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 15, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where TV criticism (and praise) is the name of the game. There is plenty to discuss from last weekend in Darlington, so you won’t be left wanting for more.
VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200
On Friday night, the Nationwide Series returned to action at Darlington Raceway. With Travis Pastrana coming back for his second try in the No. 99, ESPN expanded what was supposed to be a 45-minute edition of NASCAR Countdown into a full hour.
During that time, the primary feature shown was yet another piece on Pastrana. This time, the focus was on his upbringing and family in particular. We learn about how he took down a wall and a wheelbarrow the first time he drove a skid steer (one of those Bobcat things). In addition to that, we learned about just how close the Pastrana clan really is, even though they don’t always show it publicly. The feature, which appeared to have been shot at the same time as the previous one at Pastrana’s home, was actually a repeat piece. It originally aired on NASCAR Now last week. So… I think they don’t need to make it three features in a row this weekend in Iowa. With that said, it was an interesting look into the driver’s life outside the cockpit.
Another feature focused on the Puerto Rican-born engine tuner for Roush Fenway Racing, Edgar Aleman. Aleman is a longtime Roush employee, dating all the way back to 1978 when Roush met Aleman at a drag race in Puerto Rico. The piece showed how Aleman worked his way up from doing the most menial work possible at the shop to eventually becoming one of the best engine tuners in all of NASCAR. I believe that this type of work shows ESPN at their best. Yes, Aleman is most definitely a known quantity in the garage, but I’m sure most fans would have never heard of him prior to Friday night. Instead of focusing so much on Danica Patrick and Pastrana, they need to bring us viewers new stories like this one.
In addition to the two features, there was a substantial amount of advertising for an interactive experience. The Pit Studio was open to tweets from fans if they used the #pitstudio hashtag. I decided to keep tabs on this experiment during the race. The results were interesting. Not a whole heck of a lot of input. However, whoever was running the NASCAR on ESPN Twitter page did answer a couple of questions from fans. I also kept an eye out for input on the telecast itself. On that topic, I saw some tweets that were complimentary of our biggest story from Friday night. More on that below. Also, there were some of the typical type of tweets you might see on a regular basis on Twitter. For example, one user tweeted about how hot he thinks Jamie Little is. Thanks for sharing.
The big story from Friday night was the broadcast booth debut of Carl Edwards. Even though it was just announced recently that he would do a couple of races this year (Friday night, and Kentucky at the end of next month), I’m sure that this contract was probably a full year in the making. So, you’re probably wondering how he did? Looking back at last week, a number of my readers weren’t the biggest fans of Justin Allgaier in the booth during the ARCA race at Talladega. However, that is where we’re going to start off.
A number of you voiced concerns that Allgaier was effectively talking over Rick Allen and Phil Parsons. Carl was a little similar, to be honest. However, Carl’s talking was a bit different from what you guys thought about Allgaier. The consensus seemed to be that Allgaier was talking in order just to make himself heard. I didn’t really see that from Edwards Friday night. His commentary was more analytical and spaced out. He wasn’t trying to dominate the conversation. However, he did state at one point that he did have some bias towards Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. since he’s a driver for Roush Fenway Racing. Edwards did admit to attempting to leave his biases at the door of the booth, and I think he did so. Despite that admission, his Roush background did not adversely affect the telecast.
Edwards also expressed some bewilderment at times. Working with Allen Bestwick in the booth means that Edwards’ introduction to race commentary was with what amounts to a taskmaster by his side. He really couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on during a round of pit stops under green at one point (this confusion was voiced out loud on Lap 97).
My main issues with the telecast did not come from Edwards’ presence in the booth. My issues were with the substantial amount of focus given to Pastrana and Danica Patrick during the race telecast. For instance, ESPN did a brief “Up to Speed” segment early in the race, but they chose only to cover Pastrana and Patrick. Seriously? C’mon now. There are a lot more drivers out on the track than just those two. Drives me nuts.
Aside from that duo, who got their usual quota of coverage, most of the rest of the broadcast was based around the very front of the field. Basically, this meant that aside from our overexposed twosome, the vast majority of storylines were centered upon Cup regulars and maybe three Nationwide-only guys. We need more than that if the series is ever going to grow.
Post-race coverage was a little bit more substantial than normal. ESPN provided viewers with seven post-race interviews and a check of the points before leaving. They did misidentify Stenhouse as a Chevrolet driver in the point graphic, which Edwards rightfully called them out on. We also found out that Pastrana lost $1000 because Danica Patrick beat him again. However, finishing 17th isn’t horrible for your first trip to Darlington after starting at the rear of the field.
For Edwards, Friday night served as a decent debut for someone with comparably little TV experience. I’d suggest that he request a DVD from ESPN of Friday’s telecast and that he review his performance. I’ll definitely be watching Edwards’ work on the Feed the Children 300 telecast closely next month.
However, the rest of the telecast was hurt by ESPN’s exclusivity. I bang the drum repeatedly on this issue, but it has to be said. You have to be inclusive for these telecasts. I don’t know what needs to be done to get it through their heads that fans want to see more than seven or eight guys get talked about for 200 miles, but you have to realize that. Otherwise, your millions will be going down the drain.
Bojangles’ Southern 500
Saturday night brought FOX back out for 500 miles of action at Darlington. Pre-race coverage was sorta thin, but it directly set up much of what FOX’s telecast would cover. Firstly, the Danica quotient was very high on Saturday. They interviewed her and gave her way too much coverage on-air for someone who finished 31st, six laps down. More on that later.
Mike Joy narrated a short piece (that he wrote himself) on the memory of Carroll Shelby, who died last week at the age of 89. Joy acknowledged on Twitter prior to the telecast that he was given only 30 seconds of airtime for his tribute, which angered some fans. Joy’s hands were tied, but I think he did fine given the very short amount of time that he was given to work with.
There was also a short piece on the history of Darlington that was narrated by defending Southern 500 Champion Regan Smith. This segment was more of a montage than anything else. It wasn’t all that informative, to be honest.
FOX’s commercial breaks once again affected the race telecast negatively. This time, viewers missed an entire round of green flag pit stops because FOX took an ill-advised break on Lap 96. Ouch. That’s a new level of bad. I know that you have to take the breaks, but be smart about it. Listen to your commentators in the booth and your four pit reporters. They know what they’re talking about when it comes time for stops. Don’t just “go over their helmets” whenever you feel like it. You’re just going to make fans (and me) angry and people are going to choose not to watch. There are already a number of fans that voluntarily choose to skip certain portions of the season because of coverage quality issues. We don’t need any more people going that direction.
Later in the race, an entire round of stops under caution occurred during a break, so they had to be replayed. Just not good all around. That needs to change. It won’t be a problem this weekend during the Sprint All-Star Race, but I can’t have stupidity like that during the Coca-Cola 600.
As for Patrick, a good amount of time that FOX spent covering her was taken up with audio from her radio. Her spotter was effectively coaching her around the 1.366-mile oval, lap by lap. That’s nice and all, but do we need to see that three or four times during the race? All the while, both Waltrips are talking Patrick up and making her night seem better than the near complete disaster that it really was.
FOX’s coverage was a little more inclusive than ESPN’s was on Friday night, but not by much. The first half of the race was probably far more exciting if you made the trek to the Pee Dee Region than on TV. Beyond Lap 60 or so, there was all but no racing for position shown until after the first yellow. I’m sure there’s action out there to be found, you just gotta find it and show it. You can do it. Please.
Post-race coverage was quite confusing. Since the late cautions put FOX up against the end of their timeslot, we were given only three post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with Rick Hendrick. There was also a check of the point standings and a brief recap of Ryan Newman’s gas man attempting to charge at Kurt Busch. However, FOX set up the confrontation as being a result of the crash that brought out the last caution. This theory would be ridiculous, since they didn’t touch on-track. FOX showed no footage of what actually happened on pit road during the last yellow to spark the anger. As a result, FOX gave fans incorrect information and confused everyone that wasn’t at the track.
That’s all for this weekend. Next weekend is another busy one. The Sprint Cup Series is back in action with the annual Sprint All-Star Race and Sprint Showdown in Charlotte. They will be supported by the Camping World Truck Series. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series will be in Newton, Iowa for a standalone event on Sunday.
Thursday, May 17
Friday, May 18
Saturday, May 19
Sunday, May 20
*- Tape Delayed
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup events, along with the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The ARCA race from Toledo will be covered in a future edition of the Critic’s Annex.
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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Fox’s coverage is so bad it makes me want to throw the TV out the window. I can see two cars side by side racing for POSITION out of the corner of the screen everytime just for Fox to do another stupid pointless zoomed in shot of some car running by itself. And I don’t know why they have to fill the whole screen up with whoever they are talking about. Put them in a corner window while talking about them while dedicating the main screen space to showing RACING.
The 500-I gave up watching around lap thirty. Too many commercials and lousy race coverage.
Dvr’d the race Saturday-trierd to watch it; began to fast forward through it, deleted it before the end. Fox is absolutely horrible (as is the racing this year). Does Fox take any pride in their work? Do they really think (as DW seems to think) that they put out a decent product? hey are beyond bad and seem oblivious to the fan backlash. We need to “Occupy” Fox until they start doing, at the very least, an adequate job.
Sprint to the tv and cut it off like I do every broadcast.
Fell asleep several times during the broadcast – woke up in time to see JJ take the checker – shut it off and went to bed !! Should have just went to bed earlier !!
Pathetic attempt at televising an automobile race. DVR’d it and watched it in 1 hour on Sunday. MUCH BETTER EXPERIENCE. However, I needed to go to print news to find out about ANYTHING that happened during (or after) the race that didn’t involve Danica! Hey Brian! How many fans like me are still left out here? My friends think I’m nuts for still showing any interest in what passes for NASCAR today.
Can you name three things less exciting than nASCAR?
They somehow even managed to ruin my beloved Darlington.
I don’t tune into a 500 mile race at a classic, legendary racetrack with 42 cars battling side-by-side, to watch lap after lap after lap after lap after lap after lap after lap after lap after lap after lap after lap after lap of close-ups of Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick driving around alone.
FOR ALL WE KNOW NASCAR RACING IS AS GOOD AS IT’S EVER BEEN—FOX JUST DOESN’T LET US SEE ANY OF IT!!!
Does any of this show the huge added viewers having another waltrip has brought??
dvr the race and muted the sound when i saw carl edwards in the booth!will not watch any race when he is in the booth!
I don’t know if Fox will ever change and it will be just as bad when ESPN takes over. Hate Michael in the booth; DW is bad enough.. Agree with Hotdogger. And it’s no wonder it is so hard to find sponsors. Not only is it the money but what’s the point when they never show any of the other cars running. It’s pathetic.