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 February 21, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday. This past weekend brought the first oval-track action to the small (or quite huge, depending on your home entertainment situation) screen. I was amped up, to be honest, even though at least one of my colleagues was not a big fan of the pack racing being back (I’m sure you can figure out who that is). However, even though I was enthralled with the on-track action, there were still some race telecasts to be critiqued. Two of them, to be exact.
However before we start, MRN Radio announced last week that all of their races will be streamed online this year. Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout was the first race in which listeners could tune in. Best of all, it’s free. Previously, you could only listen to the race on the Internet if you anted up to get Trackpass, or if your local MRN affiliate didn’t blackout their internet feed during the race.
PRN Radio does not have an equivalent service to this as of yet. However, I don’t expect them to just sit on their hands. Don’t be surprised to see something out of them before their first race of the year in Las Vegas.
Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200
As is current tradition in Daytona, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards served as the support series to the Sprint Cup Series on Saturday afternoon. Like Sprint Cup, the 200-mile ARCA season opener is the biggest event on the calendar. However, some of the coverage left a little to be desired.
Usually for the biggest race of the year, there would be a little bit of pre-race hype. Here, you got “custody of my diddly squat.” Right after the telecast started, the command to start engines was given. No pre-race interviews or anything. During the NASCAR Live! segment that preceded the race, Ray Dunlap spent a little time hanging around some of the drivers at driver intros, but that was effectively all we got. Kinda weak. We couldn’t have gotten 15 stinkin’ minutes of ARCA pre-race?
This race also served as the stock car race telecast debut of Jamie Howe on pit road. Howe is a veteran of sports car racing and brings years of experience. She’s quite solid and I expect to see a little bit more of her this year.
During the race itself, the coverage was most focused at the front of the field. Now, this is somewhat typical with ARCA telecasts, but it’s especially bad here. ARCA restrictor plate races over the past five years or so have featured a long, single-file line towards the front where nothing seems to happen. There was better racing further back in the pack, but this was rarely shown on-air.
Having Brandon McReynolds leading the race could have created a bit of an interesting situation since Brandon is the son of Larry McReynolds, noted contributor to FOX and SPEED. However, I think that SPEED did a good job of not pandering their coverage towards him.
SPEED tends to not do the best job in covering what happens to drivers after they have incidents. The first yellow on Saturday was one example of this. Yes, I know it was Milka Duno, but I don’t care about that. This was a decent car that Duno had (she was very fast in testing and with a very good team in Eddie Sharp Racing). Yet, she spins out and doesn’t hit anything. We see replays of the spin, but no follow up of what happened to her. Eventually, she ends up 13 laps down. My best guess is that she knocked a suspension part off the car during the spin. You gotta help us out here, SPEED.
I could almost understand SPEED not having a replay of Bill Coffey’s rather unusual spin on pit road on Lap 56. However, I don’t understand why they never showed a replay of Paulie Harraka’s incident on the backstretch with a few laps to go. Perhaps it was because of the fuel mileage situation, I don’t know. Regardless, I’m still not a fan of that decision.
Since the race ended ahead of schedule, there was plenty of time for post-race coverage. However, a fair amount of that time was taken up by replays of the wreck that occurred at the finish and figuring out just who the heck finished where. Granted, that’s a legitimate question, since seemingly half the top-10 finishing order changed before SPEED left the air (that’s another rant for another time).
In addition to all of the wreck replays, SPEED brought us interviews with what turned out to be the top-3 finishers (Bobby Gerhart, Drew Charlson and Will Kimmel), along with the winning crew chief (Bill Gerhart).
Overall, the broadcast could have used some improvement. The high points were the pit reporters and the overall commentary (I have the utmost of respect for Rick Allen. He always brings his “A” Game). However, the production just wasn’t the best. The production decisions in the truck needed to be better. Also, focusing solely on the front of the pack in an ARCA plate race is a recipe for trouble. SPEED should keep that in mind for Talladega in April.
Saturday night brought the Sprint Cup cars out to play for what was supposed to be a 187.5 mile race (it ended up being 205 miles). It was supposed to be a quasi-dry run of a normal FOX telecast. That was not the case.
As many of you likely know by now, Chris Myers’ 19-year old son Christopher was killed last week in a car accident in California. Myers left Daytona to return home to be with his family. Darrell Waltrip made note of this during the very brief pre-race show. In Myers’ place was John Roberts, promoted from SPEED’s NASCAR RaceDay Built by The Home Depot. Granted, the show was very short, but Roberts performed admirably. Roberts’ hosting duties on NASCAR RaceDay were handled just fine by Steve Byrnes (before he jetted out to pit road to perform his normal duties).
Since Michael Waltrip was actually in the race, he only briefly appeared in the pre-race show from pit road. He seemed pretty upbeat about his chances in the Shootout. Ultimately, his race didn’t last very long.
Now, the one thing that everyone took away from pre-race is the fact that FOX decided to shove some Danica Patrick down viewers’ throats. What’s the benefit of doing that? Patrick wasn’t in the race. She was just hanging out before the race. They’ve already done enough interviews with her (including Darrell’s one-on-one with her in the Media Center’s deadline room). We didn’t learn jack here. She said that she was going to watch the race from the spotters’ stand, let her go and do that. Instead, she stayed in the “Hollywood Hotel” for the first segment to give her thoughts on the action. I just don’t think she added all that much to the telecast.
Also, the performance by Little Big Town (who later performed the National Anthem) was incredibly unnecessary. Anyone who watched that could see that it was obviously tape-delayed and cut to hell and back.
Saturday also showed off Jeff Hammond’s new role as a roving reporter. What this will entail is probably going to change from week to week. However, one thing that I’m pretty sure will be a weekly thing is Hammond’s new cutaway car on the touch screen. If Hammond’s anything like Tim Brewer, he’s going to love having that screen at his disposal, and we’re going to reap the benefits (Note: Brewer considers the touch screen in the Craftsman Tech Garage to be his “baby.” Seriously).
During the race, we were treated to the usual amount of booth chatter and hyperbole. Darrell pointed out the main reason why all of the wrecks occurred on Saturday night pretty quick (the bumping on the left side of the rear bumper in the turns, something that you weren’t supposed to do last year with the tandem drafting, interestingly enough). No one was given too much coverage as compared to the rest of the field, which was good to see.
Post-race coverage was quite brief, mainly because of the race running long by nearly a half-hour. As a result, FOX showed interviews with the top-2 finishers (Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart), along with a brief interview with Jeff Gordon. There was also a quick check of the unofficial results before FOX left for the night.
Generally, FOX’s race coverage was pretty good. The commentary was on point, while the production values were generally good. I suppose NASCAR cutting back on tandem drafting definitely helps here since we don’t just see decals up close and personal when we saw bumper cams. However, I wish FOX’s camera zoomed out just a little bit more (or that they switched to another view) so that we could have seen the finish a little bit better.
The pre-race coverage definitely left me wanting, though. I wanted to see drivers actually in the race (besides Michael) getting interviewed, not another excuse to trot Danica out there. They need to be careful. Too much of this and you’re going to be ABC in 2005 and 2006 during their coverage of the IndyCar Series. Todd Harris’ play-by-play work from that time has a special place in my personal hall of shame.
Before I go, I saw some posts on Twitter where some fans (including our own Summer Dreyer) were having issues with their sound watching Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying on Sunday. I cannot vouch for any of those issues. I had no technical issues at all while watching on Sunday. I don’t doubt that there may have been some technical issues, but I didn’t see any here.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is one of the biggest race weekends of the entire season. It starts out Thursday with the Gatorade Duels, the 150-mile races that will ultimately determine the starting grid for the Daytona 500. That is followed up by the season openers for the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series before the big kahuna on Sunday afternoon.
Wednesday, February 22
Time Telecast Network
Thursday, February 23
Time Telecast Network
Friday, February 24
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, February 25
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, February 26
Time Telecast Network
~- Approximate starting time
I will bring you critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series season openers in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The SPEED special “Chasing Daytona: Kenny Wallace” will be covered in next week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex.
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Phil – FYI, I don’t think RaceDay is “built by the Home Depot” anymore. I heard J. Roberts start to say that on Friday in a promo, stop himself, and then just say “RaceDay”. And if you noticed on Saturday, the set is different, it no longer has that hard-hat and wood deck look.
anon, you’re right. Sunoco’s sponsoring it now. Victory Lane no longer has a presenting sponsor. I’d change it right now, but I’m busy with a piece for tomorrow. I’ll change it later tonight.
Re Danica, Danica all the time. It’s sort of like when they overplay a song on the radio – you might have really liked it at first, but then it becomes nails on a chalkboard. I have no problem with them interviewing her during practice, qualifying and races if they do it like any other driver, but I don’t like it when anyone gets constant air time for no good reason. It rapidly becomes a bore.
Its pretty obvious from the get go Saturday night that FOX has done nothing and does not have any interest in improving their coverage and don’t care what the fans think either.
The “show” started off with the gushing over Waltrip in the Hall of Fame, then to Danica, then to a concert. Then a healthy dose of Michael in the car, then to Danica, then the 3 boogities, then Michael in the booth, the Danica in the spotters stand. Then Darryl cheering Busch for his driving skills, then Darryl cheering Kyle to the win and a healthy does of “Wild Thing” over and over and over.
Its going to be a looooooong first half of the season folks!!