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 June 14, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, your one-stop shop for TV telecast breakdowns. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup Series was at Pocono Raceway for the 5-Hour Energy 500. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series raced Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway as support to the Izod IndyCar Series.
Firestone Twin 275’s
Saturday was a night of quirkiness for the Izod IndyCar Series. It marked the first split-race since 1981 at Atlanta. Because it had been 30 years since CART last ran one, a fair amount of time was spent explaining the format, and the special points rules in effect for the night (half points for each race, no qualifying points in Race 2).
The coverage on Versus was scheduled to start at 7:30pm, but did not start until 7:45. At first, I thought that Versus’ post-race coverage from the Belmont Stakes running long was the culprit, but it appeared to be scheduled at the last minute. As a result, it didn’t show up in my on-screen guide.
Once the show got underway, Kevin Lee and Dan Wheldon hosted from their IndyCar Central platform. They mainly discussed the upcoming first race of the night from there.
There were a number of pre-race interviews, both by Lee and Wheldon up on the stage, and by the other pit reporters on pit road. Most notably, Rick Mears sat in on the platform to talk about the twin race format. Mears only talks every so often, but it was interesting to be able to get an idea of the format from someone who actually raced in them (Mears swept the last one at Atlanta).
Since Wally Dallenbach was at Pocono for the Sprint Cup race, Versus welcomed Dan Wheldon into the broadcast booth. If you remember, he did the Freedom 100 in the booth as practice. Wheldon obviously would have preferred to have been in a car for the race, but he brought a lot of first-hand knowledge to the booth. He actually did make the broadcast better. It was a little like when Darrell Waltrip would sit in on TNN races in 1994 back when they had no real clue who was going to replace Neil Bonnett.
The broadcast that Versus gave viewers was a decent setup. There was plenty of racing for position and they did a good job in giving us those battles. There was a grand total of one caution between the two 275 kilometer races, so there wasn’t debris to show or anything like that.
The fields spread out substantially in both races unlike anything I’d seen at Texas in years. When that happens, Versus basically does a Through the Field much like TNT does. Helps to get some more information about the cars out there.
The side-by-side commercials were nice, but there seemed to be so many of them that combined, they were used almost as often as full-screen racing. Not too good.
After the first race, Versus provided viewers with six post-race interviews before transitioning into what Bob Jenkins described as “the Halftime Show.” However, the interviews themselves were not what I noticed. What I did notice were some technical issues. My feed on Versus kept cutting in and out. I have no clue why this was so. I have cable and we were not experiencing a thunderstorm during the race. Luckily, that didn’t last very long.
Then came the random draw for Race 2 starting spots. The basic setup was that there were 30 cutouts of tires on stage. The drivers would be called up on stage by Jenkins in reverse order of their finish in Race 1. Jenkins or Robbie Floyd (subbing for Marty Snider) would ask questions to each of the 30 drivers, then they would make their selections. I found it interesting because viewers got to hear from drivers that we’re not accustomed to hearing from. For example, I cannot remember seeing an interview with Ana Beatriz prior to Saturday night.
Some people didn’t like the setup and thought it was hokey. Brad Keselowski (via Twitter) thought it was more painful to watch than the Budweiser Shootout draw for starting positions. Eventually, he turned it off claiming that it was just too ridiculous to bear. Oh well, the series needs to do something to hype their drivers more. Maybe this wasn’t the way to go, but at least they’re trying to be more than just Danica Patrick, 27 other dudes and two women.
Post-race coverage was pretty good. Versus provided viewers with six more post-race interviews, as well as checks of the unofficial results (for Race 2) and the point standings. There was also some wrap-up commentary from the booth.
Versus’ coverage was pretty good. The Halftime Show could have used some work. The random draw idea might have been ok, but the execution wasn’t the greatest. When people are thinking that the ridiculous planking would have been better to watch, that’s a problem. I don’t think we’ll see the series adopt any more Twin race formats, but this setup was pretty good. Can’t do much about the fact that both races were nearly completely anti-climatic.
Wheldon could be a potential broadcast analyst after his career ends. However, I’m sure that he doesn’t want it to end now.
WinStar World Casino 400k
On Friday night, SPEED returned with coverage of the Camping World Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway. Due to Adam Alexander’s role as the Play-by-Play man for TNT’s Sprint Cup coverage, there were some changes. Krista Voda was back in Charlotte hosting SPEED Center in Alexander’s place. As a result, Rick Allen hosted the Setup from the Spotter’s stand.
Also, Michael Waltrip was not in Texas because he was in Le Mans, France, preparing to make his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Waltrip did ok in his debut (although he didn’t finish). Waltrip was not replaced in the booth for the race. As a result, the booth had more of an ARCA feel as opposed to the Camping World Truck Series.
The Setup started out with a rehash of the whole Kyle Busch-Richard Childress shenanigans. By this point, I really could care less, but since the fracas occurred after SPEED left the air in Kansas, the on-air crew really couldn’t cover it much back then. Hermie Sadler and Ray Dunlap covered the two teams involved and gave viewers a look at some new information that hadn’t previously been disseminated on-air. Good show.
There was a feature where Todd Bodine and Brendan Gaughan (who have ten Texas victories between them) discussed what it takes to win at Texas Motor Speedway. This was interesting because it was simply the drivers talking amongst themselves. Yes, there was some posturing and showboating, but once that ended, the two drivers gave honest assessments of what is required to get to Victory Lane and discharge some ammunition at the end of the night.
Another feature saw three of Germain Racing’s drivers (the aforementioned Bodine and Gaughan, along with Justin Lofton) go to Fort Reilly to visit with troops and go through some combat training. The piece basically featured the drivers thanking the troops for what they do, and not doing all that well on simulators, but still having fun.
With all the features, there really wasn’t all that much time to preview the race itself. There were only four pre-race interviews, which is below normal for SPEED.
I guess the Mustang in the drifting exhibition bursting into flames right before the race was a decent indication of what was coming once the green came out. There were wrecks galore. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the most notable thing that happened on the broadcast.
There was a 15 lap stretch of the broadcast spanning through a commercial break in which viewers watching on SPEED could only see Camera No. 1, which is always zeroed in on the leader (in this case, Austin Dillon). Allen and Parsons continued on with their commentary like nothing happened. They did this because literally no one knew what happened. The coverage’s Twitter feed acknowledged that they didn’t realize something was up until angry viewers started tweeting to the official Twitter of SPEED’s Camping World Truck Series coverage that something screwy was going on. Seriously. The official statement was “Sorry for the technical difficulties guys. We didn’t know about it until text and twitter messages! Thanks for sticking with us.” That was posted after the race ended.
While it’s nice that SPEED references (and thanks) its viewers for notifying them of issues, I just don’t think such a setup is really acceptable unless you have some kind of failure at the track itself. The last time that I can think of that something like this happened during a race was in 1998 during the final Busch race at Hickory. A power outage left TNN with only one working camera and TNN commentators Eli Gold and Buddy Baker were forced to call part of the race from a satellite truck. Of course, viewers missed a few things that day, like when Kevin Grubb slid into a pit cart after wrecking. Gold constantly reminded viewers of why they were forced to cover the race in such a fashion. It should be noted that TNN’s issues lasted much longer than SPEED’s did on Friday night, but that is no reason why the fans shouldn’t have been notified and/or apologized to on-air.
The unfortunate side effect of the major technical issue is that during that time, Todd Bodine and Brian Ickler spun out to bring out the third yellow of the race (it happened during the commercial). SPEED was still having their issues when they showed the replay. Viewers had full audio from both Bodine’s truck and the booth, but no pictures. Just a terrible instance that the booth had no control over.
Other than the technical issue that plagued the aforementioned 15 lap stretch, the telecast was pretty decent to watch. SPEED provided viewers with a great amount of battling for position on-track. There was prodigious use of split-screens in order to display multiple races on-track for position. That was great to see.
Post-race coverage was somewhat limited because the race was already beyond its timeslot when the checkers fell. As a result, there were only five post-race interviews (the top-4 finishers, plus Johnny Sauter) and a check of the point standings before SPEED left the air. Also, there were replays of the wreck involving Travis Kvapil and Johanna Long at the finish.
Not having Michael Waltrip in the booth meant that Parsons had to pick up the slack in his analysis, something that I don’t necessarily believe that Parsons has any issue doing. It’s just that Waltrip, if allowed to, can talk enough for two analysts. As a result, Parsons is often on cruise control during Truck telecasts. On Friday, he did just fine alone with Allen.
The telecast was pretty good to watch, but SPEED needs to get their act together behind the scenes. Make sure that everything actually works for the whole race, and if it doesn’t, have someone on-air tell the viewing audience what the deuce is going on with the telecast. We can’t have another repeat of what happened on Lap 41. Simple as that.
5-Hour Energy 500
Sunday afternoon brought the Sprint Cup Series back to the triangle known as Pocono Raceway for the 5-Hour Energy 500. Leading up to the race, reporters on Twitter talked about how apt the new name for the race really was. Hmmm….not so much this year. Sunday’s race only lasted three hours and 26 minutes.
Sunday was also the first race of TNT’s Summer Series, where NASCAR can have the most influence on the telecasts since Turner Sports also owns nascar.com. The pre-race presentation was almost no different as compared to 2010. The only difference was the replacing of Parsons with Chris Neville, a move that was generally seen as a plus.
Countdown to Green has a new sponsor this year in Pizza Hut, and like during the FOX portion of the season, they’re sponsoring a pick competition and a “Fan Favorite of the Race” (Jimmie Johnson on Sunday). Dallenbach is leading since he “picked” the winner of the race (Jeff Gordon). It was laughably obvious that someone very close to Dallenbach (probably Alexander) was giving him his points to say on-air.
Much of Countdown to Green was spent on TNT’s stage with Lindsay Czarniak, Larry McReynolds and Kyle Petty. Petty is to TNT like Darrell Waltrip is to FOX, but I think Petty is more self-aware and less self-promotional.
The main feature of pre-race was the Pride of NASCAR Series, which covers a historical figure from the sport. This week, the series covered the late Harry Hyde, a well-known crew chief in the Cup Series in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The feature included interviews with a couple of his former drivers (Buddy Baker and Ken Schrader), along with some other contemporaries (Buddy Parrott). The piece first focused on his time with Nord Krauskopf’s No. 71 Dodge team, including the land speed records set at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The rest of the feature was spent talking about his time with Hendrick Motorsports, and some quirks of his (he would write down all his notes on small index cards). A notable aspect missing from the feature was the influence Hyde had on the Harry Hodge character (played by Robert Duvall) in the film Days of Thunder. It was an interesting look at an interesting personality. Eventually, TNT could probably work their Pride of NASCAR series into a bunch of half-hour specials. The Hyde feature left me wanting more.
If there was one thing that I could take from Sunday’s telecast on TNT, it is the fact that there were a butt-load of commercials. I’ve mentioned here in the past that I time the commercial breaks during the race, but only under green-flag conditions. On Sunday, I timed roughly 50 minutes of commercials under green. A lot of that was because of the long green-flag runs, but that just seems excessive. I know that Turner Sports has to find some way to pay for their broadcasts, and RaceBuddy, as cool as it is, probably caused TNT to lower the rate for commercials in order to get sponsors. But, this was ridiculous. You could barely get six or seven laps under green before TNT would go back to a commercial break. It’s frustrating as heck.
Speaking of RaceBuddy, nascar.com debuted the new and improved RaceBuddy with four in-car cameras, two battle cams and so on and so forth that I talked about last week. What wasn’t mentioned is that when you switch feeds, say from a battle cam to an in-cam camera, there is now a 30 second side-by-side ad instead of a full screen ad. The in-car audio is muted for that 30 seconds, but you can still see it. Pretty good setup.
The crew cam that was mentioned in the press release was mounted on the Tommy Baldwin Racing (No. 36, Dave Blaney) pit box. The camera was a 360 degree setup that viewers could move themselves. Very cool, although I did not get a chance to use it during an actual pit stop.
Even with all that good, I still have three gripes about RaceBuddy, two minor and one major. We’ll start with the major one. During the race on Sunday, I had crashing issues with RaceBuddy. The service crashed no less than six times during the broadcast. Granted, all I had to do was refresh to get it back, but that’s ridiculous. For reference purposes, I was viewing RaceBuddy in Mozilla Firefox 4. I’d like to hear if any of you had similar issues.
Secondly, the pre-race coverage was very barren. This was mainly because Noble is not with Turner Sports this season. If you remember, he was the exclusive RaceBuddy reporter last year, and he also was responsible (along with one assistant) for the PitBuddy service that was included with RaceBuddy. PitBuddy is sorely missed, but the pre-race action is all but non-existent.
During pre-race last year, Noble would do his own interviews that were exclusive to RaceBuddy. Often times, he would get to more drivers by himself than TNT would get to with all four of their pit reporters. I guess it’s a nice way for viewers to see driver introductions now, but that’s about it.
Thirdly, nascar.com needs to fix their leaderboard so that it updates more often. At times during the race, it was as much as four laps behind. That simply will not work.
When TNT wasn’t in commercial, they brought as much of the on-track action as they could to viewers. It is a bit of a change from the typical FOX treatment that we’ve had for the last three months and change. The booth really doesn’t attempt to manufacture drama either, which is definitely good.
Carl Edwards joined in with Czarniak and McReynolds and added his own commentary late in the race before getting back in the car for the final few laps. It was interesting that he brought along the part that failed in his engine. Very helpful for viewers. However, I think that TNT should have broken out of commercial when he came in with his issues. I don’t think it was a local break, so they could have.
Post-race coverage was actually quite brief, despite the fact that the race ended with over a half-hour left in the timeslot. TNT provided four post-race interviews and checks of the unofficial results and point standings. In addition, there was some post-race discussion in the broadcast booth before TNT left approximately 20 minutes early.
They likely left the air early so that there would still be some content left over for the RaceBuddy-exclusive post-post-race show. That show had some post-race discussion with McReynolds and Czarniak, along with five more interviews. In a situation like Sunday, TNT likely should have just scrapped the RaceBuddy-exclusive show and combine it with the regular TNT post-race since the race ended so early. I’m reminded of what FOX tried to do last season. They tried to expand their post-race offerings in response to fan complaints, first with an ill-conceived internet-only show called the Overdrive that never actually aired online before Turner Sports put the kibosh on it? After that travesty, FOX decided on a different formula. If the race ended on time, or went late, they would air a typical amount of post-race programming on FOX, then move over to SPEED for Overdrive coverage. FOX did something similar just on Sunday afternoon when their telecast of the Grand Prix of Canada ran over two hours long due to rain. If it ended early, FOX would run the regular post-race coverage and the Overdrive. There would be no transition to SPEED. TNT should look into adopting that strategy if Sunday’s situation repeats itself in the future.
TNT’s broadcast shows that they have a decent product right now. However, it needs a little work. Maybe Pocono is just not the best place to start off your schedule (i’ts undoubtedly why a switch was instituted in the schedule for 2007 so that Indianapolis would start off the ESPN/ABC portion of the schedule instead of Pocono). Michigan should be a little more normal. Alexander still appears to be a work in progress in the broadcast booth. He’s not horrible, but I think he’s still trying to find his legs. His stint hosting SPEED Center definitely has not helped, though.
That’s all for this week. In random news, I apparently got name dropped during Press Pass on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Saturday. I don’t subscribe to SiriusXM, so I only heard about it via Twitter after the fact. Doesn’t hurt that one of the co-hosts was our Fearless Leader (the other was Jim Noble). A couple of the regulars in the Media Center opted out of the trip to Pocono this past weekend and were opting to watch at home, like the rest of us.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series returns to action at Michigan International Speedway for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400. In a change from the past, the Nationwide Series will now partner up with the Cup Series.
Tuesday, June 14
Time Telecast Network
Friday, June 17
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, June 18
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, June 19
Time Telecast Network
Note: Those of you in Canada will not see the beginning of the Izod IndyCar Series race from The Milwaukee Mile. The same channel (TSN2) is showing both the Sprint Cup and Izod IndyCar Series races, so the Milwaukee race will be joined in progress. I know, it bites.
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Izod IndyCar Series races next week. In addition, the ARCA race on Friday will be covered in the Critic’s Annex on June 23. I’m still on the fence for this week’s Annex, though. Should I cover the Hall of Fame Announcement, the ARCA race from Saturday, or the Seat Swap? Put your suggestions in the comments section. I will be prepared to do any of the three.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
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John Daly said TNT took Noble’s role away from RaceBuddy because TNT felt it was taking away from the broadcast.
I seem to remember a certain All star race about a month ago that took over 2 hours to start the main event due to halftime WWE-like driver introductions taking way too long. Now Kes knows Nascar fans feel when we are subjected to “the show”.
While I didn’t like the long gap in between races, nor the format of the draw for the 2nd race, I did enjoy the interviews with ALL the drivers, including the back markers.
Matt, if that’s true, then it’s a shame. Without a dedicated reporter, RaceBuddy is useless before the race.
Although Racebuddy does a split-screen when the ad comes on, it’s the same ad over and over and over and over and over. Coca-Cola needs to spend some bucks and put up at least 4 rotating commercials.
Watched the 1st Indycar race but LeMans was my focus for the weekend. The AutoSport feed runs mostly 10 second commercials with a one or two minute break about once an hour. MUCH better than TNT or Fox.
No problems with RaceBuddy using Firefox 4.0.1
With nothing but more about Anthony Wiener & Casey Anthony on the news, I am extremely grateful for a 24 race in Le Mans, the l-o-n-g Pocono race, not 1 but 2 Indy races, & throw in the longest F1 race ever; odd that, a few weeks ago in Charlotte was the longest Nascar race ever. On Sunday the Pocono race & the F1 race started at the roughly the same time, the Pocono race finished first! :) Thanks & kudos to all of the racing officials, emergency workers, broadcasters and tv folks who put the shows on.
I’ve noticed Turner Sports has a tendency to end game coverage before the end of the viewing window if it finished well short of the end of the window. I noticed that a couple of times during March Madness. That could be an explanation of why TNT left air early.