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 15, 2011
Hello, race fans. We’re back for another full season of critiquing, complimenting, ranting and suggesting here at Talking NASCAR TV. If only new races could bring perfect health; at the moment, I’m not feeling 100 percent since I’ve come down with a slight cold. It’s bad enough I’m spending winter with the flu; what’s worse was the headache I got from watching the farce known as the Budweiser Shootout on FOX. I know you’re thinking that the telecast gave me a headache… it did not. In all actuality, the racing did; so why did the television network escape blame? Read on to find out.
Friday’s coverage of Budweiser Shootout practice brought with it the introduction of a new graphics package that will be used throughout the FOX portion of the season. As expected, it is a match to the new graphics set unveiled for the NFL on FOX in August. The scroll is still there, but heavily redesigned in a way I find to be a little easier to read than the old setup. The numbers for each driver are definitely a lot larger, and for those drivers whose graphical packages have been completed, their names will be surrounded by a color background that matches their car. That makes things easy to follow, highly legible with one exception: those drivers whose names have a red background. The color just doesn’t work, even with an HD television.
Above the scroll is the revamped lap counter, which depending on track conditions will either light up in green, yellow, or red. Also easier to read, the “pop up” represents another step up in both quality and clarity from its 2010 version. However, just because the scroll has been revamped doesn’t mean that FOX can simply use it as a crutch.
The individual driver graphics continue to be a work in progress at the moment. From Friday, the most notable example of a team whose graphics were not loaded in was the JTG-Daugherty Racing No. 47 for Bobby Labonte. Other teams that did not have their graphics complete included the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 9, the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21, and a lot of the smaller, part-time teams like the MaxQ Motorsports No. 64, Rusty Wallace Racing’s No. 77, and the K-Automotive No. 92 driven by Brian Keselowski. I mention it because generic looks can make things a little confusing – hard to follow a color system where some of the colors don’t match – but I expect that the remainder of the outstanding graphic packages will likely be completed in time for the Gatorade Duels on Thursday. If not? Then definitely by Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Note there will be no real difference between FOX’s graphics and SPEED’s graphics for their Sprint Cup coverage, at least during the FOX portion of the season which means the smaller network gets a major revamp and their most readable package since starting to cover the sport. I cannot speak for after Kansas, though, once the main broadcaster changes hands to TNT. Meanwhile, the ARCA graphics are the same as last year, at least for now. That could change by the time they hit the track at Talladega in April… we’ll see.
Also, Saturday night marked the debut of the official FOX Sports theme music (formerly just the NFL on FOX theme) for NASCAR on FOX, replacing the “Let’s Go Racin’, Boys!” version that has been used over the last couple of years. I am already on record as saying that it feels odd outside of a football telecast. However, FOX Sports President Eric Shanks loves it, is looking for consistency across all broadcasts and won’t accept anything different; it’s as simple as that. I guess I’ll just have to get used to it… as will you.
Two more FOX innovations were unveiled during the weekend. One was a new in-car camera shot that was only used during practice on Friday, as it was not approved for use during the Shootout by NASCAR. Described by Mike Joy as the “elbow out the window cam,” the camera was placed on the drivers’ window sill of Regan Smith’s car and looked over to the left. The camera also had panning ability. I thought it was nice, but in my opinion? It had more or less been done before. In practice, such a shot is similar to what Benny Parsons referred to as the “Dog Cam” back in the early 1990’s on ESPN.
Second, during FOX’s coverage of Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying, FOX introduced the Ghost Cam, which allowed them to overlay qualifying laps on top of each other to show where Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would gain time on his rivals. Interesting concept, although I think FOX may have used it one too many times. However, it comes off as a one-time thing to me. I’d be surprised to see it in Phoenix.
OK, enough of the innovations and graphical doohickeys. On to the actual races.
Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200
We’ll get right into it. Shootout day at Daytona has traditionally been combined with ARCA’s season-opener, and 2011 was no exception. For the kickoff event, FOX’s Darrell Waltrip joined Rick Allen and Phil Parsons in the broadcast booth. Waltrip joining in was somewhat surprising since it was posted on the Facebook page representing Ken Schrader and his race team last Tuesday that Schrader would be in the booth for the race. The plan changed at some point, for unknown reasons prior to press time but one thing’s for certain: Schrader was nowhere to be found near that telecast.
Compared to the Shootout later Saturday night, the ARCA pre-race show was nonexistent. SPEED simply got right to the coverage. The command to start engines came before they even finished their opening, and because of the quick start, there were no driver interviews.
The race coverage was heavily focused on the front of the pack, regardless of whether there was actually any action going on. And if you saw the race on Saturday, then you noticed that there simply was not that much action up front. There were two lead changes in the entire 80-lap race: one was at the start, when Kyle Fowler got a better start than Ty Dillon, and the other was when Bobby Gerhart took over the point on Lap 20, when Fowler pitted. That was it.
Most of the action up front was single-file. Quite boring, to be honest. There was some more action further back, but we only saw a little of it. Why skimp on that side-by-side competition, then, in favor of drivers and teams simply biding their time until the finish? Passing and excitement is what I watch a race for; show it to me.
Another gripe that I had was that there wasn’t enough interviews with drivers that suffered from misfortune during the race. In SPEED’s defense, they did get an interview with full-timer Chad Hackenbracht after his nasty crash on Lap 44. However, I would have liked to have seen additional interviews with drivers that had gotten caught up in the “Big One,” like Steve Arpin, Hal Martin, Steve Blackburn, or Milka Duno. Anyone would do, since eight separate drivers were eliminated in the crash. In the end, only Maryeve Dufault ended up being interviewed.
Darrell Waltrip, true to his form in cases where he is clearly the third man in the booth, took a backseat during portions of the broadcast. That effectively meant that there was no “Boogity” refrain at the beginning of the race, and at times, he let Allen do his job. But you can only contain Waltrip for so long, and as the race wore on a bit he made it difficult for Parsons to get in edgewise at times. Unfortunately, interrupting seems to be par for the course with Waltrip, a habit that’s seemed to worsen over time instead of improve.
Since the race ran long, there was very little post-race coverage. There was an interview with race winner Bobby Gerhart and with second-place finisher Chris Buescher, but after that, SPEED quickly left the air so that they could get to NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot. SPEED even failed to show the unofficial results before leaving. Pre-race show aside, ARCA deserved quite a bit more post-race coverage than that.
Later Saturday night, both FOX and NASCAR returned with their first broadcast race of the season. The entire crew was back for 187.5 miles of action.
The telecast started off with some pre-race analysis from FOX’s portable studio before showing some taped footage of Laura Bell Bundy’s pre-race concert (which I could honestly care less about). There was only one quick interview, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. before the actual race coverage began.
The coverage itself saw almost all of FOX’s hallmarks from 2010 return. Some of these were good… and some were bad. Most notably, on the bad side there was a lot of bumper cam usage that made no sense within the general context of the broadcast. Now, anyone who saw the race Saturday knows about the two-car drafts and how often they were used. It’s important to explain them … to a degree. But those shots gave fans an up close and personal look at, say Joey Logano’s front end, and not much else. FOX could probably have used that shot once, maybe twice and been done with it. Instead, we saw it multiple times throughout both segments. Not cool.
On Lap 36, FOX insisted on showing a full screen replay of pit stops that had occurred under the previous caution (for the big crash). As a result, they actually missed the contact that caused the Kyle Busch-Mark Martin incident in Turn 1. I don’t understand why FOX couldn’t have shown those pit stops during the caution itself, either live or on tape before the restart. If that wasn’t possible, then a split-screen setup would have definitely been desirable; the network should strive to show us live action whenever possible.
I’m confident that the broadcast booth didn’t exactly expect the Shootout to be 75 laps of two-car drafts. We knew they would play a role… just not for the entire race. As a result, there was this sense of wonder and excitement throughout much of the event, emanating from the booth that’s not always evident in race broadcasts these days. Sure, it’s there all the time (with the possible exception of ESPN’s broadcast of the 2009 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega), but rarely does it show so well.
Post-race coverage was somewhat typical to what we’ve seen from FOX in the past. There were four post-race interviews with the four drivers involved in the run to the finish. A check of the unofficial results followed, along with some post-race analysis before FOX left the air.
In addition to the excessive use of the bumper cams, there was a substantial focus on whoever was at the absolute front of the field, like in the ARCA race. My best guess is that since the same camera crew shot both races, there could be a chance that they were under the same instructions for both events. With the sheer amount of attrition early in the 50-lap segment, showing the full field was not really an issue towards the end of the race. But early on, only the top eight or so cars got any real air time while everyone else simply existed… a pattern I hope does not become the hallmark of FOX coverage entering 2011.
That’s all for this edition. Next weekend, we’ve got NASCAR’s Big Three starting off their championship seasons at Daytona. The Camping World Truck Series races in the NextEra Energy 250 on Friday night, while the Nationwide Series races Saturday afternoon in the DRIVE4COPD 300. Finally, there is the big kahuna, the Daytona 500 on Sunday. And that’s only the beginning of your motorsport programming options. Here’s your listings for the week.
Tuesday, February 15
Wednesday, February 16
Thursday, February 17
Friday, February 18
Saturday, February 19
Sunday, February 20
As you can see, it’s going to be a very busy week TV-wise. I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. In addition, other tidbits that I feel warrant additional mention will also be talked about. I will also cover ESPN’s new documentary, Wendell Scott: A Race Story in a future edition of The Critic’s Annex.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
As always, if you choose to contact the networks by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than ones full of rants and vitriol.
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If the shoutout was an example of the kind of camera work and coverage we can expect for 2011, I will be doing a lot of something else on Sunday’s besides watching racing.
I usually like Fox over ESPN, but I was annoyed with how much action they missed on Saturday night. That does not bode well IMO for me to watch 4 plus hrs of the 500. The two car tango was a waste.
What happened? Everything NASCAR is so
Eric Shanks and David Hill. Remember those names. They are the names of two of the guys that are probably just as responsible for the decline in popularity of NASCAR racing as Brian France. Why? Because they are the president and the CEO of SPEED and Fox channels respectively. These are the jerks that make the decisions regarding whom they put in charge of bringing our NASCAR races to us for more then half of the season. These are the guys that are utlimately responsible for presenting us with idiotic offerings like Digger, Bogity Bogity, 7 straight minutes of commercials during green flag racing, substandard broadcasters (sorry Mike I’m talking mostly about that Toyota schill DW)and the sorry bunch of directors that make sure we miss the actual racing action . Why do they do this? Who knows? Probably to promote certain drivers favorable to the FOX agenda of money above everything INCLUDING racing action! Hey….come to think of it that not unlike a lot of FOX political programming! Anyway, I digress. The FOX network dominates the NASCAR TV offerings. Do they create an excitement or an atmosphere that promotes “RACING”? If they did, don’t you thnk that that in turn might entice you or me to want to go to the track to witness this great spectacle in person? You tell me!
I agree with JTW 100% He said all the things I was thinking about FOX coverage. I used to like DW but he has “sold his soul” to Toyota so I’m done with him. I really think most of us would like the people calling the race to be impartial. We can decide who we want to root for. But I guess that is as JTW said the usual for FOX.
I like Fox’s coverage, and I’m happy they got rid of that stupid “Let’s go Racing Boys” song. I like that their crew has some personality, the ESPN guys act like robots. I thought the “ghost cam” during qualifying. I hope they use it on SPEED who usually has qualifying.
They just don’t get it. To much talking heads in the booth, or the `Hollywood Hotel’, and not enough racing on the track. Ditch the rodent and scale back the commercials and you just might win back some fans. Based on Saturday night looks like another year of same old, same old, which means `see you later’ in my house come Sunday afternoons and Saturday evenings.