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 May 3, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Frontstretch’s weekly look inside of the TV broadcasts that we all watch. It was a very busy weekend for both major racing series, and for myself. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were at Richmond International Raceway, while the Izod IndyCar Series raced on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. If you’re looking for a critique of SPEED’s Thursday night coverage from Richmond, that will be covered in the Critic’s Annex on Thursday in the Frontstretch Newsletter. In the interest of grouping, I will cover the Izod IndyCar Series race first in order to keep the Cup and Nationwide races together.
Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 Presented by Nestle
Sao Paulo typically creates a bunch of issues for Versus. The normal compliment of on-air personalities do not make the trip to Brazil. One pit reporter, Kevin Lee, did make the trip. He was kept very busy while on-air. Marty Snider was simply not there at all due to his TNT obligations. Lindy Thackston watched the race from Versus’ production compound in Indianapolis and tried to help with the broadcast behind the scenes. Not really sure how.
The normal broadcast booth did the race from Indianapolis as well. Robin Miller joined them in the “booth,” but I don’t believe that he really added anything to the broadcast. Abrasive as Miller can be, he was just in the way last weekend. Also, it is just another example of what I like to call the Rule of Three. Quite simply, never have more than three in the booth (unless one is a temporary special guest).
Pre-Race coverage was quite brief. Yes, it was still under the IndyCar Central name, but it was very much reduced. None of the normal features made it into the show. There was a recently taped interview shown with pole sitter Will Power, and taped interviews with Justin Wilson and Helio Castroneves based upon the incidents Castroneves has been involved in so far this year. Had there been more time, I think that Versus should have done something to reference the late Ayrton Senna in pre-race. Why? I know Senna never raced in IndyCar (although he did test a car for Penske back in the early 1990’s through his relationship with Marlboro), but Sunday was the 17th anniversary of his unfortunate death at Imola, and Sao Paulo was Senna’s hometown (more or less). The only reference to Senna made was during an interview with Vitor Meira, who has a depiction of Senna on his helmet.
The race ended up being red-flagged on the tenth lap due to an absolute deluge. During what turned out to be a two-hour plus delay, Versus (via Lee) brought viewers bunches of interviews from the covered paddock (which doubles as a storage area for Carnival floats, I guess).
Another couple of features talked about classic Indianapolis 500’s, like the 1991 race that came down to a duel between Michael Andretti and Rick Mears. Another talked about A.J. Foyt’s first win at Indianapolis.
The teams did eventually get back on track to run some laps behind the pace car. However, the booth notified viewers that those laps would not count. Come Monday morning, Jenkins notified fans that the laps did in fact count, so there were 14 laps completed when the green came back out. I don’t understand that. Must have been some bad information relayed.
Of course, that wasn’t the only issue. After the coverage seized, it became apparent that IndyCar had not completely given up on the race. Had they actually started it after Versus left, I guess the whole thing would have been aired via tape delay. Of course, that didn’t happen. Versus also left the air fast enough (they were already a half-hour over the end of the timeslot had it never rained) that they were gone before the word officially came down from the network that they would air Monday’s action live starting at 8am EDT. I ended up finding that out from Thackston on her Twitter feed. Of course, that screw-up from Versus led to other outlets giving incorrect information, like Sportscenter (yes, they showed highlights of the first part of the event on there, which is interesting because they almost never show IndyCar highlights on there unless its the Indianapolis 500).
The race was run basically from the start as a timed race with a two hour limit. I don’t understand how the Izod IndyCar Series’ time limit for road races works. Back in March, I made reference to the fact that the season opener in St. Petersburg went over the two-hour mark in my recap. ESPN never referred the time limit, or even if one existed during their broadcast. That race went its full distance. I need clarification. Is the time limit a permanent thing, or is it simply instituted on the discretion of say, the much-hated Brian Barnhart?
Post-race coverage was fairly extensive, given the schedule for the day. There were post-race interviews with Power, Graham Rahal, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti and the KV Racing teammates Takuma Sato and EJ Viso (who did not crash during the race). There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings before Versus left the air.
Right after the finish, Jenkins voiced what amounted to a lot of frustration about the race day. Jenkins needs to be careful here. Much like the ESPN booth’s mess at Talladega in 2009, opinion really cannot affect race commentary. Granted, it had been completed by that point, but that doesn’t mean that their job was over for the day. Also, right when the red flag was flown on Sunday, Jenkins referred to the proceedings as a “fiasco.” I have all the respect in the world for Jenkins, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that, even if there was some truth to it.
Can’t do much about them. Its Sao Paulo. It can rain a lot. We’ve had two races on the streets of Sao Paulo, and both races got red flagged at some point due to rain. Moving the event to May was actually supposed to help that out a little (remember, Sao Paulo is in the Southern Hemisphere, so holding the race in May is like having it in early November). Of course, the city being just about at the Tropic of Capricorn in latitude means that it would be warm and humid almost regardless of when the race is held. For the future, I would recommend holding the race in either July or August, if possible. It is the middle of the Sao Paulo winter, even though it is still warm. Also, the winters are much drier there. March was a real toss-up last year.
The broadcast was a mess. I can’t say anything other than that. Mind you, that doesn’t even include the camera work during the event from the host broadcasters. I would describe it as “shaky,” incredibly so at times. However, there was nowhere as much bias in who is on camera as Brazilian broadcasters have shown in the past. Frustration seemed to be at an all-time high amongst everyone there. It looked like the Monday restart was going to be done in the dry, but the rains returned with half a lap to go before the green came back out, forcing the entire field to pit after maneuvering through three turns. Its just one of those weeks, I guess.
BUBBA Burger 250
Friday marked a big night for SPEED. It was their very first official broadcast of a Nationwide Series race. I only use the caveat “official” because SPEED aired the 2008 Lipton Tea 250 from Richmond under similar circumstances to this past weekend. However, the broadcast was really a simulcast of ESPN’s broadcast. ESPN had moved the race to ESPN Classic, a station that had begun to drop off in popularity. Many cable systems were either outright dropping it, or moving it to a premium tier that fans were opting not to subscribe to.
Three years later, ESPN Classic is very hard to find. I still get it, but it moved to the Premium Sports Tier last year. Of course, whether I can view it even though we pay for it here is another story. As a result, ESPN decided months ago to move the race to SPEED and let them handle production. As a result, ESPN’s broadcast team did not make the trip to Richmond.
SPEED gave viewers a telecast with the vast majority of the team that does the Camping World Truck Series races. The exception was the addition of Darrell Waltrip in place of Phil Parsons. On paper, its a great choice since Darrell brings a lot of knowledge to the booth. However, knowing his track record, I was a little nervous.
The qualifying coverage made me really nervous. It might have been SPEED’s worst ever coverage of Nationwide qualifying. Its rare that I receive e-mails ranting about qualifying coverage, but I got one Friday. You had drivers (like Brian Scott) basically being ignored due to conversation in the booth. Not good.
A special 30-minute edition of Trackside served as a pre-race show for the race. However, the first 20 minutes of the show (with an interview with Matt Kenseth) served as a prelude to the rest of the show, which aired after the Nationwide race.
Once SPEED went inside the track, they gave viewers pre-race interviews with Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards before they transitioned into race coverage. Compared to normal pre-race coverage on ESPN, the Nationwide Series got the shaft. The Kenseth interview could have just been moved to the rest of Trackside after the race and SPEED could have given viewers a special edition of the Setup instead.
As frustrating and annoying as pre-race coverage turned out to be, the race coverage was anything but. There was a completely different feel to the race broadcast with SPEED in charge instead of ESPN. There was more focus on the Nationwide regulars than I can remember on ESPN anytime in the last three seasons. Simply amazing.
I was somewhat concerned, especially based on the travesty that was qualifying coverage, that Kenny Wallace would actually get too much coverage, much like Kyle Busch does on ESPN. However, that was not the case. The field was covered equally. Cup drivers were given just about the same amount of coverage of SPEED as compared to non-Cup drivers (by that, I mean that each of the frontrunners received equal treatment, regardless of whether they were running for the championship or not).
One gripe that I had was that SPEED didn’t really acknowledge those cars that had dropped out of the race, whether they were starting-and-parking or not. For example, Mike Wallace dropped out after 64 laps and finished 33rd. I had no clue that he had engine problems until I checked online after the race. In the future, SPEED should give some coverage to that in their broadcasts. Despite the problems that a lot of viewers have with Marty Reid, that is something that he is very good with.
In an 11th hour deal, RaceBuddy was also back up and running. Viewers could access it from either nascar.com or speedtv.com. The typical setup was in use, but with a leader board finally. However, that leader board only showed selected drivers. I have no clue why that was so.
Post-race coverage was quite decent. SPEED provided viewers with eight post-race interviews and checks of both the unofficial results and point standings before they left the air.
Overall, I was quite impressed with what SPEED put together for Friday night. They produced an unbiased broadcast (for the most part) where the Nationwide regulars seemed to finally get their due after spending the last couple of seasons as the equivalent of Butters on South Park prior to season 5. Allen was able to keep the Waltrips in line (if you remember my list from last week, you’ll notice I’m thankful for that. ESPN should take some notes from Friday’s broadcast and see how they can possibly use some of the work seen here to improve their own broadcasts. Of course, ESPN would also do well to not screw up their graphics to read that Danica Patrick finished third in a race that she did not even enter. If you’re wondering, SPEED did that. Kind of embarrassing.
Crown Royal Presents the Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400
On Saturday night, FOX brought us Cup Series coverage from Richmond. After the one hour pre-race show that featured the return of the much-maligned Chris Pizzi, Richmond saw things go back to normal. That isn’t necessarily good, either.
The highlight of pre-race was an excerpt of a one-on-one interview that Darrell Waltrip conducted with Tony Stewart where he talked about a number of topics, including his complete lack of desire to ever drive an IndyCar again. Stewart’s girlfriend, Jessica Zemken, was also mentioned. Probably the first time (that I can think of) that she’s been mentioned on a NASCAR broadcast. Stewart talked about how they spend time together racing at tracks. It should be noted that I have seen Zemken race once. It was at Lebanon Valley Speedway last year in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car race. She qualified very well (eighth quickest) and was in position to get into the Dash for Cash (which set the top 10 starting spot). Also, Stewart and Zemken raced against each other at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park in Fultonville, NY last year. I did not go there, but someone tipped off the local TV stations of Stewart appearance at the quarter-mile track. Apparently, he got salty with a cameraman, but I digress.
Jeff Burton, who has struggled so far in 2011, was the only pre-race interview (done via the FOX desk). The pit reporters basically could take the pre-race show off. The completely scripted pre-race show is just not the way to go. Currently, If I don’t watch NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot, I don’t think I would feel prepared for the race. Simple as that.
During the race itself, the big topic of discussion was radio chatter. FOX seemed to play a lot more chatter than normal during the race. Now, I’m not opposed to that. It definitely helps the commentators because it gives them evidence to back up their points. Of course, there was also a whole bunch of stuff that FOX couldn’t air, like an apparent rant from Kurt Busch, or Martin Truex, Jr. chastising his crew for missing a lug nut on his final stop (which Tom Bowles talked about in his column just yesterday).
I would be all for playing that audio live on the broadcast, but I think that the FCC would have jurisdiction here. We might not be having this conversation if this race was on TNT. Even though most of the rules that came in effect after the infamous wardrobe malfunction have been struck down as unconstitutional, I don’t think FOX is willing to press their luck on F-bombs from radio transmissions.
Post-race coverage was decent. FOX provided viewers with five post-race interviews along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings before they left the air. There was also a substantial amount of post-race analysis from both the broadcast booth and the “Hollywood Hotel.”
The coverage overall was not all that bad on Saturday night. However, there was an over reliance on rear bumper cam footage. As a result, you can only see so much there. Other than the bumper cams, the tight shot issue was not too much of a problem, which is good. I didn’t really have any issues with the broadcasters themselves, although I did notice that Waltrip did get a little more airtime Saturday night than he did Friday. Unfortunately, the pit reporters remain underused, especially in pre-race. They need to fix pre-race so that they have something to do, and viewers can get an idea about the actual race, which isn’t really previewed at the current time except for when the commentators give us their picks to win.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be back in action at Darlington Raceway. Meanwhile, Formula One will be back from their three week break over in Turkey. Here’s your listings for the week.
Friday, May 6
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, May 7
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, May 8
Time Telecast Network
I will provide critiques of both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in next week’s article here at Frontstretch. Also, make sure to check out the Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter on Thursday. This week, I look at SPEED’s coverage of the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. Next week’s piece will take a look at the hour-long Roundtable editions of NASCAR Now.
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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Phil, I think you are far too kind to the FOX crew. Their coverage is unwatchable.
I watched the last 100 laps and was glad I missed the first 300. Commercials galore, ads cluttering up the screen constantly and driver montages all under green flag conditions. When they did show the racing it was Kyle all by himself lap after lap with the superlatives flowing from the FOX crew with the actual racing being ignored.
Calling it “not all that bad” is far too nice for this network. They are a main reason tv ratings are down. Yes i missed 3/4 of the race this week but its the same thing every week.
And please tell me that it was Kyle’s crew chief or spotter that said “Bring it home” on the last lap and not Waltrip.
I agree COMPLETELY with Steve’s comments! The FOX broadcasts are UNWATCHABLE. Phil, PLEASE step up and help us provide some leverage to get the Cup broadcasts up to snuff.