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 October 25, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where dissection of race broadcasts is the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series returned to Talladega Superspeedway for their final shots at restrictor plate glory for 2011. Meanwhile, the V8 Supercar Championship Series was in Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland for the Armor All Gold Coast 600k.
Armor All Gold Coast 600k, Race No. 2
Late Saturday night (Sunday afternoon in Queensland), SPEED returned to Australia for their second and final live V8 Supercar telecast of the season. However, this time, it was the tight confines of the Streets of Surfer’s Paradise that played host. SPEED sent their quartet of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Leigh Diffey and Calvin Fish to Queensland to reprise their roles without any references to “geological oddities,” or anything like that.
SPEED came on-air at 11 PM, giving enough time for 25 minutes of pre-race programming. The main piece aired in the run up to the race was where Darrell Waltrip spent some time with Garth Tander and Ryan Briscoe. He prefaced the chat by saying that he considered Tander and Briscoe to be the duo to beat. Unfortunately, that didn’t come to pass.
Another piece was focused on Sebastien Bourdais, the best of the international drivers at Surfer’s Paradise. Bourdais was teamed up with Jamie Whincup and had already won Race No. 1 on Saturday. I have no clue why SPEED chose to only air the second 300 kilometer race. Last year, the format was a little different in which one race was driven solely by the regular driver, while the other was driven by the guest driver. Maybe SPEED thought that AVESCO (the Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company) was going to keep the old setup.
There was also a mini grid walk conducted by Diffey and Fish, a feature that is not new to SPEED. Will Buxton normally does them for SPEED’s Formula One coverage, and Robin Miller did one for some of Versus’ Izod IndyCar Series races this year (reportedly on the insistence of Dan Wheldon). Regardless, this allowed SPEED to talk to ten drivers prior to the start of the race, a substantial increase over the four we had prior to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Finally, there was an in-car lap tour of the 1.8-mile Surfer’s Paradise circuit narrated by Mark Winterbottom (often referred to by everyone as “Frosty”). No ride along this time for Waltrip, however, he did admit to driving a couple of laps around the circuit in a street car.
SPEED also debuted a new graphic package for the starting lineup—earlier this year, the network piggybacked on the Seven Network’s somewhat over the top graphics, complete with the Mitsubishi Fuso sumo wrestler (Note: Mitsubishi does use sumo wrestlers in a series of popular commercials for Fuso commercial vehicles). For Bathurst, SPEED used a basic starting lineup graphic somewhat similar to what they use for the Formula One telecasts. Here, they ditched that for a unique setup that looked very clean. I’m not 100 percent on whether that was SPEED’s graphic, Seven Network, or V8 Supercars Australia’s work, but whoever was responsible did a good job.
A big story that came out of the race was the constant drive-through penalties for “kerb-hopping,” a nice way of saying “you cut the course.” The whole thing seemed to confuse Waltrip. At first, the series had a foolproof way of catching offenders by using a loop system, however, the cars ran over the loops so many times that the equipment was broken. After that, stewards were dispatched to monitor the curbs in the chicanes.
Now, I don’t blame Waltrip for being a little confused over the issue. From what I understand, it’s something of an ongoing issue on street courses. It’s a big issue in Adelaide at the Clipsal 500 and in Hamilton, New Zealand (granted, that race is being dropped for 2012, but it was still an issue there).
Even with a SPEED booth as opposed to Matthew White and Mark Skaife from the Seven Network, I still have a lot of the same issues with the telecast. It was way too focused on the front of the field. There was nothing going on up front for the entire first third of the race. Sebastien Bourdais was in complete control, yet he got a butt load of airtime. I would have rather that there be more of a focus on the racing for position. Given that we were at a street course, there was plenty of that.
There was really no battling for position that was shown below 11th position in the entire telecast. SPEED cannot really do much about that. I know I’m not alone in ranting against V8 Supercars Australia’s frontrunning.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief, as SPEED had overrun their three hour timeslot slightly by the time the race ended. There were post-race interviews with the top 2 finishing duos (Mark Winterbottom-Richard Lyons and Jamie Whincup-Bourdais) and a check of the top-10 finishers before SPEED left the air.
Joy and Waltrip are a little hamstrung by the pictures that they are provided. I’m not really sure if they were aware of some of the other action on-track (I think their commentary position had their backs to the track, unfortunately, but I’m not sure). To fill some time when the pictures weren’t really showing much of note, Joy would try to educate fans on various things, like what some of the various sponsors are, or some basic rules of the series. However, they shouldn’t have to fill time like that in the middle of a race.
Despite the less than satisfactory amount of racing for position shown, Joy and Waltrip clearly enjoyed themselves immensely. Waltrip does agree with me that if they do this next year, that they should just stay over between Bathurst and Surfer’s Paradise. Returning to the states after Bathurst was stupid.
Coca-Cola 250 Powered by Fred’s
Saturday afternoon brought the Camping World Truck Series back to Talladega for their fifth assault on the 2.66-mile tri-oval. The normal on-air crew was back in play here (Hermie Sadler couldn’t make the trip to Las Vegas since he was driving the TRG Motorsports No. 71 at Charlotte).
The Setup started off with a recap of the wreckfest known as the Smith’s 350k in Las Vegas. That was followed up by a brief remembrance of Dan Wheldon.
The main feature of the Setup was a piece where SPEED sent Ray Dunlap out to what I guess is Imperial County, California (they didn’t say) to check out what Matt Crafton does in his free time. As it turns out, Crafton likes to drive sand buggies for fun. He’s not the only notable racer that does this in his spare time (Greg Biffle does this, as does David Gilliland, although I cannot recall a feature that followed Gilliland while he was doing it).
Dunlap, after his typical theatrics (he crawled up a sand dune, complaining about a lack of water, as if he was Daffy Duck in a Warner Brothers cartoon), rode along with Crafton and seemed to have a grand time. I do have to admit that I find Dunlap’s antics to be a little annoying.
Another piece followed Ricky Carmichael around during his busy Saturday in Las Vegas. Following the Smith’s 350k, Carmichael got changed and high tailed it across town to Sam Boyd Stadium, where he was set to do color commentary for SPEED’s coverage of the Monster Energy Cup. The feature gave fans a look into preparation that a color commentator does for a telecast (SPEED’s piece included a look at Carmichael’s rehearsal with Jeff Emig). There was also a brief glimpse into what it looks like to call a race live. Apparently, it’s not that dissimilar to what you would do if you’re not on site (like SPEED’s Varsha-Hobbs-Matchett trio for the Formula One races). You could see Carmichael, Emig and play-by-play commentator Ralph Sheheen basically huddled around a large monitor and commenting on what they see. Now, that monitor shows live footage, unlike most of what we get to see these days. Of course, the five to ten second delays we get now are a rant for another day. But with that said, I thought the piece was interesting. Quite the exhausting day for Carmichael, but he feels that he has an obligation to stay involved with Motocross / Supercross, so more power to him to be able to juggle both his jobs in one day.
In the race, Kevin Harvick, Inc.‘s trucks driven by Ron Hornaday and Mike Wallace basically stomped the field. I don’t think anyone actually expected it, especially after what happened when drivers attempted the tandem drafting back in Daytona. Much of the race was spent in amazement that only Wallace and Hornaday could do it.
Here, Michael Waltrip was a very valuable resource. Say what you want about his constant pimping of sponsors (including tweeting about a contest from Best Western while commentating for SPEED), but there are times in which he is invaluable. Saturday was one of those days. As you remember, Waltrip won the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona back in February, using the two-truck draft (and a little help from the rear spoiler that just decided to fail on the last lap) to his advantage. Waltrip was able to accurately describe what it was like to tandem-draft with the trucks, to everyone’s benefit, and that is exactly what I want to see out of Michael Waltrip.
During the race, SPEED kept most of their focus on the main pack. Wallace and Hornaday were ahead of this group of most of the race, including at one point holding an eight second lead. ThorSport Racing teammates Crafton and Johnny Sauter were behind the main pack. Unfortunately, this led to an issue when both ThorSport drivers were taken out in a crash on Lap 36. Only one camera actually caught the wreck, and even then, it only saw the aftermath.
Since the camera’s missed exactly what happened to cause the accident, SPEED’s production staff checked Twitter during the race and shared news from the team’s Twitter that the No. 16 of Donnie Neuenberger blew a right front tire and hit the wall in front of the Nos. 13 and 88. That created a situation where there was nowhere to go. It was an interesting way to give fans the information on what happened, but at best, this should be used as a backup. I’m perfectly fine with this method if there is no footage of what happened. However, if you have replays that show it, use those first.
Post-race coverage was fairly brief. SPEED provided viewers with only three driver interviews (Wallace, Hornaday and Austin Dillon), along with Bruce Cook, who wasn’t even the winning crew chief (he was Hornaday’s crew chief). There was also a check of the point standings before SPEED left for the evening.
SPEED definitely came to Talladega ready to bring viewers a good telecast, and for the most part, they succeeded. The Sauter-Crafton-Neuenberger incident did bring down the telecast significantly, however. I find it hard to imagine that no camera caught Neuenberger’s issue at all. In addition, SPEED did not conduct an interview with Neuenberger, and there was no indication that they attempted to get some time with him. If they had done it, unless he was injured in some way in the crash, I doubt that Neuenberger would have declined the opportunity.
Outside of the aforementioned wreck, SPEED was solid. The enthusiasm was there to be seen and the commentary was top notch.
Good Sam Club 500
On Sunday afternoon, the Sprint Cup Series was back in action at Talladega Superspeedway. There were no scheduling conflicts last weekend, so the usual suspects were back in their normal reporting roles.
However, it was still not really a normal weekend as the garage was still mourning the death of Dan Wheldon. To that degree, ESPN began Countdown with a piece remembering Wheldon with input from a number of different drivers including Casey Mears. After the piece ran, Nicole Briscoe elicited opinions and thoughts on the matter from Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree.
Now, the whole time while this was going on, Briscoe was having a very tough time keeping her composure. Remember, she was, if not the closest, the second closest person on ESPN’s NASCAR on-air crew to Wheldon. She obviously knew him very well just through the fact that she’s married to the aforementioned Ryan Briscoe, who races in the Izod IndyCar Series. Also note that she skipped Charlotte to be in Las Vegas for the Izod IndyCar World Championships and was presumably at the track when the crash happened. I’m not sure where she was, but she was there. The whole piece just re-opened some nasty wounds for her, but she’s a trooper for hanging in there.
In addition to the Wheldon piece, there was another SportScience feature on the draft. It was an interesting piece, but I’m fairly confident that I’ve seen something similar to that before. Another feature talked about the history of Talladega Superspeedway and how Bill France, Sr. got together with George Wallace (then the Governor of Alabama) to make it happen. France supported the segregationist Wallace thoroughly, even campaigning for Wallace during his aborted presidential campaign in 1968.
Finally, there was a piece on the relationship between Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. I know, it seems like a broken record, but this one was different, though. It went back and covered the five-year reign of Johnson and Knaus as champions and showed how their relationship evolved with each other and the rest of the team. Not a bad look, but I just don’t know what else can be done feature-wise with those two men. ESPN is literally running out of stuff to say about them.
Thanks to the drafting practices, ESPN was effectively forced to cover the entire field. This was mainly because some of the Chasers chose to have at it up front, while a few selected others chose to hang back and count their lucky stars (most notably Carl Edwards). The form of drafting that is now prevalent (the two-car tandems) has led to some unexpected teams getting their chances up front, like Tommy Baldwin Racing and Front Row Motorsports. As a result, they get airtime during these races that they would otherwise not receive.
Post-race coverage was typical. ESPN brought the audience interviews with six drivers (including what I think is the first post-race Dave Blaney interview in many years). There was also one with winning crew chief Shane Wilson and a check of the all-important points standings.
I do not really have any gripes about ESPN’s telecast from Talladega. True, it appears that their hand was forced in having to be more inclusive just because of the form of racing, but I don’t care since they covered the field fairly.
Unfortunately, with all the constant battles for the lead, stuff like what happened to Robby Gordon never really got covered. We saw his pink No. 7 on pit road to get his rear bumper reattached to the car one minute, and then he’s out the next with no real explanation on-air for what happened. I found out six hours after the race ended that he suffered rear end failure. ESPN’s got to be a little better about that.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series return to Martinsville Speedway for their second visit of the season.
There was a public memorial service on Sunday at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for Dan Wheldon, which was scheduled to go for an hour, but went over that time limit. It was televised on Versus and ESPNEWS nationally, streamed online via SPEEDtv.com, ESPN3.com and WatchESPN.com, and shown locally on three over-the-air stations in Indianapolis. I will provide a critique of that ceremony for this week’s Critic’s Annex.
Here’s your listings for the week:
Friday, October 28
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, October 29
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, October 30
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape Delayed
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series race telecasts from Martinsville for next week’s piece here at Frontstretch. In addition, I’ll also cover SPEED’s broadcast of the inaugural Grand Prix of India. The SEF Small Engine Fuels 200 broadcast will be covered in next week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex. Since I was at that race, I can possibly add some additional “you had to be there information” to the telecast.
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.
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