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.
Hello, race fans. It is that time of the week once again. Phil’s the name, and critiquing race telecasts is my game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were back home in Charlotte. In addition, the Whelen Southern Modified Tour served as the tertiary series with a race on Thursday night after Sprint Cup qualifying.
Before we start, Fang’s Bites is reporting that Fox Sports has gone to a uniform musical theme for all of their sports programming, effective immediately. The theme used for FOX’s NFL broadcasts, which has been used since 1994, will now become the one for FOX’s NASCAR telecasts next season. On paper, it comes off as a cost-cutting move since they may have come to the conclusion that the country theme from Toby Lightfoot (interspersed with Darrell’s infamous refrain) may have run its course. Having a football “song” as NASCAR’s theme music on FOX will take some getting used to, although the concept has been used before; ABC in the late 1990’s did something similar with their four Winston Cup and two Busch Series races.
UNOH Southern Slam 150
On Thursday night, the Whelen Southern Modified Tour held their season finale at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s quarter-mile infield oval. SPEED aired the race at 2:30 Saturday afternoon on tape delay. Unlike other modified races aired on SPEED this year, Rick Allen and Phil Parsons were in the booth instead of Mike Joy and Dick Berggren. Relative unknown Derek Pernesiglio served as the lone pit reporter.
Prior to the start of the race, there were interviews with Burt Myers, James Civali, and Andy Seuss. These interviews were actually held during Sprint Cup Qualifying.
Having the Whelen Southern Modifieds race on the quarter-mile infield oval is not the most exciting kind of racing out there. It’s like they’re too big for the track. Passing is nearly impossible, while the straights are too short to really get a run on anyone unless you’re substantially faster than the car in front.
Race coverage was heavily tilted in favor of the championship contenders (Burt Myers, Civali until he spun out, Seuss, etc.) You may already know from other critiques that I’m not a fan of this tactic. However, there simply was not that much actual racing for position. As a result of the lack of action, most coverage was situated at the front of the field for the vast majority of the race.
Since the race was tape-delayed, SPEED used their time-shifting policies for this event. Commercials taken during green-flag racing would not sacrifice any action for the fans. During cautions, laps during commercial would not be shown.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief. There were interviews with race winner/champion Burt Myers, Tim Brown and Zach Brewer, along with checks of the unofficial results and final point standings before SPEED left the air.
I found this telecast to actually be a little boring. That’s not really the fault of Allen and Parsons, although they aren’t very experienced in commentating on Modified races. It was the on-track action. SPEED could have shown some more stuff down the order, but with only 19 cars racing and basically no one able to pass, there was only so much competition that could be shown. As a result, viewers heard a lot of the same topics being repeated over and over again because there was very little action to commentate on, which was a shame.
Dollar General 300
ESPN’s NASCAR Countdown started off with a brief recap of the first three races run with the new Nationwide COT car. There was some file footage shown of the Buescher-Patrick incident from Fontana and reaction during the Charlotte weekend from each driver (Patrick during her press conference, and Buescher during a one-on-one interview with ESPN). The Infield Studio discussed the incident after the clips played and concluded that Buescher took Patrick out. That’s nice and all, guys, but perhaps this analysis should have been done last Sunday before the Cup race in Fontana.
There was a feature on the beginnings of racing in go-karts for Gray Gaulding, an up-and-coming 12-year-old driver currently racing in the Legends ranks, but who also drives go-karts. This clip included sound bites from family members, from Sprint Cup veterans, and most notably Kevin Harvick, who has raced against him at the driver’s personal go-kart track. It’s great to see someone like Gaulding get some national press, but this segment is something that should have been on NASCAR Now. ESPN should be promoting Nationwide Series drivers on Nationwide telecasts before touting can’t miss phenoms that can’t even race in the series until 2016 at the earliest.
Continuing on with Countdown, there were also pre-race interviews with Brad Keselowski, Danica Patrick, and Clint Bowyer. All in all, a little thin interview-wise, but not horrible.
Before the race started, ESPN replayed their explanation of the new car that has run during all three previous races. C’mon now; we’re not stupid. More than likely, almost everyone watching Friday night has a pretty good understanding of how this beast works. That is unnecessary.
Race coverage at Charlotte was marked by relatively slow camera work. Of note, ESPN was slow picking up the second caution of the day when Michael Annett, Shelby Howard, and Joe Nemechek crashed, simply choosing to use radio chatter to announce the caution. This tactic is normally used when there is debris on the track somewhere. However, a three-car wreck is a lot more than just debris. There also seemed to be some confusion in the booth as to what was going on, like they were just watching their own feed and commenting on that.
ESPN handled the competition caution to give Brian Scott his position back fairly well. Reid basically explained what happened clearly to the viewers. Petree chimed in with his own thoughts, since he’s one of the few people who have ever had this scenario happen to them (Rockingham, October 1995). Thankfully, this caution didn’t take anywhere near as long as the one with Dale Earnhardt did. However, since this random yellow is at least the second time they’ve done it, NASCAR should have a policy for these scenarios besides “we’ll throw a normal caution and let the offended party take their spot back.” My suggestion is a caution where pit road never opens, one that should not affect the overall strategy of the race.
It should be noted that ESPN broke out of a commercial break to show the final pit stops during a late-race caution. Would have been nice if they cut out right as the yellow flag flew as opposed to when they did (knowing that it was not a local break), but getting thrown a bone at all is nice these days.
Post-race coverage was decent. There were interviews with winner Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe, Martin Truex, Jr., Justin Allgaier, Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer, and Joey Logano.
This race coverage was OK. Although Danica got the longest post-race interview of anyone not named Brad Keselowski, she didn’t get covered much more than anyone else. The “Danica love” is nothing compared to what IRL fans sat through for the first couple of years Danica was with Rahal-Letterman Racing (Todd Harris drove me insane). However, I fear that the tardiness on things like name calling is due to fatigue, a reminder that the series needs a dedicated broadcast booth to do nothing but Nationwide races. Right now, my picks for that would be Dave Burns, Ricky Craven, and the third person (if necessary) would be either Rusty Wallace or Ray Evernham. If ESPN ever reinstates Randy LaJoie, he would be in the running as well.
Bank of America 500
ESPN’s NASCAR coverage was back on ABC for their only appearance of the Chase on over-the-air television. Because of this adjustment, and the fact that Charlotte was a night race, NASCAR Countdown was only 30 minutes in length this week instead of the now-typical hour.
The telecast started out with a recap of the issues for Chasers in Fontana before going into the Infield Studio for pre-race analysis. There were only a few pre-race interviews, and the vast majority of these were scrunched into the last few minutes.
ESPN’s fixation with trailing people continued with yet another feature where they followed a driver around for the week. This time, it was Tony Stewart being selected, but the end result wasn’t anything different than the other two. It’s to the point now that viewers aren’t learning anything anymore (at least viewers that have watched the telecasts over the past 2-3 weeks). Isn’t the point of doing features like this one to educate fans in a enjoyable fashion? Watching this segment is almost like reviewing for a New York State Regents Exam.
Since pre-race coverage was so short, the Jayski News and Notes weren’t shown on the broadcast until Lap 93 of the race. What the heck? If you’re going to show it all, show it during pre-race. Preferably, the News and Notes would be in the first segment of NASCAR Countdown.
Saturday night’s race coverage featured Marty Reid making multiple errors while identifying drivers, confusing the Busch brothers for each other, amongst other mistakes. After doing races for this long, did Marty simply not prepare as much as normal due to the short week? I know that the booth commentators don’t just sit on their butt cheeks all week and do nothing but get fat. They have conference calls and outside preparation work they perform to prepare during the week. At the very least, Marty could have looked at a spotter’s guide that had all the drivers and a picture of the car they were driving Saturday night.
Another reason for all these errors could be simple nerves. If true, it would be out of character for Marty since he’s been on-par for much of the season, especially early on. Overall fatigue from calling 50+ races this year could also be playing a role here.
Some of the issues surrounding radio chatter that plagued telecasts last year (Ex: Nationwide Series Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix (April 2009)) came back to haunt ESPN Saturday night. ESPN was talking about Kyle Busch having his throttle issues for ten minutes after he had mentioned that it had fixed itself. The pit reporter assigned to him also listens to his radio; couldn’t they have picked up that bit of info and relayed it to the booth?
This week, there was an unusual circumstance during a long green flag run. Instead of an all-Chaser Up to Speed (which I openly despise), there was an all non-Chaser Up to Speed, clearly in reaction to complaints that non-Chasers are being ignored in telecasts by various race fans. Interesting. I’ll admit to ranting about this problem in the past, but the solution isn’t exactly what I imagined. What I was thinking was more along the lines of a long dropback through 15th or so, covering everyone. Instead, the production jumped around quite a bit.
Tim Brewer got a bit more on-screen time than normal on Saturday, four short segments during the race, and one during NASCAR Countdown. However, these pieces were not all that helpful to the telecast and a little slow.
ESPN was also very slow in reporting that Kasey Kahne had left the track. The first time I realized that he was gone was when I looked up in the scroll and saw Yeley’s name next to the No. 9. I thought that ESPN had made a scroll error. It was another 15 minutes or so before the network broached the issue. You have to be faster than that, especially with fans often using alternative means these days (those Sprint FanView devices, TrackPass, etc.) to view the action. Waiting that long would make some fans assume that you don’t care about that situation.
Since the race was running right up against the end of the timeslot on ABC, post-race coverage was relatively short. There were interviews with the top four finishers (Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin), along with Jamie’s father, Jim. There was also a check of the all-important point standings before they left the air to get to the late news, having gone over their slot by a few minutes.
This race showed signs of somewhat shoddy leadership, unfortunately. I know that Jill Fredrickson, although experienced with NASCAR races, is coming in rather cold to being in the chair for Sprint Cup. I can understand making mistakes. However, you have to rectify them quickly. You have to be on your feet. You have to be quick. ESPN was not on Saturday night, and their performance needs to improve going forward.
That’s all for this Tuesday. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Martinsville Speedway for their second and final visit of the season. They will be supported by the Camping World Truck Series, returning to the track after nearly a month off. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series will be making a second trip to Gateway International Raceway for what may be the last event at the 1.25-mile oval for the foreseeable future. Here’s your listings for the week:
Friday, October 22
Saturday, October 23
Sunday, October 24
I will be providing critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races for next week’s critique here at frontstretch.com. The Annex in our FREE Frontstretch Newsletter this week will cover Tim Richmond: To The Limit, ESPN’s 30 for 30 short film produced by the NASCAR Media Group.
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.
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While I’m not a fan of Phil’s start and park teams. I believe He and Rick RUN CIRCLES around the other announcers from the other networks.
These two give good info without the fluff and self promotion of the other announcers.
Keep Mickey as far from the track as possible because he totally ruins these broadcast.
Phil, I will have to disagree with you on one point. There are a lot of stupid people left watching na$car.
Regarding the Sprint Cup Race:
I don’t worry as much about the pre-race as you do, however, I agree with the Marty Reid observances. I don’t like him because he seems to feel that we can’t see the action ourselves and wants to do “play-by-play” of the action as if we were only listening to radio. It’s annoying because it sounds like he’s trying to fill “dead-air” and it’s not necessary.
The rest of your observances I don’t necessarily disagree with as much as I feel they’re unimportant…
What I would like to give ESPN & ABC coverage cudos for is their camera work changes! They were taking much more wide angle shots and showing more of the racing and it made the racing so much better for the TV audience. I noticed it especially because every time the camera person zoomed in, it seemed the director would remind them to zoom out. It was GREAT! Keep up the great work!! It actually looked like a race for a change! If I were to guess, some of the missed Friday night crash that we didn’t see was because the crew was getting used to the change. It seemed they had a better handle on it on Saturday night. I hope they continue this trend and that the other networks follow!
Was I the only one who was uncomfortable with Jamie’s explanation for his crying jag at the Daytona 500? I am all for freedom of religion, but that could have been covered on his home page, twitter, or facebook. To be honest, I didn’t even remember him dissolving into tears at Daytona so that made it all the more weird for me. I wanted to hear his views on the race, not his faith.
The announcer need to learn to just shut up from time to time. Let us watch the race and hear the engines. We can see what is happening and don’t need to be told that there is a side by side battle on the screen. Also it is not necessary to show the car/driver they are discussing while completely ignoring the 3 wide battle happening elsewhere.
That is why YOU have a volume button and channel button if YOU do not like what is on turn the channel. I do.
Jamie Mac is a fresh, honest change of pace and it is good to see HIS honest feelings and thoughts.
Mikey Waltrip is great to watch. He is well inform and he makes sure sponsors get their money’s worth. But, the one thing I love about Mikey is his body language. Don’t ever change Mikey, you do have more fans than you’ll ever know.
wcfan, thank you for pointing out how my remote works. I couldn’t have done it without you and God.
Shoeman, I think you are in the minority. I tune out all Waltrips and all Wallaces. The sponsors would get their money’s worth except most people tune Mikey out and ignore him. I am so sick of the Carnival Barker type of self promoter, I could puke.
Mikey and his brother would be easier to take if they didn’t always have an agenda while on the broadcasts. Meaning self promotion of their sponsors, manufacturers, drivers, teams, or themselves.
I’m getting the feeling that there is an oversaturation of the tv market. In nascar’s golden days, you didn’t hear much during the week until the prerace on weekends. And that consisted of about 15 minutes before engines were fired, if not less. They would actually talk about it while the race was going on.
Now every relevant channel has a show daily about Nascar. By the time we get to the prerace, everyone is up to date on what happens during the week, so I ask, do we really need a prerace show anymore? And if it were just eliminated all together, wouldn’t it make the racing broadcasts that much better since they can address these things during the race especially when things get boring?
Steve, I aree with you completely. The 15 minute pre-race shows built excitement, and the race was on. then you had knowledgable announcers call a race and not create drama. When it was over, you were already looking forward to the next weekend’s action.
There is another SNAFU to add — Jamie Little mentioned that Clint Bowyer’s car (belive it was his) had a decal honoring the 30 Chilean miners who were recently rescued. Nice touch on RCR’s part and nice of Jamie to mention it; however, there were 33 miners, not 30. One more of many things that were off during the broadcast.
At the beginning of the Cup race, Marty said the one thing that showed how the rest of the broadcast would go: “The CHASE to the RACE”!!!