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!
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 28, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where breaking down race broadcasts is the name of the game. This past weekend was a triplex of series at different tracks. The Nationwide Series was at Road America, while Sprint Cup was at Infineon Raceway and the Izod IndyCar Series was at Iowa Speedway.
Iowa Corn Indy 250
Saturday night saw the Izod IndyCar Series return to Iowa Speedway, the series’ shortest track, for the fifth running of the Iowa Corn Indy 250. Versus was on hand for the coverage.
The main feature that aired was a look into the relationship between rookie Charlie Kimball and his father, Gordon, a former Formula One and IndyCar designer. In practice, it was basically a look at Kimball’s life story through Charlie and Gordon reminiscing about certain events in Charlie’s life. Compared to the other rookies, Kimball gets a whole lot more press due to the fact that he is racing with Type 1 Diabetes. However, this was still an interesting look at the life of a driver that if he wasn’t racing with Diabetes, probably wouldn’t get a lot of press.
The ProfessorB feature was focused on the Eject device, a inflatable bladder like device installed on helmets (manufactured by Shock Doctor) that at the push of a button, inflates to lift the helmet off of a driver with minimal strain on neck muscles. Interesting piece. There was also a live demonstration with the help of the Holmatro Safety Team and Ed Carpenter, who didn’t seem be a fan of it, but was nonetheless happy for the product’s existence. In the race, the safety team had to make use of the Eject device after Sebastian Saavedra hit the wall hard in Turn 2 (Saavedra walked away from the crash).
A new feature for IndyCar Central, the pit walk, was unveiled on Saturday. However, unlike Martin Brundle’s pit walks for ITV and now the BBC prior to grands prix and Will Buxton’s pit walks for SPEED, Versus choose to use two people, those being Robin Miller and Dan Wheldon. The result was an interesting mess. There were 13 interviews in the dual-walk, but the editing was somewhat shoddy, Wheldon and Miller would cut each other off at times, and the whole feature ran long, resulting in Kevin Lee cutting both Miller and Wheldon off at the end. I like the idea of having a pit walk segment, and I think it was a first for an oval race. However, Versus’ execution was terrible. In the future, I would recommend that Versus stick with one person and one camera. Wheldon was the better of the two, but he’s only on the telecasts until Wally Dallenbach, Jr. comes back from TNT’s Summer Series. I would argue that Wheldon can do it alone at Toronto in two weeks, but beyond that, it might have to be a rotating deal between Marty Snider and Lindy Thackston (assuming Lee is on the Versus stage).
During the race, Versus focused on a lot of battles on track. In the past, such a strategy might not have been the best move since Iowa is not always conducive to a lot of passing. However, there were many side-by-side battles for position all over the field on Saturday night. Versus brought viewers as many of them as they could. Admittedly, there was far more side-by-side action than I thought there would be.
Even though the race ended within five minutes of the end of their timeslot, Versus still provided viewers with a full suite of post-race coverage. There were eight post-race interviews and checks of the unofficial results and point standings before Versus left for taped cycling coverage.
As I mentioned above, pre-race was a bit rough, not just in the pit walk segment, but in multiple other places as well. However, the race coverage was quite decent. Camera shots were pretty good and the enthusiasm was really good. Wheldon is still a relative newbie in the booth, but he does have quite the rapport with Beekhuis and Jenkins. Toronto will be his last race before Dallenbach returns. Versus left Dallenbach’s spot in good hands. Perhaps Wheldon might do some more TV work in the future.
Ah yes, Road America. One of the sweetest road courses in the United States played host to the Nationwide Series for the second time on Saturday evening (I only say that because it was dark on the East Coast by the time the race ended).
Once again, ESPN ditched the Pit Studio and the analysts contained within and did the show from pit road. Compared to what viewers are used to, it looked a little weird, but it worked just fine.
Countdown was dominated by interviews. Nine live interviews were conducted at the track by ESPN’s pit reporters, while a taped interview from Infineon Raceway with Carl Edwards was run to show why he decided not to make the trip to Road America (which paid off since he ended up finishing third on Sunday). The amount of interviews was great to see, but I think the main reason for it was the fact that most of those drivers interviewed (Billy Johnson, Papis, McDowell, Villeneuve, Fellows, Carmichael) are not regulars in the series and basically needed to be introduced to viewers since they could potentially contend.
Having said that, there was a notable error. As you probably know by now, Billy Johnson races in the Continental Tire Challenge, Grand-Am’s main support series. ESPN referred to it multiple times as the Koni Challenge, the series’ former name prior to 2010. Gotta get the name right. C’mon now. At least Shannon Spake got it right.
Due to the vastness of Road America, there was a lot more usage of aerial shots to show varied aspects of the race. These aspects of the race ranged from races for position all the way to the actual start of the event due to the start-finish line being right after a 110 foot rise in elevation. I liked that since there are so many trees surrounding the track that you really can’t see all that much at track-level. The large track, plus all of the obstructions around led to some incidents not having very good replays. However, that was more or less beyond the control of ESPN (there are only so many places to put cameras at Road America).
Once again, there was a lot of coverage given to the front of the field. Since there was only one Sprint Cup driver (Michael McDowell) in the field, you would think that the Nationwide regulars would get a little more airtime. You would be wrong. Most of the airtime that would have gone to the series regulars went to the ringers that I mentioned above.
Eventual race winner Reed Sorenson only got a passing mention on the broadcast for most of the race. It should be noted that Sorenson actually spun on Lap 2 after being hit by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in Turn 3. That fact was not mentioned at all after Sorenson actually won.
Enthusiasm was definitely not a problem on Saturday as Bestwick, Wallace and Petree were all pretty amped up and excited about the action that they were seeing. However, the race was so focused up front that it was kind of hard to tell where everyone was, position-wise. Rarely was anyone outside of the top-10 mentioned unless they were one of the top guys back in the pack for whatever reason.
Post-race coverage was very brief since ESPN was right up against the end of their 3.5 hour timeslot for the race. Much of the time was spent recapping the confusing final lap of the race due to Justin Allgaier running out of gas with about two-thirds of a lap to go and Fellows blasting past Sorenson after the full course yellow was already out. Confusion reigned for the most part. Petree and Rusty Wallace were generally sure that Sorenson had won, while Bestwick simply waited until NASCAR made its final determination.
Once the winner of the race was officially determined, ESPN only had a couple of minutes left. As a result, there were only interviews with Sorenson, Allgaier, and Trent Owens (Sorenson’s crew chief) before ESPN left the air. There was no check of the point standings even though there was a lead change (Sorenson took the lead as a result of his win).
Apparently, there were no more interviews done after they went off the air, which is weak. I would have liked to see what Fellows actually thought of the whole mess at the end. I guess we’ll never know. Surprisingly, there was also no interview with Papis or Villeneuve or anyone. Not cool. It should be noted that ESPN wasn’t airing live sports after the race. They aired tape-delayed coverage of the Global Rallycross Championship “Last Chance” at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Paul Page did the commentary for it in post-production. It wouldn’t have killed them to hold off on that for 12 minutes and properly wrap the race up.
Once again, ESPN’s agenda has hurt another race broadcast. Posts on Twitter this past weekend accused ESPN of only focusing on 15 cars (at best) and cultivating minimal information on the rest of the field. As of 2009, I know that was not the case. Then, it was 24 for huge amounts of information and the rest for more basic information. I cannot vouch for the veracity of those Twitter posts. I did not post them. Regardless of whether its true or not (probably not), ESPN should never have to have those accusations thrown at them. To do that, they need to have more inclusive broadcasts. Cover more teams closely. Get to know the drivers (especially the Nationwide-only drivers) a little more. Its not that hard.
Toyota/Save Mart 350k
Sunday brought the Sprint Cup Series back for their annual visit to Infineon Raceway. Action abounded on the track, but how was the coverage? Let’s find out.
Pre-race was more or less the usual content. The Pride of NASCAR feature was on 1960 Champion Rex White. That feature included what amounted to White’s life story with anecdotes from the man himself. As a history buff, I like to hear about historical goodies, so this was right up my alley.
Another feature was a sit-down interview with Marcos Ambrose, the man who had last year’s race on a platter with French fried potatoes before he shut his engine off under yellow to save fuel and couldn’t restart it. A third feature was a paid piece that talked about Jeff Gordon’s appearance in Cars 2 as a yellow Chevrolet Corvette C6.R named “Jeff Gorvette.” Gordon talked about his role a little and representatives of Pixar talked about some of the intricacies that went into the computer animation.
TNT had some issues during the race telecast. Some of them can simply be chalked up to bad luck, but others, not so much. The first two lead changes occurred during commercial breaks, forcing TNT to show them on replay to viewers upon returning, three minutes after they occurred. The third caution, which flew on Lap 48 for debris, was screwed up as well. Since it flew during a regular break (not a local commercial break), TNT could have broken out of it and talked about what happened. Now, I wouldn’t be as unhappy if it were just a debris caution. At the same time, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had his issues and dropped out after his car caught fire. That was a big story since Earnhardt, Jr. (at the time) was third in points. A big story, and TNT dropped the ball by covering it with a “oh, by the way” tone. Not good.
Once again, I had some issues with RaceBuddy crashing, but not as many as I had during the Michigan race. Since Infineon Raceway is a road course where no camera could possibly see the whole track, the battle cams switched around to various viewpoints all over the circuit. While this was nice, the shots were isolated on specific areas of the track (Turn 4, and the shot from the top of the main grandstand, mostly).
Post-race coverage was ok. On the actual telecast, there were six post-race interviews and checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Three of those interviews were with angry drivers caught up in anger-induced wrecks. In the RaceBuddy-exclusive show, they replayed the angered interviews with Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart (from Lap 108 of the race). There were also three more regular interviews, and a race recap.
The telecast had its problems on Sunday, but there was a lot of excitement in the booth. There was no exposition of bias, but Kyle Petty did sound pretty impressed with David Gilliland’s performance in the Taco Bell No. 34, finishing 12th with no tires left at the end. Towards the end of the race, the booth was expecting Tony Stewart to try to dump Vickers again with a few laps to go, like what Boris Said once did in a Truck race at then-Sears Point Raceway in 1997 to Rich Bickle. However, that did not come to pass. They just had to be content with Stewart’s somewhat epic interview with a couple of laps to go.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series both return to Daytona Beach for more bump drafting and restrictor plate action. Here’s your listings.
Thursday, June 30
Time Telecast Network
Friday, July 1
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, July 2
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, July 3
Time Telecast Network
Remember that the Sprint Cup on Saturday night will be TNT’s annual Wide Open Coverage. That means limited commercial breaks. RaceBuddy will still be available as well. Since I will be in Daytona this weekend to cover the action on-track for Frontstretch, I cannot bring you a critique of the telecasts from Daytona. However, I will still be putting those races on my DVR and will be viewing them when I get home from Florida on Tuesday. If no one steps up to cover for me, then I might just try to give my readers a critique on Wednesday.
For the Critic’s Annex, it will be two weeks of road racing. This week, I’ll be covering the Rolex Sports Car Series race at Road America that preceded the Nationwide race on Saturday. Next week, I’ll cover the Continental Tire Challenge race at Road America. That race featured Ken Schrader in the Street Tuner class driving a Mini Cooper S.
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!
The Versus coverage Saturday night resulted in a much more interesting race to watch than the Cup race Sunday, and I’m primarily a Cup fan.
I really liked the Miller/Wheldon Pit Walk, and hope to see more of them. These guys are both insiders, and both have interesting, entertaining things to say.
Allway’s criticisms are off-base, as they often are.
The number of commercial interruptions was again frustrating. Wide Open Coverage will be a welcome change. Let’s hope it works out!
I’m so happy to be able to watch a Cup race without D. Waltrips garbage that my blood pressure has gone down 16 points! As far as TNT’s broadcast I don’t have many negative comments expect WAY TO MANY COMMERCIALS. Race Buddy helps get me through that though! I love road courses with Cup and NS cars!
Joe, I’m ecstatic not to have to listen to the D Waltrip anymore. No more of the unbelievable ignorance, TNT is a HUGE breath of fresh air. Commercials are part of reality, if something happens during one we always get to see a replay , so what’s the problem? I actually watch the prerace show now that those rediculous segment with DW, Hammond and Meyers are gone.