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.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday June 7, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, your weekly source for TV criticism, praise (if applicable), and random news bits. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series were both racing at Kansas Speedway. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series raced at Chicagoland Speedway with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards serving as their support.
Before we start, Turner Sports announced upgrades for their RaceBuddy service available for free at nascar.com during TNT’s Summer Series. There will now be ten available views on RaceBuddy. This includes two mosaic views of four cameras each. In-Car Cameras are increased from two to four, while a second Battle Cam has also been thrown into the mix.
In addition, a new feature for TNT’s race coverage called Inside Trax was announced. Certain crew chiefs will be miked up and fans will get inside access to their strategy. In practice, this feature will likely be used during set segments after (potential) naughty language is edited out. A camera will likely be isolated on that crew chief, whoever it is, during the race. I’ll hold my judgment on the new feature until I see it in action.
O’Reilly Auto Parts 250
Saturday afternoon marked yet another milestone for the Camping World Truck Series. It was the 400th truck race for the series, now in its 17th season of operation. As a result, a celebration was in order. A special group picture was taken featuring all 36 drivers due to start the special event, while a cake was commissioned as well (and yes, it was really there. It was not a lie).
There was a look back at the series’ first race at Daytona (February 2000, which is a race that deserves its own Turning Back the Clock column one of these days). That race was used as a sign that the series had “arrived,” I guess.
Of course, this celebration usurped actually previewing the race, much like the 200th truck telecast on SPEED back at Nashville did. I wrote about how there was all but no actual preview discussion at Nashville in this critique from April. Here, there was even less in the way of interviews than there were in Nashville (only four). Two of those were completely framed within the 400th race celebration. However, the other two at the very beginning of the telecast were at least based upon the race at hand. That is more than I could say about the Nashville telecast.
Once the pre-race celebrations finished, SPEED went back to their normal style of covering the Camping World Truck Series for the race. For that, I am grateful.
SPEED gave viewers a decent race telecast, one that focused on the racing on-track. The booth was on their typical game and nothing really objectionable was found in the telecast.
There was plenty of battling for position on track, and SPEED was able to bring those battles to us relatively well. I’m generally happy with what I saw during the race.
Post-race coverage, despite SPEED going a little over their timeslot, was ok. There were interviews with only the top-3 finishers (Johnny Sauter, Clint Bowyer and Todd Bodine), and Bruce Cook, Bowyer’s crew chief. There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings.
Finally, there was a replay of some of the action towards the end of the race between Kyle Busch and Joey Coulter. SPEED did not show the nudge that Busch put on Coulter after the checkers live, so they had to replay that. At the time, I don’t think SPEED (or anyone else, for that matter) was really thinking that anything big was going to come out of the incident, so they replayed the bump, talked about it a little, then moved on. Since the confrontation happened well after SPEED had left for their tape-delayed coverage of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen from Watkins Glen. The first update about the channeling of Nolan Ryan by Childress occurred about two hours into SPEED’s Watkins Glen coverage via a regularly scheduled SPEED Center cut in with Adam Alexander.
When there isn’t much to complain about, the sections for each race might seem kinda short. That doesn’t mean I didn’t watch the event (because I most definitely did). There’s only so much praise I can give for the broadcast. All I ask is that when there are milestone events like on Saturday, that SPEED properly covers the race at hand, in addition to the milestone.
On Saturday, ESPN traveled to Joliet, Illinois for a standalone Nationwide Series race, the STP 300. Since there were no other conflicts, the normal ESPN on-air crew was back in play for the first time in weeks.
The main feature shown during Countdown was a sit-down interview conducted by Dr. Jerry Punch with Trevor Bayne, who returned Saturday night from his mystery illness. Punch is generally very strong in these types of interviews. In the piece, which appears to have taken place at Route 66 Raceway, the drag strip adjacent to Chicagoland Speedway, Bayne revealed that he was never given a definitive diagnosis for his illness. However, he did state that he was not diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Despite the messy last few weeks, Bayne is still the same person, permanently upbeat about life and happy to get back in the car.
As for the infamous incident of fisticuffs at Kansas, Allen Bestwick made reference to it towards the end of pre-race, then stated that there would be more on the incident Sunday morning on NASCAR Now. It definitely left fans wanting more, at the very least. The decision made there says that ESPN didn’t want to jump to conclusions on the whole mess and wait until they had more definitive information on the incident. Not a horrible decision, but they could have stated what they did know for sure (beyond that something happened).
A new feature during the race on Saturday was the “Studio Shout-outs,” where the analysts in the Pit Studio give props to certain drivers for good runs. Not a terrible idea, but it does have the potential for bias if handled incorrectly. Luckily, ESPN didn’t have that problem on Saturday.
Besides the new feature, much of ESPN’s coverage was heavily focused on the very front of the field. This included the three Cup drivers that could contend for the win (Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick). Also, since Bayne was making his return to the series, there was a lot of focus on his plight.
Marty Reid’s call of the finish was pretty bad. Yes, both Edwards and Allgaier ran out of fuel on the last lap, but Reid seemed convinced that Bayne could actually catch the two of them. Truth is, Bayne was probably nine seconds behind. As a result, Reid made himself look like a moron. The cameras focusing in on Kevin Lepage in the Means Motorsports No. 52 (finished 28th, seven laps down) only made the situation seem even more stupid than it would have been.
Post-race coverage was fairly brief, and quite weird. I think this was the only time that I can recall (outside of races called due to rain) that the winner was interviewed outside of Victory Lane. As a result, ESPN seemingly found a way to diminish Allgaier’s victory. There were only a few interviews, along with a check of the points before ESPN left to get to the 11pm Sportscenter. The less said about the time Sportscenter spent on the race immediately afterwards, the better. It was pretty bad.
ESPN’s coverage was very focused in on a couple of storylines. As a result, it really hurt the rest of their broadcast. They made a point to talk about Brian Scott and his struggles this season, then basically ignored him during the race. Even Danica Patrick, typically a magnet for coverage, didn’t get very much coverage because she wasn’t at the very front of the field (she finished tenth). They simply need to open their eyes and cover the whole race, not just storylines planned out on Tuesday afternoon.
Sunday marked FOX’s final Sprint Cup Series telecast of the 2011 season. For some race fans, that may be a great thing (No more Boogitys, for example. Also, no more Digger). However, some fans love watching the races on FOX. Either that, or they outright despise NASCAR’s other media partners. I wish I could have seen the race in HD on Sunday, but my local affiliate had other plans.
WXXA, Albany, NY’s FOX affiliate, ran a telethon for the Children’s Miracle Network during the race Sunday. As a result, the race was moved to TheCoolTV (Note: This is the same channel that sponsors Banner Racing in Grand-Am), WXXA’s digital sub channel that is only available either over-the-air, or if you have digital cable (and the requisite cable box). Bites if you have satellite TV, or don’t have the box, like my buddy Tim, who couldn’t watch the race yesterday. I’m just happy that I could even see the race at all to bring you this critique.
Of course, by Sunday afternoon, the big story of the weekend was Richard Childress enveloping Kyle Busch in a headlock and punching him in the face, something that I guarantee that a lot of fans have wanted to do for years (I have no desire to do that, especially since I’ve never met him). News almost never leads off pre-race, but it did on Sunday. The desk jockeys staged a decent discussion of the whole incident and the at-the-time-yet-to-be-determined punishment that was coming to Childress.
The main feature of pre-race showed Jamie McMurray returning to his hometown of Joplin, Missouri, which (as you likely know by now) was recently ravaged by an EF-5 tornado. McMurray basically gave the cameras a tour of his hometown, including his childhood home, which was essentially just one wall and a bunch of rubble. Throughout the feature, McMurray was visibly moved by the sight. It was a very interesting feature to watch, but by no means unique. ESPN had a crew there that day as well, led by Marty Smith. They also took a tour of the ravaged landscape with McMurray, got McMurray’s comments about the situation and aired their footage Thursday evening on NASCAR Now.
Outside of the Joplin feature, the Childress-Kyle Busch confrontation set a tone for pre-race. For example, Darrell Waltrip’s Revved’ Up piece was about… being Revved’ Up. Really, it was about being passionate, but what’s the difference?
Since it was the last FOX race of the season, FOX aired what they called “True Grit” moments from the first 12 races of the season. Why? Because it basically rehashes the biggest moments from what they aired this year. Why “True Grit Moments?” Because the remake of True Grit was the telecast’s presenting sponsor (scheduled to come out on DVD and Blu-Ray today). Synergistic? You betcha, but a little annoying for viewers.
Sunday’s race definitely had a green-flag feel. As a result, FOX took quite a lot of time to cover racing further back in the field. This was good to see, as just covering the front of the field would have made for a very boring 400 mile race broadcast. However, towards the end of the race, the focus switched to the absolute front of the field. Only the scroll and some periodic updates from Mike Joy gave viewers an idea of where everyone came out of the pits on the final run. I say that because roughly four cars were on camera the last 25 laps of the race (unless they were pitting). Those four cars were driven by Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. If your favorite driver wasn’t in that quartet, then good luck.
The post-race coverage was decent. FOX gave viewers seven post-race interviews, in addition to checks of the unofficial results and point standings. There was also some post-race analysis and the awarding on the “Big Cheese Award” to Jeff Hammond as a result of him winning the prediction competition.
Overall, FOX’s broadcast, much like ESPN’s on Saturday, was far too focused in on the frontrunners at the end of the race. Don’t like the focus? Too bad. Also, there were three debris cautions on Sunday. FOX managed to find all of one hunk of metal all day on the track. What caused the other two yellows? Your guess is as good as mine, and I was glued to the TV all day. There were a whole bunch of replays shown Sunday to showcase elements of the race that viewers were unable to see. And in some cases, stuff that showed up right on camera live, but the commentators didn’t talk about, like when AJ Allmendinger chopped across David Reutimann’s nose.
Since the FOX portion of the season is now over, I have to do a final wrap-up of their performance. Obviously, the biggest story is their split-screen setup, unveiled at Dover to one-up ESPN. However, it appears that they have no real plan for it, other than the fact that it was created on a dare. Bill Simmons has a term for that, but I can’t use it here.
There were times that Darrell Waltrip was just completely out of control in the booth, while at other times, Joy had a handle on things. Larry McReynolds was fairly solid, but was clearly overshadowed by Waltrip. The pit reporters, especially during pre-race, seemed to have little to do. Its a shame since they’re basically the best (and most respected) pit reporting corps in NASCAR. In the future, they need to use them more. Thankfully, Pizzi’s usage was extremely limited (he only showed up in Talladega). Hopefully, he stays on Fuel TV next year.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is shaping up to be another busy one. The Sprint Cup Series will be making their first trip of the year to Long Pond, Pennsylvania, home to the 2.5 mile scalene triangle known as Pocono Raceway for the newly rechristened (as in Monday morning) 5-Hour Energy 500. Let’s just say that some of the sport’s beat writers had a little fun about that yesterday. The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will serve as their main support. The Izod IndyCar Series is back in action with a unique twin bill, the first of its kind since 1981. The Camping World Truck Series will serve as support there. Finally, there is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the oldest endurance race on the planet (and its pretty fast, too). Here’s your listings:
Friday, June 10
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, June 11
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, June 12
Time Telecast Network
Also, it should be noted that, in a new feature for 2011, all of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be available to SPEED viewers. All segments of the race not televised live on SPEED will be streamed live at SPEEDTV.com.
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Camping World Truck and Izod IndyCar Series races in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. This week’s Annex will cover last weekend’s ARCA race from Chicagoland Speedway. The Annex critique for June 16 will cover either the Prelude To The Dream (depending on whether I can view it), or the Seat Swap at Watkins Glen.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
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Wow, even at the end of the season you give DW a pass. He was terrible all year. I think Mike Joy was pretty solid as he usually is and while I can’t stand McReynolds destroying the english language he is much better than Waltrip in the booth but doesn’t get to showcase it because of Waltrips mouth.
The cheerleading for Jr the last 2 weeks was beyond tiring. Do they realize that not everyone is a Jr fan?
I can’t even give FOX a C for their coverage. D+ at best for this crew. I think this crew would be a whole lot better if they put someone else with Mike and Larry in the booth. Darryl just doesn’t add much to the broadcast anymore unless you want to continually hear about his on track accomplishments of years ago.
Old DW ruins Fox. How the network big wigs can
DW’s continuing on. He’ll be on FOX2 (SPEED) Raceday for the next six weeks. What a great match with Kenny “The Mouth” Wallace. Sure glad I don’t watch that show!
I’ll take the Summer Series on TNT anytime. I just wish they had a dog in the hunt for the new TV contracts.
Thank you Steve! You said what Phil doesn’t seem to be able to say. And thank you too paltex and mkror! I wish Phil would see it the way we do.