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 29, 2011
Hello, race fans. Its time once again for another look into the race telecasts that we all watch. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were both racing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series raced Sunday afternoon on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
On Sunday, the Izod IndyCar Series returned from their off-season with an interesting 100 lap race on the streets in St. Petersburg, Florida. ESPN televised the race as part of their five-race deal with the series on ABC. Marty Reid was in the booth once again, along with Scott Goodyear. IndyCar veterans Jamie Little and Vince Welch were in the pits, along with Rick DeBruhl.
Although it was not branded as such, the coverage started with a 25 minute or so pre-race show. Unlike the NASCAR Countdown shows, which have come to be dominated by analysis from the Infield Studio, ESPN brought viewers interviews, news, and driver reactions to the various new rules that have come into effect for 2011. It was actually pretty interesting.
One of the bigger stories on Sunday morning was that both of Dale Coyne Racing’s cars were wrecked within seconds of each other in separate crashes in the morning warm-up. Sebastian Bourdais’ No. 19 was a complete write off, forcing the team to withdraw it. Rookie James Jakes was able to start a backup car at the back of the field, but only after a thrash by the team. In ESPN’s NASCAR broadcasts, a team the size of Dale Coyne’s would not get very much coverage, so what we got was good to see.
For 2011, the Izod IndyCar Series has introduced double-file restarts, a move that was originally designed for ovals only, but was confirmed for every race just a couple of weeks ago. We’re only through one race, but it is already very contentious. ESPN shot a piece where they got reactions from certain drivers about it. At the time, they were neutral at best, but willing to give it a try. After being forced to retire from the race due to contact, Ryan Hunter-Reay blasted double-file restarts, stating more or less that they don’t work with “real race cars.” Take what you want from that. The contact that put Hunter-Reay in the pits and eventually out was not caught on camera. Hunter-Reay actually asked his followers on Twitter after the race if they knew who hit him. ESPN’s Jamie Little replied that it appeared that either JR Hildebrand or Vitor Meira hit him.
The only real changes to ESPN’s Izod IndyCar Series broadcasts for 2011 was the additional of number graphics similar to those used in Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series broadcasts. Its a nice touch, but not a deal breaker for any viewer that isn’t a perfectionist.
Race coverage was heavily centered on the frontrunners throughout. However, when trouble happened, ESPN was able to get shots of what happened if they didn’t catch it live.
There was quite a bit of blimp/helicopter camera usage, which is beneficial for a street race because ground level structures i.e. buildings, light poles, sculptures and trees can block views. Also, aerial shots can give viewers a better perspective of the action on track.
As for Reid, he is relatively similar covering the Izod IndyCar Series as he is with NASCAR races, for better or worse. Goodyear is a longtime veteran of open-wheeled racing, but he has been out of the car for a long time now. He doesn’t really add all that much to the broadcast. He’s only raced on seven of the tracks currently on the schedule (although, four of those seven are the remaining races on the ABC slate), so he can’t bring all that much personal experience at each venue to the telecast. I can’t speak for everyone that reads this critique, but he simply doesn’t do anything for me.
Something that I noticed while writing up the critique was the fact that the race took two hours and one minute to run. Open wheel series in the past have employed time limits for road races. Formula One has a two hour time limit for their events. CART and Champ Car had time limits as well, ranging from one hour, 45 minutes to two hours, 15 minutes. Champ Car even had a really badly received experiment with timed races on ovals. Yeah, that was bad. The only reason why I bring it up is that there was no mention at all of a time limit, or the race coming anywhere near a time limit during the broadcast.
Also, another thing that I learned Monday is that two drivers, Ana Beatriz and Justin Wilson, ended up with wrist injuries during the race. Beatriz is scheduled to have surgery on her fractured scaphoid (wrist) bone today. No mention of these injuries (or possible injuries) were made on the broadcast, and I’m in a position of having to guess when they occurred. With Beatriz, my best guess is when she had contact with Graham Rahal, spinning Rahal into the tires on Lap 6. Wilson went into a runoff area with five laps to go. Both drivers managed to finish the race with their injuries.
Since the race ran a little long, there was a relatively short post-race show. However, there were quite a few interviews tucked into that time. There were interviews with the top-4 finishers (Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Tony Kanaan and Simona de Silvestro), the winning car owner (Chip Ganassi) and de Silvestro’s car owner, Keith Wiggins (mainly because fourth was de Silvestro’s best career finish).
The good news for ESPN is that their IndyCar ratings are up. The race scored a 1.4 overnight rating, the best for a non-Indianapolis 500 for the series since 2007. The problem that they currently have is that they don’t make the race all that exciting to watch. Also, ESPN still gives Danica Patrick too much coverage compared to what she delivers in the series. Still, there are positives. The pre and post-race coverage was very good. I’m also most definitely in favor of Side-by-Side in telecasts. NASCAR claims to be working on that with advertisers, but they’re not biting on it as of now.
Royal Purple 300
Due to ESPN’s Izod IndyCar Series coverage from St. Petersburg, multiple changes were made to ESPN’s on-air lineup. To the cheers of many readers, Allen Bestwick went upstairs to the broadcast booth. Nicole Briscoe took his place. Also, Dale Jarrett continued his vacation, so Rusty Wallace stayed in the booth for another week. Finally, Shannon Spake and Mike Massaro came off the bench to take the place of the Florida-bound Little and Welch.
Pre-race coverage was once again dominated by analysis. Especially these days, there’s only so much you can analyze. The plot seems to work out almost the same way every week. Of course, most of the field gets lapped pretty quick and one of the Cup interlopers wins.
Outside of the Infield Studio, ESPN provided five pre-race interviews, three of which with Cup interlopers.
With Bestwick in the broadcast booth, ESPN’s actual race broadcast had a totally different feel. It’s as if Bestwick sat down Wallace and Petree an hour or so before the show started and laid down the law, stating that this was his show (although you’ll still get your time). I say this because the broadcast was more concise than normal. There was a much more pronounced focus on the race. Thanks to that focus, there was a lot more time to cover more drivers. For instance, Kenny Wallace actually got some mentions in the natural flow of the race for what seems like the first time all season. I know at least one person that’s happy about that.
In addition, ESPN intentionally cut out of a commercial break when the second caution came out for Jennifer Jo Cobb’s spin. That was nice to see.
Due to the Nationwide race ending so quickly, ESPN had plenty of time to fill for post-race coverage. To their credit, they made full use of the time. There were 13 post-race interviews, along with analysis and checks of the points and unofficial results (in the scroll) before ESPN left the air at the prescribed time.
There was a lot to like here. ESPN presented an easy to follow broadcast that was far more focused than normal. It was especially good to see the Nationwide-only regulars getting more of the spotlight. Too often, they’re seen as background characters, much like veteran voice actors like Frank Welker or Jim Cummings in big-budget films like Shrek.
Auto Club 400
On Sunday, rain was a big story. Overnight rains had washed some of the rubber off of the track. A persistent mist made it very hard to completely dry the track. Also, there was the potential of the dreaded weepers coming out to play, like they did on Friday. There was some discussion of the wet weather at the beginning of pre-race, but not much. However, the outdoor pre-race stage was not used since the track was in its final drying stages at the time.
There was a visual description of track banking early in the first segment that could be best described as ludicrous. Yes, we know that Auto Club Speedway has 14 degrees of banking in the turns, and we know that it isn’t all that much compared to say, Talladega. However, you don’t need to tilt the picture 33 degrees and have Hammond, Myers and Waltrip act like morons to prove a point. A simple graphic could have done the job without having them act stupid.
One feature shown was a behind-the-scenes piece with Myers and Jimmie Johnson on the set of the new FOX series Breaking In. On the surface, it’s a long commercial (outside of a break) for the new show, which premieres April 6. In reality, i’ts that, and a one-on-one interview where Johnson talks a bit about his childhood and the present. It was ok to watch. It should be noted that only part of the interview was aired. The rest is online at foxsports.com. Another brief ad publicized Eutechnyx’s NASCAR 2011: The Game, which comes out in stores today.
There was literally only one regular interview during pre-race, and that was with Tony Stewart. The pit reporters seem to have nothing to do anymore during pre-race. They’re a competent bunch. I’d send them out to talk to drivers. That is what they are paid to do (in addition to gathering information about the individual teams).
The race telecast was simply boring to watch. I guess the race itself didn’t really help things much, and FOX can only do so much about that when the field spreads out. However, when such a scenario presents itself, FOX should take great pains to show the best racing on track. In a setup like that, they could show the best racing on track and give periodic updates on the goings on up front. They could get away with that since…nothing was happening up there.
FOX didn’t really do that Sunday. There was a substantial emphasis on racing at the absolute front of the pack for much of the race. There were some exceptions, but not many.
I also noticed the sheer amount of race coverage that we missed due to commercials. I know that it’s nothing that we can do anything about, since the advertisers help pay for the broadcasts, but I think it’s worth mentioning. During Cup races, I have my iPod Touch handy. Using the stopwatch function on it, I time the commercial breaks during green flag runs. On Sunday, a full 39 and a half minutes of green-flag action were lost to commercials. Passes for the lead occurred in the first two commercial breaks, which came eight and 21 laps into the race, respectively.
In the graphical department, there were three new graphical nuggets in Sunday’s broadcast. Firstly, cars that are out of the race or off the track are now grayed out in the scroll. Interesting, but I don’t think typical viewers really care all that much. Secondly, there was a new graph used on Lap 165 that showed Kevin Harvick’s move up through the field. I guess it might end up being a replacement for the graphic that lists positions at four different points of the race. Not a bad change. Definitely easier to show progression for visual learners. Finally, for some reason, FOX felt the need to draw extra attention with FOX Trax when cars exceeded 200 mph. The background around the speed graphic would turn red. Of course, reading white text on a red background is not ideal, and the whole thing came off as sensationalistic. A past example that I can use is the late-Larry Nuber from the 1987 Winston 500. He constantly talked about the high speed like it was going out of style. I’d prefer that FOX not repeat that.
Since the race ended relatively early, there was plenty of time for post-race coverage. FOX delivered a little bit more than normal. There were seven post-race interviews instead of the usual four, along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings. In addition, there was post-race analysis from the broadcast booth and from the Hotel before FOX left the air at 6:30pm EDT.
There really isn’t much to say about FOX’s broadcast from Sunday. A lot of the same issues that I’ve already mentioned in earlier critiques popped up once again. I guess I can keep driving the points home, but it doesn’t appear that there is any impetus to change.
That’s all for this week. Next week, the Sprint Cup Series travels the short distance from their hub to Ridgeway, Virginia, a small hamlet in Southern Virginia. Tucked in the back of a small neighborhood is the paperclip, Martinsville Speedway. The Camping World Truck Series returns after taking a couple of weeks off on the undercard. The Nationwide Series takes the weekend off. Here’s your listings.
Friday, April 1
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, April 2
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, April 3
Time Telecast Network
I will provide critiques of both the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck race telecasts in next week’s column here on Frontstretch. In addition, I will also cover any TV news between today and next Tuesday.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
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“The race telecast was simply boring to watch. I guess the race itself didn’t really help things much, and FOX can only do so much about that when the field spreads out. However, when such a scenario presents itself, FOX should take great pains to show the best racing on track. In a setup like that, they could show the best racing on track and give periodic updates on the goings on up front. They could get away with that since…nothing was happening up there.”
You mean like ESPN back in the day? I remember they would show hard racing back in the pack all the time. Fox can’t do that now, because it would cut into their “Promotional Considerations”.
It was great to have Bestwick back in the booth and I really ended up enjoying that race without the usual ramblings that Petree, Wallace (and Jarrett) get into.
Fox, on the other hand, is a lost cause. Until they remove the “The Mouth that Roared” Waltrip and “Splainin” McReynolds, they’ll never have a good show. Myer, Hammond and Waltrip “act” like morons? Sir, that’s no act.
Was it just my Fox HD channel that was tiling all through the race the past two weeks or did anyone else in the Philly viewing area have that problem as well? Fox sports is hard enough to watch without the dreaded tiling problem. However, magically the commercials were clear as a bell!
Phil…….PLEASE do NOT stop with the complaints regarding what FOX calls a race broadcast….oh sorry…show. SOMEBODY IN A POSITION TO CHANGE THINGS WILL EVENTUALLY GET THE MESSAGE IF IT IS REPEATED FREQUENTLY AND LOUDLY ENOUGH!
I did good. I made the wife happy. Did laundry till 30 to go. Grabbed a couple pops and saw my favorite race of the year so far. Missed ( or not ) all the BS. Enjoyed the post race interviews. Never looked at the clock so I did not realize why so many.
The F1 coverage this weekend was great as always. Too bad the booth monkeys on fox don’t / won’t watch and learn from real professionals.
Joe and RickP, those are good points. As long as FOX thinks it’s doing a good job they will never improve.Hearing DW, of all people, making fun of the ESPN crew for trying to improve tells me a lot about him. Those who are criticizing Marty Reid should realize he is a hundred times better at doing his job than DW, Larry and Hammond. Now that FOX is starting the baseball games, try watching how good they cover them. Professional, yet entertaining without the ignorant Boogity stuff. I’ve also been around racing too long to buy those things DW is trying to sell me, and you shouldn’t buy it either.I still see DW, Larry and Hammond as the main problem, not having the on air skills and will always keep FOX from equalling the MLB coverage they do. Sorry, buts is true and needs addressing.
I am not sure if other’s had an issue with the Indycar broadcast, but it seemed like the sound was off for the first hour. Like everyone was in an echo chamber.
I cannot stand how De Silvestro gets up to 2nd, but nary a mention while Danica runs 12th or something, knocks two front wings off and gets more coverage. They missed numerous incidents, like RHR’s deal. They missed the winning pass on lap 6 when Dario got around Power. Reid and Goodyear are pathetic…almost like they are in another place while the race is going on.
Listening to the Cup broadcast on Sirius Radio is so much better than those morons, DW, Larry Mac and Hammond. Only FOX can do mediocre broadcasts for years and kill coverage of sports and still keep people employed.
Finally, Bestwick should be in the booth with DJ and Andy, period. Marty Reid can be sent out on a sailboat and left for all I care. He sucks along with the pre-race garbage which is too long and Cup centered. Cup Lite is going to be shown this way as long as Rowdy, Carl and others beat up on the little guys. What happened to running 15-20 races max, and letting a talented newcomer take over?
It doesn’t take a tilted picture to make Hammond, Myers and Waltrip look like morons.
Pcarp is absolutely right. The F1 coverage on Speed is as good as any sports coverage anywhere. All the other networks could learn how to broadcast racing by watching Varsha, Hobbs and Matchett.
If the racing is bad and the camera crew is having a hard time finding good battles on the track, all the more reason to go through the field and give a little camera time to those that don’t always get it.
I believe that the race was probably not that bad in person but it seems that Fox just made it worse to watch on TV. When the field got spread out they could have gone through the field and find the best battle but instead chose to keep their cameras on Kyle Busch while he drove away by himself. Nascar can’t be boring at the speed the race at but TV just dosen’t do it justice.