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 July 19, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where criticism of telecasts is the primary purpose. We do not endeavor to simply voice pot shots on others for no reason other than the fact that we’re angry, like someone did this weekend during a press conference.
It was a fairly busy weekend in New Hampshire with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series both in action. The K&N Pro Series East and Whelen Modified Series were also present, but those two races either have not, or will not be televised. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series was ran at Iowa Speedway. How were these telecasts? Let’s find out.
Coca-Cola 200 presented by Hy-Vee
SPEED provided viewers with another jam-packed edition of NCWTS Setup in order to prepare viewers for the Camping World Truck Series event. I’m not sure if the heat index readings that SPEED displayed on-screen were really accurate. If they were, the dewpoint would have been roughly 82 or 83 degrees, which is very rare.
SPEED brought viewers a couple of good features on Saturday night. One was centered on the Space Coast Center For Mothers With Children, a non-profit that helps out homeless families in Melbourne, Florida. You might remember James Buescher running their logos on his No. 31 back at Dover in May. The feature talked about how the Bueschers help, and how the center assists the community in Brevard County, Florida. It was an interesting look at a company trying to improve the well-being of children.
A second feature was based upon last year’s truck race at Iowa, which brought Austin Dillon his first career victory. Effectively, the piece had Dillon and crew chief Danny Stockman talking about the experience. Not a bad look back.
Around those interviews, there were also nine pre-race interviews, a pretty substantial number by Truck Series standards. Of course, there was also the pre-requisite cake smashing during the Dakoda Armstrong interview. Seems to be a trend, now. I’m not complaining about it, though.
Finally, we had two brief pieces. One was based around Richard Childress Racing’s ARCA and Camping World Truck Series drivers (The Dillon brothers, plus Tim George, Jr. and Joey Coulter) having a charity bowling competition at a local Bass Pro Shops. A second mini-feature involved Steve Arpin and Ray Dunlap having a display building competition at what appeared to be a local Hy-Vee grocery store. Shenanigans ensued.
The race broadcast itself was filled with plenty of racing for position. Now, not all of that racing was up front since Austin Dillon was running away with the race at times. SPEED did a pretty good job of showing us action from all over the field, and we were better off for it.
I was a little annoyed that SPEED never gave us a replay of what happened to cause Ron Hornaday’s spin on Lap 76. Hornaday was running decently when he had his incident. Yes, he didn’t hit anything and was able to continue without too much of an issue. Still…
During the race, there was a brief 15 minute red flag after Justin Marks broke a portable concrete wall when he crashed on Lap 103. SPEED spent the time either in commercial, or basically killing time. There was also an interview with Ty Dillon.
Post-race coverage was decent. SPEED provided seven post-race interviews, along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings.
Interestingly enough, one of those seven interviews was with Max Papis, who finished 20th. Papis had contact with Marks and caused the big wreck just after halfway, and SPEED decided that it would be a good idea to try to get an idea of what caused the wreck. It was a good move since they simply could not interview Marks (he was sent to the hospital from the track).
SPEED’s coverage on Saturday night was quite nice to watch when they were covering the actual races for position. Outside of those moments, it was a little rough at times. Phil Parsons basically screwed up his intro before the race started, although that might have been as much the fault of the production staff as it was Parsons’. I already mentioned the lack of replays of Hornaday’s incident. The production needs to get a little bit sharper in the coming weeks.
New England 200
At Loudon, ESPN brought viewers a special one-hour edition of NASCAR Countdown on Saturday. Having the one-hour format allowed ESPN to actually do a little bit feature-wise to learn a little bit more about the drivers in the series, something that ESPN has basically failed to do so far this season.
To that end, ESPN aired a piece in which many of the young guns (Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, even Kyle Busch) talked about how they idolized Jeff Gordon when they were little kids. It seems almost crazy to think about Gordon that way. Then again, he’s in his 19th full season, so I guess its understandable. Gordon also chimed in with anecdotes from his own experience coming up as the young ‘un in Winston Cup in the early 1990’s. It was an interesting piece. I’m not sure if Gordon’s really comfortable with his new elder statesman image right now, but I think he’ll grow into it eventually.
Another feature featured Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Trevor Bayne at Fenway Park for another round of random competitions (more of these “battles” are available at rickyvstrevor.com). These battles consisted of who could fling a Frisbee from the Monster Seats the farthest and who could throw the fastest pitch, among others. Nice feature to show for kicks. Granted, we didn’t learn anything since ESPN did a similar feature a few months ago involving (amongst other acts) the game Chubby Bunny.
ESPN also aired a full dozen driver interviews during the show, which was pretty sweet. That number includes Jeff Gordon, who joined up in the Pit Studio after the idolization feature aired. Friday evening, Dave Burns did a short interview with Travis Pastrana following the K&N Pro Series East race. Since Pastrana is due to make his Nationwide Series debut in two weeks at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, I guess it’s already time for ESPN to start the hype machine. Expect a Pastrana feature, pre-race and post-race interviews, an in-car camera, and all sorts of Travis-mania on July 30th.
ESPN’s race coverage was more of the same that we’ve seen for much of the season. There was a definite focus on the frontrunners in the race coverage, to the detriment of other teams out there.
However, the most memorable part of the broadcast had nothing to do with the lack of coverage for smaller outfits. It had to do with Jason Leffler’s crash on Lap 106. Apparently, leading up to the crash, Leffler and Steve Wallace had had contact multiple times. Finally, on the backstretch, Steve appeared to simply dump Leffler into the outside wall by hitting his right rear corner. Let’s just say that it is more likely to be intentional when someone turns another driver on his right rear corner than on his left rear.
Steve didn’t exactly come out and say that it was intentional later on, but he did admit to being a bit perturbed with Leffler’s actions. He claimed that “… I got sick of [getting hit], then he wrecked himself.” On paper, it sounds ridiculous.
For some reason, Rusty Wallace (Steve’s father and car owner) decided to defend his son by claiming that it was simply a racing accident. He somehow got Ricky Craven to agree with him. The only way that it could have been a racing accident is if Stenhouse got in the back of Steve’s No. 66 and pushed him into Leffler. One replay inferred that it could be possible, but the angles didn’t add up. The others simply made it look like Steve turned into Leffler.
I’ve written in the past about how Rusty does have a tendency to give too much praise to his son, Steve, on-air in his commentary. As much as Rusty despises when people talk about this (and believe me, he’s not a fan), it is unprofessional. Of course, in this specific situation, it is a two-pronged issue. Firstly, does Rusty actually believe it was just a racing incident with no intention involved? Secondly, if he doesn’t, is he simply covering for Steve? The second question is incredibly hard to prove and would require the answer “No” to the first question.
I know that a parent’s first notion is to protect their children. However, Steve needs to be held accountable for his actions. If he does something ridiculous intentionally during a race, then he needs to be called out for it. If I dumped someone intentionally, I assume that I would be rightfully blamed for it. I wouldn’t really want to talk about it after the race, but I’d eventually have to take my lumps. If it was intentional, and Rusty covered for him, then there is no lesson being learned. Steve would simply become entitled to do whatever he wanted. Obviously, by the actions of drivers like Brian Scott on Saturday, they’re pretty much sick of that type of on-track behavior from Steve.
Post-race coverage was quick since ESPN was already over their timeslot by ten minutes when the race ended. Since Kyle Busch won and tied Mark Martin for the all-time lead in career Nationwide Series wins, they absolutely had to get his Victory Lane interview on-air. While Busch was doing his usual celebration, ESPN interviewed Busch’s crew chief (Jason Radcliff) and five other drivers before cutting to the Victory Lane interview. Martin, being the classy man that he is, showed up in Victory Lane to personally congratulate Busch. There was no check of the point standings before ESPN left the air to get to SportsCenter.
I could go on for paragraphs on what ESPN needs to do to create a more inclusive race broadcast, but there’s only so much space in the critique each week. So, we’ll start with the basics. Report on what you see. Never add bias to the mix. This has been a recurring issue with Rusty ever since ESPN re-acquired the rights to NASCAR for 2007. ESPN representatives should sit down with Rusty and talk this over with him. While it’s nice to want your son to do well, you cannot mask the truth to an audience of millions just to make yourself feel good.
Lenox Industrial Tools 301
Sunday marked TNT’s sixth and final Sprint Cup telecast of the 2011 season. Also, it marked the final appearance of Lindsay Czarniak on TNT, as she has signed with ESPN and will be appearing as an anchor on SportsCenter in the coming weeks.
Since it was TNT’s swan song for 2011, they decided to start off Countdown to Green with a montage recapping the past five weeks of racing. I understand why they did it, but I didn’t really think it was necessary since TNT’s group of races were all in a row with no off-weeks. If they had a couple of substantial breaks thrown in, like the Camping World Truck Series, then it might have made more sense.
The weekly Pride of NASCAR feature was on Cotton Owens. Unlike the other features which contained multiple sound bites from other notable people in the subject’s life, Owens told his own life story to Kyle Petty. As a result, it came off as potentially a little more genuine. Regardless, it was an interesting look into the life of a future NASCAR Hall of Famer.
The race broadcast itself was punctuated with a lot of the issues that we’ve come to know TNT for this season. There were, once again, an excessive number of commercials in the telecast. The bad luck that tends to plague telecasts such as that continued as well. Multiple yellows came out during those breaks. One of which (the fifth) was supposedly just for fluid on the track. Apparently, there was also a car slow on track that was referenced on multiple radios. However, no action was made to make it seem like that was true on the broadcast.
Also during the race, Kyle Busch accused Chris Neville of “trying to create a story out of nothing” when he asked him if contact with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had anything to do with his blown tire on Lap 60. That’s not a gripe on Neville, but on Kyle Busch for being inconsiderate (I would have said something else here, but Kyle Busch is a tricky subject here at Frontstretch at times). I understand that Kyle was angry for wrecking, but Neville had to at least broach the subject, or else he would have been admonished for not covering the story fully. A simple reply in the negative would have sufficed just fine.
Post-race coverage was quite disappointing. On TNT, there were only three post-race interviews (Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin) aired before the network left the air. There were also checks of the Unofficial Results and Point Standings before TNT left to get to a movie. The RaceBuddy-exclusive post-post-race show featured four more interviews, an expanded version of Inside Trax and some post-race analysis.
I know that TNT was a little tight on time, but last I checked, Varsity Blues is not a live event. Varsity Blues is a movie where James Van Der Beek channeled a far whinier version of his character from Angus in a R-rated movie from 1999. Big deal. Especially since Sunday was TNT’s final race of the year, they could have held off on starting that movie right at 4:30pm EDT so that they could properly wrap-up their season. As it stands, we didn’t get much more than a normal sign-off. Weak, weak, weak.
Since TNT’s season is now over, I need to give my impression on their season. I’ve previously stated here in the weekly critiques and in an edition of the Frontstretch Podcast that I think Alexander is a work in progress. He’s still adjusting to the broadcast booth after all those years of pit reporting for both radio and TV. I think he needs more experience. Going back to SPEED Center won’t give him that. He needs to do some more booth work, maybe some K&N Pro Series races to hone his craft. SPEED has those opportunities out there, so I think they should give him a few.
I never had any worries about Chris Neville on pit road. He had already proven himself working pit road for SPEED’s Grand-Am and ALMS coverage over the past few years, and he was simply able to transition that skill to Sprint Cup (and right back to Grand-Am as he’s scheduled to be at New Jersey Motorsports Park for the Grand-Am race this weekend).
RaceBuddy was much improved this season with additional views available. However, it was prone to crashing (at least for me). Even after deleting cookies and scanning my laptop for viruses, spyware, trojans and all that stuff, it was still an issue. It seriously hurt my experience. Turner should look into whether their program was having issues. I haven’t been able to replicate the issues with the TruckBuddy services, though.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series takes their final weekend off of the season. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of action to fill in that hole. The Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series are both back in action at Nashville Superspeedway. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series will be at the new airport circuit in Edmonton (it’s much longer, perhaps faster, but with tighter curves).
Friday, July 22
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, July 23
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, July 24
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape Delayed
Note that if you’re in Canada, the ALMS race from Mosport will air live on Rogers Sportsnet One on Sunday. Also, the series has free streaming of the live races on their website if you live outside of the United States. Unfortunately, for viewers in the U.S., we have to deal with the series’ incredibly stupid move to ditch live telecasts of races on TV in favor of streaming with ESPN3.com.
For next week’s critique, I will provide critiques of the Nationwide, Camping World Truck and Izod IndyCar Series races. For the Annex this week, I’m covering the Prairie Meadows 200 for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
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!
I am so glad you had a story on Rusty. He has bothered me (us) for a long time. If he can’t be impartial when doing a race when Steven is running ,he shouldn’t be
Hey Phil Track Buddy froze up on me too. It’s seems to always freeze up there close to the end of the race.
Living just a few hours away from Iowa Speedway, I can confirm that Speed’s temperatures were right. It has been/is ridiculously hot here.
I had RaceBuddy freeze up for very race I watched. Seems like a bandwidth issue at the server end. I could usually get it going again by switching views, but that gets tiring after a while plus many times when you switch views you have to sit through the same Coke commercial from 3 years ago over and over again.
As for the “Fluid on track” that never got mentioned in the broadcast, at least RaceBuddy cauught the reason (Stremme’s #30 blew an engine, the Racebuddy camera angle was on it as he went to the garage). I believe that was the one that the caution came out AS the broadcast was going to commercial, and they just, went to commercial.
Another funny thing was Larry Mac was in the middle of a long-winded description of how to change a battery (I think) when an incident happened, and only one of the guys in the booth made any attempt to break in- unsuccessfully.
I’d swear that I heard Rusty say that the 66 caused that wreck.
Chris Neville’s TMZ type questions have made me cringe for all 6 broadcasts and you can clearly see the word is out among the drivers. Not that I like KB.
Wingcars, are you saying that Neville asking Kyle about the contact with Earnhardt Jr. was TMZ-like, or are you criticizing something else? If its the latter, do you have any examples that I can go back and look at?
@ OLD FARMER You were right. Rusty did say the 66 caused the wreck. I know it was hard for him to say, but it was there for everyone to see.
Kyle Busch was “inconsiderate” of Chris Neville? How dare he show any irritability after being asked the same (stupid) question for about the 1,000th time this season! Sometimes equipment failure is simply equipment failure. Let Kyle call out any media-type who tries to make a story (soap opera) where this is none. WTG, Kyle! (Reminds me of Tony storming out of a news conference after one too many stupid questions.)
And Praise The Lord – TNT’s season is finally over! Remember, Phil, “TNT knows drama” even where there isn’t any!
I have TrackPass Raceview as well, and also I had issues. RaceBuddy would work fine if I just had it going. If I had Raceview AND RaceBuddy going, RaceBuddy would crash.
Wow Bill. Kyle is a meltdown waiting to happen and you criticize the reporter for asking him about it?
You want drama, Bill? Wait till ESPN starts using their script. Scripts should be in hand at Indianapolis next week for all the manufactured drama you can ask for. Script includes, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Dale Jr and nobody else. I’m dreading ESPN’s coverage the rest of the year.
By the way Phil, I was disgusted with the NW prerace. Never tune into these shows much but I thought I would try this week. Watched 15 minutes of it thinking I might learn something about the series regulars. It was all Cup regulars. Interview with Harvick, Kes and the studio thing with Gordon. So much for focusing on the series regulars.
Bill S, I agree with you equipment failure happens. But Neville’s question wasn’t a bad one when you cut a tire a few laps after contact.