Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Couch Potato Tuesday · Phil Allaway · Tuesday May 1, 2012
*- If it can be found, it must be shown. If not, the viewers must be notified that it cannot be found.
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where TV critique is the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were at Richmond International Raceway for some short track action (that supposedly was more comfortable to watch than Lebanon Valley Speedway’s Saturday night card in windy, 40-something degree weather). Meanwhile, the IZOD IndyCar Series made their third trip down to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300
Sao Paulo’s street race is very important to the IZOD IndyCar Series due to their agreement with ApexBrasil. The series uses 100 percent ethanol (or etanol in Portuguese) fuel manufactured in Brazil and supplied by Sunoco. Since this move was made, the street race in Sao Paulo has become a showcase event. The Anhembi Sambodromo is the start-finish straight for the course. This is where permanent grandstands are located for the big Carnival parades every year.
Of course, racing in Sao Paulo brings three additional issues for us TV critics. The most important of these is rain. The inaugural race was red flagged after 19 laps due to a thunderstorm coming over the track. It was eventually restarted. Last year’s race was red flagged after 13 laps for similar reasons, then postponed to Monday morning at 10am local time. Let’s just say that they got lucky that it didn’t downpour again on Sunday. It did drizzle a little, though.
Secondly, for TV purposes, the broadcast pictures are left up to the host broadcaster. In this case, Rede Bandeirantes, also known as simply “Band,” was in charge of the pictures. The NBC Sports Network has no control over the pictures.
Thirdly, since its an international race, NBC Sports Network sent the literal bare minimum of personnel to Sao Paulo. Like last year, their lone on-air representative was Kevin Lee. Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis and Wally Dallenbach, Jr. called the race from back in Indianapolis. Robin Miller joined in as well.
Due to the threat of rain (no surprise here), the start of the race was moved up by 15 minutes or so. Ultimately, this was not necessary, but it was done anyway. Because of the shifting start time, pre-race coverage was fairly limited. Kevin Lee conducted interviews at the track with Will Power and Dario Franchitti. Lee also attempted to provide some background on what had happened on Saturday, but technical problems with his microphone prevented that from getting across.
There was also a pre-recorded one-on-one interview with Rubens Barrichello where Barrichello talked about his transition to the IZOD IndyCar Series, how he convinced his wife to let him race at Indianapolis (remember, being able to get that permission was considered to be a substantial stumbling block in negotiations), and how he deals with pressure. It was an interesting interview. I liked it.
Due to the haphazard nature of the coverage, the command to start engines actually occurred during a commercial break. Makes me wonder if Band would have showed that since they missed it last year as well. I suppose they don’t really care since the idea of a “Command to start engines” is more of an American thing in racing.
Having Band handling the video meant a couple of things for us here. NBC Sports Network had some control over replays, but they cannot control the live shots. As a result, we were kinda at mercy of whatever Band wanted to show us. Their pictures were quite jarring at times. They seem to really like zoomed-in shots, much like ESPN, to be honest. Of course, that’s not exactly good. Also, their aim with the in-car 360 degree camera seemed to be off at times. They seemed to have the cameras pointed backwards a lot more than forwards, and as a result, missed certain incidents.
Another complaint with the zoom is that they would quickly zoom in and out. That is nothing that I haven’t seen with Brazilian race broadcasts before (some Formula One races at Interlagos back when Ayrton Senna was still racing featured a lot of it). I also thought that there would be a substantial amount of camera time given to the three Brazilian drivers (Barrichello, Tony Kanaan and Ana Beatriz) in the race. That was not really the case, thankfully. They got their camera time, but not excessively.
Due to the shortened pre-race, NBC Sports Network decided to play their “ProfessorB” segment on Lap 7 of the race itself, in full screen. Not a good move. The feature itself was on how the new Dallara DW12 has a quick change rear section (rear bodywork and rear wing) in addition to the quick change front wing. Apparently, the whole rear setup could be changed in roughly 20 seconds (the demonstration shown cheated by already having the rain light disconnected). Interesting, but out of place.
Inclusiveness of field coverage was decent, much better than previous races. However, the angles shown were not always the best. Also, it seems like no one wiped the camera on pit-in off all weekend. I couldn’t really see jack on it all race long.
Post-race coverage was on a smaller scale than normal since only Lee was in Sao Paulo. He provided viewers with four post-race interviews (Power, Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato) from the track. The unofficial results and a check of the point standings were shown before NBC Sports Network left.
I had no problem with the overall commentary from Jenkins, Beekhuis and Dallenbach. However, I think that they are hampered when not on-site. A really great team could commentate on a race from a remote site and be able to make it sound like they’re there. Also, Robin Miller is useless if he’s not at the race. He spoke up a grand total of three times the whole telecast. Nothing he does works under these circumstances. He would have been better off watching the race on TV.
Virginia 529 College Savings 250
On Friday night, the Nationwide Series returned to action at Richmond International Raceway after a week off. However, Friday was a huge night for the series, for Travis Pastrana was in the house. Pastrana and his mullet finally made their Nationwide Series debut, only about nine months late.
Of course, ESPN really wanted to play up Pastrana’s debut. Honestly, they really would have preferred his debut to be at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis last August. As you may remember, they had a whole “Pastranathon” schedule on tap that got thrown into a bonfire because of his injury. Regardless, they still had a feature ready to go. In it, Pastrana talked about his past career in extreme sports and his transition to NASCAR. He acknowledged that he is still angry at himself for botching the Rodeo 720, or “TP7” trick.
That botched TP7 resulted in the broken foot and ankle that forced him to postpone his debut to last Friday. He has effectively given up riding motorcycles and is completely focused on his new career. Even if he weren’t focused on NASCAR right now, he still couldn’t ride a bike for quite a while since he still can’t walk very well. I thought that the feature was very well put-together, but completely inevitable. I saw it coming a mile away. Also of note, roughly 40 percent of this feature ran earlier in the day after ESPN’s coverage of Nationwide Series Qualifying ended a little quicker than planned.
It appeared that ESPN had three major stories that they wanted to cover. Naturally, Pastrana was the first story. The second story was the points race between Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. The third was the impressive debut of Ryan Blaney. I think ESPN played more clips of K&N Pro Series races Friday night than they had since 2000.
The aforementioned focus continued into the race. Pastrana got a significant amount of coverage, effectively replacing the substantial Danica Patrick coverage that we all know and don’t really like all that much. Interestingly enough, Patrick, Pastrana and Johanna Long ran together for much of the race. Only later (after the race telecast ended) did we learn that Pastrana had apparently agreed to donate money to charity had he successfully defeated Patrick and Long. Hence, why he was kinda bummed out in his post-race interview.
The race coverage also featured what I think was the first time that ESPN displayed a tweet during a race telecast. On Lap 182, ESPN pulled a tweet written by Clint Bowyer about Ryan Blaney. In his tweet, Bowyer stated, “I don’t know who gave Ryan Blaney the opportunity tonight, but glad they did. Been watching him for [a] couple [of years] now and this kid can do it.” Editor’s Note: Tweet has been edited for clarity. Granted, the tweet was written almost an hour before it made air, but I cannot remember ESPN doing this in the past during a NASCAR race. Perhaps, we will see more social media integration into telecasts in the future.
Post-race coverage was actually a little more substantial than normal. ESPN provided viewers with eight drivers, along with chats with Kyle Busch (the winning car owner) and Dave Blaney (Ryan’s happy father). They tried to display a standalone point standings graphic, but they royally screwed it up. For some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to display the points from after last August’s Food City 250 at Bristol. I was speechless. That was bad. At least ESPN’s redundancy saved their butts. They had already showed the top-10 in points above the scroll during their earlier interviews. Had they not done that, oh man, they would be seriously taking it on the chin right here.
Capital City 400 Presented by Virginia Is For Lovers
Saturday night brought the Sprint Cup Series back out for their third short track race of the season at the Richmond International Raceway. Rain was an issue earlier in the day, leading to a competition caution (oh joy). But, how did FOX handle their broadcast? Let’s take a look.
One of the primary themes during the pre-race show was the idea of anger and close quarters. To this degree, FOX aired a montage piece of various incidents in the past at Richmond. Chris Myers narrated the piece while race footage and interview footage ran. Other than the infamous crash between Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip (along with Joe Ruttman and others) from 1986, everything shown was from the last few years. Granted, there was some more stuff that they could have used that they left out.
Time was also taken to publicize the new “Baseball Night in America” setup that will be airing Saturday nights on FOX, in cooperation with the MLB Network. You might remember what happened the last time baseball tried that on ABC. Luckily, there’s no labor strife in Major League Baseball right now. In other non-racing programming, FOX brought viewers a piece where different drivers talked about their favorite NFL teams in the context of the NFL Draft from last weekend. Personally, I can care less about the NFL Draft (cripes, just plain can’t deal with football in April), but some viewers might have found it interesting to see who their favorite drivers root for (although Earnhardt Jr. rooting for Washington should surprise almost no one).
The actual race broadcast continued some of the new aspects that Darrell Waltrip talked about after the Kansas race. There was another silent pit stop sequence during the Competition Caution on Lap 54. In addition, there were some dropbacks to see additional racing further down the order. However, these dropbacks were relatively far and few between.
FOX did have video of the incident in the pits when Paul Menard’s tire got bounced out in the middle of pit road. They also had the audio from Crew Chief Richard “Slugger” Labbe about how that behavior would not be tolerated. The commentators and the viewers didn’t get the whole story here from the pictures. As a result, the commentators interpreted the pictures incorrectly. They thought that Menard’s crew member was getting chastised for running into an active pit road (this would be similar to the JTG-Daugherty Racing crew member getting roasted for going into the quad-oval grass that one time under green, causing a yellow).
FOX should have made an effort to find the debris on the backstretch that caused the fifth and final yellow of the race on Lap 388. Looking back at my DVR recording of the race showed a light spot on the track exiting Turn 2. However, I’m not sure that was debris, or just a small bit of sealer covering a crack. FOX never zoomed in so that I could tell.
During the final stretch to the checkers, Mike Joy talked quite a bit about the wild action for third through about sixth. How much of that action did we see? Bupkus. Custody of my diddly-squat. FOX, you have a great resource in the booth with Joy. Please, whatever you do, please don’t make him look like a doofus. I cannot abide that.
Post-race coverage was decent. There were five post-race interviews along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings before FOX left the air. Carl Edwards’ interview introduced the notion of his spotter, former driver Jason Hedlesky, claiming that he was told that Edwards was leading. Also of note, the team refused to make Hedlesky available for comments after the race.
All in all, we saw a telecast Saturday night similar to what we saw at Kansas from FOX. I’m still not a fan of the silent pit stops since we lose out on pertinent information. FOX absolutely has to do a better job at seeking out debris that causes yellows. You’ll see more discussion about that topic in Mirror Driving on Wednesday. And finally, please listen to your booth guys. They’re not up there for their own health. What they say should point you towards certain action on the track. Do not ignore them.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is Talladega. Cue equal parts cheers and boos. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be joined by the ARCA Racing Series in their second TV appearance of the year.
Friday, May 4
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Saturday, May 5
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Sunday, May 6
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<- Pre-race for the Nationwide Series is abbreviated.
Note that the Nationwide race is on ABC this week. Because of that, there will be no RaceBuddy available on Saturday.
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and ARCA Racing Series telecasts from Talladega in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. For this week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex, I’ll be covering last night’s edition of TopGear on BBC America, since there is a NASCAR parallel.
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 agree with you Phil about the Capital City 400 on Saturday night. I felt the camera work and direction was really bad, AGAIN. I know the side by side coverage technology had to cost FOX some big bucks, so to show one car in frame for most of it – seems like a waste (I’d rather just watch the commercial at that point). I was also disappointed because I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back Jeff Gordon had moved from 15th to 35th and I didn’t hear much about it until much later in the race and still had to wait for the Frontstretch to find out what really happened yesterday! I’ve always liked FOX’s coverage, but I’m changing my mind. It’s been bad this year and getting worse!
Richmond should be an interesting race to watch on TV. If you watch the SPEED broadcast on Thursday, it was great. ESPN’s Friday and Fox’s Saturday broadcasts were a “tight shot” disaster. You wouldn’t know which track you were at and what racing was happening around the cars. If I was in the grandstands, I wouldn’t hold a telescope to my eye and focus in on one car or two cars. But, Telescope TV is what we are getting. It’s very boring and I’m rapidly losing interest in spending hours each weekend putting up with it.
Definitely need to show more racing in the last 23 positions, they pay the same price as the front runners. Maybe if they would show more back of the pack racing there would be more sponsors interested in NASCAR. I get tired of showing only the top drivers all of the time, or most of the time anyway. How many times this year have you seen cars driven by Reuti, Mears, Cassell, etc. highlighted on the TV? It don’t make any difference if they are laps behind they deserve as much attention as any of the front runners.
Fox coverage= Thanks Fox for being there. Now First you need to loose the Waltrip who owns a team (& whoever thought that was a good idea @ Fox dismissed) Then ALL debris cautions should be shown…The side by side through the field racing was better but needs to improve (I to don’t sit at a track & look through a telescope) ..Back to the waltrip show …Fox were is your journalistic credibility or don’t they care?
Remember a few years ago that Fox made a big deal during the races that they would always find the debris and show it. This sure didn’t last long though as I remember.
I have had it with Fox broadcasting the races. All you get is hearing Michael talk about his drivers and pushing his sponsors and you also get the love affair from Darrell for Hendrick Motorsports. Think that I am going to have to start listening to MRN.
In all honesty it shouldn’t be up to any broadcast to show the supposed debris. What should be is for NASCAR to regain enough credibility so that the fans actually can believe their calls. NASCAR is destroying itself from the inside.
Watched the start of the race and didn’t get 3 laps in before we started seeing in car cameras, bumper cams and apparently tire cam (new this week) and tight shots, so I immediately changed the channel and watched hockey until the end of the race.
This is from someone who used to watch races religiously and other sporting events would take a back seat when races were on. Not anymore. Too frustrating watching the broadcasts anymore. No racing shown and getting bombarded with ads, promos and commercials all race long is not worth it anymore