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.
Couch Potato Tuesday · Phil Allaway · Monday March 19, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to another edition of Couch Potato Tuesday, where we don’t necessarily mince our words. If something isn’t good, we’re going to call NASCAR’s TV partners on it. However, if something positive happens, I’ll definitely publicize it.
This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series returned to action at Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual Spring race. Both of these events (the Cup race more than the Nationwide one) were somewhat sterile affairs, at least by Bristol standards. However, we are not critiquing the actual racing here.
Before we start: Prior to the season, SPEED announced that they had signed Ricky Rudd to serve as a studio analyst on SPEED Center. That just got 86’ed. A release put out Monday from SPEED basically stated that it won’t happen. Sam Hornish, Jr. will continue in the role for now. Oh well, that would have been cool.
Ford EcoBoost 300
Saturday saw the Nationwide Series in their sole 300-lap adventure of the year on the high banks (the night race in August is still 250 laps). However, once again, pre-race was cut short by a basketball game running long. This time, it was the Seton Hall – Massachusetts Second Round NIT Match-Up from 73-year-old Walsh Gym in South Orange, New Jersey.
Countdown started 16 minutes late. This timing is generally no problem for ESPN due to the fact that the show is “collapsible” (their terminology, not mine). As it stands, the show had more interviews than normal, which is always good to see. Quite frankly, I was getting sick of the whole “we’ll interview one driver all show” thing.
A substantial amount of the Pit Studio discussion surrounded some of the new rookies entering the series this year. Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty sat there and argued that Cole Whitt and Austin Dillon had been the most impressive so far, without a doubt. The whole time this discussion is going on, Nicole Briscoe’s sitting there with a look on her face that suggested “what the deuce?” I don’t blame her. Up to this point of the season, Dillon and Whitt have produced as expected. The two of them running in the 20’s would have been more surprising than what they’ve done so far this year.
For the record, my choice for most impressive rookie so far is Tayler Malsam in the No. 19 G-Oil Toyota for TriStar Motorsports. Malsam is currently seventh in points, yet cannot get a mention anywhere.
Marty Smith sat in the pit studio as well on Saturday, giving his input on the various topics discussed. Admittedly, not much of this debate really pertained to the race itself so much as to what’s happened so far this season.
During the race, ESPN spent a fair amount of time focusing on battles up front, to the point in which it was very difficult to cover much of anything below ninth place. Despite only 30 laps of caution in a 300-lap event, there was only one Up to Speed segment. That was during the final third of the race.
One thing that irked me was the coverage with 50 laps to go, when leader Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. approached James Buescher and Sam Hornish, Jr., who were racing each other for position and trying to stay on the lead lap. Stenhouse ran up on them and overtook both drivers on the inside. Something happened and Buescher looked to nearly get in the wall exiting Turn 4.
Viewers saw this one from Stenhouse’s roof cam and then a shot from Turn 1 that showed Buescher on the apron trying to recover. ESPN was doing a little update from the Pit Studio at the time, so the booth commentators couldn’t say anything about it. No one in the Pit Studio mentioned it, either, despite the closeness to the leader and the fact that Stenhouse nearly got taken out. Once the telecast was thrown back to Bestwick in the booth, no further mention was made of what happened. Not even a replay. Maybe this incident is just me overthinking here, but something isn’t right with that.
Since Saturday’s Nationwide race was officially the fastest one ever run at Bristol Motor Speedway, there was plenty of time for post-race coverage. ESPN obliged by giving viewers ten driver interviews, chats with the winning crew chief and owner, and checks of the unofficial results and point standings. In addition, there was also post-race analysis from the Pit Studio.
One of those interviews was with Jeffrey Earnhardt, who finished 26th in the No. 15 Sam’s Club Ford for Rick Ware Racing. What’s notable about this one? That interview was the first and only time Jeffrey was mentioned all day. It literally seemed to come out of nowhere.
ESPN’s telecast on Saturday was definitely the better of the two from Bristol, but even it needs to be more inclusive. Luckily for us, there appeared to be more racing for position during the Nationwide race. Either that, or ESPN chose to show us more. At the very least, the network should have tried to fit in another Up to Speed early in the race considering the circumstances (Bristol started with a 106-lap, green-flag run).
Food City 500
Sunday brought FOX back out to play for 500 laps of action at Bristol Motor Speedway. The pre-race show seemed to resemble a lot of what we’ve seen so far this season from FOX. The whole thing was heavily centered upon the “Hollywood Hotel,” Myers and the two Waltrips.
One brief montage focused on Michael Waltrip’s infamous crash in the Busch Grand National (now Nationwide Series) race in April, 1990. It was presented as an example of Michael’s contribution to Bristol, and was notable if only for its spectacular destruction; it’s one of the worst crashes ever seen, at any short track. Michael came back to win the Spring Busch race there in 1993.
Darrell Waltrip conducted a one-on-one interview with Kyle Busch (not the first time we’ve seen this happen). Kyle talked extensively about the honest fear he had coming out of last November’s incident in Texas and the parking that resulted. Now, Darrell is up front about the fact that he really likes Kyle. He stated that what we saw in that interview is the “normal” Kyle Busch, as opposed to the “New Kyle Busch,” or the “Old Kyle Busch.” I suppose that when Kyle is in a decent mood, he can be introspective, smart, and thoughtful. Unfortunately, most fans will never meet that Kyle Busch.
The idea of Darrell serving as a mentor for Kyle comes off as questionable, though. That skirts on the line of favoritism and being straight unprofessional. I can’t force Darrell to do anything, but I just don’t think that’s the right way to go about things knowing that he’s a TV commentator these days.
Also of note, FOX showed a brief sampling of some of the drivers coming out to their chosen songs. Granted, they only showed three, but that got me thinking. Wasn’t it just last year that we were told that FOX (and/or ESPN) would have to license the songs in order to show any of it? I believe that we’ve been lied to. Not too good. As for Denny’s Dougie, I think he just plain made a fool of himself.
With that, we’re on to the race broadcast. If there is one major issue that I can take away from FOX’s coverage on Sunday, it is this one: FOX spent so much of the race focused on whoever was leading (Brad Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, etc.) that they didn’t take the time and really cover any battles. As a result, they found a way to make a race that was already somewhat lackluster into a snoozefest for many viewers. Obviously, I didn’t fall asleep during the race, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some people did.
How bad did it get? Mike Joy actually said, “We haven’t talked much about Jimmie Johnson today” during a cut to his roof cam late in the race, which says a lot for FOX. I can’t remember the last time anyone said that about the five-time champ in any race in which he competed.
The side-by-side breaks continue to be an issue. This problem was most clearly shown when the final yellow came out for Tony Stewart’s wreck with Brendan Gaughan on Lap 478. Joy called out that there was a caution. At that point, FOX should have immediately nixed that break so that the commentators could inform the viewers what happened and show replays.
Instead, they went to their side-by-side break and let the whole thing play out before coming back. They nearly missed the pit stops by using that move. It’s bush league. The side-by-side breaks aren’t local in nature. FOX can break out of those whenever the heck they feel like it. If ESPN can break out of a commercial to show final pit stops under yellow, so can you, FOX.
Since Sunday’s race was also of the quick brown fox variety, you’d think that there would be plenty of extra time for post-race coverage. Not so. The timeslot given to NASCAR, which included the half-hour pre-race show only went to 4 PM. As a result, even a quick race meant only a normal amount of post-race coverage. FOX provided viewers with six post-race interviews and checks of the unofficial results and point standings before leaving.
If certain telecasts are home runs, and others are doubles and singles, then FOX’s Sunday telecast in Bristol was something akin to a pop-up to a second baseman that falls under the Infield Fly Rule. It just never got going, and the viewers (including myself) were never treated to the proper amount of action. I’m sure the race was much more exciting than it looked on TV, not that I’d know because we didn’t see much of it.
FOX proved once again that focusing on a couple of drivers does not make for a great telecast. Granted, some of those wheelmen might not have been part of the group that usually runs up front, but you can’t focus on a few teams. Inclusiveness should be the goal, not exclusiveness. However, FOX’s commentators remained positive about the action on-track Sunday, Waltrip in particular. Following the event, he took to Twitter and defended the racing we saw.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series travel back out to the West Coast for their annual visit to Auto Club Speedway. Meanwhile, back East, the Izod IndyCar Series starts their season off on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida for what is guaranteed to be an emotional day.
Thursday, March 22
Friday, March 23
Saturday, March 24
Sunday, March 25
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I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Izod IndyCar Series race telecasts here on the next edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. Last weekend’s broadcast of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring will be covered in Thursday’s edition of the Critic’s Annex in our Newsletter.
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FOX started off on par, which is a commercial break as soon as the tires get up to temperature. And just like FOX clock work, they missed the first caution.
30 laps; 19 racing; 11 commercial.
And DW started off on par too. Just seconds after hearing the clip of Kahne’s spotter telling him that he was clear, which is why he moved up into Regan Smith, DW spits out, “Kahne moved up to soon” or something to that effect. It sounded like DW was saying Kahne was at fault, right after being vindicated. Vintage DW.
The race was in it’s infancy, and I already wanted to turn it off.
But I wanted to see all those bleachers. I couldn’t believe what I was almost seeing. FOX was trying not to show them but it’s kind of hard to show aerial shots at Bristol and not show the bleachers. We usually see people, not bleachers.
Obviously the broadcasters aren’t racing fans…if they were they would know fans love to see their drivers racing..even if they’re running 30th! Sundays race was especially evident if you weren’t running 5th or above you weren’t worth mentioning….it really made it a boring race to watch! Broadcasters need to figure out NASCAR racing isn’t boring..TV coverage is!
Phil, you got it right about Sunday’s race coverage! And at Bristol too!
I don’t understand why they can’t set up a couple of fixed cameras there and let fans follow their own driver for a while! I mean, it’s one of the only tracks where that would work and would allow viewers to watch who THEY want to watch, not have to watch two cars in frame at two seconds a piece!
I don’t understand why sports coverage for football can cover wide shots to view the action in context, but they can’t figure out how to do that for more than a second or two with racing!
I’m still laughing that someone at Fox decided one Waltrip in the booth wasn’t enough.
People used to want to go see a race because of what they witnessed on TV. The TV production and announcers have grown stale. It’s time for a staff rebuild!
I cant stomach listening anymore.
I forgot to mention the ticker problem. Why fox has decided to run a partial ticker in the later stages of the race is beyond comprehension. It only adds insult to the fact that they don’t pay enough, if any, attention to the cars outside of the top 10. Unless Junior or Danica is running back there.
@OldSchool You are so right. If I didn’t know better, watching tv, I would think all there is to a NASCAR race is one driver going in circles. I would never waste my money on what I see on FOX/ESPN… Jim_812 they ran the top 15 after Jr got busted speeding. LOL
I had my volume down a little for the end of the Nationwide race, but it sure sounded like a real blah call to the checkers from Bestwick. That’s unusual for him. Was I not hearing things correctly?
Listened to the Cup race on PRN while watching on tv and its like night and day.
FOX totally missed Gordon’s crash live while they were at yet another break. PRN broke from commercial, updated everyone on what happened and then went back to break to come back in time for pit stops. Very well done on their part. FOX was still on break.
Then the final caution, instead of showing final pit stops we are taken to yet another “Race Break” where we see Michael and Darryl yapping about stuff while pit stops are going on in the background. In case anyone missed it, everyone but the top 3 pitted under the last caution. Not even sure if FOX mentioned any of it except in passing since they covered none of the stops.
I firmly beleive the broadcasting of these events has everything to do with the fans not being interested in this sport anymore and why viewership and ticket sales are down. Its dreadful to watch. Radio should not have better coverage than tv, but they seem to do it every week now.