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 September 13, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where criticism is the story of the day. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series each had their second night race of the season at the Richmond International Raceway.
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On Friday night, the Nationwide Series returned to Richmond for the second time this season. ESPN’s normal crew was back, including Marty Reid. Last week, I got on Reid’s case for completely screwing up the call around a yellow that resulted in an improperly timed commercial break. Did he get himself fully back in the game? Let’s find out.
NASCAR Countdown was the usual affair, full of pre-race analysis and substantial focus on a select few drivers. There was a fair amount of discussion about the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash, since Richmond was the third race in that series. Granted, ESPN felt that Josh Wise basically had no shot at the big bucks and they came out and said so. Of course, that was done with the caveat that they had talked to Wise and Wise admitted that it would be very difficult to contend for the $100,000 in the Key Motorsports No. 40, even though the No. 40 was quite a bit stronger than usual on Friday night.
During the race broadcast, there were two groups of drivers that got a lot of coverage. One group was those drivers involved in the Dash 4 Cash (Wise, Reed Sorenson, Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.). Wise was eliminated early when he had mechanical issues under yellow (although, he was running decently before it went up in a big plume of smoke). Sorenson and Stenhouse got the lion’s share of coverage, although a lot of Sorenson’s coverage was of the “he won the first two Dash races and he’s not winning” type. Really quite patronizing, to be honest.
The other group was that of the Cup ‘whackers (Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski before and after his wreck). They consistently got the most on-track coverage. Of course, Kyle Busch won again and Edwards was on his tuchis at the end, but Brad Keselowski was a complete non-factor after he hit the wall and eventually got himself lapped.
There were three X-factors in Friday’s coverage. One was Ryan Truex in the Schick-sponsored No. 20, forced to start at the rear due to ignition issues. Then, there was Kenny Wallace, because he’s Kenny Wallace and Richmond is a very good track for him. Finally, you have Danica Patrick. We all know why she gets preferential treatment, and I don’t agree with it.
I’ve stated multiple times in the past that Danica Patrick no longer drives TV ratings. The difference from when she does or does not race is negligible at best. ESPN would most definitely disagree with that statement, but it’s what I believe. What’s the ratings difference these days, five percent when she does or does not race? That’s almost nothing. There was no difference in the rating of Friday’s race from last year to this year. Zilcho. Custody of my diddly squat. She’s another racer out there. Big deal. Cover her properly and don’t report on every little thing she does like she’s Kim Kardashian.
Found it interesting that the booth talked about the Spring race at Richmond as if they actually were there when we know dang well they weren’t. Maybe Petree made the trip to keep in touch with his garage sources, but I can’t imagine Reid or Jarrett being there without defined roles.
As for Reid, he was ok Saturday night, but once again, could still stand to improve. His enthusiasm is often mistimed, and it showed pretty badly on Friday. Case in point, the obviously intentional incident where Trevor Bayne was put in the wall by Kevin Harvick with less than 40 laps to go. It was as if Reid just knew that the retaliation was coming and was just resigned to it happening. The equivalent of saying “whoop-dee-do, here we go again.” It almost seems like Reid isn’t enjoying himself anymore on-air. If that is so, it would be a great shame and quite a fall for someone that was viewed as a savior for ESPN’s Cup coverage as recently as 18 months ago. I guess the drop down to the Nationwide Series is playing a role with Reid.
Post-race coverage was decent, despite ESPN being over their slot. There were six post-race driver interviews and an interview with the winning crew chief (Jason Ratcliff). There was also a check of the point standings before ESPN left the air.
The race coverage was heavily influenced by the storyline factors that I have listed above. I generally would just be happy if all the racing on-track was covered equally. As it stands, we have maybe 13 drivers that get coverage and everyone else is like a ghost car in Gran Turismo 4 time trials unless something happens. That is not the way to promote a race series, or the drivers in it. A more inclusive approach is needed. Simple as that.
Wonderful Pistachios 400
Saturday night brought the Sprint Cup Series back to ABC for their final race of the regular season. Say what you want about the Chase (let’s just say that I’m not a fan of this setup), but it’s what we’ve got. Does the specter of the Chase affect ESPN’s broadcast? Let’s find out.
Since the race was on ABC instead of ESPN, they went with just a half-hour of pre-race coverage. Most of the pre-race coverage was focused upon the Chase, and in particular, those near the bubble. The only drivers interviewed were battling for those final spots. Of course, there was also the requisite amount of pre-race analysis from the Pit Studio as well.
There was also a recap of Tuesday’s Advocare 500, which produced Jeff Gordon’s 85th career victory. Gordon sat down and reflected on his victory and what it meant to him. In addition, he also talked about his chances at potentially getting his fifth championship. It was interesting to watch, if a little short. I would have liked to see a little more on this.
Since Sunday was the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, ESPN showed a feature in which they asked various drivers their memories of the attacks themselves and what they felt at the time. I guess it was touching. No one cried, but the statements were heartfelt.
As you all know now, Saturday night’s race was a wreckfest early on. This, naturally, created issues on the broadcast. The well-publicized three lap moment of silence fell during a yellow after the biggest wreck of a race. I knew this was going to happen. Always seems to, regardless of how good the synergistic intentions were.
Regardless of how I say this, I’m going to come off as nothing more than an insensitive troll. But, it is what I believe, and I’m not apologizing for it, so don’t ask. This moment was screwed up. Who thought doing a three lap moment of silence in the middle of a race like this was a good idea? I guess they wanted to be different from everyone else. Also, they probably figured that three laps under green at Richmond would be just a shade over a minute. I don’t know. It would have been much better, and had much more of an impact had it been done before the race. ESPN would have still televised it and everyone would have gotten the full impact of the situation.
Here, it just came off as ill-placed and simply not thought out well, also an injustice to those who died. Most of this was not ESPN’s doing (although, they agreed to it), but RIR’s. I’d also rant about being completely clueless as to what was going on at the time with that wreck and how in situations like this in 2001, both FOX and NBC would break off from the silent laps to report on what was going on if something notable happened (basically, wrecks were the only exception here.)
Aside from that mess, the race telecast was heavily stilted towards those already in the Chase, or those on the Bubble. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s the go-to move this time of year. I could care less about the Chase, but it’s all that anyone talks about at Richmond. Guess I should be happy there were so many wrecks, because I got to see people that I wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise on the telecast. Like Stephen Leicht.
Somehow, ESPN found a way to miss the restart from the first caution of the race. C’mon, now. That was six laps into the race. That is patently ridiculous. I understand that you have backers for the race that have paid a good amount of money for the exposure. However, I would much rather see a race restart and a commercial getting delayed to the next break than the Snookmeister crushing pistachios with the top of a sun tan bed while wearing high heels. Nothing against Dutchess County’s grandmaster of the poof hair-do, but that’s just what I believe.
I guess that there was more coverage up front than in past September races at Richmond, but that was because Chasers led basically the entire race (with the exception of the 19 laps Jamie McMurray led early on). What I’m basically saying is that if you weren’t in the Chase, or in contention, you had to do something extraordinary to get much of a mention on-air. That’s never good, and I don’t care what time of year it is.
There was a strange technical slip-up late in the race when ESPN was trying to go to commercial. Allen Bestwick voiced out the lead into the break, and all the typical graphics and music were there. However, the race didn’t go to break. We were treated to an extra two laps of racing before Bestwick came back on and apologized for the technical issue. Not sure what the issue was. Could be something as simple as “someone in Bristol forgot to push a button.” Regardless, the break came after Bestwick did his lead for the second time. It’s low-rent stuff like this that really seems to hurt ESPN’s telecasts on the technical side of the coin. It’s disheartening. I want ESPN to be better than this, but these issues keep showing up every week.
With the 15 cautions in Saturday night’s race, the event ended 15 minutes past the end of the timeslot. Often, when races are shown on ABC, this would mean a quickie post-race show so that the East Coast can get to the 11 o’clock news. Not so much this time. I’m guessing that Saturday being the cut-off was the primary reason here, but there was an expanded post-race show. There were 14 post-race interviews conducted, and a check of the all-important points. Granted, all of these were with drivers either in the Chase, or people that just missed, but that’s still a lot of coverage. I was very happy with the post-race coverage.
Even though I was happy with post-race coverage, the race coverage itself left me wanting a little. The technical issue and the Chase focus really brought the telecast down. On the other hand, I think the booth was quite amazed at the action we got Saturday night, especially since recent races in this schedule slot have been quite lackluster. As a result, we had a very enthusiastic booth all night, which is always good to see. There are lessons to be learned from this race. Namely, spread your coverage out a little more and find a way to make sure that production workers in Bristol don’t screw up the telecast.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is another full weekend of on-track action. The Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series are all racing at Chicagoland Speedway during week No. 1 of the Chase. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series, Grand-Am and ALMS are also in action.
Friday, September 16
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, September 17
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, September 18
Time Telecast Network
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series race in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. The Izod IndyCar Series event will be covered in the September 22 edition of The Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter. This week’s Newsletter will cover The Day: 1992 Hooters 500, a great race.
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Danica is way over-rated. Her luster is gone from the IRL, so she had to make the move to NASCAR.
I thought it was particularly pitiful when Jarrett had to make excuses for her poor/stupid behavior, such as saying she’s learning the track, and covering for passing the pace car. After all, she’s run part time Nationwide for two years now and should know a little bit about it. And she’s there because of being a great driver or, at least, that’s how the un-intelligencia that cheer for her see it.
Bestwick is still the best person in the booth as far as I’m concerned. And the other two aren’t as grating as the Fox group is.
BTW, did you notice that Mike Helton did the non-answer when Bestwick asked him about the fan feedback to The Chase this year?
Say what you will about the ESPN mistakes. Allen Bestwick is simply the BEST at NASCAR broadcasting and really, ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN FOX.
C’mon. Danica was touching up her makeup and didn’t see the pacecar. Give a girl a break.
I enjoyed the broadcast, especially the fact that it was network.
Not a fan of the Chase but it could be improved by cutting to the top 6 plus 2 wildcards. The wildcard thing worked very well this year. We’d get more actual competition if they cut the number who can qualify for the Chase.
When do you think we get the first of two million chase points “as they are now”? My guess is ten laps, just before they cut to to their first commercial. And when they come back the “race” will be under caution.
Glad you got to see the post race coverage.
If you think the focus on the Chase was bad Saturday night. Well you ain’t seen nothing yet? Get ready for 12 drivers all the time. Actually it will be like 4 or 5 most of the time, but anyone 13th on back, you can forget about seeing on TV unless they are a.)winning or b.)wrecking
And don’t forget about the script ESPN likes to follow during the Chase. Hopefully the addition of Bestwick in the booth will tone down the script. Guess we will have to wait and see.