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 November 22, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where race telecasts come to be praised, questioned, skewered and fricasseed. Sorta like Daffy Duck in the infamous Hunting Season trilogy.
This past weekend, the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series each held their season finales at the sometimes wet Homestead-Miami Speedway. It should be noted that this will be the final Tuesday edition of Talking NASCAR TV for the 2011 season. However, I will be back for my fourth season of race telecast critiquing.
Friday night brought the Camping World Truck Series out. The championship was definitely the major story in play here, but due to the fact that more than two contenders were in the game, SPEED was forced to cover more teams than ESPN would have to for either of their races.
There was a feature on the 2003 Ford 200, a race that saw multiple contenders vying for the championship. Basically, it was a Vault feature without being a Vault feature, if you can follow. If you remember, that was when Jim Smith stacked the deck with five entries and Brendan Gaughan was inadvertently taken out by one of them (Marty Houston). Ted Musgrave had the title won until he jumped the final restart and gave the title to Travis Kvapil.
A montage early on in the Setup talked about all the various championship what-if scenarios, as if SPEED wanted to get all that out of the way right away. Also of note, SPEED turned off the championship hype for a relaxed feature where they followed Joey Coulter to his South Florida home to see what the about-to-be-crowned-Rookie of the Year does in his spare time. Coulter appears to enjoy snorkeling and seems to be quite the laid back fellow.
During the race, unlike ESPN, there was a lot more focus on the actual racing on-track, as opposed to championship hypotheticals. Granted, there was some of that as well, but the telecast was far more inclusive than anything ESPN had to offer to viewers.
SPEED’s “Continuous Coverage,” the new name for their side-by-side commercials, returned on Friday night during the second half of the race. It worked about how it should work.
With the rain cutting the race short with 15 laps to go, the rain and post-race coverage basically merged into each other. SPEED was only part-way through their first driver interview (with Johnny Sauter) when NASCAR officially called the race. Actual post-race coverage included interviews with the top points finishers (Austin Dillon, Sauter, James Buescher), and Rookie of the Year (Coulter). The trophy presentation was also shown.
However, due to the rain ending the race early (and very quickly, I might add), SPEED added in an additional edition of NASCAR Victory Lane with Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip for some wrap-up commentary before going off to SPEED Center.
I enjoyed watching the Truck telecast on SPEED.
Saturday afternoon brought the only completely dry telecast of the weekend to viewers. Like the other two series, the championship was the primary topic of discussion. Was this the best way to go? Let’s find out.
ESPN spent much of NASCAR Countdown talking about Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and his 2011 season. Very little time was actually spent on the fact that if NASCAR hadn’t instituted the “pick a series” rule for 2011, Carl Edwards would have clinched the title in Phoenix (he would have had a 77 point lead entering Homestead).
There was a feature that showed Stenhouse’s improvement over his disastrous 2010 campaign. To me, it seemed like a repeat of an earlier feature that aired a few months ago, with some additional content added on at the end. It wouldn’t be the first time that ESPN has done such a thing (see the Kyle Busch montage that has aired in approximately three different forms this year).
The Danica Patrick one-on-one interview that was originally scheduled to air prior to the Wypall 200 at Phoenix aired here as well (which I predicted that it would). Jamie Little, who has watched Patrick’s career since she entered the now-Izod IndyCar Series in 2005, conducted the interview. Here, we learned that Patrick was determined to leave for NASCAR immediately after racing in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona last year. Effectively, she ran two lame duck seasons in the Dallara before leaving IndyCar. She also talked about Las Vegas and the thoughts that came out of that mess (and at this point, I can’t describe it much better than that). Little had claimed on Twitter that she thought the interview was pretty good and I pretty much agree with her. When Patrick isn’t trying to deny something (which seems to be every day), she can be an interesting person to talk to.
During the early part of the race, ESPN was wholly concerned with the championship and when Stenhouse was guaranteed the title. Let’s just be honest with ourselves. Unless Stenhouse blew an engine or wrecked in the first 20 or laps, that title was his. The (completely expected) blown engine in Morgan Shepherd’s car and Fain Skinner’s crash only accelerated the clinching. Now, you guys probably know by now that I believe that it is good for ESPN to update why drivers go behind the wall. But, there is a point where those updates get out of hand. Saturday was that point. It was simply annoying as heck.
Even after Stenhouse officially clinched the title, which was roughly Lap 32—a bit later than I predicted (Lap 19), ESPN kept up the suspense since Mike Kelley refused to tell Stenhouse that he was in the clear. I don’t need to know that every five stankin’ minutes. Cripes. You could have used that time to cover other drivers in the field, like David Stremme, who legitimately ran up to the top-10 on Saturday before an ill-fated two tire strategy dropped the No. 70 like a rock late.
Also of note, Marty Reid accidentally confused part-time NEMCO Motorsports drive and grandmaster of the double entendre Kevin Conway with Izod IndyCar Series driver Mike Conway. I guess that’s a simple mistake to make, but you have to correct yourself or apologize. Reid didn’t do that on Saturday. Whoops.
Post-race coverage was actually pretty good. Of note, unlike at Phoenix, Nationwide post-race coverage actually pushed a live college football game to ESPNEWS, which is quite a rarity. ESPN provided viewers with seven post-race interviews. This included the two championship contenders, and the Rookie of the Year (Timmy Hill), who conducted what I think was his first televised post-race interview of the season (Gotta love those Poynt fingers). The Nationwide Series trophy presentation was also shown before ESPN left the air.
Overall, there was definitely too much championship focus on Stenhouse and Sadler during the telecast, knowing that the championship was all but over. To give an old-school example, it made me think of ESPN’s coverage of the 1995 NAPA 500 from Atlanta, when Jeff Gordon entered the race having to finish 41st or better to win the title over Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt did everything he could to win, while Hendrick Motorsports stacked the deck (they entered a fourth car for Jimmy Horton (replaced by Jeff Purvis for the race due to Horton’s injuries in the ARCA race). Yes, Earnhardt dominated and won the race, but that title was never in doubt. Case in point, ESPN should have covered this race more inclusively, especially after they were sure that Stenhouse had clinched the title.
Finally, we come to the Sprint Cup season finale. All the talk leading into the race was about Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards and their battle for the championship, a legitimate one at that.
Over two-thirds of Countdown was spent focused on the two championship contenders, which was basically overkill to me. There’s only so much that you can say about the battle before you start repeating yourselves.
A special feature was focused upon Stewart and his relationship with A.J. Foyt. Stewart grew up basically idolizing the mercurial Texan and ran much of his early career with Foyt’s No. 14. Stewart reportedly asked Foyt if it was ok if he used the No. 14 when he moved over to Stewart-Haas Racing from JGR in 2009. I don’t really think I learned anything from the feature, but the general opinion is that Foyt and Stewart have somewhat similar personalities, so it’s not necessarily a surprise that they would get along.
Another piece, narrated by Marty Smith, talked about the differences between Stewart and Carl Edwards. Yes, it’s pretty tough to find two drivers as different as the aforementioned duo in NASCAR.
During the race, the focus was all on Stewart and Edwards. I can understand this to a degree, but it was almost overkill. No one else really mattered. There is no benefit that can come from such an approach.
Early on, Kurt Busch broke a transmission (or driveshaft, it’s somewhat unclear based on the coverage) and was forced to go to the garage. Most of the coverage that came out of that incident was that something off Kurt’s No. 22 went through the grille of Stewart’s car. Somewhat lost in that shuffle was the fact that Kurt flipped the bird at the driver of a Chevrolet pick-up truck that was blocking his garage stall. This was caught live on-air. No reference was ever made to this. Admittedly, I didn’t notice it at first and had to rewind the telecast in order to see it. Normally, ESPN would apologize for this right away, or draw attention to it much later in the race and then apologize. I didn’t notice either strategy being used here. My guess is that the circumstances behind this were much different than last year at Texas when Kyle Busch flipped off a NASCAR official on pit road. Regardless, they probably should have done something, even though I personally find the idea of having to do so to be annoying.
If you’re wondering why there was no interview with Kurt Busch in the garage area after his mechanical issues, well, there’s a decent reason why. ESPN did set up an interview with Busch and Dr. Jerry Punch would have conducted it. Then, this happened. I should warn you that the clip contains strong language and disrespect of an elder. Viewer discretion is advised. After those shenanigans, ESPN chose not to bother. I don’t blame them in this regard.
Due to the three separate yellows brought out for rain (including one 74 minute red flag) the only commercial breaks that aired after Lap 110 were during yellows. It reminded me of watching the Advocare 500 at Atlanta back in September.
Also like at Atlanta, ESPN spent the rain delay interviewing multiple personalities (23, in all). It’s a nice way to spend a rain delay and likely better than just splitting for alternate programming after ten minutes and giving periodic updates.
The last 100 miles of the race was almost completely focused on the championship duo. I had never seen anything quite like it. Beyond Lap 235, it was only Stewart and Edwards on screen. It was ridiculous. I know the championship is important, but c’mon. There is more out there. I had never seen such isolation in 20+ years of watching races on television. I really feel bad for anyone who would want to see their favorite driver doing anything late in the race Sunday night. Unfortunately, that was just not in the cards. At least in the 1992 Hooters 500, there was actual racing between the championship contenders. Here, Stewart and Edwards rarely raced each other for position.
Post-race coverage was quite extensive, but not very inclusive. Having Stewart win the race actually made it even more exclusive. There were interviews with the champion and runner-up, the points, results and trophy presentation. ESPN also included some post-race analysis before leaving the air at 8:45pm EST. Martin Truex, Jr., who ran up front almost all night and finished third, got bupkus. Ouch.
Beyond the halfway point of the race, viewers would have had almost no clue how the heck anyone other than Stewart and Edwards got to where they were running on-track. That is a utter shame. The championship race is not the only thing going on. There were 35 other drivers on the track for most of the race.
That’s all for this week. Usually, when NASCAR’s top series are done for the year, that’s it for racing. Not this year. Next weekend marks the final race of the season for Formula One. The World Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships were wrapped up a while ago, but there will still be a great show at Interlagos near Sao Paulo this weekend. Here’s your listings.
*Friday, November 25 *
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, November 26
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, November 27
Time Telecast Network
Although the regular critiques here at Frontstretch are finished for the winter, I will be writing one more edition of the Critic’s Annex for Monday’s edition of the Frontstretch Newsletter. It will cover Sunday’s three hour edition of NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot that aired on SPEED. Also, after our Driver Reviews are complete, I will bring you a column that serves as a final review for ESPN and SPEED’s telecasts.
I hope that you have enjoyed the critiques this season as much as I enjoyed writing them. It takes a lot of time to do the appropriate note taking in order just to bring you these pieces. Quite frankly, at this point, it is almost foreign to not watch a race with a notebook in hand. I’ve gone completely through a five subject college-ruled notebook and then some this year.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you would like to follow me via Twitter, you can go to my Twitter page here. And if you would like to contact any of the TV partners personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage from last weekend, please click on the following links:
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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Kurt Busch is the biggest penis is the sport. Even his brother Kyle isn’t as much of a tool. I wish Jimmy Spencer could smash him in the mouth every time he opens it.
Bill B, I agree about Kurt. Kurt makes Kyle look like a choirboy in comparison. How the Captain puts up with him, I don’t know.
I was priviliged to attend the Ford 400 in person, and to be honest, even in the stands, there wasn’t really much to talk about or even see except for Carl and Tony anyway. They were by far the class of the field. The way they were running, it was a 2-car race among 41 moving pylons. I can’t blame ESPN one bit for their coverage of an epic championship battle.
I was really glad I had to go into work and that I recorded the race. That way I could fast forward through the Carl & Tony show for (as you said) the last 100 laps of the race. It would have been nice to be able to see how Jeff G. got from 10th to 5th so quickly or even to watch some actual racing going on instead of two cars with an insurmountable gap between them. (As I’ve said numerous times – two cars in frame do NOT a race make).
Sad day. We now go from just OK TV coverage to the ridiculous contrived phony drama junk with the Waltrips and that group of shills. Oh boy! Time to get the radio tuned back up to listen to MRN!
After the last rain delay, half the people in the stands just left. Only Stewart, Edwards, and hardcore fans remained and just like FunkyD said, every time I looked around I didn’t see anyone following any cars other than the the 14 and 99. So ESPN was just mimicking real life for once.
Thanks to those who were at the race clarifying what we saw on TV. At one point, I thought the other 41 cars parked.
I saw the clip about KuB and Dr Punch. Excuse me, but isn’t that part of your job as a race car driver, being interviewed? Especially as a chase driver with mechanical issues early on?
The Bu Bros got their karma this year. Both finished in 11th & 12th in points. No recognition at the banquet for them. That’s a record they’ll both hold for many years too.
The race was great! One that will go down in history. Such driving!
Now, regarding Kurt. We’ve heard and seen Kurt act badly many, many times. There have been moments where he seemed to have matured but then slips back to jerkdom.
The disrespect he showed to Jerry Punch including the name he called him a couple times leaves me with no choice but to write him off permanently. Kurt’s punishment should be having the networks ignore him and his car for the rest of his career.
Roger seems like such a gentle, reasonable, classy individual and I don’t know how he puts up with Kurt. Everything has a limit.
F*** KURT B.