NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Couch Potato Tuesday · Phil Allaway · Tuesday March 27, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecasts are the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series made yet another haul out to the West Coast to race at Auto Club Speedway. Meanwhile, a new era began in the IZOD IndyCar Series with the introduction of the DW12 and new turbocharged engines in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
After the horrible way that 2011 ended for the IZOD IndyCar Series, starting completely anew for 2012 was a good move. It was already well in the works before Dan Wheldon’s death, but Sunday’s race saw the national debut of the new Dallara DW12 chassis, and 2.2 liter turbocharged engines from Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus. Gotta admit that it was a little surreal seeing the new cars out there after nine consecutive years of what amounted to the same equipment.
To that end, ESPN took the time to take a look at the new DW12 and compare it to the outgoing IR03/IR07 chassis. Probably the most distinctive features on the car are the new swooping sidepods, the smaller rear wing and the shields almost completely around the rear wheels in order to prevent take offs. Other than that, the new car is lighter, a little faster (at least in St. Petersburg) and safer than the old car. It was an interesting look, but too short. I think fans would have liked a look at the three new engines for 2012 as well. Maybe NBC Sports will give us that next weekend.
There was also a quick piece on blocking with input from Simona de Silvestro, Helio Castroneves and JR Hildebrand. This was pertinent because new Race Director Beaux Barfield ditched the much-maligned rule that technically made it illegal to take a defensive line into a corner. However, it was not explained fully until after the race was started.
Since this was the first race since Wheldon’s death, ESPN rolled out a special feature on Wheldon. However, this was not what you would expect. I thought they’d do a tasteful retrospective on Wheldon’s life, to be honest. It turned out to be a piece that looked back on that fateful October day in Las Vegas and included thoughts from a number of different drivers. Clips from the race in Las Vegas were included, but they refrained from showing video of the full crash. After the initial contact, they showed the wreck in still frames. I’m sure ESPN took great care to not offend anyone with the images in the piece, but it did come off as a bit gratuitous to me.
Also, regardless of the fact that it is out of place here, I believe this needs to be said. After having seen the outpouring of grief that resulted from Wheldon’s death in the racing community and all the tributes to him, I came to the sad conclusion that most race fans (and even media) that never made it to an IZOD IndyCar Series event had no clue just what kind of a force of nature Wheldon was. The vast majority of series promotion when Tony George was still in charge centered upon Danica Patrick, to the detriment of everyone else in the field. We missed a great opportunity to really get to know Wheldon until the last few months of his life when he couldn’t get a full-time ride. We’re all worse off for that, and the series is worse off for that.
However, we had a 100 lap race on Sunday. ESPN made no changes to their on-air crew for the season, so it was a group of familiar faces on ABC. St. Petersburg might not be the most exciting track out there as far as racing for position is concerned. However, I’d like it if when people drop out of the race, I get notified as to why they dropped out. Late in the race, two drivers (Sebastien Bourdais and JR Hildebrand) were running in the top-10 and suddenly pulled off and retired. I have no clue what happened. Reid and Goodyear never mentioned their retirements at all. IndyCar result sheets are not necessarily as detailed as NASCAR result sheets are. If something breaks and you drop out, its simply labeled as a “Mechanical.”
Since the race was already over its timeslot by a few minutes by the time the checkered flag dropped, post-race coverage was fairly brief. ESPN brought viewers interviews with winner Helio Castroneves along with winning car owner Roger Penske, Scott Dixon, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. There was also a check of the unofficial results before ESPN left the air.
Generally, the telecast was mediocre. Reid and Goodyear appeared to be quite cerebral in the broadcast booth and didn’t bring much excitement to the telecast. I will state for the record that the track didn’t exactly help their case either by not showing all that much racing for position (and there was some, believe me). There are many things that could have been done to make the broadcast better, including explaining some of the symptoms that could have led to the stalling issues, or even just a cursory look at the engines.
Instead, we got bupkis, especially at the end of the race. The last four laps of the race were focused in on Castroneves with all sorts of stuff going on behind (Hildebrand apparently breaking, Franchitti running out of gas, various passes for position, etc.), which should never happen. I know that the leader is important, but c’mon now. You’re missing a lot of stuff. And because of those decisions, ESPN’s viewers didn’t get anything remotely close to the whole story from St. Petersburg.
ESPN is off from the series until Indianapolis in two months. I hope that ESPN can put forth a better effort at that time, knowing that far more eyes will be on them at that time. Putting an effort like Sunday’s out for the Indianapolis 500 will not be tolerated. Hopefully, NBC Sports can give me something to be happy about in Alabama.
Royal Purple 300
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series returned to action at Auto Club Speedway. Since the IZOD IndyCar Series was in St. Petersburg this past weekend, ESPN had some on-air changes. Jamie Little and Vince Welch are regulars on pit road in ESPN’s IZOD IndyCar Series telecasts. As a result, they were in Florida last weekend. In their place were the aforementioned Spake and supersub/hide in a giant tub of ice cream reporter Mike Massaro. In addition, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty took the weekend off. Interesting move for Wallace knowing that his name is on a racing experience that is based in Fontana. Regardless, that meant that Dale Jarrett came down from the broadcast booth to take Wallace’s place and Marty Smith pitched in as well.
There really wasn’t all that much to write home about Countdown. Most of the show was spent in the Pit Studio talking about various topics, notably the idea of Nationwide teams finally taking back their own series. Obviously, they still don’t have full ownership at this point as Logano won Saturday, but the first few weeks of the season are a good start.
There was a feature where ESPN gave a camera to the two truck drivers for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.‘s team and told them to chronicle their 42 hour haul out to Fontana. What we saw was chatter inside of the cab, $1,000 fuel stops (I’m sure Roush Fenway Racing provides the drivers with fleet cards so they’re not footing the bill themselves. If I remember correctly, that’s one of Peter Visconti’s responsibilities). This is not the first time that a TV partner has done a piece like this. I think SPEED had Wendy Venturini ride along in the hauler during a Charlotte, NC-Loudon, NH haul a few years ago.
The first part of the race was really not that exciting. Logano administered a stomping on the field and ESPN was not really going out of the way to show a whole lot of racing for position on track. It was a real shame. I feel like we missed quite a bit of action.
Danica Patrick still got a fair amount of coverage on Saturday, but not an overwhelming amount like in some other events. However, they did have audio/visual issues with her in-car camera during the race, which made it difficult to ascertain what happened to the engine to put her out of the race.
Once the field was stacked up late in the race, viewers saw some amazing on-track action, possibly some of the best that the Nationwide Series has ever actually seen at Auto Club Speedway. ESPN did a decent job showing off this action.
Post-race coverage was pretty good. There were eight post-race interviews and time to check the unofficial results before they left the air.
Generally, ESPN did a decent job on Saturday. The early portions of the race were kinda boring, but the later action made up for that. Bestwick, Jarrett and Petree did an admirable job in the booth, no complaints there. However, when the race was a little on the boring side, they should have done an Up to Speed segment or something to liven up the action a little bit (while at the same time putting the pit reporters on-air). As it stands, ESPN did one with 30 laps to go. Where was this early in the race, when almost nothing was happening?
Auto Club 400
Sunday brought the Sprint Cup Series back out to play under threatening skies. However, very little mention was made of the impending rain during the pre-race show.
What was in the pre-race show was the typical collection of pieces. There was Gas ‘n Go and a University of Farmers piece where Jeff Hammond talked about why Kasey Kahne can recover from his bad start to the season.
In another piece, Jimmie Johnson talked about the last week of his life. This started with Johnson expressing relief that John Middlebrook threw out the suspensions levied by NASCAR to Chad Knaus and Ron Malec. Afterwards, Johnson talked about his appearance on CBS’ The Talk and Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC. Finally, Johnson strapped a GoPro camera to his skis and showed off his skills (and sometimes, the lack thereof) on the slopes. Interesting piece.
The race coverage itself was peppered with a lot of commercials and a general lack of good racing on-screen. Early on in the race, FOX chose to show a close shot of Kyle Busch leading the race all alone while there was a three-wide battle for what seemed like seventh on the track. You could just make it out if you squinted. I’m sure there was something out there to see in addition to Stewart running down and passing Kyle Busch. I just don’t think we saw it.
It was really ridiculous, knowing that NASCAR put the race in hurry-up mode due to the impending rain, that more time wasn’t given to what turned out to be the big story. FOX has a “Storm Scout,” Rick Dickert, at their disposal. Since Dickert works at KTTV FOX 11 in Los Angeles as an early morning meteorologist/traffic reporter, he was live in the Hotel during the race. In this role, Dickert had a radar at his disposal and made use of it during the race’s one caution.
During the red flag, FOX brought us seven driver interviews and a check of the point standings (as they ran). There was also a look back at Stewart’s first win of the season in a style similar to that seen on shows like Quest for the Cup (the show that aired the last couple of years on Versus during the Chase). Stewart provided post-commentary about his race, and this was interspersed with radio communication from the No. 14 team and audio from FOX’s broadcast. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but it was enjoyable to watch. About the only thing all day on FOX that was.
Shortly after this piece aired, NASCAR officially called the race. FOX came out of a commercial and Myers read a bulletin saying that the race was over and that Stewart had won. Following the official end of the race, FOX interviewed Stewart again, along with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., showed the unofficial results and points, and left the air a half-hour early. Just a god-awful day all around.
FOX struggled to give us viewers the action that we wanted to see, simple as that. Other than the Stewart piece during the delay, the only other notable plus I saw is that they finally seemed to get their on pit road graphic working during the rounds of stops. Still, some kinks need to be worked out on that (When do the lights go out, and when does the car drop off the graphic?). Unfortunately, that is not enough to help save a telecast that just wasn’t all that stellar.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Nationwide Series begins a two week break. Meanwhile, the Sprint Cup teams are scheduled to haul back east for 500 laps of action at Martinsville Speedway. They will be joined by the Camping World Truck Series, returning to action after more than a month off. Meanwhile, the IZOD IndyCar Series moves on to Leeds, Alabama, where they will be joined by the Rolex Sports Car Series.
Thursday, March 29
Time Telecast Network
Friday, March 30
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, March 31
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, April 1
Time Telecast Network
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series events from Martinsville, along with the IZOD IndyCar race from Barber Motorsports Park. The Rolex Sports Car Series telecast will be covered in the Critic’s Annex in the Newsletter.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
“Reid and Goodyear appeared to be quite cerebral”? Reid is anything but cerebral. His feigned enthusiasm and lack of knowledge makes me want to turn the channel. He’s the same way when doing Nationwide races.
GO ROWDY! Oh, wait, wrong series.Sorry.
The new Indycars are wicked, and there actually WAS some decent racing throughout the day, and interesting things to see, but as you said, they never showed it.
Helio’s pass on Dixon was inspired though. Badass.
As good as the race in Nationwide was, that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin—the problem is either The Chase, with drivers not trying hard enough, preserving their precious top 10s… Or the Car of Tomorrow races like crap, and the Nationwide car works great.
I think that Reid was much more comfortable when he was doing drag racing coverage.
Just another pathetic FOX excuse for a race telecast. Phil, how about giving us some stats about how FOX stacks up commercial quantity wise to other race broadcasts? Talk about the up front coverage all you want. The point is that there isn’t any RACING coverage during the FOX broadcasts. C’mon people. Lets make some noise and get the suits at FOX to notice we don’t like what they’re doing to our sport. It’s OUR sport. Let FOX focus on soccer or golf but get the hell out of the race broadcast business.
I know a lot of Nascar fans have no interest in Formula One, but may I suggest you tune in to one race just to appreciate how good a race broadcast can be with a first class team that is more interested in the event than in their own egos.
Gee, Phil, was there anything that you DIDN’T like?
Joe, ask and you shall receive. I do cover the amount of time under green that is spent in commercial in my notes. According to my notes, there were 10 commercial breaks under green Sunday. Those breaks took up at least 28.5 minutes of action. Very high for a race that only went 129 laps. Nearly one-third of the race was spent in commercial.
FOX has laid an egg in every telecast since they started. Sometimes they show the race, but never any racing, between commercial breaks. But they have to get back some of the money they overpaid to get the broadcast rights from advertising super-salesman Brian.
You’re right Joe, it was a lousy telecast by FOX. It would have been an interesting race if FOX hadn’t boned the coverage.
Thanks for the stats Phil!
i was at the fontana race…and i find it interesting that no one complains about the drivers, who clearly were running thru the motions to get to 100 laps…no racing…just a sunday drive…the only action was stewart passing for the lead..pathetic. drivers are all voting for romney..cause they conservative to the core with this system…nothing short of nudity will save that for TV