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 17, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where looking at race telecasts is the name of the game. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series raced at Texas Motor Speedway while the Camping World Truck Series headlined their race weekend in Rockingham (finally).
Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200
I’m not sure how this reference will go over with my readers, but here it goes. Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Warner Home Video put out what they called the Golden Jubilee 24 Karat Collection. They were a series of video tapes that contained eight Looney Tunes and/or Merrie Melodies shorts pertaining to a particular character or characters. I have one of Foghorn Leghorn and one of Speedy Gonzales from when I was little. Why am I referencing classic cartoons here, besides the fact that I can? Each tape started out with this bit where Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were singing, On with the show, this is it! That is how I felt about Sunday’s race in Rockingham.
Sunday’s broadcast from SPEED also brought a couple of changes: one that was OK, the other, not so good. Firstly, since Krista Voda was in Texas for Saturday night’s Cup race, she didn’t make the trip to Rockingham. Danielle Trotta pinch hit for Voda and did a pretty good job. The bad change, or I should say omission was that there was no TruckBuddy available on Sunday. That bites, simple as that, especially since the simplistic TruckBuddy setup is the easiest for users to work with and it is pretty much synced up to the race telecast on SPEED. It’s a feature unlike RaceBuddy for Sprint Cup and/or Nationwide Series races.
Since this appearance was the first one at Rockingham for the Trucks, SPEED decided to take a look back at the history of the 1.017-mile tri-oval. This segment included input from track owner Andy Hillenburg, a couple of locals that cherish the speedway, and from former crew chief and car owner Travis Carter. The interesting thing here was the feeling from fans that when the Cup Series left Rockingham in 2004, it was similar to the old mills shutting down and moving manufacturing overseas.
There was a look back at the 2009 American 200 for the then-ARCA Re/MAX Series and the epic battle for the championship between Justin Lofton and Parker Kligerman. Both drivers participated and talked about the race and their performances. I thought it was pretty good. It is not that often that ARCA races get chronicled anywhere. Heck, even getting a replay of the telecast is not always a given.
There was also a piece where SPEED followed Ty and Austin Dillon on a bird hunt. While I think it is pretty good to have these pieces to get an idea of what the drivers are all about, I think the Dillons are a little overdone by now. We know about their tie-ins with Childress, their hunting, the fact that Austin Dillon has already equaled the number of Cup starts that his dad made (one). Someone else needs that publicity.
Another new wrinkle that made it into Sunday’s telecast was the idea of Tweets in the scroll. This works the same way (more or less) that the Tweets in the little cloud graphic works. A producer scours Twitter for interesting Tweets from drivers, notable personalities in the sport, and types them in. Most of them were centered around the excitement of seeing racing back at Rockingham. Nice touch, and almost seamless in practice. The cloud graphics will likely stay for stuff on RaceHub, but this works for during races.
Heck, when Mike Helton came up to the broadcast booth to chat during the first caution, he was spouting a lot of the same sentiment that people on Twitter were. He was very happy to have the Trucks at Rockingham.
During the race, SPEED brought viewers a pretty good amount of racing for position from throughout the field. In addition, they were able to accurately show just how much the tires gave up on Sunday. The addition of telemetry really goes quite a ways in helping us out here. However, the trucks were a lot slower than I’d figured that they’d be, even with the old pavement. Compared to when Cup was there, their fastest laps on fresh tires were equal to what Cup teams were doing on 50-lap tires. 50 laps into a run, the trucks were doing laps under 130 mph for an average and many drivers were dropping below 100 mph in the turns.
Also, the stomping that Nelson Piquet, Jr. was putting on the field Sunday should be noted. Before the first yellow came out, he had put all but 11 cars a lap down and had a half-lap lead. It has been a long time since anyone legitimately pulled out that kind of lead without help from pit strategy. It reminded me of Joey Logano stomping the field in the first Carolina 500k for ARCA at Rockingham (remember, that was the race with the 50-car starting field).
Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip were generally on par with their commentary. I had no problems with their enthusiasm at all. Waltrip finally cut down on all of the watermelon references that he made back at Martinsville, and good thing too. That stuff was driving me nuts. However, someone at either the National Watermelon Association & Promotion Board or the Florida Watermelon Association (likely the latter) heard Waltrip go on about it since the booth commentators were given a “butt load” of watermelon to enjoy prior to the race (this fact was noted by Allen).
Post-race coverage was average at best. SPEED provided viewers with four post-race driver interviews and an interview with the winning crew chief (Mike Shiplett). There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings before SPEED left the air.
O’Reilly Auto Parts 300
Friday night brought the Nationwide Series back out to play after two weeks off at Texas Motor Speedway. For ESPN, they were on Cloud 9 after it was announced on Wednesday that analyst Rusty Wallace was one of the 25 nominees for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, Wallace did not make the trip to Texas (Dale Jarrett briefly filled in during NASCAR Countdown before having to run to the broadcast booth).
The main feature of Countdown was a piece on Elliott Sadler and his career renaissance over the past year and change. It included input from both Sadler and new crew chief Luke Lambert. This segment was enjoyable to watch since they’re clearly still getting used to each other, yet they work so well together.
Another brief piece was centered upon Denny Hamlin caddying for eventual Masters Champion Bubba Watson during the Par 3 Tournament on Wednesday, April 4. It is obvious that only ESPN could possibly do something like this because they were the only network with cameras at Augusta National at the time. It was the classic, “Oh wow! Denny was there. We’ve got to put something here,” feature. ESPN synergy at its best. I could care less, to be honest.
During the race itself, coverage was very much centered towards the front of the field, without all that much coverage of passing for position. Yes, there were only four cautions on Friday night, so that would have cut down on the amount of potential battles, but if that’s the case, don’t show me the same stuff over and over again. You gotta shake things up. ESPN chose not do an “Up to Speed” until Lap 136. I’m sure they could have done something like that earlier in the race. I don’t know why they chose not to.
Another gripe was that they were not really on the ball with the incidents that ultimately resulted in the first caution coming out on Lap 46 (or so). Kurt Busch hit the wall at some point, and I’m sure Timmy Hill in the Poynt-sponsored No. 41 hit it as well. I want to say that debris from Hill’s car caused that yellow but I’m not sure. I did see Hill’s wall contact on RaceBuddy, but ESPN never replayed it.
A third gripe is that in the rare instance these days that someone actually crashes out of the race, I would prefer that one of the pit reporters goes down and talks to that driver. I don’t care who the deuce it is. Just do it. That is why drivers like Blake Koch can get wrecked by a Cup regular (Kurt Busch, apparently), and it is out of sight, out of mind. To be fair, ESPN did tap into Koch’s radio, but that’s not an interview. That’s eavesdropping. There’s a difference.
Despite the short race, ESPN provided viewers with a relatively short post-race show. There were four post-race driver interviews (and one with the winning crew chief, Mike Kelley), a check of the top-10 finishers outside of the scroll (everyone else just stayed in the scroll) and a point check before they left the air.
I suppose I say this every week, but it bears repeating. Inclusiveness is key to a good broadcast. You see this philosophy with Truck races on SPEED, and to an even higher degree with the Izod IndyCar Series races on the NBC Sports Network. We don’t see it with ESPN. It bites. It hurts the series overall, and it makes your broadcast boring. Please, for the sake of the series, be more inclusive. If there’s good racing on track, show it. I don’t give a hoot what position it is for. Show the action for position as often as you can. When this is in the top-10 or so, ESPN does a good job with it. If not, not so much. At this point, I’m thinking of contacting NASCAR directly and asking them to have an official serve in the Barnhart role for race telecasts (for what that means, see Monday’s Izod IndyCar Series recap from Long Beach.
Samsung Mobile 500
Finally, we come to Saturday night and the Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The usual crew was back in place for a very windy 500-mile race. Due to those high winds, I’m not really going to harp at FOX for unsteady high camera shots. Can’t do anything about it when the winds are strong enough to rock motor coaches back and forth (or at least that’s what Darrell Waltrip claimed during Pre-Race).
Much of the FOX talk beforehand was actually centered upon the craziness that happened at the end of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 two weeks ago in Martinsville. A recap was presented that interspersed the race footage with radio chatter from Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In addition, audio from interviews with David Reutimann and Bowyer were added in, along with an original interview with winner Ryan Newman. I thought that it was a little over the top, but it was interesting to watch. However, the way it was edited still made it look like they were blaming Reutimann for everything that went down, and that’s just plain not fair.
There was another short piece in which Denny Hamlin talked about his experience at Augusta National. Of course, since it’s FOX, there’s no video here, just still pictures. ESPN has that video on lockdown. There is no sharing of features between most of NASCAR’s media partners (yes, SPEED and FOX share stuff because they‘re part of the same corporation, but not FOX and ESPN).
As many of our readers are well aware by now, Saturday night’s race had some of the longest green flag runs in recent years. When that happens, the field naturally spreads out and it becomes a little bit harder for FOX to give viewers a compelling broadcast. They cannot simply sit back and rely on tried and true fallbacks. They have to actually work at it.
Now, FOX does have a feature where they talk about various drivers that are on the lead lap. It doesn’t have an official name, but they’ll likely have to come up with one soon since the races have seen so much green-flag action so far this year. The other option is to take all the racing for position when you can get it, wherever it is. Early on in Saturday night’s race, FOX took this option, which is always good to see. Since I started critiquing race telecasts, I’ve constantly talked about how much I don’t like it when all we can see are the top guys, especially when there isn’t all that much going on up front.
However, as the race continued on, FOX settled back into their usual “cover the frontrunners” and maybe cover another story every once in awhile gambit. I’m just not a fan of that. The telecast made the race look more boring than it probably was to watch live at the track.
There was a new feature to FOX’s side-by-side commercial break setup that debuted Saturday night. Just before halfway, FOX went to a commercial. Standard fare, I guess. However, the last commercial in that break was a side-by-side for Sprint, advertising something having to do with the Sprint All-Star Race. Technically, this violates FOX’s “last hour of the race” rule for side-by-side breaks, but it is good to see.
Post-race coverage, even though the race was run at record speed, was quite brief because the event ended right up against the end of the timeslot. That fact is interesting in and of itself. FOX provided viewers with four post-race interviews and checks of the unofficial results and point standings before leaving.
I just could not enjoy much of this race telecast, sadly. Maybe the 234-lap green flag run did me in. There just wasn’t anything to see in the last 75 percent of the race. FOX needs to be more inclusive, like ESPN. Simple as that.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series travels to Kansas Speedway for their first visit of the year. They will be joined by the Camping World Truck Series as the Nationwide teams take another week off.
Friday, April 20
Saturday, April 21
Sunday, April 22
*- Tape Delayed
Note that all the proceedings in Bahrain are denoted with an exclamation point (!). This “cautionary measure” is because of the ongoing upheaval in the small country. The Grand Prix itself, as our new Formula One writer Andy Hollis wrote about Friday, is squarely right in the middle of this conflict. As of Sunday, the race is still on.
I will provide guaranteed critiques of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races in Kansas here at Frontstretch next week. If the Grand Prix of Bahrain goes off, I’ll critique that here, too. For the Critic’s Annex, I will be covering the American Le Mans Series at Long Beach this week.
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.
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“I think the Dillons are a little overdone by now.” Ya think? Just a little overdone? If it’s not in the CWTS one week, then it’s the Nationwide series and vise versa.
You’re right in that the channels need to show more racing for position around the track. That is one of the big draws for going to the races in person as you can keep an eye on the action no matter where it’s happening.
You expressed my upset with FOX’s coverage of the last 75 percent of the race! I had already contacted the network and expressed how poorly they seem to cover the actual racing. When they’re showing side by side of Jimmie J going around the track by himself it’s like watching a car commercial next to another commercial. I wish they would get some directors that are actual race fans so they show RACING, not just closeups of cars out of context… Might help the ratings…
Who is the GENIUS who scheduled the race for Fox. It was said more then once during race that Smoke sit new record in fall for fastest race at approx 150.mph then in this race Biff goes approx 160 mph and my local channel had 5 minutes from checkerd flag to end of scheduled broadcast.
So are the networks saying NO MORE DEBRIS CAUTIONS or did they just get lucky.
If Smoke or another driver had only tied his fall record the network would have went over at least 20 min.
Tired of complaining about FOX lack of racing coverage. I decided to stop watching altogether and listen to the race on MRN.
The Dillons over done? Where does that put Danica? At least the Dillons are performing and without the years of experience Danica gets credited with. Danica is a diva, the Dillons are earning their way!
amen mrclause !!
“I think the Dillons are a little overdone by now.” What a relief to know that I’m not the only one that thinks this. Where does that put Danica? It’s no secret that she’s way overdone, and many in the media, like Kyle Petty, have come out and said it. Nobody will say that about the Dillons because they all kiss Grandpa Dick’s ass a little too much. Everybody except Mr. Phil Allaway, of course.
As far as the Nationwide telecast goes, did anyone notice that Go Canada Racing’s #27 car driven by David Ragan finished 6th place on Friday? I wouldn’t have either, except that one of my colleagues knows crew members from that team, so I’ve gone out of my way to follow them. They were running in the top 10 all race, and finally made mention and showed the car when they went “through the field,” and they were running 10th at the time. Then they interviewed the crew chief Wayne Grubb and he talked about their strategy to save a set of tired if a caution comes out with 15 to go. Well, late caution comes out, they get their tires, and pass a few cars, including Algair at the line to finish 6th. What a great finish by a team that start and parks most of the time, and races when they have money, and runs towards the front when they do.
Watching the SPEED broadcast after the Cup race makes Fox’s deficiencies even more glaring. SPEED tends to keep the cameras panned back so you can see what’s happening on the track. Fox continues to show us a tight one or two car shot that frustrates. If I was in the grandstands, would I watch the race through a telescope? I think not.
you are all spoiled.when i was a kid we had to wait till speed sport news arrived.so now its all good.quit griping.