NASCAR, IMSA and AMA Pro announce Fanschoice.TV
posted by Mike Neff
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Free live streaming of events will allow fans to view previously unavailable live events online
AMA Pro, NASCAR and IMSA announced the launch of Fanschoice.tv today. The free service will stream motorcycle races, sports car races and regional touring and local short track events. The first event will be the AMA Pro flat track 200 from the 1/4 mile dirt track at Daytona International Speedway.
Fans will have access to multiple camera angles, live timing and scoring and a feed from the track’s PA system. In addition to the touring events from IMSA, AMA and NASCAR, three NASCAR Home Tracks have already signed on to be part of the release. Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA., Lake County Speedway in Painesville, OH., and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. will have all of their races available for viewing on the new service.
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour will all be shown on Fanschoice.tv. The awards banquets for both the Whelen All-American Series and the Touring Series will also be streamed.
IMSA coverage will include streaming of its developmental and single-make series, as well as selected practice and qualifying sessions for the two IMSA national sports car series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that are part of the recently-announced five-year agreement with Fox Sports.
NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Talking NASCAR TV · Phil Allaway · Tuesday May 17, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome to Talking NASCAR TV, where we take the TV partners to task for their screwups and praise them for their accomplishments. Last weekend, NASCAR’s top-3 divisions (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the Camping World Truck Series) were all competing at Dover Downs Motor Speedway in Delaware.
TV-wise, the big story of the day was that with 24 laps to go in the Cup race, FOX took their very first Side-by-Side commercial break. If you’re reading this critique, you probably saw how the setup was. For those of you who did not, here’s a screen shot that a fan took and posted on TwitPic Sunday evening. Let’s just say that to most viewers (including myself), this commercial setup came out of nowhere. There had not been any indications that FOX was going to do it during the broadcast, not from Mike Joy or anyone prior to Sunday. Am I happy that they did it? You bet your butt I am.
Out of all the setups I’ve seen over the years, FOX has managed to create the best one so far. It doesn’t break up the graphics already used on the broadcast, like Versus’ does. The full scroll is still in use during the break, and it can used to show the advertiser’s logo. It also makes full use of the available screen, which is not common. (OK, full use of my screen. I have only a 22-inch monitor that I watch the races on here.)
FOX and the other TV partners claimed that they were looking into possible setups that would allow Side-by-Side breaks in Cup race broadcasts before the season started. Advertisers seemed to be a tough sell on it, though.
However, through quotes released by FOX, we now have an idea about how it came about. According to a FOX spokesperson, “The idea re-surfaced earlier this week and after some discussions, it was decided we would experiment if we could get enough advertisers to go along with it.” Three of them: Sprint, Pizza Hut and race sponsor FedEx agreed to the changes.
Could this adjustment be a sign for the future of Sprint Cup race broadcasts? Possibly. For now, FOX is in re-evaluation mode. They are currently conferring with their advertisers, not just the three that agreed to the test, but their others as well. Those discussions could determine whether or not the feature will return this season in either of FOX’s two remaining Cup races.
At least one representative of the three trial sponsors thinks the Side-by-Side segments could be beneficial.
“Just as a fan looking at it, I thought it was well done,” said Tim Considine, Sprint’s Director of Sports Marketing. “I feel like as the sponsor and the company running the ad, I felt we got some good exposure. My gut (feeling) on the experience is positive.”
So far, the sentiment is overwhelmingly positive. Fans posted about it all night Sunday on Twitter and through most of Monday. It appears to be on par with, or perhaps even a bigger discussion point than Kenseth winning the race. One could wonder how healthy the series is when their coverage gets more exposure than the event itself. However, this fan sentiment could go a long way towards the Side-by-Side breaks being integrated into NASCAR broadcasts more. Maybe if Pizza Hut saw a small bounce in orders for their Meat Lovers’ Pizza (just throwing a random pizza out there), they would get behind it even more.
FOX is not necessarily alone in their desires for Side-by-Side breaks. ESPN brought the idea out of dormancy for their IndyCar Series coverage back in 2005, coining the name “Side-by-Side” along the way. They have tried to institute Side-by-Side breaks in their NASCAR coverage, but find it impossible to do. A spokesman stated Monday that “…[ESPN] is not contractually permitted to do it.” However, ESPN has had discussions with NASCAR on this issue in the past. Perhaps FOX’s experiment can give some impetus to open up the contract and change some terminology around to allow Side-by-Side.
NASCAR itself weighed in on FOX’s experiment on Monday.
“NASCAR has always encouraged its media partners to explore new and exciting ways of delivering our product to the fans,” said the sanctioning body in a statement. “FOX, Turner [Sports] and ESPN have all tested and implemented various commercial format presentations over the years and based on the very early feedback through social media on Sunday, the fans really liked what they saw late in the FOX broadcast from Dover. We will continue to evaluate this option with all of our partners with the goal of finding the ultimate viewing experience for our millions of loyal fans.”
Here’s the thing: Side-by-Side is nothing new. It was originally created by Turner Sports for NASCAR coverage under the name “No Brakes Coverage” in 2000. The 2000 UAW-GM Quality 500 was the only NASCAR race ever to have such a telecast. Remembering that race, it was definitely a good thing (46 lead changes, very competitive all day – and fans were allowed to see the entire event). Because the technology to allow Side-by-Side is at least 10.5 years old, some writers are pooh-poohing the whole thing, claiming that there is no big deal here (Monte Dutton of the Gaston Gazette is one example). However, if done properly, this could be huge for NASCAR. As you know, auto racing doesn’t translate all that well to television. There are no pre-determined natural breaks like in other sports. Soccer is the only other sport in that boat. Many people don’t remember this, but soccer matches on TV used to have commercials in the middle of play. On-screen sponsorship deals brought such a practice to an end by the time of World Cup ’94, though.
The hope at the time was that the No Brakes Coverage could have made it into the NBC/TNT half of the season in the first season of the series-wide TV deal. However, advertisers appeared to put the kibosh to it since I’d imagine that Turner Sports was paying several times what they were outlaying per race in 2001 as compared to before then. When that happens, the rates for advertisers increased as well. As a result, the format kind of died until the IndyCar Series and ESPN revived it.
Will Sunday’s experiment be the beginning of a new era in NASCAR race telecasts? It’s way too early to tell. As important as the fans are to this format gaining traction (and believe me, you all are) the advertisers have significant sway over the matter. The buzz about the setup on Twitter doesn’t necessarily fall on deaf ears. Advertisers these days are not dinosaurs. They are up on social media. Many companies have full-time staff that do nothing but tweet all day. Heck, Alex Kennedy’s wreck on Saturday resulted in him trending in the United States on Twitter for a couple of hours. For something done last minute, FOX did a great job in creating their Side-by-Side setup. I’m only calling it that because it was so last minute that FOX hasn’t conjured up a name for it yet (That’s coming, though).
Based on the aforementioned statement, NASCAR is firmly in FOX’s corner and appears to have given their full blessing to the experiment. This attitude goes against ESPN’s statement that they weren’t allowed to trot out something similar. FOX simply put out a plan that the advertisers were fine with.
However, FOX probably should have planned out their experiment a little further out, so that they could have made a big splash. Instead of just three advertisers being involved, maybe a dozen could have been convinced to chip in and FOX could have advertised the fact that they were doing it instead of just springing it on fans, apropos of nothing. Such a promotion could have given the broadcast a ratings boost as well.
Ideally, I wouldn’t have gone straight for the Sprint Cup Series for Side-by-Side breaks. Something like this adjustment would probably be better off being beta-tested in a lower-level series, then eventually moved up. The Nationwide Series on ESPN2 probably would have been the ideal place to start off, but it seems that they would have had the same issues that ESPN mentioned above. SPEED’s coverage of the Camping World Truck Series would have been another option. Both of those series are under completely separate TV deals from the one that the Sprint Cup Series operates under, and conceivably could have fewer hurdles to clear in order to allow such a format.
Now, before I start in earnest, there are two things that I need to mention. First off, Versus is not airing any practice coverage this week from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, that does not necessarily mean that you cannot view the action from the track. The Izod IndyCar Series is making all of the practice sessions available via Race Control on the series’ official website. Here’s the link. On there is a live leaderboard that shows the fastest laps turned in by all the drivers that have been on track. For example, 32 cars graced the 2.5-mile rectangle on Opening Day Saturday before the rains came. Also, on the right side of the screen, there is a GPS tracker that shows where all the cars are located at a given time.
Also, for those of you who are under the opinion that FOX references Kyle Busch a lot, more than anyone else, take solace that you’re not alone: there are companies that track these types of things. According to Joyce Julius & Associates, Kyle Busch has been mentioned by name on FOX broadcasts 1,727 times just through Richmond. This is 65 percent more than the next person on the list, Jeff Gordon (who has been mentioned 1,042 times). Busch has not been interviewed the most this year (Carl Edwards has one more FOX interview under his belt), but he has been interviewed on FOX for five minutes longer than anyone else. Definite overkill that didn’t get any better over the last couple of weeks, believe me.
Enough of that. Let’s get to the broadcasts.
Lucas Oil 200
On Friday afternoon, the Camping World Truck Series took to the one-mile concrete bowl for their annual 200-miler in Dover. Sadly, that tradition also meant that the race was tape-delayed to an 8:30 PM start to benefit SPEED’s wishes. I ranted a little bit about it towards the end of last week’s critique, but it deserves a second one. Just what the deuce are they gaining by delaying the race? I don’t think they’re gaining anything, especially now with stuff like Facebook and especially Twitter out there providing live updates. I understand that much of my audience doesn’t really care much for social media (believe me, we’ve looked into the demographics of our readers here at Frontstretch and the evidence shows that). However, in this era of instantaneous information, not airing something live, especially when you don’t have any other live priorities is ridiculous (Remember, SPEED aired repeats of The 10, a K&N Pro Series race, and Truck Qualifying, along with the week’s episode of Trackside Live prior to the Setup). OK, I might be able to understand if there was another one of those Barrett-Jackson Auctions going on, but SPEED has shown that even that will not delay a live race. So why tape-delay now?
Since the race had already been over for approximately 90 minutes before the telecast started, everyone already knew who won (Kyle Busch) before the Setup even came on. Of course, since Kyle Busch seems to be everywhere these days, many fans decided not to watch at all. You can argue about self-imposing Internet embargoes all you want, but in the situation that SPEED provided on Friday, none of that delaying nonsense was really necessary. It was bush league and will continue to be bush league if they do it every year.
Just to make things more irritating, the Setup co-opted the completely stupid spat between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, spending the majority of the show on it. Even by Friday night, I was done with that stuff. It’s overblown, and I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, those two dudes can stay angry with each other from here to eternity and it wouldn’t faze me. In the overall scope of the series, their feud doesn’t matter. It was basically a cop-out, even though both drivers were in the race driving for their own teams. At least a couple of the series regulars (Cole Whitt, Johnny Sauter and pole-sitter Justin Marks) got some airtime prior to the start.
Thankfully, once the stupidity that was the Setup was over, we got into some fairly good race coverage. Of course, during the event, I can understand why some of the coverage would concern Harvick and Busch because they had two of the best trucks out there on the track and spent part of the race battling for position.
Over the past eight years and change, I’ve grown used to hearing Rick Allen’s commentary. Parsons and even Michael Waltrip complement him quite well. Michael is excitable, but that’s just Michael.
When a race is tape-delayed, there is one little-known advantage that is rarely publicized. Similar to SPEED’s “time-shifted” broadcasts of Sprint Cup Qualifying, taking a commercial break basically gives the network the ability to hit the pause button, show their ads and come right on back to where they were. It’s a bit disorienting at times for the viewer, but it works. SPEED did a little of that during the race (meaning, on at least one break towards the end of the race). For ABC and ESPN, that actually used to be a feature that they used to promote their CART broadcasts in the late 1990’s (while showing all the IRL races live).
Post-race coverage was somewhat typical for SPEED. There were checks of the unofficial results and point standings, along with six post-race interviews.
Despite the tape delay that I’ve already rehashed above, SPEED still came out with a decent broadcast. There was still too much coverage of Harvick and Busch, but at least it was focused on what they were doing on the track. There was some fake drama created whenever the two of them got close to each other that I would have rather not seen, though.
5-Hour Energy 200
Saturday dawned ugly at Dover. Both Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series Qualifying was rained out, forcing both fields to be set by a combination of practice times and positions in owner points. In the case of the Nationwide Series, 46 teams practiced on Friday, but three withdrew after qualifying was canceled so that David Reutimann could race. ESPN really needed to discuss why that came about, but they chose not to. Weak… and I think I know why. Rusty Wallace, who interestingly enough had the week off from the broadcast, owns Reutimann’s No. 64. He had to engineer a series of buyouts, not unlike what Roush Fenway Racing did last season for Paul Menard, in order to get the No. 64 into the race.
NASCAR Countdown did some overtime Saturday due to the conditions. ESPN came prepared, though. There were at least 16 pre-race interviews aired. Carl Edwards spent some time in the Pit Studio to discuss the happenings at the track. Over the past year and change, Edwards has really shown himself to be a very telegenic personality. Some commenters online were talking about Edwards potentially having a career in television after he finishes behind the wheel. I wouldn’t be surprised, but it’s still way the heck too early to tell.
Kyle Busch spent what seemed like 25 minutes in the Pit Studio with Mark Martin discussing, amongst other things, Kyle’s assault on Martin’s Nationwide Series win record (Kyle is one behind Martin). It was an interesting conversation to watch, even though we didn’t learn anything new at all. Kyle can be a loose cannon at times, but he has a lot of respect for Martin, the elder statesman of NASCAR today.
Additional features were aired to pass time. One (during Edwards’ time in the Pit Studio) had Edwards on Sport Science testing out reaction time. They determined a couple of facts that anyone watching a race over the past five years probably could have figured out on their own. One, he has the fitness of an endurance athlete. Second, he has exquisite reaction time. What’s interesting is that his reaction time becomes even quicker when stressed.
However, the biggest feature that aired was about a young racer with Autism named Jeffrey Stanton. Narrated by Shannon Spake, the feature showcases the young Legends driver, who talks about his Autism and how he overcomes it in order to race. Very interesting to watch.
Once the rains finally exited and the track was dried, the racing got underway about 90 minutes late.
Saturday’s race had two really big incidents. The first of which was the Alex Kennedy crash and… whatever you want to call the incident he had with Kevin Swindell while trying to get back going. The other was the huge crash at the white flag. With Kennedy’s wreck, the booth came to the opinion that Kennedy simply had a ill-handling car and got loose in Turn 2. As is normally the case at Dover, he overcorrected his slide, then spun into the inside wall. That happens.
The booth chose not to jump to conclusions as to the reasoning for the unfortunate hit that put both Kennedy and Swindell out of the race. I don’t think they had any desire to completely throw Kennedy under the bus for his actions. This was in contrast to the Twitterverse, which completely and totally threw Kennedy and his spotter under the bus for a solid three hours. Regardless, I would have waited until I got more of an opening before attempting to restart. Either that, or attempted to spin the tires so that I could have whipped the tail around.
With the crash that ended the race, ESPN showed concern for the drivers, but also a little confusion over the incident and whether it would have constituted the end of the race or a second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. They should have checked their replays first, as they clearly showed the white flag out before the yellow. Also, they (along with Edwards) were focusing on whether there was contact between Edwards and Joey Logano to cause the wreck. It’s obvious that there was not any contact, but it was also a no brainer that Edwards did everything in his power to take the air off of Logano, which caused the crash.
What was really sobering was Clint Bowyer’s post-race interview, in which he expressed concern over the possibility of his car clearing the inside wall and heading towards the relatively weak pit wall, plus the idea of one of his tires entering Logano’s cockpit. Very scary stuff that ESPN should have looked into a little bit, but they didn’t have the chance to due to lack of time. It should be noted that a tire still attached to a car has hit a racer before. That apparently happened to Stanley Smith in the DieHard 500 at Talladega in 1993 and likely contributed to the basal skull fracture that he suffered in the crash.
Post-race coverage ended up being intertwined with post-wreck coverage. There were six interviews, all of a subdued nature due to the violence that had just occurred on-track. Since ESPN was already more than an hour over their timeslot, it was good to see the coverage, dominated by Jamie Little’s interviews outside of the Infield Care Center. I rarely single out pit reporters in this space, but I have to say that Little did a great job on Saturday, especially after the long, long day of rain and outright craziness.
FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks
If Saturday was a temporary respite from the Harvick-Kyle Busch shenanigans, then Sunday brought it right back to the forefront. The feud was the overall focus of FOX Pre-Race. Of course, it was already overblown before Sunday, but they just had to make it worse. It was basically 30 minutes of Harvick, Kyle Busch, feuds (past and present) and “Have At It, Boys.” It must have been a massive disappointment for FOX that there were no more on-track interactions between the two belligerents during the race Sunday.
The only break from the “Have At It” overload was a feature on the Drive For Autism Charity Golf Tournament, hosted by NASCAR on FOX Director Artie Kempner and held on Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware. Over $500,000 was raised for Autism Awareness. It’s sad that Autism seems to be spreading out of control these days and that there is no cure for the affliction.
During the race coverage, there was quite a bit of coverage given to the twosome. Kyle Busch, who had to start at the rear of the field due to a blown engine in practice, got an abnormal amount of coverage for someone that spent three-quarters of the race running in the 10-15 range. I think Kyle’s mentions on FOX for the year are well over 2,000 now. Harvick’s coverage was by no means equal despite quietly remaining inside the top 10 all day.
Thanks to a relatively quick race, there was plenty of time for post-race coverage. FOX provided viewers with seven post-race interviews, along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings. There was also the requisite post-race analysis from the broadcast booth and the Infield Studio.
With so much of the focus coming out of Dover on the Side-by-Side experiment, the rest of the race really gets lost in the shuffle. Aside from the experiment, FOX provided viewers with an OK show. I did not notice any blatant signs of bias, other than a little more coverage being given to Kyle Busch than he deserved. The only aspect that angered me was the sensational pimping of the Harvick-Kyle Busch stupidity, but that is more than just a FOX problem. Everyone overreacted.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend marks the beginning of the very busy end of May. A pretty sweet time of year for race fans… but still very busy. The Sprint Cup Series will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the All-Star Weekend, with the Camping World Truck Series as support (but still awarding points). Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series will be at Iowa Speedway for the first Spring race there and Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 will be held. Also, do not forget live coverage of Practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at http://racecontrol.indycar.com. Here’s your listings.
Thursday, May 19
Friday, May 20
Saturday, May 21
Sunday, May 22
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races in next week’s edition of Talking NASCAR TV here at Frontstretch. Versus’ qualifying coverage from Indianapolis will be covered in the Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter.
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!
Fox does once what fans have been screaming for for years and they’re acting like they just cured cancer. But of course, they’re not “contractually permitted” to keep doing it.
The person who wrote that contract should not only be fired but never let near a broadcast negotiation again.
Phil, just thought I’d let you know for what it’s worth, the Fan Council survey that came out yesterday was dominated with questions about the side-by-side commercial break Fox did. Which says to me the folks at NASCAR are finally showing some interest in it. Something they should have done a long time ago.
If the side-by-side is continued, I will once again park myself in front of the TV every Sunday. I really try to watch the race with my husband every week, but the constant rerunning of the same stupid commercials is more than I can stand. And it never fails that the most interesting events in the race happen when they’re at commercial. If Nascar wants the TV ratings to rise, they better take heed at how popular those last few televised laps at Dover were and find a way to implement it NOW before they lose the sport altogether.
Noted, Robbiejr. Just goes to show the great power that social media has today. Twitter blew up Sunday, and two days later, NASCAR has already taken notice. In addition, ESPN has apparently already changed their minds from what I wrote in the critique just last night. This morning, they announced a feature called “NASCAR Nonstop.” It will be used during the second half of Cup races during the Chase. Let’s just say that was fast. They already have a rendering of what its going to look like, and Jeff Gluck posted a picture of it on his Twitter page.
I know a lot of people are going to complain that the racing window is a lot smaller than the rest, which I agree it is. But even so, it’s better than what we’ve been given up to now. And it’s a step in the right direction, in my opinion. Certainly something to build on in the future.
Gee Phil, NASCAR noticed the response from social media. I for one have been BEGGING you to get tough with FOX in your critiques. Didn’t happen. Too bad. Maybe I need to appeal to a different forum for relief from the awful broadcasts from FOX. DW is a jerk and a fool but FOX has made him the voice of “their” NASCAR. Help us out Phil. Tell it like it is without fear of some sort of reprisal from the media. You DONT WORK FOR FOX.
The Truck broadcast was ok as far as commentary (for the most part, I would still like them to mention every driver atleast twice during the race, not only in passing) but the ticker never showed the laps down thing. It kept getting mixed up, and it kept showing everyone a lap down throughout the race, then SPEED would take it down, start it over, and it would do the same thing. As far as the tape delayed BS… that’s what it is… BS! Who wants to stay up until 11:30 ET to see a truck race? Not me, but since I’m a diehard fan I did. As far as ESPN’s take on the Kennedy crash… I think they put a bit too much blame on him for the incident with Swindell. Yes, it was pretty much 98% Kennedy’s fault (and his spotters as well) but the 16’s spotter should have been warning him to slow down, and look out for the car, and it might come up the track. Not 100% the 23’s fault… but that’s 2 rookies, and we all know how rookies are at a track like Dover. Or any track for that matter.
Looks like Joe and I are on the same page. Side by side, camera shots, etc, don’t matter when FOX gives us DW and his type of commentary. The terrible job DW does rarely gets mentioned on this site, although Matt McLaughlin does see the DW buffoonery quite clearly. It makes me sick to think DW and his dopey brother are doing the All Star race. Obviously FOX is just ignoring a good percentage of it’s fans when they continue to cram the Waldrip brothers down our throats!!
DW is the worst part of FOX. Both Waltrips doing the All Star race? Was not going to watch it but now I will avoid it all costs.
I almost changed the channel on Sunday until I saw the side by side. I stayed. Wonder how many other people did the same thing.
I don’t have any problem with the tape delay of the truck series. HOw many people work during the day and can’t catch the race. Ratings would have tanked and being the truck series they need the better ratings and almost everyone saw the race.
I can’t beleive you didn’t mention Waltrip talking about himself with regards to the 17 on and on. It was sickening. Funny how he mentioned the # of races that he won but failed to mention that he needed the champions provision almost weekly at the end of his career in that same number 17.
I have said it many times, Phil. You go way too easy on FOX.