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
Tuesday March 4, 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 October 12, 2010
Hello, race fans. It’s that time once again. It’s time to talk about race broadcasts. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were at Auto Club Speedway for their final Fall visit to the two-mile, D-shaped tri-oval. Meanwhile, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Re/MAX and Menards held their 20th and final race of the season from Rockingham Speedway.
However, before we start:
SportsBusinessJournal.com is reporting that ESPN has fired Neil Goldberg, the network’s former Senior Producer for Motorsports coverage. This incident comes less than a week after Goldberg turned himself in on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, amongst others. Also, Goldberg’s longtime No. 2, James Shiftan, has taken a temporary leave of absence from work at the track due to personal reasons. As you may remember, Shiftan, often referred to as “Shifty” by nearly everyone in the ESPN compound, was the producer that conducted my tour of the TV compound at Watkins Glen last year. We here at Frontstretch wish James all the best. These circumstances mean that Neil’s former boss, Jill Fredrickson, was put in the chair on a temporary basis starting in Fontana and will continue to work in that capacity, in addition to her duties as a Senior Coordinating Producer, until the end of the season.
SPEED’s telecast of the ARCA season finale started with a montage of their first 19 races, emphasizing the close points competition and the fact that 14 different drivers won races this season (12 first-time winners). This series is not the ARCA of 2001, when it was Frank Kimmel and everybody else while the veteran romped to another record-breaking title run. In addition, there were interviews with the three championship contenders (Patrick Sheltra, Craig Goess, and Tom Hessert) and a check of the points before the race started. The only changes in SPEED’s on-air crew was the addition of Ray Dunlap on pit road, as Wendy Venturini and Darrell Waltrip were both in Fontana for the Cup race.
This race, much like last weekend at Kansas, was time-shifted. As a result, SPEED could skip things if they felt like it. Here, the national anthem and the command to start engines were actually cut out of the broadcast. They did the aforementioned interviews in the first segment, went to commercial, and came back for the pace laps. I’ve never seen that strategy used before and it might anger some viewers not to hear the command. I was more confused than anything else.
The race itself was very entertaining to watch. There was plenty of action for position, and SPEED did not constantly show the leaders instead of that racing for position. However, there was a lot of focus on the three championship contenders mentioned above. This shift is somewhat understandable due to the fact that it was the final race of the season and the points were just so close.
However, there were some moments where there remained a lack of clarity. I’ve watched the race twice all the way through, yet I’m still confused about what Allen and Parsons were saying about Craig Goess late in the race. I knew that he had to finish three positions ahead of Sheltra to win the title; that I’m clear on. However, they were alternatively talking about Goess racing Sheltra for position and being a lap down within a lap of each other. This back-and-forth conversation simply does not make sense. (Note: Goess was, in fact, on the lead lap and finished fifth).
Post-race coverage was fairly typical. There were interviews with series champion Patrick Sheltra and crew chief Jon Wolfe, race winner Ty Dillon, Craig Goess, and Tom Hessert. In addition, there were checks of the unofficial results and final point standings before SPEED left the air.
This broadcast was a pretty good one to watch. Very simple, by today’s standards, but still very good. Allen and Parsons were definitely on task, and had the advantage of not having Darrell or Michael Waltrip in the booth to add random things that may or may not have had to do with the actual race.
Unlike the past couple of weeks, there was no conflict with live college football for the Nationwide broadcast… thankfully. I guess that’s the benefit of not starting at 3:30 PM. NASCAR Countdown began with a montage that covered the last two races (Dover and Kansas) before cutting to some pre-race analysis from the Infield Studio.
There were pre-race interviews with Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Danica Patrick, Martin Truex, Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Ricky Carmichael. There was also a Craftsman Tech Garage feature on aerodynamics and how they are affected when cars are running side-by-side. I guess it was a little informative, but by this point in the season, there isn’t all that much that Brewer can add to the discussion about this aspect of the race cars.
The race broadcast was actually quite solid. Especially towards the end of the event, there was plenty of action for position. I had no issues with enthusiasm from the broadcast crew, which is always good to see.
There were two issues I saw with this broadcast. The first, and likely bigger one, is centered around the crash involving Michael Annett and Brendan Gaughan which brought out the fourth caution of the day. This wreck occurred just as ESPN was going to a local commercial break.
I can understand ESPN not breaking away from a local break because those commercials have to air. They cannot be pre-empted. (There’s nothing like being forced to watch Fuccillo car dealership ads while critiquing a live race broadcast. Of course, while I can rant about Billy’s “Huge” refrain all day and all night, that’s not why I’m here.)
My main issue is that the crash happened, and ESPN cut to it, with commentary from Allen Bestwick in the Infield Studio. Then, it cut directly to a commercial. Since they showed the crash, they could technically still stay with the coverage, show replays and all the good stuff. After that was done, then they could take the local commercial break. As it stands, ESPN showed two commercials before returning as quick as they could, according to Marty Reid. After they made the blunder of going to break, this was probably the best move they could have done. However, they should have never made the mistake in the first place.
The other issue, and this is a minor one, is that Andy Petree more or less screwed up the commentary on the replays of Danica Patrick’s wreck on Lap 141. Originally, he claimed that James Buescher had someone run into the back of him (he erroneously thought it was Ricky Carmichael), and that was why Buescher got into Patrick. Even with the live shot, I knew that wasn’t true. The booth seemed to be convinced that Buescher got pushed into Patrick, likely by Brian Scott since he was right behind her. However, to me at least, it was obvious that Buescher took her out.
Post-race coverage was fairly typical of what we’ve seen recently. There were interviews with winner Kyle Busch and crew chief Jason Radcliff, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Justin Allgaier, and Carl Edwards. In addition, there were interviews with Danica Patrick and Ricky Carmichael, who were eliminated in the crash with 9.5 laps to go. Like last week, there was no check of the points before ESPN left the air.
This was an OK broadcast by Nationwide Series standards. The issue mentioned above with the commercial when a wreck on-screen was occurring should never happen again, though. It could be argued that it was some jitters from a producer in the chair that hasn’t been in the chair for a NASCAR race for awhile. We’ll have to see how the remaining five Nationwide Series broadcasts pan out.
Pepsi Max 400
Sunday’s edition of NASCAR Countdown returned to ESPN for the first time in weeks since being banished to ESPN2 due to Sunday NFL Countdown. That, in itself, is another rant for another day. My best guess is that the NFL Countdown show for games that don’t even air on the ESPN family of networks gets better ratings than the pre-race show for a race that does air on ESPN.
This week’s edition of NASCAR Countdown started with a recap of the Kyle Busch-David Reutimann incidents from Kansas, their interviews after the race, and earlier in the weekend in Fontana. This segment flowed into additional discussion of the incident and who was to blame.
There was a feature based around a week in Jimmie Johnson’s life. Here, cameras followed Johnson to an appearance at Kearny Mesa Chevrolet, while he was spending time with little Genevieve and doing fundraisers. This feature was all over the place. Then again, so was Jimmie. Ever since ESPN did Riding Shotgun: Kyle Busch, they’ve really fallen in love with the idea of trailing someone for a week. It’s like they watched The Truman Show and decided to replicate it.
Another feature (replayed from earlier in the weekend) saw cameras follow around Greg Biffle’s team for the week for a mini-feature. This one was focused on the actual race team, their time at the shop, and practice sessions for the pit crew (you could say this segment is also known as the time Kyle and/or Sam weren’t on camera on Riding Shotgun – very similar in tone.) However, unlike that show, we weren’t privy to meetings between Biffle and Greg Erwin. They simply shut the door on the cameras, meaning we basically didn’t learn anything here.
While in the Infield Studio, Brad Daugherty effectively claimed that now that Jimmie Johnson was in the points lead (mind you, it was by eight points with seven races to go), that the Chase was over and he would win the title. That’s crazy. It infuriated me. Yes, Brad is there to facilitate discussion, but not crazy discussion. There were still seven races to run, 2,975 miles of action, and you’re going to claim it’s over now? Not buying it.
Another piece was based around “going three-wide” and what that entails. The short piece had thoughts from drivers and was generally fairly interesting. Something that should have been excised was the taped footage of Kenny Loggins singing “I’m Alright,” though. If I wanted to listen to that, I’d watch Caddyshack. (Of note: Loggins actually performed at Auto Club Speedway over the weekend.)
The race broadcast was once again pretty good, quite similar to the Nationwide race in that there were no major problems with the broadcast. Nothing gigantic stood out. However, I did have a couple of issues.
ESPN seemed to have problems with overestimating the length of cautions on Sunday. Because of this confusion, ESPN was airing taped radio conversation during restarts on two separate occasions during the race. It was annoying, for sure, but I can live with it. On another occasion, ESPN technically missed a restart because they were still off in commercial. This mistake, I’m not as forgiving towards.
On Lap 35, ESPN took a normal commercial break. However, they were forced to cut out early when pit stops started. They have radios so that they can listen in on the teams. I don’t understand how they could not have known that they were coming up.
Another thing that grinds my gears is that with the field stretched out, ESPN should have done more than one Up to Speed on Sunday. In addition, that one Up to Speed should not have been Chaser-only. I’m already on record about how much I despise the Chaser-only Up to Speed, but I feel that I need to reiterate myself here. I know it’s Chase time. That doesn’t mean that you can ignore everyone else. End of story.
Since the race ran right up against the end of ESPN’s 3.5-hour timeslot, post-race coverage (in the actual coverage) was relatively weak. There were only time for interviews with race winner Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, and Jeff Gordon. In addition, there was also a check of the all-important point standings before ESPN went to Sportscenter.
As for ESPN’s Sportscenter coverage, I don’t really consider the Sportscenter coverage to be part of the race coverage. However, I’m really torn on the issue.
This telecast was decent, especially for Jill Frederickson in her first time in the chair for a Cup race (she has done Nationwide races before, and the Truck races in 2001). However, the gripes listed above are points of interest where the broadcast can definitely be improved going forward. ESPN is in a period of transition in their NASCAR broadcasts, and they have shown that they definitely want to be considered the best. This “changing of the guard” is just one more chance to prove that they’re the best.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Charlotte, North Carolina for a rare home game (unless you’re Furniture Row Racing, then it’s a long haul). The Nationwide Series will race Friday night, while the Sprint Cup Series has their only Saturday night race in the Chase. Here’s your listings for the week:
Wednesday, October 13
Thursday, October 14
Friday, October 15
Saturday, October 16
Sunday, October 17
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series, and Whelen Modified races from Charlotte for next week’s critique. For the Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter on Thursday, I will be covering the South Park Episode, “Poor and Stupid,” which spoofed NASCAR.
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, I’ll admit that I didn’t actually watch the pre-race or even pay attention to most of the race. So I’ll ask you what exactly did Brad Daugherty say? Did he actually say that Jimmie Johnson couldn’t be beat, or did he point out that he was now the points leader and looking every bit as strong as he has for the last four years?
Until someone takes the points lead from the 48, I will have to believe that he is the odds on favorite, no matter how little that prospect may thrill me.
It was a combination of both, Jacob. Still infuriating, though. Brad was all but saying that they should engrave the trophy now. He did preface it by saying that a lot of people probably didn’t want to hear it. It’s too early to be making those types of statements, regardless of whether Jimmie was looking at Brad when he was doing it.
Brad should be in the pits of the team he owns giving them the benefit of his knowledge. He is totally useless as another “expert” panelist who shouldn’t be there. He is another reason for the mute button.
Time Allowed for “race” 3 hours.
Actual time of “race” 3:02.
Last week was 2:54. Could have used a “debris” caution at the end, like Fontana.
Why did the Fontana race start at noon PT? Isn’t that too early? Not enough time for church.
Oh, ok, then I would have to agree with you, Phil, that was wrong to say and out of line.
I don’t doubt that the 48 is poised to win their 5th straight, but I am not a paid correspondent with (probably) millions of people watching. There should be integrity in the booth and at the front office, sadly neither shows any.
The difference in the telecast between Jill and the bozo before her was night and day and it was evident the whole race. She should get the job on a permanent basis and get a raise. They can get rid of Brad and give the money to her. She’s earned it.
Nobody has any right to complain about ESPN’s love affair with Jimmie Johnson! It was only fitting that they pay as much honour and attention to the greatest driver in NASCAR history, bar none! And I agree with Brad Daugherty that there is no way anyone, not even Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, can beat him and Chad! They better be engraving his name on that trophy right now! The show is over!
By the way, I watched the entire race, and was hoping Jimmie could make a better run at Tony. The best parts? Watching Biffle blow up! Watching useless Edwards drop out! And watching that washed up former champ whose bogus championship forced the chase on us blow up too! Gave me the greatest pleasure to phone up my ex-wife and her current loser husband and rub their Roush-loving noses into it! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Mike: “It was only fitting that they pay as much honour and attention to the greatest driver in NASCAR history, bar none” Too funny!! He certainly is the best 10 race champ alive isn’t he? Greatest driver in Nascar history? Hardly!
Anyway, Phil, you went after Versus last week about showing the championship contenders too much and now this week its ok in the ARCA series? You are definately inconsistent with your critiques. That and your obviously not a big fan of the IRL.
Mike, looks like your ex-wife is happier now.
Phil it’s not HUGE, it’s YUGE!
Mr. Goldberg did his Eskimo peeping Tom…..Tommy Tookalook…
Pants on the Ground
What’s with the tape-delayed Sprint Cup Race this weekend?? Are we back in the 70s?