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 27, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series raced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. They were joined by the Whelen Modified Tour, the ACT Tour and the K&N Pro Series East. The K&N race won’t be broadcast until Thursday night at 7 PM, while the ACT Tour race won’t be televised at all. However, the other three races were broadcast either live or almost live, so we’ll cover them here.
New England 100
Saturday afternoon brought the Whelen Modified Tour back to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for their third and final visit of the season. SPEED provided tape-delayed coverage of the event with a special trio in the booth. Bob Dillner covered the play-by-play, while Larry McReynolds and Jimmy Spencer added color commentary.
Dillner is OK in the play-by-play role, but I’d almost argue that he got the role because Mike Joy was preparing for his upcoming trip to Bathurst. I was surprised Joy wasn’t in the booth since he’s very knowledgeable about the Whelen Modifieds. McReynolds, for being possibly the most prepared racing commentator on television today, really doesn’t know all that much about the Modifieds.
Spencer is the X-Factor here. When he stays away from his rants and stupidity that you often see on RaceHub, plus when he was still on NASCAR RaceDay, he’s OK in the booth. Also, he’s the only one of the three up there that actually drove a Modified, so he knows a thing or two about them. Unfortunately, Spencer was already full-time in Winston Cup by the time NHMS was built. He did drive a Modified there in 1994 during the Slick 50 300 Cup weekend, but crashed out early. As a result, he couldn’t really bring much personal Modified experience at the track to the broadcast.
Even with the dominant (at times) Ryan Newman in the field, the race was very competitive and the booth was very enthusiastic. Always great to see.
Now, since this race was tape-delayed (the telecast started roughly 15 minutes after the race started), SPEED could simply stop the tape during commercial breaks. During all but one of the breaks, maybe a lap elapsed. Sometimes, it was less than that. The delay also allowed SPEED to cut out most of the red flag that was thrown just before halfway.
During that delay, SPEED showed a couple of interviews. The aforementioned Newman was already out of the race, so they talked to him about his issues. Leader Ron Silk was interviewed, as was Tommy Baldwin, Jr. about the Richie Evans tribute scheme that was being run in the race. However, the editing cut out a lot of the pit stops that occurred immediately after the red flag. Those stops put Woody Pitkat in the lead and made things confusing for viewers. Not good.
Post-race coverage was very, very brief. There was a post-race interview with winner Ron Silk, and that was it. The coverage immediately transitioned into NCWTS Setup.
As I’ve mentioned above, a lot of the personalities seemed out of place here. Dillner would usually be in the infield serving as a pit reporter. Dick Berggren, who normally does color on these quasi-live telecasts, was pit reporting, despite the fact that he was probably the most knowledgeable person there. It just didn’t seem right.
Also, there was a heavy focus on the front of the field during the race. However, since the action was so fast and furious at the front, there was only a small amount of drivers that could be covered.
F.W. Webb 175
Immediately following the Whelen Modified Tour race, the Camping World Truck Series lined up for their 175-lap race. Or, as it turned out to be, the Kyle Busch Memorial Buttkicking.
During the Setup, there were a couple of notable features. One was about Nelson Piquet, Jr. and his rise through the ranks. There were two facts that stood out here. One, the whole thing was literally a sequel to the feature that SPEED aired on Miguel Paludo prior to the Fast Five 225 at Chicagoland Speedway. Second, they completely skipped over Piquet’s time in Formula One. I’d argue that Piquet probably declined to talk about his time in Formula One due to how that rather infamously ended, but I’m not sure. For full disclosure purposes, when I had the chance to interview Piquet last year, I also did not ask him about anything having to do with his time in Formula One, or Renault. However, it was not because he refused to talk about it. I was under the opinion that there was still a gag order at the time, and his manager was sitting next to me the whole time, staring at his watch and basically saying “hurry it up.”
The other piece was based around the close battle for the championship. The Camping World Truck Series was not really affected by the “pick a series rule” that NASCAR enacted for the 2011 season, but it is still an amazing title chase.
I am fairly confident that SPEED expected a lot more in the way of on-track action on Saturday. Regardless, SPEED should endeavor to show as much racing for position as possible. They did not do that on Saturday. Instead, SPEED chose to give Kyle Busch an unnecessary amount of focus, especially when he was running away with the race. I could care less about what Kyle Busch is doing eight seconds ahead of everyone else, to be honest.
The race ended quickly, leaving SPEED plenty of time for post-race coverage. However, SPEED chose not to take advantage of that time. Only three post-race interviews were shown, along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Then, they decided to leave 26 minutes early so that they could get to the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Las Vegas. What the heck?
It was like watching another network televise the Truck Series on Saturday afternoon. I think this one was the worst truck race telecast in years. Ray Dunlap admitted on-air that the race was a “stinker” during his Victory Lane interview with Kyle Busch. Of course, Dunlap was basically saying that Kyle “stunk up the show,” but I don’t think NASCAR generally likes that all that much. I don’t know why SPEED chose to ignore most of the tenets of good Truck broadcasts from earlier this season. I just hope that we don’t see more of the same at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
Sunday brought the Sprint Cup Series to the forefront with Race No. 2 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup from New Hampshire. Entering Sunday’s race, fuel mileage was once again on the mind of everyone. To that degree, ESPN did a special Tech Garage feature on it where Dale Jarrett made a rare visit to the expandable tractor trailer to demonstrate fuel-saving strategies. Of course, almost none of that stuff could even be used in New Hampshire because of the flat turns and comparatively long straights, but it was still interesting, nonetheless.
Kurt Busch, when he wasn’t angry about his car flunking pre-race technical inspection, spent some time with ESPN talking about his love of baseball. Recently, he accomplished the feat of seeing a game in all 30 current Major League Baseball ballparks. With the monetary outlay involved today, such an accomplishment is fairly substantial. The feature itself was a nice look at Kurt Busch away from the track, you know, when he isn’t angry at reporters for referencing his new girlfriend during a press conference (5:10 mark of this clip).
There was also a montage on who was the driver to beat for the title. I watched this piece and it completely failed to pump me up for the race. However, it did put me in the mood to watch some 1980’s NBA Basketball, like say, Game 7 of the 1984 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics (2:40 of this clip). I guess it’s appropriate, since it is New England and all.
However, the main feature of pre-race was a piece that went into the mind of crew chiefs, especially towards the end of the races. Aside from people like Chad Knaus, Steve Letarte, Alan Gustafson, and others, many of these men work in near obscurity. They are placed under a significant amount of stress during these races. Not necessarily the physical stress that the drivers undergo, but mental stress. Many of the crew chiefs take defeats worse than the drivers, especially since they’re viewed as more expendable.
As for the F-Bomb caught on camera from Kurt Busch during Countdown, I did not hear it when it happened live on Sunday. However, I did hear about the swear via Twitter. Using the magic of the DVR, I went back and looked at it. You could barely make it out (I was straining to hear it). Kurt didn’t even seem angry. It looked more like Kurt having some fun with one of ESPN’s cameramen. My opinion? Big deal. I think a lot of viewers would have never known about it had Bestwick not specifically mentioned it on Lap 278 (three hours after the fact) and apologized.
The big story of pre-race was Kurt Busch’s inspection issues. However, they were just not touched upon until the 50-minute mark. ESPN showed Kurt Busch’s car just sitting in the garage, partially obscured by a truck. I don’t know if ESPN simply didn’t get the information early enough to cover it before 1:50, but it should have been given its proper due earlier in the broadcast.
My guess is that ESPN felt that fans were confused over Kurt Busch’s issues, so they ran a second Tech Garage feature about the measure that Kurt’s car apparently failed. Then, they reran that feature via split-screen 18 laps into the race.
Once again, there was a heavy emphasis on the drivers within the Chase. The only non-Chasers that got a significant amount of airtime were Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer. They had to get up and lead the race to get much exposure at all. Regan Smith earned his fifth top-10 finish of the season, but got only one mention all day long, and that was during a round of green-flag pit stops. The only reason that ESPN really stepped out of the top 10 was to cover Chasers. Towards the end of the race, this choice meant that quite a bit of coverage was back there (a group of Chasers were piled into positions 12-18, with Smith splitting up the bunch).
Post-race coverage was decent since the race ended quickly. ESPN provided viewers with nine post-race interviews (eight drivers, plus Darian Grubb) along with a check of the all-important points before leaving to go to Sportscenter ten minutes early. Tony Stewart then did a live interview from Victory Lane for SportsCenter prior to his winner’s media availability in the Media Center.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I really don’t like the Chase bias. It doesn’t show the whole story of just what the deuce is happening out there on the track. ESPN, you need to expand your focus beyond Chasers, please. Also, please amp up your graphical quality control. I saw some incorrect positions on graphics, along with one graphic where I outright couldn’t see a position listed. I think it was actually white on gold, and that just doesn’t work. Couldn’t see it.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is shaping up to be a very busy one for race fans. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be back in action at Dover International Speedway for their traditional fall race weekend, pushed back a week from normal. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series and Camping World Truck Series will be in action at Kentucky Speedway. Here’s your listings for the week.
Friday, September 30
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, October 1
Sunday, October 2
*- Tape Delayed
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. The Izod IndyCar Series race from Kentucky Speedway will be covered in the Annex.
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Modifieds – By far the best of the televised races from NH. I’ll need to see the K&N race to comment but it will be hard to beat 24 lead changes in a 100 lap race and they don’t bump draft like the mods. Someone should stick a sock in Spencers mouth. To be a past Modified Champion, he is pitiful. Can’t think fast enough or even know the names of the drivers.
Trucks – Just sad. Slept through most of it and the replay on tape. As for leaving early, Barrett-Jackson was way more exciting. For NASCAR to turn what used to be an exciting division into what it is today is a shame. Dunlap absolutely does the best he can with what he has to work with as do most of the Truck personalities.
Cup – It is what it is no matter which network does the telecast.
I really hate the chase and Randy is right, no matter who does the telecast they only concentrate on their favorites, pre and during the chase. What irked me to no end was, even though they do the split screen for the second half of the race, there are way too many commercials. Seems as though they figure as long as we can still see what’s happening to the top 10 they can have even more commercial breaks. No one seems to know or care how to televise these races for the fans viewing pleasure. Noticed lots of empty seats as well.