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 10, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, a column that breaks apart the ins and outs of the racing broadcasts you see each week. In the last few days, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series had a special Mother’s Day present for you: making their one and only trip to Darlington Raceway, one of stock car racing’s oldest and most legendary facilities. With Saturday night’s Southern 500, the 1.366-mile oval has now hosted 165 races within NASCAR’s top three divisions since first debuting on the Cup Series schedule in 1950.
How did the racing look on TV? There’s plenty to talk about this week, so let’s not waste any time…
Royal Purple 200
Friday night from Darlington began with a musical ploy from ESPN. The network, getting creative made prodigious use of the 1975 song “Evil Woman” from Electric Light Orchestra in an attempt to capture the 1.366-mile oval’s nasty characteristics. I don’t believe it worked all that well, though. Truth is, most of the issues that plagued drivers on this night were self-inflicted.
ESPN showed off two very well-done features during the Countdown show. One was a segment on Eric McClure and the tragedy he had with a tornado hitting his house in southwest Virginia a couple of weeks ago. McClure and wife Melanie described the harrowing ordeal while sitting outside of their stricken home, an on-location interview that really accentuated the experience. It appeared that ESPN captured the best sides of McClure’s house, because the damage shown didn’t really match the driver’s own descriptions he posted to Twitter after the storm blew through. Unfortunately for McClure, all the coverage he got on Friday night was in the feature, as he did not get mentioned at all on the broadcast until after he dropped out of the race (even then, ESPN never notified viewers as to why he pulled into the garage). The network definitely loses points for telling such a compelling story, then failing to connect it to the actual race itself.
Another feature that was shown featured Bud Moore, Cotton Owens and David Pearson having lunch at a local diner with Dale Jarrett. Like a normal weekday afternoon, the three began to spin war stories with Jarrett helping (at times) to drive the conversation along. Much of the discussion focused on supposed cheating, or hiding said cheating in NASCAR’s golden era. Jarrett sat back for much of the time and watched with a big grin on his face, acting as if he just wanted to take in the discussion. Of course, he had a reason to grin; the piece was strong. But it should be noted that the whole conversation actually premiered earlier in the day during NASCAR Now. The feature could also have been improved by capturing the aforementioned three guys’ discussion in a “natural” form, meaning they do all the reminiscing themselves without Jarrett there to facilitate.
In addition to those special segments, ESPN brought viewers three pre-race interviews and the typical amount of overblown analysis from the Pit Studio.
During the race itself, there was a lot of focus on the front couple of cars (Kyle Busch (as always), Kasey Kahne, and Carl Edwards). Very few of the series regulars got much coverage until Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier reached the front via pit strategy. Such a philosophy fits into ESPN’s desire to focus on the front of the field, regardless of whether the drivers up there are actually Nationwide regulars.
But that narrow-minded focus, especially when you’re televising a series in which invaders constantly snatch up wins, is not always the most prudent. I don’t know what Nationwide was expecting when they plunked down $12 million a year to serve as the title sponsor for this division. Were they expecting a group of strong, independent series drivers to be spotlighted? Or, were they expecting Edwards, Busch and a couple other random Cupwhackers to be the stars of a second-tier division? I’d like to hear their thoughts on the issue.
ESPN also rolled out a new graphic during the race Friday. There are now “Restart Recaps,” which work very similarly to the race recap graphics that pop up from time to time. They list the leader, who got the Lucky Dog (if applicable) and so on. Not a bad idea, but ESPN should not use it as a crutch. Reid should still acknowledge what’s going on ahead of each restart instead of letting the graphic tell the story completely.
The network also failed to show what happened to cause Chris Buescher’s flat tire on Lap 44. That incident led to a caution for debris, also never caught on camera so viewers were left in the dark as to why the racing slowed. Not cool.
Since the race ended relatively early, there was quite a bit of post-race coverage. ESPN provided viewers with nine post-race interviews and checks of the point standings. There was also plenty of post-race discussion before they left the air as well. However, the network still chose to bolt ten minutes before the end of their allotted time. I have no clue why they did it, although the thought of running out of people to interview was a possibility. Regardless, ESPN should make a point to always fill their slot when a race ends early. I’m sure that they have plenty of NASCAR-related programming they can use to fill.
What viewers were given Friday night from ESPN was more or less a typical broadcast. Pre-race coverage was above average, but the race telecast was not so good. Last week, I stated that ESPN should have taken notes on how to cover the series regulars from SPEED’s broadcast at Richmond. Obviously, they chose not to. We’re all losing out because of that.
Showtime Southern 500
Saturday night brought FOX back out to play at Darlington. However, much of the network’s pre-race coverage was dedicated to the shenanigans from the previous Saturday night in Richmond.
Ryan Newman got a lot of airtime, far more than he likely deserved after his problems with Juan Pablo Montoya. He got a regular pre-race interview (as I’ve mentioned this season, very rare indeed) and a one-on-one interview with Darrell Waltrip. Both Waltrip and Matt Yocum pressed Newman to talk about the Richmond incidents with Montoya, with little success. Newman did talk a little about the discussion in the hauler and what was discussed there. Somehow, the moon landing and “Wrasslin’” also made its way into the conversation as well (apparently, Waltrip’s mother was a fan of professional wrestling when he was younger, likely out of the Mid-South territory).
In addition to the interviews, there was significant discussion of whether a fracas broke out during the aforementioned hauler discussion. Neither driver will discuss it, but opinion is trending toward yes, they did.
During races, FOX will do rundowns through the field when there isn’t all that much action. Mike Joy will go through each lead lap car and talk a little bit about them. This type of coverage was done at least twice on Saturday night, a positive aspect to their broadcast that fans seem to appreciate.
The big issue that developed as a storyline was the handling of the Kyle Busch-Kevin Harvick conflict that broke out late in the race. First, there was the cutaway to show a close-up of Clint Bowyer’s crashed No. 33 when Harvick’s car was spinning on the frontstretch. That was not a good move.
FOX and BSI (the vendor that provides the in-car cameras for the broadcasts) didn’t do themselves any favors here when they were showing a replay of the incident from Jeff Gordon’s roof-cam. They had the perfect view to see whether Kyle intentionally turned Harvick. However, right at the last second, they switched from the roof-cam to the rear bumper-cam to show Bowyer hitting the inside wall. I think that FOX was undecided as to what was the bigger story in that incident. Yes, Bowyer took a big hit (somewhat similar to Brian Scott’s on Friday night). Yes, Bowyer was quite unhappy about the wreck. However, that was not the big story that unfolded.
Yes, there was discussion over whether Kyle’s actions were intentional. Waltrip was not sure if it was or not, claiming he needed to see a couple more angles. That’s perfectly fair. He just didn’t want to make a snap judgment. The aforementioned situation is a touchy subject with Waltrip, who has been accused of essentially having a “man crush” on Kyle. That “man crush” has manifested itself in what many viewers consider to be biased coverage of Kyle over the past year or two. Believe me, I get emails on that very subject every week.
Do I think that Waltrip was blatantly covering for Kyle in this situation? It didn’t appear as such. Not at first. He just wanted to know all the facts before reaching a consensus. However, I do believe that he probably went easy on Kyle. It seemed like he didn’t want to come out and say that Kyle was in the wrong, even though Joy and Larry McReynolds were pretty much convinced that it was intentional. I also don’t necessarily agree with our Amy Henderson’s opinion that NASCAR should have parked Kyle after the spin. Yes, it did look blatant, but not blatant enough for an immediate parking. He should have been docked a lap or two, though. NASCAR is within their authority to assess those types of penalties.
Waltrip was simply exasperated at what happened on pit road after the race. I’m sure he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, becoming nearly speechless along with Joy and McReynolds. I’m sure if I were to ask Waltrip if he was OK with Kyle’s tactics on pit road right now, he would most definitely not approve. No one would actually condone what Kyle did.
In the meantime, coverage of the last couple of laps was completely focused on the top-2 drivers (Regan Smith and Carl Edwards) regardless of the craziness behind them. Paul Menard apparently blew an engine, which only got a brief mention from Joy. Then, a crash broke out on the backstretch involving Bobby Labonte. There was no quick shot of the wreck to establish anything. The only time it was referenced before the checkered flag flew was when Waltrip mentioned it in passing, as if to say “Oh yeah, there’s a wreck over there, whoopee.” Not the best way to cover the final laps.
Unfortunately, the stupidity between Kyle Busch and Harvick took a lot of the limelight away from first-time winner Regan Smith. Stupid stuff always seems to overshadow first-time victors these days. We didn’t really need a split-screen completely dedicated to the conflict while Smith was celebrating his win. Also of note, I cannot recall Smith being mentioned much at all on the telecast prior to there being 50 laps to go, despite the No. 78 running well for most of the race. That’s really rare when you think about it.
Even though the race ended 12 minutes after the end of FOX’s timeslot, there was still a good amount of post-race coverage. There were six post-race interviews, a check of the point standings and a substantial amount of post-race analysis.
The first half of Saturday’s race really wasn’t bad. There was a good amount of coverage throughout the field, and the commentary was fair and balanced. Still too many bumper-cam shots, though. However, towards the end of the race, the coverage became heavily focused on a couple of storylines at the expense of giving even some basic aspects of the event their proper due. That is something that FOX cannot do.
Also, the Waltrip bias is something that needs to be monitored for the rest of the season. When people keep on contacting you with the same type of concerns, it is officially something worth looking at. It should be noted in DW’s defense that sans Kyle Busch, there were no ridiculous moments of favoritism Saturday night, along with zero touting of Toyota products over everything else – like some people have also accused Waltrip of doing in the past. But he needs to be aware of situations where favoritism of drivers might crop up and act appropriately not to cross that line.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, all three of NASCAR’s major series are back in action at Dover International Speedway. Meanwhile, the Rolex Sports Car Series returns from their one month break at the 3.27-mile Virginia International Raceway for their fourth race of the year, where a bounty of $25,000 has been placed on the Ganassi duo of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Here’s your listings:
Friday, May 13
Saturday, May 14
Sunday, May 15
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races in next week’s critique at Frontstretch. In addition, I will cover any other TV-related news that breaks over the next week. The Rolex Sports Car Series telecast will be covered in a future edition of the Critic’s Annex, a column which can be seen only in our free Frontstretch Newsletter.
One more note about the schedule. If you were confused about the Camping World Truck Series times, well, don’t be; you read that right, as the Lucas Oil 200 will be aired on SPEED via tape-delay (NOT live). This adjustment seems to happen every year, a move I simply don’t understand from any perspective. Yes, a 5 PM Friday afternoon start for a race is not ideal, but the Truck Series is one of SPEED’s main properties. I’m surprised that NASCAR does not insist on all the races being televised live, period.
Just for the heck of it, I checked SPEED’s schedule for the 13th last week. Airing in place of the live telecast is a repeat of an episode of The 10, then a repeat of the tape-delayed telecast of the South Boston 150 for the K&N Pro Series East from South Boston Speedway. That telecast premieres Thursday evening at 6 PM EDT. After that, there is a repeat of Truck Series qualifying, then Trackside all before the Setup – a full pre-race show – comes on at 8 PM EDT. Huh?
Simply put, there is no reason to push the Truck Series programming back. You’re selling out one of NASCAR’s top divisions… for what? 20,000 more viewers, if that? It’s a bush league move.
That’s it for now. If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. And if you would like to contact any of the TV partners personally with an issue regarding their coverage from last weekend, please click on the following links:
As always, if you choose to contact a network by email, do so in a courteous manner. PR representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than ones full of rants and vitriol.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Talking NASCAR TV: Is Darrell Waltrip Constantly Biased Towards Busch?
It’s funny that in the years past we never heard about DW’s love for ‘Junebug’ when that was all he could talk about after Sr’s demise. Or the previous few years, and this year on occasion, when they road the ‘Happy’, and now ‘The Closer’ bandwagon. People bitched when all they talked about was Jimmie. Whenever a guy wins a lot over their favorite driver, “fans” are going to whine.
No, I don’t think that Old DW is biased towards Kyle Bush. He just knows talent when he sees it. GO ROWDY!!!
Yes Waltrip is biased. I can’t stand to listen to him and his Busch love fest. I have gained a new respect for Larry Mac; while Waltrip was stumbling around and only able to say ‘I don’t know what happened” Larry Mac was direct and to the point; “he wrecked him”. Waltrip is supposed to provide analysis, not act as a cheerleader. Waltrip needs to go and go soon. He is the absolute worst.
I realize this is Phil’s column but, he brought up “Amy Henderson’s opinion”… face it, unless Junior does it, it just ain’t right. Kyle should have been parked for what? Being a better driver than Kevin Harvick? I place the majority of blame for this incident on Harvick. First of all, Harvick punted Kyle first. Lo and behold, Kyle immediately had the opportunity to return the favor and did so with much better results than Kevin managed. Have at it boys, NASCAR said so. So, now what? Well, now Kevin is indignant. How dare he spin me out? Delana is furious. Go get him honey! So, here we come to pit road and Kevin pulls up on Kyle with obvious malicious intent. Kyle leaves pit road to avoid it. Right then and there, it should have been over. Harvick should have gone to the hauler and went over to Kyle’s hauler to wait for him. But, nooooo, everyone wouldn’t get to see Happy throw a tantrum and show off. So, he heads out after Kyle on the track. Again, Kyle goes the other way and heads back down pit road. So, Kevin gets ahead of him and blocks him in. Kevin gets out of his car and leaves it unattended. That was totally irresponsible on his part. So, seeing this blubbering idiot headed his way, Kyle pushed the unattended car out of the way and left the situation behind. What? The Bud crew members were running down pit road and could have been hit by the car? Really? Why were they running down pit road? Were they bringing Kyle a bouquet of flowers and candy to show him their undying love? Hardly, I believe they all wanted to get hold of Kyle and give him a few what-fors of their own. So, stupid is as stupid does, you run down pit road with malice in your heart and all of a sudden you find yourself in an unsafe environment? Hmmmmm… maybe should have stayed in your pit box? No, I have no pity for Kevin or the Bud crew, they all made decisions that put them where they were. And as far as other people down that way on pit road? Watch the tape, Kyle revved his car and rocked it forward a few times. I guarantee you, anyone down that way could hear that and knew to get out of the way and take cover, something was fixing to move and you don’t want to be on pit road when it does. And, no one was, no one was hurt. So, let’s stop playing what if someone gets hurt. No one was hurt. If we’re going to play what if someone gets hurt, then park the cars and have the guys race each other on simulators. What if someone gets hurt can happen on every lap. The chickification of cup racing is almost complete and if we listen to Amy, it will be all over even sooner.
@djrichiep: Actually, what I saw, before Harvick gave Busch the bumper shot (which was meant to express displeasure, not to wreck Busch), was Busch coming down on Harvick and getting into him. So Busch, not Harvick, took the first shot on the racetrack. Harvick told him what he thought of that, and Busch punted him.
I don’t like with one of them but….surly you didn’t see the same race I saw….Harvick bumped Busch and started the whole thing. He thinks he can shove anyone in his path out of the way. The best thing Nascar can do is take points away from both of them. That will get them both where it hurts the most.
Amy 1, djrichiep 0.
I agree they should both be punished. I only wish Harvick had been able to connect a punch or two right in Kyle’s arrogant mouth. Actually the better show would have been Delana kicking the crap out of Kyle.
Harvick definitely didn’t try to wreck him, just let him know he wasn’t happy. Scrub flat out wrecked him then made an even bigger bonehead move by pushing his car out of the way.
Guess Harvick should have taken the opportunity when he had it then, huh? He didn’t hesitate to “park” him at Homestead. But, I guess that was OK, because it was Kyle getting wrecked.
Harvick is a jerk. Kyle is an assh_le. I disagree with Phil about how FOX covered the victory lane celebration and the near assault on pit road with a split screen. That was perfect because unlike DW’s lack of broadcast skills, the pictures actually told the story
DW was biased all night with the #18. They ran through the field with monotone voices until they reached the #18. Then I think it was FOX that invented the new record of most wins at age 26. Later, Busch was driving over his head when he almost lost it near the #78 off turn four, and DW claimed the air messed him up. Finally, his silence when the #18 wrecked the #29 was the worst moment of his broadcast career. Joy and McReynolds saw Busch wrecked Harvick, and Waltrip was unable to choke up a critical sentence against Busch.
I have a different opinion of the way they covered the end of the race. I thought they totally took away from Regan’s win to cover the stupidity on pit road. No burnouts, no follow to Victory Lane, just a split screen. I think it was a slap in the face to Smith.
But of course he was not in the plans and never is so FOX was in quite a conundrum at that point. Add in their man crush on Kyle and they blew it as far as I“m concerned.
It just shows me that they care more about the fights and drama than they do about the actual racing on the track. But then again, we see more commercials, promos, and driver montages before we see any actual racing, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.
It’s reply time. Just got home from work, so I’m going to go through some stuff here. I’ll start with Steve. I agree with you on the “Slap to Smith’s face.” You also bring up a good point with Smith “not being in FOX’s plans.” Knowing that he was out of the top 25 in points entering the race, I don’t think they planned all that much material about the #78. ESPN considers those drivers outside of the top 24 to be what amounts to non-focus drivers, and thus prep consists mainly of car conditions and so forth. No extraneous stories are extracted. We might have a situ like that here.
Joe, I agree with you that the pictures told the story with the Harvick-Kyle Busch shenanigans. However, Smith definitely got the shaft there.
In regards to Amy’s opinion, I was referencing what she wrote in her Big Six column in Monday’s edition of the Frontstretch Newsletter, which I did not agree with.
Finally, RickP, I understand what you’re getting at there. Truth is, Darrell seems to be the most susceptible to these types of things of any on-air personality that does NASCAR. However, a lot of the examples of possible bias you referenced predate the time that I’ve written this column. Before I started doing the critiquing, I really didn’t notice what Darrell was doing.
Jimmy Spenser nows toes the company line hard. No way the real Jimmy Spenser would tolerate that hook from Kyle. He would have punched out baby bro too. Just sayin’
Does anyone really pay any attention to what DW says? Or to what Amy says?
He, Larry, Mac, an MJ all need to go. Surely Fox can find a better team.
One more thing. Hey, Frontstretch: Amy needs to be sent out w/ DW, et al.