the backstretch, there would be no caution. No replay was ever shown of the incident.
Milka Duno also managed to hit a tire at one point on pit road. Of course, Milka has been enough of an embarrassment this season that Versus takes great pains to not show her during races. That doesn’t excuse Versus from their job of covering the whole event, though. At least a replay should have been shown, because there was never a mention of this incident on-air.
Finally, during a round of pit stops under caution, Tony Kanaan nearly repeated what Viso did earlier in the race. As this incident happened during the caution for Will Power’s wall contact, however, his gaffe was only touched upon by one of the booth commentators until after they finished covering Power’s issues. After what seemed like ten minutes, Versus showed a replay of what happened.
The broadcast seemed to take its toll on the on-air personalities. On Lap 147 (still under caution from the Power incident), an argument broke out on-air between Jon Beekhuis in the booth and Jack Arute about Helio Castroneves’ pit strategy. Arute accused Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl of being “tardy” in the booth. The arguing continued until Versus abruptly cut both Beekhuis and Arute’s mikes, leading to a very awkward silence. This can be seen at the 3:40 mark of this clip. This verbal sparring is the type of stuff that (if it ever occurs) happens during commercial breaks. Their fight was crazy to watch live; in fact, I’ve never seen anything like it during a race before. I guess the crew’s worn out from a long year and all, but the resulting confrontation was basically unprofessional, bush league and a whole bunch of other things, with blame more or less lying with Arute here.
Speaking of the Power caution, it was 15 laps long for what could best be described as minor wall contact. It was well over ten laps before Jenkins explained to viewers that the caution was extended due to the fact that the light showing whether pit road was opened or closed was malfunctioning. If this reason’s the only one why this caution was longer than four or five laps, then it needed to be voiced out much earlier – simple as that.
The end of the race annoyed me as well. The last eight laps were run with a split-screen, one on the leader (Scott Dixon) and the battle for second between Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan. The other was on the in-car camera in Franchitti’s car. This method of covering the championship was annoying; Franchitti was running in eighth, all alone. There was nothing to see, and Versus’ redundant graphic notifying viewers that they were on board with Franchitti covered up the lap counter.
Post-race coverage was fairly substandard given the amount of time that Versus had. There were interviews with the top three finishers (Dixon, Patrick, and Kanaan), along with two interviews involving champion Dario Franchitti. A technical issue during the trophy ceremony saw Jack Arute’s microphone not working at the start of the presentation. He was visibly upset and stormed off the stage, but returned after a ten-minute delay and performed his duties immediately after the race podium ceremony (almost completely blocked for the few fans in attendance by the temporary stage set up for the championship trophy presentation).
This telecast was a very rough race for Versus, and I hope that this type of coverage does not continue in the future. I severely doubt that the network, and parent company Comcast, would be happy about two of their on-air personalities arguing like that. It would make them look bad. Changes could very well be in store for Versus’ on-air crew in 2011.
Kansas Lottery 300
Meanwhile, in Kansas, college football once again played a role in ESPN’s coverage of the Nationwide Series. The game between Clemson and Miami ran long by over 40 minutes on Saturday. This event pushed all of NASCAR Countdown and the start of the race to ESPN Classic. I understand the issue at hand here, but let’s face some facts: ESPN Classic’s audience has shrunken by a significant margin over the past two to three years.
Needless to say, that means a lot of people missed the beginning of Saturday’s action. When ESPN 2 joined the race at the end of Lap 12, Marty Reid recapped what had happened in the first segment before getting down to the current action. This method is a fine way to re-acclimate viewers, but I wish it didn’t have to happen in the first place.
After the race, I sent an e-mail to ESPN’s Andy Hall asking about Saturday’s schedule setup on ESPN2. The reply I received stated that the Clemson-Miami game started on time and somehow just lasted longer than normal. In addition, the fact that Saturday’s game was Clemson’s homecoming had no bearing on the actual length of the game. I don’t know about that. In closing, Hall iterated that “…it is ESPN’s policy to stay with an event to its conclusion.”
Race coverage was fairly decent. Unlike last week, there were no glaring issues with the telecast. No one running 35th got undue coverage just because of what they’re known for outside of racing. Nothing stood out at all. Perhaps that’s good in the long run that there isn’t anything for me to openly gripe about.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief. Before any post-race interviews were shown, there were replays of Logano’s pass for the win and Parker Kligerman’s crash in Turn 1. There were interviews with winner Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Carmichael, and Martin Truex Jr. The unofficial results stayed in the scroll and no point standings were shown before ESPN left the air.
This race was an average one to watch on TV. There was nothing really objectionable about the broadcast. However, there was also nothing that really stood out, save for the issues before the race even started with scheduling.
Price Chopper 400
Once again, technical problems hampered ESPN’s pre-race programming on Sunday. Five minutes before NASCAR Countdown was due to begin, an unfortunate audio problem popped up. Audio was…kaput. This issue was fixed, but half of NASCAR Countdown was unwatchable for viewers without HDTV’s. When the technical difficulties started happening, the aforementioned Andy Hall took to Twitter to explain the situation. He said “We had problem with entire standard def ESPN2 network out of our HQ in CT and apologize for the inconvenience.” Thank you for keeping us posted, Andy. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen again.
Luckily for us, I have other means to see coverage other than a Standard Definition feed on TV. NASCAR Countdown started off with a short recap of September 26th’s AAA 400. This flowed directly into an interview with Jimmie Johnson. Other interviews included Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Gordon.
There was another rehashing of the whole Clint Bowyer penalty since the ruling came down on Wednesday that the appeal was denied. This discussion came right after the Bowyer interview.
Continuing with the offbeat pieces from last week, ESPN ran a word association segment where they asked random drivers the first thing that came to their mind when they heard one of nine terms. This questioning led to some interesting answers, like everyone claiming Kyle Busch is NASCAR’s villain except for Kyle himself, who gave it to Brad Keselowski. I like these types of segments. I like a good laugh.
On a more serious note, there was a feature centered around the Dream Racer, a car made from the same materials as regular race cars, but loaded with a Sony PlayStation 3 and NASCAR games. These setups, which include steering wheels and pedals, are custom made for purchase at a cost of $9500. Rick Hendrick donated several of these Dream Racers (painted up in Hendrick colors, of course) to the Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. It also includes the touching story of six-year-old Lauren Turner, who suffers from Leukemia.
Another feature was centered upon Denny Hamlin, an avid basketball player, visiting the College Basketball Experience in Kansas City with Brad Daugherty. While there, Denny talks about his season, specifically the knee surgery in April and the conflict with RCR at Dover. It could be argued that the only reason Daugherty was there is because he used to play basketball professionally. This piece could have been conducted by anyone with ESPN, not just Brad.
Tim Brewer made a brief appearance from the Craftsman Tech Garage to talk about overall balance and clean air. Little did we know how much of a role clean air was going to play in the race.
The race had plenty of long green flag runs, including a 100-lap run that lasted until just after the halfway point. When the field gets that spread out, races for position are rare. ESPN did do an Up to Speed during this segment of the race towards the end of it. However, the all-Chaser Up to Speed segments were back in play again. This annoys me. Other drivers essentially get no respect this time of year.
There was quite a bit of surprise for A.J. Allmendinger’s top-10 finish at the end of the race on Sunday, but that is only because he wasn’t shown very much on the broadcast. The only time he got a significant amount of coverage Sunday was when he sandwiched the No. 43 Dodge in a three-wide battle with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Johnson early on.
It appears that ESPN definitely got the message from viewers not to pull the commercial in the final eleven laps of the race move again after last weekend. Writers on Twitter noted that the final 23 minutes of the event were shown without commercial interruption. This move is very rare for any network, especially one that usually goes somewhere between three to six minutes between commercial breaks. It shows a renewed commitment to showing the action from ESPN after spending the last week or so being dragged across the coals by fellow writers and fans.
Post-race coverage was decent. There were interviews with winner Greg Biffle and his crew chief Greg Erwin, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, and David Reutimann. Before ESPN interviewed Kyle, there was live footage shown of an argument between Busch and car owner Joe Gibbs. Kyle was still very angry over the incident with Reutimann earlier in the race. However, when he did the interview a couple of minutes later, he was actually quite chipper, leading people to say that “The New Kyle Busch showed up.” The point standings were also displayed on screen before ESPN left the air.
This broadcast was OK to watch, but once again, it was stuffed heavy with emphasis on the Chasers. ESPN is seemingly making an effort to improve their telecasts, though, which is definitely good to see in the face of ratings that are down 20 percent from last year. However, they do have a ways to go.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return to Auto Club Speedway for a doubleheader weekend. Meanwhile, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards will hold their season finale Saturday at the 1.017-mile Rockingham Speedway. Also this weekend is the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 for the V8 Supercars in Australia. This race will be shown in a two-hour slot on SPEED on October 17th. Here’s your listings for this week:
Friday, October 8
Saturday, October 9
Sunday, October 10
Note that there is no coverage of qualifying for the Nationwide Series, or the first practice session on Saturday for the Sprint Cup Series due to the Petit Le Mans coverage from Road Atlanta.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
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!
Ok, so Milka Duno is a terrible race car driver. But at least she really is hot. Unlike Danica, whom is a terrible driver, and has the body of a 12 year old boy.
The Cup race was scheduled for three hours and was 2:54. Pretty close so their schedule for commercials could work.
Grow up Jacob, for god’s sakes! You sound like a pre-pubescent twelve year old. An envious one at that.
Can someone tell Jamie Little that she’s a pit reporter and not supposed to do play-by-play? It seems like every week she reports on a driver or team, she cuts herself off to say “and he’s getting passed” or “and there’s a caution” or something. Small distraction, but it’s an easy fix.
RamblinWreck, are you just singling Jamie out for doing that? I’m pretty sure all the pit reporters do that from time to time, particularly Dave Burns. It doesn’t really bother me much. It’s not like they’re talking just to hear themselves talk.
The “race” started at 1:19.
And I’m getting tired of “and fill it up with Sunoco fuel.” They mention Sunoco more in one race than Union 76 got during the whole time they supplied the fuel.
I agree with RamblinWreck,I have seen and heard far too much from Jamie Little, but as you say it is an easy fix, either fast forward the tape or hit the mute button.NASCAR races are looking more like Entertainment Tonight lately.Maybe some people are getting tired of the pretty faces and just want some more racing coverage.
Don Mei: Why are you saying that? As we can see from the Sarah Fisher’s of the world, a woman in racing isn’t about talent, it is about their sex appeal. So if I can only watch hot women that can’t drive, then what is the problem with pointing it out?
You sound like a typical “head-in-the-sand” person, that likes to pretend that life’s reality doesn’t exist, simply because it makes you uncomfortable.
I turned to Race Hub last night and Larry Mc was crying for poor little Kyle, I turned to the Fox News Ch. I tried again a little later & Larry was still crying for poor little Kyle. I turned the channel and did not try to go back.
Yes Jacob………. You do need to grow up.
VERSUS really sucks covering the irl racing.
They are doing exactly what the networks have done to nascar, cover the top two or three drivers and forget the rest.
it was totally a frustrating evening trying to watch the entire “race”!
You totally throw Versus under the bus for their coverage, saying that the entire focus was on the championship drivers, but with ESPN, its all you get, and you give one litte reference to them?
Menard was leading for a while and got totally ignored by ESPN the entire time he was leading. Why? Because he’s not a Chaser. This tells me that even if you lead, you will not get coverage unless you are a chaser. But of course, you give them a pass on it. Menard finished in the top 5 and still got nothing.
Keep showing your hate towards the IRL. Its pretty obvious with this critique. The IRL will be giving Nascar a real run for their money in the next few years if they play their cards right and Nascar is just garbage to watch right now.
I usually like this column, but this one wasn’t one of your best, Phil.
I do realize it’s a little tough… in another sport you wouldn’t hear a sideline reporter commenting on the action on the field, but they would usually report when there’s a break in play—something our sport doesn’t have much of at all.