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 February 8, 2011
Well, hello everyone. Hope you had a great winter. Mine was OK, but kinda boring. Says something that I took on additional work to occupy myself over the winter, including covering last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona for the site. I’ll tell you right here that it was pretty fun, albeit tiring.
However, that is not why you’re here. This week’s TV critique will serve as a preview of this year’s TV coverage. We’ll start off with FOX, since they will be starting off the Sprint Cup season at the end of the week with their broadcast of the Budweiser Shootout.
At FOX, the changes that you will see are mainly cosmetic and graphical in nature. The new Fox Sports President, Eric Shanks, is a huge fan of the NFL on FOX theme music and has decreed that it will serve not just as the NFL theme music, but the theme of Fox Sports in general for the foreseeable future. I will be honest with you: That will sound weird the first time you hear it during race coverage. It was weird enough during the World Series last year.
Also, there will be some type of graphical change that will likely make the NASCAR graphics package look a little more like the NFL graphics. Could that mean the end of the scroll in favor of a smaller box in the upper left-hand corner of the screen? Possible, but still unclear. I know my dad wouldn’t be opposed to a return of the pylon that ESPN used from late 1995-1997. I was thinking something more along the lines of what nearly everyone was using from 1998-2000.
There are no changes to the on-air crew that we’ve come to know (and in some cases, despise) over the past few years. Mike Joy will still be in the broadcast booth, along with Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip. The quartet of Matt Yocum, Dick Berggren, Krista Voda and Steve Byrnes will continue on pit road, while Jeff Hammond and Chris Myers will man the Portable Studio (I’m taking a stand, we don’t need to call it the Hollywood Hotel anymore).
At ESPN, there is only one on-air change of note at the track. Ray Evernham, who worked part-time as an analyst in the broadcast booth, the Infield Studio and on NASCAR Now, has left the network to take a job with Hendrick. There doesn’t appear to be a complete replacement for Evernham; however, the critically-acclaimed Ricky Craven will take over some of Evernham’s broadcast booth time.
Speaking of Craven, he will serve as a booth analyst for seven Nationwide races this season. These races will likely be standalone events in which the Nationwide Series is not serving as the main support for the Sprint Cup Series. Of course, the vacation policy that ESPN has for their on-air personalities during the Nationwide-only portion of the season may play a role here as well. Stay tuned.
NASCAR’s announcement that they have pushed back the start of Chase races to 2 PM Eastern means that all nine of the Chase races on ESPN will have NASCAR Countdown preceding it on ESPN, not ESPN2 like last year.
One Nationwide race, the BUBBA Burger 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 29, will not be aired on the ESPN family of networks due to conflicts with ESPN’s coverage of the admittedly interminable First Round of the NBA Playoffs. In addition, that Friday is the second night of the NFL Draft, ESPN’s baby ever since 1980. Gives you flashbacks to the Hanes 500 at Martinsville not airing live in 1996. Unlike those circumstances, which saw the race air at 4:30 PM on Sunday once the NFL Draft ended, the Nationwide race will be aired on SPEED.
The team of Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree is likely to remain in the broadcast booth for the 2011 season as the “A-Team,” while the quartet of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dave Burns, Vince Welch and Jamie Little will return on pit road. Shannon Spake will likely continue in the same role as 2010, that of a floater who can serve as a regular reporter, fill-in pit reporter, or a fill-in host on NASCAR Now.
For ESPN’s five Izod IndyCar Series races on ABC later this year, there will be a slight change, but only for one race. Reid will continue in his capacity as the play-by-play man with Scott Goodyear alongside. Little, Welch and Rick DeBruhl will serve as pit reporters.
However, there is a conflict on the schedule. The weekend of August 12-14, the Izod IndyCar Series will be returning to New Hampshire Motor Speedway after a decade away and ABC will be airing the race. Meanwhile, the Sprint Cup Series will be in Watkins Glen that same weekend and the races are likely to start at about the same time. According to ESPN’s Andy Hall, Welch will serve as the play-by-play announcer for the Izod IndyCar Series event, while Reid concentrates on the Sprint Cup race in Watkins Glen. Mike Massaro would likely substitute for Welch on pit road. It is unclear which race ESPN would assign Little to at the current time, since we‘re still over six months out. My best guess has Little also getting sent to New Hampshire and Spake coming off the bench still relatively fresh from Iowa.
Another notable change was just announced last week. ESPN announced that Ken Schrader and Johnny Benson will join Allen Bestwick on selected NASCAR Now Roundtable editions on Mondays this season. Its an interesting development. The move reunites three-quarters of the old Inside Winston Cup Racing panel from 1996-2004 (minus Michael Waltrip, who is still on Showtime’s Inside NASCAR). Benson’s dates for appearances on the show have not officially been announced yet. However, Ken Schrader’s dates have been on his official Twitter and Facebook pages. He will debut on the Roundtable on March 7. Additional appearances will be made on March 28, April 4, 11 and 18, May 9, June 20, August 22 and 29, September 26, October 10 and 31, and finally November 7. Should be very interesting to watch.
I have heard no word on additional streaming of ESPN races online for this season. If you remember, ESPN streamed their own telecast of the Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway online last year, but with the time during the commercial breaks blocked out. The formation of espnnetworks.com, which allows streaming of the regular ESPN channel online to subscribers of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks (and apparently soon to Verizon), basically broke the terms of the TV deal.
Also, ESPN held a premiere last week for a new documentary. The film, “Wendell Scott: A Race Story,” is scheduled to premiere on February 20th at 9 PM on ESPN as part of ESPN’s celebration of Black History Month. It will serve as a look back at the life and times of the sole African-American driver ever to run as a regular in what is now the Sprint Cup Series (Scott made all but six of the Cup starts ever made by African-Americans). Since it’s the same day as the Daytona 500, consider it a way to give you an additional racing fix before you go to bed. I will definitely be watching and will provide you with a critique at some point, probably in the Frontstretch Newsletter as part of The Critic‘s Annex, which will also return for a second year.
Sentiment coming out of the premiere was very positive, which makes me fairly excited. However, as films like Petty Blue, Together: The Hendrick Motorsports Story and Tim Richmond: To The Limit have shown over the past couple of years, those good reviews have come from other people who definitely discussed the film with their peers before putting fingers to the keyboard. I don’t have the clout of writers that get invited to movie premieres held 1,000 miles away from here, but I have a certain high standard I hold documentaries to. Intentionally skipping stuff doesn’t make me very happy. All three of the aforementioned pieces did, the Richmond: 30 for 30 film most egregiously.
In sports car racing news, ESPN has acquired the rights to the American Le Mans Series for the next two seasons. However, in the deal, no races will be televised live on television. Instead, the races and their qualifying sessions will be streamed live at ESPN3.com. Coverage will be shown on either ABC or ESPN in 90-minute highlight shows either on the same day, next day, or the next weekend. It is, sadly, a similar format to the races at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca last season.
SPEED will not have any changes in the broadcast booth for their Camping World Truck Series telecasts. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons, who just called the Toyota All-Star Showdown from Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, California just last weekend, will be back in the booth, along with the quirky Michael Waltrip.
However, there will be a change on pit road. Adam Alexander will no longer be pit reporting on Camping World Truck Series broadcasts (the reason is listed below). Hermie Sadler will be taking his place. Interestingly enough, this will be the first time that a driver will be pit reporting full-time in NASCAR, although some have done it part-time in the past.
Also, it has been announced that Truck RaceBuddy, or as I like to call it, “TruckBuddy,” will be available via NASCAR.com for the entire 25-race season for free. Definitely great to see. However, I wish that a leaderboard would be integrated into TruckBuddy like with regular RaceBuddy for the six Sprint Cup races on TNT. (Then again, splitting the critique between regular SPEED coverage and TruckBuddy did get to be a little much last year. The idea of being able to watch everything is great, but not so good when you’ve got to literally “hold it in” for an entire race when critiquing so that you don’t miss anything.)
Alexander has been named to host SPEED’s new show SPEED Center, which will replace The SPEED Report. I’m fine with the move, which will not affect Alexander’s other gig with TNT.
The stage for SPEED’s telecasts at the track will be lowered, allowing for more fan interaction on Trackside Live! and NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot. However, multiple shows are on the chopping block. NASCAR in a Hurry has been canceled, along with NASCAR Smarts, the show that violated S&P standards on a weekly basis.
SPEED’s practice and qualifying session telecasts do not appear to have any major changes in the offing for 2011. Compared to last year, I think that the only difference will be that you will see more of Voda in the booth, as opposed to the garage. Just how much more remains to be seen, though; it was a late season experiment that saw her get a chance up there in the first place and she has generally impressed.
TNT has not announced most details about their Summer Series for 2011 as of yet. However, everyone from last year is likely to return. Alexander is confirmed as being back in the play-by-play role for a second year, with Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach, Jr. alongside. Yocum, Parsons, Ralph Sheheen, and Marty Snider will likely be back on pit road while McReynolds and Lindsay Czarniak will be on the TNT stage.
The network with the most unknowns at the moment is Versus. The long-awaited merger between NBC Universal and Comcast finally closed recently, so by the time the season ends, we might not even be calling the channel Versus anymore. As you might expect, that business deal is holding up some of the decisions in for both talent and production; for IndyCar broadcasts, only one of the booth commentators have been confirmed for 2011 (Jack Arute). Honestly, though I don’t envision any changes in the station’s Izod IndyCar Series coverage for 2011 since the fans that did watch were generally happy with the coverage.
However, if you saw the final race of the season from Homestead-Miami Speedway, there was an on-air breakdown. Arguing between Arute and Jon Beekhuis, technical issues and a lack of information conveyed to viewers resulted in a terrible broadcast. Hopefully, that does not continue into 2011.
Also, I have not heard anything about Versus continuing their coverage of Modified races in 2011. Currently, the TV schedule available at NASCAR’s Home Tracks website is from 2010.
That is all for this week. In next week’s column, the actual factual critiquing begins. The Sprint Cup Series races in the 33rd running of the Budweiser Shootout Saturday night on FOX. The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards (Re/Max appears to be out for 2011) will serve as the preliminary show once again, while qualifying for the Daytona 500 will be held on Sunday afternoon. Here’s your listings.
Thursday, February 10
Friday, February 11
Saturday, February 12
Sunday, February 13
Couple of quick notes. The 10 is a new series that will premiere on Thursday night. It is more or less a countdown show that evolved out of the tenth anniversary features on FOX’s coverage from last year. Friday’s show will cover the Top 10 NASCAR moments at Daytona. Also, The Day: Remembering Dale Earnhardt is a show that retraces the events of February 18, 2001, the day that Dale Earnhardt died. Should be interesting.
Later this week, the first edition of The Critic’s Annex for 2011 in the Frontstretch Newsletter will cover the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown (Saturday night coverage only) from January 29. Why this week and not last? It’s because I was in Daytona covering the Rolex 24 at Daytona for Frontstretch. They had the race on one lone TV in the Deadline Room there, on the other side of the room from my territory in the German-speaking protectorate. Also, I was too busy tweeting updates on the race and making garage runs to give it its proper due at the time.
For next week, the main critique will have Sprint Cup and ARCA races. In addition, there will also be thoughts and musings on FOX’s qualifying coverage, SPEED’s practice coverage, and the combined ESPNEWS/SPEED coverage of Media Day.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
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