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 · Tuesday April 10, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where we take an in-depth look of motorsports telecasts. Let’s just say that it is rather difficult to actually put together a column for today since there was absolutely no live racing on television last weekend. SPEED2 did have some live racing from the Circuit Paul Armagnac near Nogaro, France, but I don’t think that a lot of you have access to that service.
As a result, I had to rely on tape delayed telecasts for races to break down and look at for you. SPEED provided two such events on Sunday afternoon to take your eyes away from South African golfers getting an albatross and not being able to close the deal.
Before I start, I want to note that I critiqued the first episode of IndyCar 36 for last week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex in our Newsletter. Now, the Izod IndyCar Series has made the program available for viewing on the “all-powerful Youtube.” To view the first episode featuring Tony Kanaan, go here. Gotta say, I like this idea, especially since a lot of viewers often have a hard time finding the NBC Sports Network in their cable/satellite/telco systems, or don’t get it at all.
Sunday afternoon saw SPEED bring us coverage of the Barber 200, the second race of the season for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Barber Motorsports Park. Let’s just say that the beginning of this race was ridiculous.
Pre-race coverage was minimal. When SPEED’s telecast began from Barber, the cars were already out on the track. Diffey, Calvin Fish and Dorsey Schroeder talked a little about the race and the impending carnage that was likely to occur. There was also discussion of the big stories in both the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes.
75 cars split between two classes on a 2.38 mile natural terrain road course is more than likely too many cars. Then again, they were the tertiary class at Barber Motorsports Park, so you race when you can. Oh well.
In real time, it took nearly an hour to complete one lap under green. I’ll admit that I watched the race live on SPEED2 back on March 31st when the race actually ran. SPEED2 telecasts are similar to satellite feed telecasts (no commercials, no mercy). As a result, we can hear everything going on. There are certain segments that aren’t commentated on because they won’t make the actual SPEED telecast. However, Diffey took the time to apologize to viewers for the constant wrecking. The fear in the booth was that this race was going to be a repeat of the VIR round in 2006. That race, held in the rain with an 82-car grid (90 entered, but 82 started) on a 3.27 mile circuit, was a wreckfest to end all wreckfests. Thankfully, it wasn’t that bad.
And that brings us to the question of the day. I want to see how many of you actually have access to SPEED2. As of right now, SPEED2 is only available to customers of Time Warner Cable, Cox Cable, Cablevision’s Optimum Cable, Bright House Networks and Dish Network. In Time Warner’s case, they require you to subscribe to the Digital Sports Tier to have access to SPEED in general. However, if you subscribe to SPEED, you get access to SPEED2. There will be a poll that asks whether you can get access.
Once the race finally got started with roughly 63 cars remaining, SPEED brought viewers plenty of racing for position. Of course, with a field as large as what we ultimately had, its a little hard to avoid showing side-by-side action. Diffey, Fish and Schroeder did a great job showing off the on-track action and keeping order within the generalized chaos. Schroeder stated for the record that the multi-class setup of this race had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of wrecking (all the big wrecks occurred in the GS class).
There were also plenty of in-race interviews with drivers in the pits, including those knocked out of the race in the many wrecks and those who either just gotten out, or were about to get into the car. Andy Lally made an interesting point here, stating that he wished that everyone had in-car cameras, front and back. He thought that it would make for the craziest videos ever. For reference purposes, SPEED typically has six in-car cameras for CTSCC races, mostly in the ST class (both Kinetic Autosport Kia Forte Koups and the Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5’s, along with a couple of others). I’d tend to agree with Lally. Boris Said would agree as well. If you ever make it to a Grand-Am race weekend, don’t sleep on the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. It is insane.
Post-race coverage was fairly brief. There were checks of the top-10 finishers in each class, and interviews with the class winners (Nick Longhi and Matt Plumb in GS, Gregory Liefooghe and David Levine in ST) before SPEED left the air.
Despite the constant crashing, SPEED put together a pretty good telecast. Yes, they had their talking points that they covered (most notably, Rum Bum Racing’s switch from the BMW M3 to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup despite the M3 being a winning car many times over), but covering those talking points did not get in the way of covering what was going on out on the track. In NASCAR telecasts, those talking points have caused problems in the past. Not so here. We had a very exciting race telecast and an exciting race. There isn’t much more that I can ask for. Homestead in three weeks will likely have another huge entry (as of Monday afternoon, 63 cars are entered for that race), so look for that race on SPEED in early May (or live on SPEED2, if you can get it, on April 28 prior to the Sprint Cup race from Richmond).
For the V8 Supercar Championship Series, the Tasmania Challenge at Symmonds Plains Raceway (just 18 miles south of Launceston, the hometown of Marcos Ambrose) is just the second points weekend of the season. They’ve already raced twice previously, but the races at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne (which weren’t shown here in the United States since it is covered under a different TV contract) were non-points exhibitions with big bucks on the line.
The Seven Network’s telecast started out with a number of different drivers (James Courtney, Shane van Gisbergen, Lee Holdsworth, etc.) talking about how competitive the series has become. There was a montage-style recap of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in order to set up the current points.
Following a brief look at the 1.5 mile Symmonds Plains Raceway layout (I personally compare the design to a Kiwi bird), there was a recap of the qualifying session, where average speeds reached over 104 mph. Also, speaking of Ambrose, he gave his own introduction to the race. As it is his home track, Ambrose had plenty to add about its overall difficulty.
For 2012, the Seven Network ditched the three-dimensional Starting Grid graphic in favor of a cleaner setup that I believe debuted last year at the Armor All 600k in Surfer’s Paradise (as you may remember, Sunday’s race was aired live on SPEED last fall). I’m in favor of this. The previous setup was just way too busy for my tastes.
If you remember my pieces last year on the Seven Network’s V8 Supercar coverage, I often talked about a substantial focus at the very front of the field, resulting in missing certain things. It took all of a couple of laps before that became an issue once again. On the first lap, Rick Kelly and James Courtney collided and spun, dropping both drivers to the back of the field (they never actually recovered from the incident). It took three laps for viewers to see what the deuce happened. Meanwhile, Mark Skaife’s hung out on a limb, sounding like a moron. We can’t have that. Makes the whole affair look low rent. As much as I want to blame Skaife for that, it’s not his fault. Fault here lies solely on the production here.
Following the first ten laps of the race, coverage was centered upon no more than six or seven cars. I’ll name those drivers here to save time. They were Ford Performance Racing teammates Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison and David Reynolds (via partnership with Rod Nash Racing), Triple Eight Racing teammates Craig Lowndes and Whincup, and if you were lucky, Stone Brothers Racing’s van Gisbergen and Taz Douglas for Lucas Dumbrell Racing. Pretty sad, to be honest. Maybe the full coverage of the race (not available in the United States) was more inclusive. I don’t know.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief. We were shown a look at the complete unofficial results and an interview with winner Will Davison before SPEED went to commercial.
Prior to Race No. 2, Ambrose returned for a brief wrap-up of the first race (remember, weekends with two races typically see one race on Saturday and another on Sunday) before cutting to a recap of Race No. 2 qualifying. Also note that Ambrose is doing his stand-ups this season in SPEED’s Charlotte studios instead of at whatever track he’s at that weekend.
Sadly, the first part of the second race was more of the same from Race No. 1. Very limited number of drivers got any real coverage at all. However, I do give some kudos to the crew for their commentary of the incident between Davison and Lowndes. They pointed out that Davison had understeered a couple of turns previously, which put Lowndes into proper position to at least consider a passing maneuver. However, what happened at the ultra-tight hairpin was questionable at best.
Thankfully, the second half of the race was a little more inclusive in which drivers got some coverage. We got to see some action from further back in the pack with drivers that otherwise weren’t mentioned much. It’s a nice change.
Post-race coverage after Race No. 2 was a little more detailed than what we got after Race No. 1. We got a check of the unofficial results, and interviews with race winner Whincup and Davison. There was also a check of the point standings before the telecast ended.
If you thought that FOX and ESPN have issues being inclusive in their race telecasts, then the Seven Network one-ups both of them. They appear to cover the races the same way that they covered Bathurst in the 1980’s. Plenty of in-car coverage, but not very inclusive. That needs to change. There are 28 teams in these races, not seven or eight.
That’s all for this week, folks. After last weekend’s nothing, we have a full weekend of action on tap. The Sprint Cup Series is back in action at Texas Motor Speedway, while the Nationwide Series is back in their normal subservient role. Meanwhile, it is high times for the Camping World Truck Series as they headline in Rockingham and the Izod IndyCar Series is in Long Beach for one of their crown jewel events.
Thursday, April 12
Time Telecast Network
Friday, April 13
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, April 14
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, April 15
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape Delayed
Note: ESPN is providing two live feeds of the American Le Mans Series race from Long Beach on Saturday night. The WatchESPN.com telecast will feature John Hindhaugh and Jeremy West in the booth, while the ESPN 2 telecast will have Brian Till and Johnny O’Connell.
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series telecasts right here in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. The American Le Mans Series race, which is actually being televised live on ESPN2 this weekend, will be covered in the Critic’s Annex on April 19. Also, I am covering the IndyCar Race Recap for Toni Montgomery on Sunday night. Thoughts on that telecast will be covered in bullet point fashion there.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique,
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The V8 Supercar race was, as always, awesome. I really hope their race at the new Texas F1 track draws more American fans, these guys deserve the spotlight.
I don’t get SPEED2. Not even a consideration for Canadian customers, it looks like. Which sucks. I would absolutely pay for it.
My buddy Bryan Heitkotter qualified well in the Nissan 370Z for Barber, but got taken out in that stupid melee at the beginning. That’s what happens when you have 70-some cars, 3/4 of which are driven by complete novices, on a track as challenging as Barber.
Seven is often criticised in Australia, and the international highlights package is used for Speed’s coverage (save Bathurst and Surfers 2). Seven does provide the video feed, which as we learned at Bathurst, while it may be suitable for Seven newsman Matt White to call the race, doesn’t work with Mike Joy, who works from his window as the primary source.
I’ve asked where Seven places their broadcast position is located. From all the video I’ve noticed it looks like a studio up top the track. If Mike Joy could control his broadcast position, we know he wants a window where he can see most of the track.
The strangest example of that was during Speed’s coverage of Bathurst. During a mid-race break, you could see Mike watching a spin at Murray’s from his window. During the last lap fury, while Seven was focusing on the finish and the cars going to the escape road for the ceremony, Speed was watching from the window to call the top five home.
Wonder how Mike could talk with V8TV to do more.
John and Bobby, thanks for your input. I don’t know much about Canadian cable and satellite television. Perhaps SPEED has never attempted to make the service available. Or, some other channel in Canada has a lot of the content on SPEED2 locked down. I don’t know. Whatever outlet you have at your disposal in your area, send an e-mail to them and ask whether its even possible to request the service.
Bobby, Joy would be arguing from a weaker position regardless of what happens due to the fact that he doesn’t represent the Seven Network. Also, Mike wouldn’t be doing the talking to AVESCO. Somebody like David Hill would. He would be a known quantity to them (FOX Sports has had some past dealings with them back when Network Ten had the rights to the series).
As for the rantings about the series, yes, I’ve seen some rantings about Seven’s telecasts on message boards. Quite similar to what I said above, actually.
Great stuff as usual, Phil. I don’t have SPEED2, which stinks. I like the touring car racing from across the pond and beyond. The announcing has become an issue throughout motor sports because of the circus sideshows like FOX. It is less about racing and more about agendas of these people.