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 March 1, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to another edition of Talking NASCAR TV, where I take a look at the race telecasts available to race fans, and pick through them with a fine tooth comb. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series was in Avondale, Arizona for the last major race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway before the track is ripped up and reconfigured.
However, before we start, I have a talking point that was mentioned during SPEED’s practice coverage on Friday. The original subject of the booth discussion was Charles Lewandoski, who was making his season debut in the No. 44 Chevrolet for TriStar Motorsports in the Nationwide Series. Apparently, Kyle Petty and Jeff Hammond were having a little trouble pronouncing Lewandoski’s last name, so they asked Mike Joy.
Joy proclaimed that it was easy to pronounce and did it right then. Petty then brought up an interesting point. He claimed that Joy and Ken Squier had a bias toward Northeastern drivers because they’re both from New England. For reference purposes, Squier is from Vermont and helps to operate Thunder Road Speed Bowl in Barre, VT, while Joy is originally from Connecticut, but now lives in North Carolina.
Do play-by-play guys (or in this case, Joy and Squier) have a preference toward Northern drivers? Generally, I doubt it. In the past, drivers from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and to a lesser extent, from out west as well, were quite the rarity in NASCAR prior to the 1990’s. Sure, there were exceptions, like Pete Hamilton or Tim Richmond, but that was more or less the way it was. Up until recently, more than a fair share of the drivers in NASCAR’s upper-most divisions came from North Carolina. Not so much now. I would argue that it was pointing out someone who was not from the core of where NASCAR is based.
In Squier’s case, he used to throw around hometowns or home states of drivers in the starting lineup for Cup races all the time, and not just for Northern drivers. He did it for the Southerners as well.
Lucas Oil 150
On Friday night, we had the Camping World Truck Series return to action. The standard race recap of the previous week’s race, which headlined the beginning of NCWTS Setup last season, returned once again.
The main feature of the Setup was a look at Michael Waltrip’s victory last week in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 and what it meant to him. The piece was complete with interviews with Waltrip and members of management at Vision Aviation Racing. It was decent, but I think that Waltrip’s win has become overblown, given the circumstances. We know he is a pretty good racer at Daytona and Talladega. We know how much Dale Earnhardt meant to him. I’m tired of Waltrip piggybacking off of him. It’s getting old, and it’s irritating me. There was still no mention in the feature (there was outside of it, though) of the great spoiler that decided to fail on the last lap and cost the team 25 owners points. I still haven’t picked up a copy of his book yet, which appears to have even more of the same content.
The Vault returned, this time covering the 1995 Goodwrench Delco 200, where Mike Skinner clinched the first ever championship for what is now the Camping World Truck Series. Knowing what the series has evolved into now, it was quite interesting to look at. A quick interview with Skinner revealed that the trucks had suffered from quite a bit of lift in the front, not dissimilar to Cup cars at Daytona and Talladega in the 1980’s (pre-restrictor plate era). Also, it should be noted that Phoenix, which book ended the schedule in 1995, was the series’ fastest track at the time.
TruckBuddy returned with its usual features on Friday, but there were some issues. The service at nascar.com was not up and running at the start of the race, much to the chagrin of myself, and other interested viewers. Also, the battle cam usually zeroes in on teams given the Lucky Dog/Free Pass/whatever you want to call it this week. That did not happen.
With the aforementioned Michael Waltrip back in the booth in place of his older brother, the race telecast went back to the flow that we’ve become used to over the past few years. Never thought I’d say that.
Allen, Parsons and Waltrip have a pretty good rapport together in the broadcast booth these days. Despite his penchant for self-promotion, Michael tends to pick his spots to chime in on SPEED broadcasts, as opposed to what we’ve seen this year already from his older brother.
There was quite a bit to like about Friday’s broadcast. There were a number of wide, establishing shots of action on track, mixed in with some tighter shots. The blimp also got quite a bit of play, especially right after restarts when the field was still bunched up and the action was fast and furious.
Even with the last quarter of the race marred by a multitude of wrecks, the race still finished relatively early. As a result, there was plenty of time for post-race coverage. SPEED chose not to use all of their allotted time, though. In the time that SPEED chose to use, they interviewed six drivers and the winning crew chief. In addition, there were checks of the unofficial results and point standings, and some post-race analysis before SPEED left the air to get to SPEED Center.
SPEED Center was scheduled to start at 10:30 pm EST, yet, they decided to put it on ten minutes early. I don’t think Adam Alexander was ready for that.
Bashas’ Supermarkets 200
The Nationwide Series returned to Phoenix on Saturday for their first “unrestricted” race of the season (I suppose they’re always restricted with the tapered spacers). However, viewers had to deal with that old foe of NASCAR Countdown, the NCAA. The Memphis-UTEP game, which wasn’t even that much of a contest, ran long, cutting off the first ten minutes of NASCAR Countdown’s timeslot.
When ESPN finally came on-air from Phoenix, they declared that Countdown would flow right into the Opening Ceremonies. I don’t really understand the difference as compared to normal here, but that is what they declared that they would do.
There is always a good amount of pre-race analysis on NASCAR Countdown, and Saturday’s 20 minute show was no exception. The Infield Studio analysis took up nearly half the show. There were only three quick driver interviews before pre-race opening ceremonies began.
The only real feature shown during NASCAR Countdown was one about Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500, complete with quotes from Bayne and the Wood Brothers. A nice look back at Bayne’s accomplishment, but one that had almost nothing to do with the series being covered. Yes, Bayne is full-time in the Nationwide Series and the fact that he won the Daytona 500 is big news. However, it came off like ESPN was riding his coattails (or in this case, his leather jacket). It could be argued that ESPN televising the races is in fact promotion for the Nationwide Series. Is Bayne winning the Daytona 500 promotion for the Nationwide Series?
The race telecast was marred by some technical issues. Every time that ESPN attempted to run radio chatter on-air, it would come in very, very quietly behind loud static. The pit reporters and commentators would carry on like nothing was wrong. There was no reference to the issue on air. However, to their credit, they did admit that they were working on the radio issue. Unfortunately, they could not get the issue fixed before the checkers flew.
Post-race coverage was fairly substantial since the race finished so quick. ESPN provided viewers with interviews with seven drivers, plus winning crew chief Jason Radcliff. However, those post-race interviews were tied into the storylines that ESPN wanted to follow during the race. Busch and Edwards were naturals since they finished first and second. Bayne got his time post-race only because ESPN couldn’t find a place to air it before the race ended. Of course, Danica Patrick got her time as well. Interviewing a bunch of Cup drivers and Patrick isn’t necessarily going to grow the series. Yes, new points leader Reed Sorenson was interviewed, but he was the only Nationwide regular (other than Bayne, who wrecked) to get time.
Nationwide is airing commercials during the races featuring a tour guide showing fans some of the new Nationwide cars…and thrashing Stenhouse’s in the process. They’re at least making an effort to give those drivers more exposure. Albeit, somewhat begrudgingly since they were actively in favor of maintaining the status quo from last season. ESPN has to do their part as well.
With Busch leading every lap and running away with the race at times, the race was quite boring to watch. There was substantial focus on the Cup drivers that were in the field during the telecast. Yes, those drivers were up front for most of the race, but they shouldn’t be the only focus. Other drivers should get their time as well, especially since those Cup drivers cannot run for the championship anymore.
Subway Fresh Fit 500k
FOX downsized their pre-race show to a half-hour for their coverage from Phoenix. However, just because the show was only 30 minutes doesn’t mean that there wasn’t plenty of pre-race analysis from from Myers, Hammond and Waltrip. Unfortunately, the analysis and the features contained within cut down driver interviews to almost nothing. Only Bayne and Jimmie Johnson were interviewed. If you wanted to see driver interviews Sunday before the race, you had to go to the pre-pre-race show (NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot).
There was a feature depicting Michael Waltrip and his drivers (David Reutimann and Martin Truex, Jr.) spending a day with the Chicago White Sox at their training facility in nearby Glendale. Viewers were treated to the MWR trio taking some batting practice and hanging out in the locker room. The team was happy to have the trio there since a number of White Sox players are big NASCAR fans. Even the tempestuous Ozzie Guillen got in the act. However, the feature came off as boring to me.
There were two short features involving Bayne. The first followed Bayne across the country on his Daytona 500 Victory Tour, which included stops in San Francisco, where he named his own ice cream sundae, and an appearance on the George Lopez Show on Wednesday in Los Angeles. The second was a brief stand-up piece where Bayne talked about his win and the Wood Brothers. Nice, I guess, but the whole thing is seriously getting tired. We know that Bayne is very surprised that he gets to do everything that he’s done over the past nine days. Maybe he’ll snag another win later this year. Maybe he’ll get a chance with Emmy Rossum (who he basically admitted to having a crush on last season via Twitter), who knows. Bayne might very well be a future star, but all the exposure may be too much, too soon.
FOX also unveiled a new feature that I guess will run weekly called “Revved Up.” It was a short piece where Darrell Waltrip gets free reign to go off on something—in this case, people who disliked the two-car drafts in Daytona. FOX has tried this caveat before with Darrell, but it ended up basically being a one-time thing. We’ll see if it sticks now.
I had a number of issues with the race broadcast on Sunday. First off, FOX has a graphic touting the “UPS Logistics of the Race” that takes up the full screen. It doesn’t really tell anyone anything that we didn’t already know from before the race. If you’re going to have it at all, fix it so that it only takes up part of the screen so that viewers can still see the action on track.
Second, once again, there was a “Mystery Debris Caution” early in the race (Lap 20, to be exact). These cautions anger me. There’s no reason for NASCAR to simply make up a yellow that early in the race. FOX (and ESPN as well) needs to make a much more concerted effort to find debris on-track with their 50+ cameras, and once they do find it, point it out to viewers. Otherwise, fans start claiming that something isn’t on the up and up. There is a reason why there is a Jacques Debris Twitter page online.
Also, there was apparently a water seepage issue during the race in Turn 1 on the apron due to the overnight rains. The story, which could be considered quite important even though it was on the apron (where some drivers stick their left side wheels in order to change the balance of their cars), was never picked up on the broadcast. Those of you who believed that the track didn’t need to repaved should be silenced by that. If PIR were located anywhere but Arizona, it would have had to be repaved years ago because the poor drainage would have affected multiple race weekends over the years.
There were multiple issues with FOX’s graphics during the weekend (the same graphics on FOX’s broadcasts are also used throughout SPEED’s broadcasts in an attempt at synergy). Certain drivers would be skipped at times for no reason. Also, J.J. Yeley’s graphic in the scroll froze at one point while the other positions moved over his. Weird. That was a new one.
Finally, FOX completely screwed up the Top-5 graphic headed to the commercial on Lap 212. Instead of listed the correct top-5, it listed Jeff Gordon, and then a bunch of drivers who were either many laps down, or out of the race outright. Such a setup came off as quite low-rent. However, the current graphical package appears to be a work in progress.
Luckily, Joy was able to properly call the finish of the race without being cut off by Darrell. That’s good to see, but it seems to happen so rarely.
Because of the early crashes and the 14 minute red flag, FOX’s telecast was actually overtime once the checkers fell. Despite the overage, FOX still managed to provide a typical-sized post-race show with interviews with the first four finishers, along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Finally, there was some wrap-up analysis before FOX left the air (more or less sparing me from having to deal with Tim McCarver’s boring syndicated show).
FOX has some improvements to make in their coverage.
That’s all for this week. Next week, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are back in action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt Tools 400 and Sam’s Town 300, respectively. The Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is also back in action for their second race of the season, the Grand Prix of Miami from Homestead-Miami Speedway. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series takes their first week off of the season. Here’s your listings for next weekend.
Friday, March 4
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, March 5
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, March 6
Time Telecast Network
The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races from Las Vegas will appear in next week’s critique here on Frontstretch. As for the Grand-Am event in Homestead will appear either in the regular critique or in the Critic’s Annex. Stay tuned.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I can’t understand what you have against the television coverage of the networks. As far as I’m concerned, FOX has the best commentators (particularly DW) and their post-race coverage has to be short because it’s a network and its affiliates want to start local newscasts ASAP. The same is true for ABC. And stop worrying about college games overlapping with NASCAR Countdown — it’s not the race itself and ESPN can afford to do a shortened prerace show. The important thing to note is that the broadcasters always stick to the top finishers and the big names. I mean, have you noticed CBS not even having postgame coverage after NFL games and PGA Tour events? It ends immediately at the final gun. (It should be noted that network wants to start 60 Minutes and primetime exactly at 7 pm ET — I noticed that last week, when the final round ran until about 6:45 pm ET.) And it is hard to get camera angles right. I pardon FOX for missing Andy Lally’s wall contact because that’s a driver few have heard of and as such little attention is focused on such a driver.
When watching a NASCAR race it is important to have a backup show on the remote’s “flashback”.
When they did the piece on Waltrip at the White Sox… flashback time. (Waltrip is still trying to force himself into relevance. He is an owner, no one really wants to see or hear that much from him).
When they did the long Subway promo before the start of the race,,,, flashback time.
When they flash the ridiculous Pizza Hut or UPS pointless graphics disguised as something meaningful…. flashback time.
I refuse to watch pointless crap. Surely, one of these companies could come up with a better idea that has true value to viewers if they must rob us of race time.
I was a bit annoyed by the fact that apparently only one car crossed the finish line Sunday. What happened to the rest of the field after Jeff won?
When oh when will DW stop that inane “Boogity Boogity Boogity? I’m sure a majority of fans have been sick of it for quite some time!
In My opinion DW AND JH need to go. Both are just full of themselves.If I could buy them for what they are worth and sell them for what they THINK they are worth I could give Donald Trump a run for his money!!
I’ve never noticed a “Northeastern bias,” although Joey Logano has probably gotten a lot more press than he’s deserved in Cup. Truex only gets shown when he’s running pretty well, and I don’t think Craven, Park, or Nadeau ever got that much coverage.
Of course, an announcer is probably more likely to focus on a driver he’s seen race before and is therefore more familiar with.
Maybe Mike Joy is the only one of the three that can read.
Anyone who thinks DW is an outstanding broadcaster,is beyond help.
DW and his silly gopher do not belong in these broadcasts. This is racing, not Sesame Street.
I’ve never really had a problem with Mike Joy, but he is making a few too many mistakes already. That said, he’s far better than Marty Reid on any Sunday. DW? Why he is so popular with the brass is beyond me. Maybe he works for peanuts.
The new Focks ticker is a sham. It is slow-moving and not updated with “time-behind” or lap-down cars often enough.
I am waiting for the email that tells us of the renaming of the Waltrip Cup Series, Waltrip Truck Series and the Wallace Grand National Series. If the Walmouth Family Circus is to be the face of NASCAR on television, NASCAR needs to be prepared to see longtime customers walk away. Oh, wait.
I have just one thing to offer…
TracPass cost just $79.00 a year and is only 2 to 3 seconds behind realtime TV and some times ahead…
Pick the drivers you want to follow and tune out the TV…
At least NASCAR gets this right…
Just so everyone knows: I’m the same person who posted the first message at the top of the screen.
That having been said, it is an absolute disgrace you people even say harsh things about FOX’s coverage. This is really painful for me. FOX, plain and simple, has the right announcers – and Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip, and Jeff Hammond all have numerous championships under their belts and they know more than you people are saying they do. You sound to me like you’re comparing these broadcasts to “The Last Airbender” (which was Worst Picture at this weekend’s Razzies). Let’s not be so critical about these broadcasts. This is a sport that needs announcers that get excited when big things happen, and Larry and Darrell are just that. These broadcasts have very decent camera angles and other than not showing debris on the lap 20 caution, this was not a bad telecast at all. Besides, the broadcast may not have enough vision to see the debris.
And Phil, just so you know, Darrell Waltrip’s “boogity boogity boogity” is without doubt the coolest catchphrase in NASCAR broadcasts. Are you just going to keep criticizing EVERYTHING on the broadcasts? FOX’s NASCAR telecasts have won several Sports Emmy Awards. That explain something? Other sports leagues don’t typically have significant postgame coverage. NASCAR broadcasts at least have at least 15 minutes worth of postrace interviews.
IF anyone sees this message and wants to comment, I hope to hear from you but please be nice and don’t use profanity. And Phil, in your critique next week, please let in on my comments because I can’t understand what is going on here.
I can’t claim to have seen “The Last Airbender,” Chris (although, I did hear about the horrific reviews. Had a response to your earlier post written on here, but it didn’t post. So, here it goes. Be warned. This is pretty long.
I don’t know where you live, Chris, but Sunday’s race (at least where I am in Upstate NY) did not run up against the evening news. It ran up against syndicated programming that could easily be pre-empted. My FOX affiliate doesn’t have a 6pm newscast on Sundays. I can understand that it can be an issue later in the season, though.
With college games overlapping with pre-race shows (and sometimes, the race itself), I feel that it has to be mentioned. It happened. I know that type of a situation is outside of the control of ESPN. Games run long. It happens.
With FOX missing Lally’s incident late in the race, they should have come out and admitted that they didn’t have footage of Lally’s wall contact. Full disclosure. Just because Lally isn’t well known and he doesn’t drive for a big team doesn’t mean anything. That was an important turn of events in the race and FOX missed it and gave little explanation for why.
My main issue with Waltrip these days is that he appears to have a great deal of control over the proceedings. He’s the biggest name in the booth, even though he’s an analyst, and thus, does not (and should not) control a broadcast. That’s Mike Joy’s job.
Last week, I talked about Waltrip pulling “Cutsies” at the end of the Truck race on SPEED and on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Cutsies is the equivalent of budging in line. Race broadcasts are most definitely helped out by enthusiasm in the booth, but jumping all over your colleagues has the opposite effect.
The Boogity refrain seems to be something that Waltrip just came up with one day, and it happened to catch on (I guess). However, we’re in Year 11 now. It gets old after a while. Obviously, Waltrip’s excited at the beginning of races, and I want him to be. Honestly, since Waltrip has the copyright on his catchphrase, he can do whatever he wants with it. I’ve basically given up whining about it because its not like I can stop him from doing it.
Finally, the main issue that a lot of people have with Waltrip are the conflict of interests. The call of the Truck race in Daytona is just one example of it. It is perfectly understandable for Waltrip to want his brother to do well when he races. It is another thing altogether to blatantly cheer for him on live televsion.
Yes, Ned Jarrett’s call of his son Dale’s Daytona 500 victory in 1993 may be one of the most well known calls in the history of NASCAR, but Ned did Dale Earnhardt wrong by doing it that way, and he told Earnhardt that. Yes, Earnhardt admitted that he didn’t have a problem with what Ned did, but that is beside the point. Ned was in the wrong there. To his credit, he apologized. I don’t recall Darrell ever apologizing for that type of favoritism in the booth.
Even with what I have said here, I’m probably not as hard on Darrell as some other people are. When Darrell is on a roll, he is a pretty good analyst. However, these instances just keep happening from time to time.
Do I think I’m hard on NASCAR’s broadcast partners? To a point, yes. I want them to strive for excellence and not simply settle for mediocrity. If that means calling them out for errors, so be it. Do I make suggestions on how to improve the broadcasts when such a thing is possible? Yes, I do. I can only suggest so much since my background is not in television, but I want to help them improve. Do I heap praise on aspects of broadcasts? If I notice something I like, yes. If they’re doing something well, then they deserve praise.
In the time since I started critiquing broadcasts, I have seen marked improvement. The networks actually improving their product actually makes my column harder to write since there aren’t any many glaring errors. 2009, my first year critiquing, was pretty horrific at times. Digger was the bane of my existence that year. ESPN had their own issues. TNT was doing fine, then Bill Weber had his altercation (which we’re never going to find out what really happened that one night in Manchester, NH) and threw everything into flux. Finally, you had ESPN and their booth issues.
In closing, writers like myself, John Daly and others are basically charged with keeping NASCAR’s TV partners (and in my case, the Izod IndyCar Series’, Grand-Am, and whatever other series I feel like critiquing on that particular week) honest. Think of me as an ombudsman. I just don’t work for the Poynter Institute. I hope this helps you out, Chris. If you have any more questions, please use the contact form on the page to contact me directly via e-mail. Thank you, and have a good night.
Phil, How in the world can you torture yourself by sitting through all the horrible TV coverage?
I do miss Benny Parsons and Bill Weber.
I do like the split screen so we see more racing than pit stops.
Bill B from above is correct. I have to replace remotes every race because the “last” button wears out!
Bobby O, I gotta admit that even though I don’t like some aspects of the broadcasts, they aren’t torturous for me to watch. Besides, even if I wasn’t writing these critiques, I’d watch anyway. For the SMI races, I can’t listen on the radio because I’m too far away from a PRN affiliate. I only take advantage of MRN if I’m driving (its on an AM oldies station here that has fairly decent reach).
If I’m near a TV, I would rather watch a race than listen to it, no matter what the broadcast looks like. Although, after having watched some old broadcasts earlier this week, I’m happy that they have the amount of cameras at their disposal that they do today.
Phil, I do have to agree with you on the number of cameras. And I guess the guy running the camera is very talented to keep it stuck on one car(zoomed in so close), and fill the complete frame with “one car”… But I can take a pic of a car “parked” and see the exact same thing! If it is a “motion picture” type of a camera? Should I not be able to see that a car is moving? and possibly very fast?
The childish crap? Are the people that watch, and buy stuff eight years old? That is what the boogity….. and Digger junk appeal to…..
I love racing at the very least as much as you! I grew up in Indianapolis, the whole month of May was nothing but racing news. I saw men die trying to qualify for the “Indy 500”.
Sorry, I guess I am a bitter old fart.
And sorry I forgot..