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.
Hello, race fans, and welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where we look into the motorsports telecasts made available to the general public. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series were in action at Martinsville Speedway. Meanwhile, after Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race, SPEED finally aired the speed trials that were held right after the Scotts EZ-Seed 300 at Bristol last month. We’ll start there…
Bristol Speed Trials
The “Bristol Speed Trials” were concocted somewhat last-minute as a way to replace the legends race on the schedule at Bristol Motor Speedway. Drivers would endeavor to break Sammy Swindell’s all-time track record of over 138 mph from 2000. However, the commentators neglected to tell viewers that the record was actually from when Bristol Motor Speedway was converted to dirt for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. Of course, with the event being held right after the Nationwide race, these trials would be done on the new concrete surface. As fun as the legends race was for the past two years, last year’s nasty crash involving Larry Pearson and Charlie Glotzbach made it unfeasible to continue holding it, likely due to insurance issues.
John Roberts and Larry McReynolds provided the commentary, while Bob Dillner served as a pit reporter for the half-hour special, but it is unclear when they recorded it. They were never on camera during the show, even though they both would have been in Bristol that weekend. It would not surprise me if the commentary was recorded a week or so after the trials back in Charlotte, not unlike what Rick Benjamin (aka Ron Williams) and Scott Sutherland did when they called ProCup races for SPEED a few years ago.
The format was relatively simple. First, there were some warm-up laps. These weren’t necessarily shown. Instead, pre-trial interviews with David Ragan and Scott Russell were aired.
Ragan and Russell, driving a street-legal (although heavily modified) Ford Mustang and a Yamaha 1000cc Superbike respectively, only took one run, while the supermodified and sprint car drivers (winged and non-winged) each took two.
The session was stated to be a one-hour session, but the show was condensed down to a half-hour. As a result, the warm-ups were cut out, and I think some of the second runs (if the driver failed to improve) were cut out as well.
I feel that viewers missed out on some content due to the way SPEED cut up the broadcast. Maybe it would have done better as a one-hour show. That way, we could have more interviews and not miss out on certain runs.
On Saturday, the wind was a serious issue, but only for those spotting on top of the grandstand, or those pitching a tent. Seriously, it was pretty brutal out there despite the sunny skies. However, since the Camping World Truck Series was at Martinsville, the wind didn’t really play a role for the trucks on track. Some of the high camera shots were a little shaky, though.
SPEED trotted out a new feature during NCWTS Setup where fans can send in questions for either Dunlap or Sadler to ask during The Corral segment. On paper, its similar to what ESPN does with their In-Race Reporters. The setup is different, though. Prospective questioners send their questions to SPEED via the coverage’s Twitter page, instead of e-mailing or using contact forms. I’m unclear as to how it worked because they didn’t actually tell viewers which questions had been sent in by fans. On the surface, there really wasn’t much difference, though.
The main feature of the Setup was a feature on Autism, typically a big issue in April since it is Autism Awareness Month. The feature focused on former driver (and current Red Horse Racing Competition Director) Terry Cook and his wife, Amy East Cook (remember her from ESPN’s truck coverage a decade ago?). Their son, Cody, was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 18 months. Terry talked a little about his transition away from driving, while both Terry and Amy talked about dealing with their son’s Autism and how they teach him basic tasks. Amy is basically a stay-at-home mom who spends dozens of hours a week teaching Cody. The whole piece was more or less designed to bring attention to Autism Speaks, a charity that benefits Autism Research and Autism Awareness.
The race was full of good action and SPEED was able to bring viewers a lot of that action. However, I did have some gripes with a couple of aspects of SPEED’s presentation.
SPEED managed to miss at least two restarts due to still being in commercial. It could be argued that due to the short caution laps, such a thing is understandable at Martinsville. That doesn’t mean that its ok to do it. However, they did attempt what amounted to penance. Later on in the race, it appeared that SPEED was going to miss another restart after Chase Mattioli’s third spin of the day (earning the “Dart Without Feathers” award from Tom Bowles in the process). However, they chose to exit out of commercial early in order to show the restart live.
Also, the scroll was having significant issues early on in the race. I guess it could be considered GPS issues, or timing and scoring issues. This went on for nearly 50 laps before the fix was instituted (not that fix). My guess is that NASCAR had a somewhat similar issue with their scoring as they had back in Bristol during the Scotts EZ-Seed 300 (Note: Short tracks have given NASCAR problems so far this year, eh?). However, unlike at Bristol with ESPN, viewers were not notified of the issue on-air.
I definitely did like the usage of the split-screen replay a couple of laps into the race. It is something that I have been after FOX to re-institute use of for the past couple of years for their Sprint Cup coverage. It doesn’t break up the overall flow of coverage like a full screen replay under green flag conditions does.
Also, in a moment of self-deprecation, the “Call of the Race” award was given to Waltrip for his proclamation that Kevin Harvick was done after losing two laps. It’s good to see that SPEED is not full of themselves and can point out their own mistakes.
Since the race ran long due to multiple cautions and a red flag (13 in all), there was not all that much post-race coverage. There were interviews with the top-5 finishers (Johnny Sauter, Kyle Busch, Ron Hornaday, Kevin Harvick and Timothy Peters) and the winning crew chief (Joe Shear, Jr.). In addition, there was a check of the point standings before SPEED left the air.
Despite the miscues that I mentioned above, the race was a relative joy to watch. There was plenty of action to be had on track, throughout the field. SPEED did a good job to show that action.
Goody’s Fast Relief 500
FOX returned for their 11th appearance at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday with the usual crew. The new FOX Stage was situated right on the exit of Turn 4, allowing some fans to look in on Waltrip, Myers and Hammond’s discussion early on. That looked a little creepy at times, but I’m cool with it.
The one-on-one interview of the week had Waltrip talking with Harvick. A lot of the discussion was centered upon the idea of Harvick as “The Closer,” which was a bit of a recurring theme throughout the weekend. Of course, the race ended up driving that point home as well. However, for some reason, Waltrip asked Harvick to do the “Ickey Shuffle” with him. That really wasn’t necessary. Waltrip found a way to make a one-on-one interview about himself. That isn’t right.
Once again, there were almost no at-the-track interviews during FOX’s Pre-Race show. That is quite annoying, as not everyone has SPEED at home. In my case, its part of the Sports Digital Tier, meaning that you have to have digital cable, and pay extra (currently $5.95 a month) to get access to the channel. Of course, I subscribe. Otherwise, I would be unable to critique Truck races for you. The main idea is that I shouldn’t have to watch the pre-pre-race show to see more than one driver interview.
It seems like FOX’s pre-race show is so focused on normalcy that there are no real attempts to enlighten fans about the drivers anymore. Its as if there is a formula now for the entire show. Desk discussion, then the one-on-one interview, more desk discussion, one interview via headset with a driver, Gas n’ Go, Revved Up, and maybe a quick technical explanation (this week, on brakes) if there’s time before opening ceremonies.
Speaking of Waltrip, once the race got underway, Waltrip seemed to be a little screwier than normal. He was making constant references to the hot dogs that are served at the concession stands in Martinsville. We know that they’re apparently tasty (I cannot vouch, for I have never to Martinsville, but I hear that they’re truly scrumptious). However, Waltrip decided to work that into his Boogity refrain. On its own, its a little annoying these days (but not worth me whining about because I know he’s never going to stop unless FOX threatened to fire him, which isn’t happening). However, the referencing of all the drivers as hot dogs was kind of ridiculous. The people I was chatting with online while watching the race agreed with me on that point.
Later on in the race, Waltrip’s hot dog referencing continued under the red flag. The dogs were brought up to no less than two (and probably three) different drivers on their radios. He was just going on and on like a broken record, like those dogs had divine qualities or something. I’m pretty sure that they don’t.
Speaking of the red flag for Martin Truex, Jr. and Kasey Kahne’s huge crash in Turn 3, FOX spent much of the red flag talking to drivers via their radios. I thought that it was a nice way to pass the time, regardless of how annoying the constant hot dog references were. There were also interviews with the two principals in the crash.
FOX made extensive use of the “quad-pits” setup during pit stop sequences under caution. The setup is not necessarily ideal because viewers cannot see the rest of the cars on pit road, just whichever teams FOX selected for the display. Bites if you’re not a fan of whoever FOX picked (that also happened to still be on the lead lap).
Probably one of the things I liked best on Sunday was when FOX aired radio chatter from Michael McDowell pertaining to the incident with Marcos Ambrose early on. It was a rare look into a team that doesn’t get to run a full race all that often, and their drivers’ mindset. McDowell appeared to be angry at Ambrose, while seemingly the entire field was angry at him.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief due to the fact that the red flag caused the race to run long. However, FOX did still provide viewers with five post-race interviews, a check of the point standings, and some additional analysis from the broadcast booth. However, they felt the need to replay the bit where Waltrip got Harvick to do the “Ickey Shuffle” during the aforementioned one-on-one interview. Didn’t need to be there.
FOX has the potential to have really good broadcasts, but they tend to rely too much on standbys. Waltrip seems to have a lot of screen time, more than in the past. While that is not necessarily bad, it means that the stories down in the pits may not necessarily get as much airtime as they should. We should have seen reports showing the progression of tire wear as the track very slowly rubbered in. Didn’t see it. Now, the pit reporters do get some airtime, but not enough. And none during pre-race. That needs to change in future races.
That’s it for this week. Next week, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series travel to Justin, Texas to race at Texas Motor Speedway. However, there is a new wrinkle for both series since both races will be full night races, a first. Meanwhile, the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 and the Izod IndyCar Series will return to action at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama. Here’s your listings for the week.
Thursday, April 7
Time Telecast Network
Friday, April 8
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, April 9
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, April 10
Time Telecast Network
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide broadcasts in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. In addition, I will also cover Versus’ telecast from Barber Park, since it will showcase some of their on-air changes for 2011. The Porsche 250 will also be covered in the Critic’s Annex.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
As always, if you choose to contact the 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!
DW: But enough about me. What do YOU think about me?
“it’s not worth me whining about because FOX will never fire him” Phil……YOU ARE OUR VOICE. Please stay on the DW stupidity theme. SOMEBODY IN A POSITION TO MAKE A CHANGE WILL EVENTUALLY SEE IT! Everyone should check out the Facebook page “Darryl Waltrip Shut UP! It’s great! DW=hotdog=stupidity!
I agree with Jim and Joe.Way too much DW! When he gives real info,that is fine. The ‘dancing’ was awful. I actually felt sorry for Harvik. Thought your review of Speed and Fox was very good. We get Speed on cable so also pay extra to have it. So glad we have it as we do watch it alot.BUT do appreciate your reviewing it. I haven’t seen anyone else do it and think it was needed. Hope SPEED,FOX,ESPN etc will see this column and pay attention to the suggestions.
My race viewing would be much more pleasurable if DW would just go. I don’t care where, just get off of the race broadcast. I’m sure if I were to look up annoying in the dictionary, they would have a pic of DW.
Phil I’m surprised you didn’t say more about Fox’s love of ultra tight shots all during the race. And their love of the gimmic cams. They use and abuse the in-car, bumper, roof and gopher cams to no end. I think the gimmic cams should be mainly reserved for replays. It is really hard to sit home and view a race the way the Fox director presents it. There is no flow to the race broadcast because of the crappy camera direction.
Drastic overuse of the curb-cam. Plenty of good racing in the turns got missed because they were focused on tires running over the curb.