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 August 9, 2011
Hello, race fans. Hope you enjoyed the soggy weekend (ok, soggy if you live in the Northeast like I do). Those of you that live in Texas and Oklahoma would love to be soggy by this point as long as tornadoes weren’t involved since it would break you from your death grip on 100 degree days.
This was another busy weekend of racing. The Sprint Cup Series ran at Pocono Raceway for their second visit of the season, along with the Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series staged an interesting race Saturday night in front of a crowd of over 48,000.
Before we start, an interesting bit came out of Saturday night’s post-race press conference with winning car owner Jack Roush. To throw a bone to Nationwide fans, Iowa Speedway put the post-race press conferences on UStream since NASCAR refrained from providing press conference coverage from Iowa on nascar.com. Granted, that’s another argument for another day. What is important here is that Roush basically stated Edwards’ Nationwide Series plans for 2012. They’re quite a bit different than this season.
“I think [Edwards] has made his decision. He’s going to become a sportscaster for ESPN for the Nationwide races,” Roush said. “Maybe he’ll still be missing out on sleep running across the country. I’m not sure if he’s going to just do the companion races, or if he’s going to do all the races.”
It’s an interesting move, if true. It would mean a huge shakeup for ESPN if it does come to pass. I intend on asking Edwards about it in Watkins Glen during his Friday Media Availability. However, for now, the question of the week is two pronged:
One, would you like to see Carl Edwards working on Nationwide Series broadcasts in 2012, and if so, in what capacity?
Two, if wholesale changes are due to be made to ESPN’s on-air crew for Nationwide Series broadcasts, who should be part of that on-air crew?
Post your responses below in the comments section, or send me your e-mails via the contact link provided below. Now, on to the critique.
U.S. Cellular 250
Saturday night saw ESPN return to Iowa Speedway for their second visit of the season. Since the entire A-team was in Pocono for the Sprint Cup weekend, the “second string” was on hand. Marty Reid continued in his booth role, along with Ricky Craven. However, ESPN had a newbie (well, to them) in the booth in Ken Schrader, who has commentated on ARCA races for SPEED in the past. To this degree, someone slapped a rookie stripe on Schrader’s back. Not a first for ESPN. Back in the 1990’s, someone put a rookie stripe on Bill Venturini’s back during an ARCA telecast. Always good for a laugh.
Since the vast majority of ESPN’s NASCAR staff (along with the Pit Studio) was in Pocono, the three booth commentators served as the de facto hosts for NASCAR Countdown. However, despite the fact that this was a standalone weekend, there were no features aired. Instead, it was the usual formula of pre-race analysis, with interviews (eight in all, slightly above normal).
Tim Brewer looked at the nasty bump in Turn 2 and how it would affect the splitters. Although the effect was nowhere near as bad with Nationwide cars as it was when the Izod IndyCar Series was there earlier this year (which was actually referenced during the race), it was still quite noticeable.
During the race, we saw a different Reid than they’ve gotten used to. He seemed to be a lot more enthusiastic than normal and outright cheerful at times. John Daly claimed that, “It seems like [Reid] has had a huge weight lifted off his shoulders,” on Twitter Saturday. I don’t know whether I would say that or not.
Craven and Schrader played off of each other very well on Saturday. With potential wholesale changes to ESPN’s on-air group for Nationwide Series broadcasts in 2012, could either one or both men have a significant role? Quite possibly. Of course, it’s still a little early to tell. I wouldn’t expect an announcement of any on-air changes for ESPN before January.
Last week, ESPN noted that prior to the wreck involving Tim Andrews, Michael Annett and Steve Wallace, they hadn’t missed an incident that they had televised since Pocono last August. You remember that wreck, right? Anyway, they couldn’t really get another streak going Saturday. They outright missed what happened to Mike Wallace to put him out of the race. Viewers came out of a commercial break to see Wallace’s No. 01 trundling along all beat up after hitting the wall. Reid surmised that he thought Mike Wallace’s car suffered some kind of tire failure, and that was it. No replays, no follow-up, no nothing. Weak.
Also in the race, there was a less egregious example when Jamie Dick hit the wall, then came down the track and hit Eric McClure. This wreck also occurred right as ESPN was returning from a break. I think they showed more live than they did in the replays. Reid claimed that Dick and McClure’s issues were separate until they collided. On screen, it didn’t look that way. Despite the fact that Dick’s car was crippled by the hit, it almost looked like he turned down into McClure. However, I cannot be certain because, once again, there was no follow-up. Schrader, and possibly Craven, thought that there could have been a little more to that incident, but there was no decision to follow-up. I know the three pit reporters (DeBruhl, Noble and Spake) were busy having to cover pit stops and both of the aforementioned teams (TriStar Motorsports’ No. 14 and Stott Classic Racing’s No. 02) might have fallen outside of the top-24 group that ESPN (via Spake) is already on record as stating that they focus on, but I do believe that the wreck was worth looking into further.
The end of the race saw a fairly sizable flub by Reid. As you probably know by now, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. won the race after blowing an engine on the last lap. Reid stated on-air that he thought that Stenhouse had a tire failure, even though viewers could have heard Stenhouse’s engine sounding flatulent on the backstretch and the “Magic Smoke” was coming out to play. A classic screw-up. I’m reminded of what Allen Bestwick told me at Watkins Glen two years ago. “When words come out of your mouth, there’s no backspace and no spell check. There it is, world [whether it’s right or not].”
Even though Reid screwed up royally, he can’t take it back. Sorry, Marty. I will say that ESPN did a great job showing the discussion between Carl Edwards and Stenhouse’s crew chief, Mike Kelley. I thought the statement from Kelley that “[Stenhouse] thinks you hate him” was very interesting and quite poignant. Is that why Stenhouse positioned his car in front of Edwards’? Not just Ricky’s desire to win?
Since the race ran long by a few minutes, post-race coverage was brief. That coverage was dominated by the aforementioned Roush coverage. ESPN provided three post-race interviews before leaving the air without checking the points.
Aside from ESPN’s screw-up’s, I did enjoy the broadcast. Reid just seemed to be more upbeat than normal Saturday night. That alone makes telecasts in which he is a part more enjoyable to watch. Schrader wasn’t really all that different on ESPN than he has been on SPEED, which isn’t a bad thing. Schrader’s an enjoyable person to listen to. So is Craven. However, ESPN needs to tell their viewers if they are unable to determine exactly what happened to cause these yellows. They are still not forthcoming at all times and that simply must change in the future.
Good Sam RV Emergency Road Service 125/Pennsylvania ARCA 125
I’m going to state here that I am not a fan of these 125 mile races at Pocono. They’re just plain too short and don’t contain much action.
When SPEED came on-air from Pocono Saturday afternoon, rain was definitely a concern. Some viewers were wondering why NASCAR didn’t institute a hurry-up program like they used to a few years ago when rain was on the way. Such a setup would have resulted in the race starting roughly 20 minutes earlier than it did. That would have resulted in the event crossing over the 25 lap mark and thus being official when the rains ultimately came. Rain was only briefly discussed during the Setup, keeping in line with the norm of doing everything in one’s power to not mention the weather. I find such a strategy to be ridiculous, but know that it is far more pervasive than just on-air personalities.
During the Setup, a feature on Cole Whitt aired highlighting the rookie’s versatility behind the wheel. It was an interesting look at Whitt’s background, one that was shrouded in anonymity because of a near complete lack of USAC coverage on television these days.
Once the race itself started, there were only about seven or eight laps of green flag racing before the rains came. In that time, the aforementioned Whitt cut a tire and left the casing on the exit of Turn 1, bringing out a yellow. On the restart from that incident, Jason White was spun out on the frontstretch in a chain reaction wreck. There were plenty of replays of the incident, which allowed the broadcasters to determine that Mark Martin’s inability to get up to speed caused the chain reaction that resulted in the wreck.
When the rains came, SPEED’s pit reporters conducted a few interviews before they broke for alternate programming before the race was pushed back to Sunday.
When 9am Sunday came, SPEED started out by recapping the first 17 laps of action from Saturday before getting into the remaining action. Quite honestly, there really wasn’t a whole lot to note in the race. The event was so short and so plagued by yellows (seriously, seven of them in a race scheduled for 50 laps?) that no one could get into any real flow.
Post-race coverage was almost nil because SPEED wanted to get to NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot. They interviewed Kevin Harvick, showed the points, then left. I know that RaceDay gets higher ratings than Truck races, but I would much rather see live racing than Kenny Wallace, John Roberts and Kyle Petty at a desk.
That sentiment is the same with the ARCA race, which started around 10:15am Sunday. However, because of the aforementioned pre-pre-race show, it aired via tape delay at 10pm. Also, Wendy Venturini was originally scheduled to serve as a pit reporter on the telecast. When it was moved to Sunday morning, Venturini was gone as well so that she could do her Cup interviews. She was not replaced, leaving Bob Dillner as the sole person on pit road.
There was all but no pre-race coverage. When the telecast started, it went straight to Allen and Parsons in the booth (Michael Waltrip had exited, stage right from the booth during the short break in-between races)
I previously mentioned about how much I hate tape delayed races. It’s even worse when something really unusual occurs during that tape-delayed race. By now, you likely know about the wild crash that occurred at the beginning of Lap 2 that created a first (as far as I know) when Buster Graham’s Dodge jumped over the inside wall. It was a little similar to Joey Hand’s infamous crash at Mid-Ohio in that heavy rains caused the soil to form a launching pad that the car went over while out of control.
SPEED gave viewers multiple replays of the incident and almost everything that went down during the 12 lap caution. The exception was when the ambulance apparently got stuck in the mud. The perfect way to top off a ridiculous weekend.
Based on what was reported on Twitter and on the broadcast, I am unclear as to whether it was Brandon Kidd or Tom Berte who was transported to the hospital following the wreck. SPEED reported that Kidd was, but reputable writers at the track reported that it was Berte. Regardless, we’ll never really know what caused Berte to turn left into Kyle Martel. We did get an interview with Graham where he was all but in shock over the wreck. He basically botched the explanation of what happened, and the booth recognized that he screwed it up. Now, it is arguable that by going over the wall, Graham was able to avoid physical injury, but he didn’t appear to be all the way there mentally at the time of the interview.
SPEED’s coverage was once again heavily focused on the front of the race, to fans’ detriment since there really wasn’t all that much action at the front of the pack. Later in the race, there was some decent racing further down in the field that got some airtime, like when Frank Kimmel was battling with his nephew (and teammate) Will for position.
Another result of the tape-delay was SPEED’s ability to take a commercial break whenever they felt like it. It was outright weird to see SPEED take two breaks within the final eight laps of the race, including one with a little less than four laps to go. Granted, those could be considered simply “stop tape moments,” but it was still weird to watch.
Post-race coverage was actually quite substantial. There were eight post-race interviews, all conducted by Dillner. Since Dillner was working alone, these interviews were spread out over roughly 20 minutes. In addition, there were two checks of the point standings and one check of the unofficial results.
I still wish that SPEED could have shown this race live. However, doing so would have sacrificed NASCAR RaceDay. I have no idea officially what that show gets, ratings-wise, but I’m sure it is more than a Truck race or a Nationwide race. Include the fact that SPEED likely sold the ad space on that show months in advance, and that’s why the live racing got the boot. Weak, but true.
Good Sam RV Insurance 500
Finally, we come to the Sprint Cup race. ESPN was back with their full court press of on-air personalities. Since Paul Menard managed to take his first career victory last week, ESPN went all out to introduce Menard to viewers. Its no secret that Menard hasn’t always gotten a lot of coverage in the past, so he spent much of the feature talking about his upbringing and his family’s time in motorsports. Of course, this featured some of the highlights (or lowlights) of his father’s efforts at Indianapolis, including Robby Gordon running out of fuel with a lap to go in 1999. Menard also talked a little about last weekend’s victory in Indianapolis and how it will ultimately affect his career. In the piece, he came off like he did when I talked with him in Daytona, laid back, relaxed, yet still friendly. I find that Menard isn’t like a lot of the other drivers. He has his own personality, and that’s great in this era of sanitized drivers that all sound the same.
Unfortunately, the one thing that most viewers will take home from NASCAR Countdown is the fact that the telecast just looked terrible. The commercials were all screwy. They tried to go to a break at one point, and apparently never got there. We were treated to commercial break discussions, Nicole Briscoe welcomed the fans back from break, and then Briscoe got cut off mid-sentence by a commercial. Ouch.
During the next scheduled break, ESPN cut out of the commercial about ten seconds in, then they came back out of break while a briefing of how the next segment was going to go was being discussed. Once they realized that the commercial ended prematurely, there was a collective, “Oh Snap!” moment before they came back like nothing happened. It caught them off-guard. Finally, Briscoe was cut off mid-sentence by a local break. It’s like she can’t win.
None of that was the fault of anyone at the track. Much like on your local network affiliates, commercials are loaded into broadcasts at the channel’s technical headquarters. That would be in Bristol, Connecticut. It’s all on them.
When the rains came Sunday afternoon and delayed the race for nearly two hours, ESPN spent most of the time doing interviews and analyzing the first 310 miles from the Pit Studio. In addition, Joey Logano showed up in the Pit Studio and hung around for a couple of segments. Generally, a great way for ESPN to kill a couple of hours without having to go to alternate programming. Bravo.
Like on Saturday night, ESPN did a great job covering the conflict between Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson following the race. Granted, for the safety of children (I guess), the audio was kept down, but viewers were allowed to see the entire argument.
Since the race ended nearly two hours beyond the end of ESPN’s scheduled timeslot, post-race coverage was quite brief. ESPN aired four quick driver interviews before leaving. Of course, referring back to Countdown, ESPN cut off Briscoe again when she was saying her farewell so that they could get to SportsCenter.
The technical problems originating from Bristol really hurt the feel of ESPN’s broadcast. However, once you got away from those problems, ESPN’s telecast wasn’t all that bad. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the commentators, and a good amount of coverage behind the leaders, which is especially crucial at a place like Pocono. I like where ESPN is going right now with Cup coverage. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, road racing comes back into our lives. Yee-haw! I can’t get enough of the stuff. The Sprint Cup Series will make their 29th visit to Watkins Glen for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. The Nationwide Series will serve as main support, along with the Rolex Sports Car Series, which has gotten a little NASCAR star power for Saturday evening’s “200 miler” (last year, the race still went to the two hour time limit despite exceeding the 200 mile distance by over 20 percent). Also, on a completely unrelated note, who scheduled the AMA weekend in Unadilla the same weekend as Cup in the Glen? I have to go through Unadilla to get to the Glen.
Friday, August 12
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, August 13
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, August 14
Time Telecast Network
Since I will be in Watkins Glen next weekend representing Frontstretch, I will not be able to bring you a normal Tuesday critique. However, I will provide an Annex critique for Thursday in the Newsletter. Also, remember that Reid will not be calling the Nationwide race on Saturday due to his Izod IndyCar Series commitments in New Hampshire. Allen Bestwick will do play-by-play for both NASCAR events in Watkins Glen.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
this carl edwards signing to do this and that is gettin’ old. All we heard for 2 weeks,is he gonna re-sign? and now this? Carl,is it not enough that you and your cup buddies come to the NAT series with your superior equipment and take all the TV time and dollars away as it is!
I’d just soon you get lost and backflip your way out of Nascar all together !!
phil h, you obviously hate Carl as much as I hate that fecal-brained punk that won the Cup race this weekend! I challenge you! Bet you wouldn’t be so mean-spirited toward Junior or Punk-Brad if it was either one of them getting the coverage for their contract talks like Carl was!
WOW! Whats not to like about Carl Edwards? Please answer that for me. I can see hating Jimmie or Kyle but Carl? Really? C’mon? And if Brad Keselowski didn’t earn your respect this weekend than what does?
Anyway I would love to have Carl broadcast NNS races next year as long as it’s only companion races so he doesn’t ruin his Cup chances. I loved seeing Kenny Schrader in the booth at Iowa! Wish he would do more. If I had to choose a 2012 NNS Broadcast lineup it’d be Marty Reid, Carl Edwards and Ken Schrader. Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree can fill in for Carl.
Anyway as long as Carl is competitive next year thats what matters. Heres to a strong 2011 finish and a great 2012. Go Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing, Team 99 and FORD!!!
Ken, people are allowed to hate, and like, any driver they so choose. I hate anyone who’s low enough to drive for a known felon, which is too bad, as I used to be a fan of Mark Martin, and I used to like Ryan Newman, until they both moved to The Dark Side. Besides, if phil h is upset with any of the publicity Carl got over his contract negotiations, what’s he going to be like when we’ll be bombarded with Danica overload next year when the Queen Of Hype is rammed down our throats because she’s going to run full time in Nationwide, and rumoured part time in Cup? Maybe too, it’s resentment that Carl was getting publicity while Junior, the darling of NASCAR, was ignored, for awhile at least. And yes, I do consider Tony and Ryan as Hendrick drivers!
Danica’s gaining experience every time she gets in the car. The results are on par with anyone else who’s run a partial schedule of ~20 races or so. I expect her to run top 10 next season. I’m also glad she’s not rushing into Cup.
As for Edwards I’m all for him in the booth—because it means he won’t be beating on The Little Guy on the track anymore.
Of course, that probably just means Biffle or Kenseth will drive the 60….
Danica Patrick needs to decide whether she’s a stripper for Go-Daddy or a racecar driver. Jennifer Jo Cobb is SO much more professional, even with her team confrontations, than Danica can ever be so long as she’s shaking her moneymaker in commercials. I can’t wait until Danica is the Viagra Girl. I’m sure most of the guys would approve. For me, she’s an embarrassment.
If someone has to go, please let it be Rusty Wallace.
Personally, I like Brad Keselowski. He’s had a few run-ins in the past with a few drivers, but so has Carl, Kyle, and just about every other driver that’s worth a damn. No, Brad won’t move out of the way to let another driver pass him on the last lap… but ain’t that what it’s all about?
I guess I must be a bit slow but how the hell do you “hate” somebody you don’t know and who has never done anything to you? Is it jealousy, envy or just plain stupidity? Hate Mark Martin because he took an offer to drive for one of the dominant teams regardless of what Hendricks did or didnt do? Hate Danica becuse she gets a disproportionate attention from the press? I just dont get it. Get a life for God’s sake.
Who is the leader of that organization? Roush or Edwards? Based on what I have read Roush doesn’t really know what Edwards is going to be doing next season? Really? He’s your supposed franchise driver and you don’t have a say in what he does?
I predict that if Carl is continuing to race in the NW and broadcast during the Chase that he will not win the Cup championship. Too many side activities have hurt many drivers when things start to matter. Not sure why their owners allow them to do these things when there is a championship on the line. Maybe that’s where Jimmie has the edge on some of these guys.
I can’t wait til next year when DANICA takes out JJ and a frew other drivers because they are racing her too hard!
In response to Steve, I suspect that Roush would want to field a car for Carl in NNS. It’s good for sponsors, which Roush badly needs, and he wins quite a bit. But ultimately, it’s Carl’s decision if he wants to run NNS races or not. It’s not as if Carl is thinking about taking some Cup races off to do TV. NNS is a secondary concern, and yes, it is Carl who holds the control in this situation as long as Roush is willing to field cars for him.
Don Mei… I agree. You can hate something a driver does, hate the way he races, hate the commercials they do, hate their childish behavior or their inflated egos… but unless you know a driver personally, you can’t really hate them. Even Tony Stewart.
Loved Schrader in the booth, but he needs to have a clause in his contract that states he does NOT have to wear a suit. Making him put one on is like putting an elevator in an outhouse – it just doesn’t belong.
I liked Carl when he first started racing, but when his obvious anger issues started surfacing, I couldn’t root for him anymore. I do like Brad. He races tough (just like Kyle/Carl/Denny) and makes no bones about it.