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
Monday March 3, 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 8, 2011
Hello, race fans, and welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where dissection of race broadcasts is the name of our game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were back in action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
However, before we start, FOX Sports announced Monday that Darrell Waltrip has been signed to a two-year contract extension that will run through the end of 2014. As a result, Waltrip will stay in the broadcast booth for the first 13 races of the season for the next three seasons beyond this year. Financial terms were not released.
In the press release that FOX Sports issued, Waltrip was extremely pleased at continuing in his current position.
“Being part of the NASCAR on FOX team has given me an opportunity to share my passion and love for NASCAR,” Waltrip said. “I never thought there would be anything that could replace the thrill of driving race cars. I was wrong. Bringing that thrill to the fans at home every week is just as exciting!”
Am I surprised at this? Heck no. I’m surprised he wasn’t already signed through 2014 when they started the current TV deal in 2007. To a company like FOX Sports, Waltrip is considered the biggest name in the booth, thus, the biggest draw. Yes, the new deal means that we’ll have to put up with 53 more (at the bare minimum) Boogitys at the beginning of races, but I’ll deal with that. Not like I could have stopped him, anyway.
Also, in the definite good news category, the ratings are up! (Yay!). Overnight ratings from Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 have been released, and NASCAR is likely all smiles. The quick overnights show a 5.3 rating and an 11 share, which is a 29 percent increase over last year. The rating is a little below the 5.5 overnight that the race earned in 2009, but it garnered a higher share than in ’09. Full ratings will likely be available later today.
Sam’s Town 300
The Nationwide Series returned to ABC Saturday for the first of four races this season (the others are at Iowa Speedway on All-Star Weekend, Charlotte the afternoon before the Coca-Cola 600, and Michigan in June).
NASCAR Countdown was filled with its usual quota of Infield Studio analysis from Brad Daugherty, Allen Bestwick and Dale Jarrett (replacing Rusty Wallace, who had the week off) before getting into their pre-race interviews. To be fair, they actually decided to do interviews with Nationwide Series regulars first before talking to the “whackers” from Sprint Cup, which is a nice change of pace. Often times, the Nationwide regulars get almost no air time in pre-race.
There was a brief feature that saw three of Turner Motorsports’ drivers (Reed Sorenson, Justin Allgaier and Jason Leffler) take a helicopter ride over the desert. Bit of an interesting feature since a lot of fans don’t really know much about Turner’s drivers (other than the Cup drivers like Ryan Newman, Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne who show up every now and then to drive).
A brief Craftsman Tech Garage feature saw Tim Brewer talk about the tapered spacers using a cutaway engine. The main purpose of that display was to show the importance of keeping up one’s momentum in the turns at Las Vegas.
I think that Marty Reid is a little slow on his reaction time to some of the incidents on track. For instance, the first caution flew on Lap 4 for Josh Wise’s trip through the grass and wheelie over the quarter-mile track for Legends cars. Now, I know that much of the time, the commentators are looking at monitors in the broadcast booth. However, the broadcast booth is typically right at the start-finish line on the outside of the track (Indianapolis appears to be the exception to that rule these days). The booth is not soundproof. I’m pretty sure someone would have noticed Wise’s issues before the cameras actually got there. Basically, what I’m saying here is that the commentators should not be complete slaves to the monitors in the booth. Look out the window as well. You might see something that the cameras do not show live.
We also saw a rare cut out of commercial break when Donnie Neuenberger spun for the second time without hitting anything. These days, such a move is welcomed. Good show.
Since the race ended early, there was plenty of post-race time. ABC conducted interviews with Carl Edwards, Mark Martin (and winning crew chief Trent Owens), Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin. There were also interviews with Todd Gordon (Brad Keselowski’s crew chief) and Tony Eury, Jr. (Patrick’s crew chief). In addition, there was some post-race analysis before ESPN left the air.
ABC left the air a couple of minutes early, but apparently sprung the slightly early dismissal on the pit reporters with little notice. As a result, the producers told Jamie Little over her headset to stiff Johnny Benson (Patrick’s driver coach), whom she was in the process of asking a question to. Weak. They should have at least given her the courtesy to ask one question to Benson since she had basically started the line of questioning already. And before you ask, no, I’m not saying that just because I was a fan of Benson’s when he was driving in the Cup Series (which I do admit to). If that were Rick Crawford or Geoff Bodine, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Buddy Baker, or any other driver coach, I would have the same opinion.
Also, a controversy erupted on Twitter after the telecast ended. During post-race coverage, Reid mentioned that ESPN was trying to get an interview with Keselowski, but was unable to. Keselowski countered via his Twitter page that ABC’s pit reporters basically ignored him while he was on his way to his post-race press conference. Vince Welch then defended himself by claiming that he himself had called Penske’s PR minion on his cell phone to try to setup an interview. Unfortunately, the minion missed the call and time ran out. He did attempt to call Welch back, but Welch failed to pick up at the time. Keselowski went on to accuse ABC of having some kind of bias, a charge that was vehemently denied by both Welch and Bestwick.
The truth is, ABC didn’t do anything wrong here. These types of things happen sometimes. It is true that ABC made an effort to get an interview with Keselowski, and when they couldn’t pull it off, did one with Todd Gordon instead. Also, Keselowski didn’t mention what that television crew was doing when he walked them on the way to the Media Center. I doubt they were twiddling their thumbs, or having popsicles.
The controversy likely overshadowed what was a pretty good broadcast overall from ESPN on ABC. There was an appropriate level of coverage away from the leaders. Unfortunately, the long green flag runs and the general uncompetitiveness of much of the field made it hard to find good races for position on track, especially towards the end of the race. I was not a fan of how Little’s last interview went down. If they were so close on time, then they should have told her never to initiate the whole thing with intentions of airing it live. They should have had Little tell Eury and Benson that the interview would be taped and used on something like the 11am Sunday Morning edition of NASCAR Now, or on ESPNEWS. As it stands, the producers made Little look bad.
Kobalt Tools 400
Like at Phoenix, FOX went with a half-hour pre-race show. I believe that it will be the norm for the season, although Talladega next month and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte may well be exceptions to the rule.
The main feature of pre-race was a one-on-one interview that Waltrip conducted with recent winner Jeff Gordon. It could be argue that Waltrip shows some strengths in the one-on-one setup. He knows that much of his usual shtick from the actual race broadcasts won’t work in such a setup. It would just irritate whoever he was interviewing at the time. Having said that, I liked the interview.
There was a short piece on Tony Stewart driving a street legal version of his No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet as a cab in Las Vegas during the week as part of a publicity stunt for his sponsor (Mobil 1 uses Las Vegas cabs as a proving ground for their motor oils). Stewart drove what appeared to be a bunch of celebrities (Wayne Newton appeared to be one of them), and at least one Elvis impersonator, around town. It was underwhelming. I wished that they had either had Tony driving around a normal cab (which would have been white and pink, I guess), or picking up normal visitors like Dave Cowens once did during a brief retirement from the Boston Celtics.
Unlike in Phoenix, Revved Up! was more or less combined with the Gas n’ Go segment, which was shortened slightly in order to make room. Waltrip went off on fans that don’t like the new points system. I’ll admit that I didn’t think the change was really necessary (especially since we have a system quite similar to what we already had).
There was a substantial lack of driver interviews during pre-race. Only the Busch brothers were deemed worthy of interviews, and both of those were done via the Portable Infield Desk. I don’t know why FOX chose to go this route. Do they just assume that most of their audience watches NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot on SPEED before FOX’s Pre-Race Show?
FOX seems to be focusing a lot on tight shots and bumper cams early on this season. While nice if you want to show off your wares (technical capabilities), it is unfortunately not the best if you’re trying to cover a big race with 43 drivers in it. Such a tight focus means that Mike Joy has to take a bigger role, or at least, a more prominent role in calling the race. I’m not opposed to Joy having a larger role, but its mainly because of what we can’t see, which is weak.
The most noticeable example of Joy’s strategy came when Robby Gordon spun in Turn 4 on Lap 9. At the time, FOX was showing a bumper cam from Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 and Steve Byrnes was giving viewers some information from pit road about McMurray’s early woes (turned out, it was just about the only on-air mention of McMurray the entire day). Joy had to cut off Byrnes and notify the viewers of the incident. However, it was basically over by the time FOX finally cut to it. In the future, FOX would do well to cut to incidents a little faster. To be fair, FOX did immediately redeem themselves when Andy Lally spun out shortly after the restart. They cut out of a replay of Stewart passing Jeff Gordon for the lead to show that spin.
Truth be told, I’m already getting sick of some of these references to Digger during races. As you guys know, I’m not a fan of the critter and feel he has no place in the broadcasts. Thankfully, we’re not back to the level of having Digger cartoons in the pre-race show, which was an outright travesty in 2009, but I am a little worried now that the ratings are back up.
Once the race stretched out a little more, the issue of tight shots was not so much of a problem, thankfully. Since the field was stretched out, it forced FOX to use some wider shots. Sure, it was by necessity, but it worked.
Fuel filling issues were pronounced during the race, especially on Greg Biffle’s No. 16. Before the race, FOX pulled out their cutaway car to show how the new system works with the self-venting dump cans. It was quite interesting to look at. Something that I hadn’t thought about prior to the season. An example of the tight shots actually being good on Sunday was when Biffle’s team was having issues with getting their car full of fuel. The new dump cans, if viewed tight enough, have a visual tell of when the car is full of fuel (you can see air and bubbles in the vent tube) that wasn’t there with the old setup. FOX was able to catch that on-air during one of the late pit stops, and using the X-Mo feature, which seems to get better every week.
The race ended just about when FOX thought it would, so there was the normal amount of post-race coverage. There were interviews with the top four finishers (Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya, Stewart and Marcos Ambrose), along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings before they left the air at 6:30pm Eastern.
The coverage was nothing groundbreaking on Sunday. I think that what we saw will be the typical broadcast we get this year. For the sake of arguing the point, I think that FOX would do well to give a little more exposure to some teams further down the order. I feel as though they only get referenced if certain notables are back there (Jimmie Johnson on Sunday would be an example of that).
That’s all for this week, folks. This upcoming weekend used to be what I liked to call “the off-week to end all off-weeks.” For the last two seasons, all three of NASCAR’s National series were off, and basically nobody else was on track. Luckily, that isn’t the case this year. The Camping World Truck Series will be the main series in action with the Too Tough To Tame 200 from Darlington Raceway. Unfortunately, that’s the only four-wheeled circuit racing that will be televised next weekend. Formula One was supposed to have their season opening Grand Prix of Bahrain this weekend as well, but if you’ve been following world events recently, that’s just not in the cards. Their season will start in Melbourne, Australia on March 27. The Grand Prix of Bahrain will be made up at some point, likely near the end of the season.
There are other forms of racing available for viewing, though. Saturday is the Daytona 200, the climax of Bike Week in Daytona Beach. Florida and Sunday is eliminations for the NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida (with special guest Kurt Busch, if he qualifies in the notoriously close Pro Stock class).
Also of note, Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to sleep on Saturday night (unless you live in a place like Arizona, where they don’t observe it). Here’s your listings:
Saturday, March 12
Sunday, March 13
Note that qualifying for the NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals will be available live on ESPN3.com. Check with your local cable company and/or internet service provider for details.
I will definitely provide a critique for the Camping World Truck Series race in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. I will also cover SPEED Center, SPEED’s revamping of the former SPEED Report that is hosted by Adam Alexander.
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!
Maybe Keselowski can get his daddy to come do something to ABC’s reporters such as when Daddy Kes said he was going to put the smack down on Carl Edwards after he dissed his baby boy.
What a wimp.
You mention Waltrip did a nice job in his one on one interview with Jeff Gordon. I enjoy Waltrip when he’s on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. He actually makes thoughtful points and doesn’t come across as a rube. He’s also good when he’s on documentaries about the good old days.
I don’t know what it is about the race broadcast but Waltrip is far more irritating. Maybe it is the speed at which events are unfolding or the lack of a skilled producer, but Waltrip isn’t nearly as insightful or helpful on the race broadcast or the pre and post race shows. I don’t hate Waltrip like many people do, but I do find him lacking on race broadcasts.
The guy I really dislike is the Reid guy on ABC/ESPN. About half the time he doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about and he continually talks over the other announcers. He is not very insightful and his race analysis always seems off the mark. I’d like to see someone else in the both for the ABC/ESPN broadcasts and I hope he’s not around when Sprint Cup moves to ABC/ESPN later in the season.
Also, is it just me or was Jamie Little’s interview of Danica Patrick after the Nationwide race a little condescending? The whole “girl” this and “girl” that seemed a bit unprofessional and somewhat pejorative. Little might have been excited, but her interview was a bit too hip hop and she sounded stupid to me.
Based on the fact that I’ve never heard anyone say they enjoy Darryl Waltrip in the booth, I can’t imagine why Fox extended his contract. Either Fox doesn’t care who enjoys their broadcast or they feel DWs presence brings a bit of controversy that is healthy. Whatever their reasoning, I’m sad they made the decision and wish they had opted for someone who can cover the race without sounding and acting like an idiot. The one (of many) things that DW does that drives me insane is his insistance that he can read the driver’s mind. He’ll sit there and tell you a driver did this or did that because he (or in Danica’s case, she) was thinking this or thinking that. He has no more idea what the driver was thinking than we do. If Fox hung around after the race and put as much into their post-race coverage as they do their pre-race sideshow, maybe they could interview the drivers and ask them what they were thinking when they did something. I can’t wait for Fox to be done.
Good Lord…..3 MORE years of that self loving wind bag. In his press release he said he never thought he would find anything that would replace the “thrill” of driving race cars…but he did…..NOW he’s passionate about being a “shill” for “TY-OTA”. He’s a joke and so is FOX. But, luckily I found a radio station out of Melbourne Florida AM1300 that broadcasts every Cup race and streams it on the computer. I NEVER have to listen to “ol DW” again! Just mute the TV and here the EXCELLENT play by play by truly giftey MRN and PRN announcers of ALL the action from ALL the drivers. Life is good! And who needs pre and post race shows? We’ve got Frontstretch!
While I enjoy DW with his one on one interviews and some of the segments he does on Race Hub, he fails to impress me with his performance in the booth.
You said what we saw from the TV broadcast at Vegas is probably what we can expect to see for the rest of Fox’s tenure-since I thought it was a dreadful waste of 4 hrs of my time – you can count me out.
I spent a lot of time that the race was “on” switching back and forth to “the mummy returns” which was more interesting than what was on Fox.
The weather is starting to warm up and since I have to use my computer and listen to MRN/PRN’s broadcast to actually find out what is going on in the race, why should I waste it inside being annoyed at the fact that I’m NOT actually seeing the race I tuned in for?
Ratings may be up since the 500 usually gets a good audience, but will it last — maybe, but I don’t think I’ll be among the viewing audience.
Sorry….meant to say “hear”!
Well here is one Joe agreeing with another Joe. If D.W. could for once stop trying to shove toyota down our throats and just call the race, maybe we could tolerate him. How many races did ole DW win in a “yota” oh that’s right a big ZERO. So I just wish he would lay off that or just go away but niether is likely to happen. I love the idea of muting the sound and listening to MRN and PRN. That is the way to watch a race for sure!!
Pretty disappointing coverage… I don’t think they showed Clint Bowyer once the entire race. I’m sure plenty of fans of other drivers could say the same.
As you guys know, I’m not a fan of the critter and feel he has no place in the broadcasts. Thankfully, we’re not back to the level of having Digger cartoons in the pre-race show, which was an outright travesty in 2009, but I am a little worried now that the ratings are back up.
LOL my kids love Digger. And they loved his cameo on Alvin n the Chipmunks too.
5pm Eastern time on Saturday is the best they can do for the only Nascar race this weekend? Can’t put this on in primetime? Must be another more thrilling episodes of “Car Wars” reruns on that night. Pathetic!
The reason why Darryl is so terrible in the booth is because he is so unprepared. Add in the fact that his ego can’t handle keeping his trap shut and he makes stupid comments. The big sign of his lack of preparedness is when he told the whole world how unprepared he was after Bayne won the 500 by pulling out a blank piece of paper and stating that was all the info DW had on him. His booth buddies actually thought it was funny.
David Hill loves DW and actually thinks he adds something to the broadcast. Instead of trying to shed the red neck stereotype that Nascar is trying to get rid of, he enables DW to do his “3 boogity” every week. And he wonders why his ratings are down and beleive me they will not stay up as they had the last few weeks. This week off will kill any of that momentum.