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 29, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race critique is the name of the game. For those of us who just cannot get enough racing on television (like myself), this past weekend was likely pretty sweet for you. The action was fast and furious in Indianapolis, while NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were in Charlotte.
Before we start, a couple of big announcements pertaining to TV were made last weekend. First, Dick Berggren announced that he is leaving NASCAR on FOX after next weekend’s race in Dover, ending a 31-year career on telecasts. He claims that he’s not retiring, but that he’s stepping back and relaxing a little more for now. Good luck to Dick in his relaxation. However, that will create a hole in FOX’s pit reporter corps. Who could possibly replace Berggren in the pits? I haven’t heard anything, but my best guess is that they’ll promote someone that’s already on SPEED to do the job. That would mean that people like Bob Dillner, Ray Dunlap (who has some experience pit reporting on Cup telecasts in a sub role back in the late 1990’s) and Wendy Venturini could be in line.
Secondly, Bob Jenkins announced on Friday that he is leaving television at the end of this season. Jenkins currently serves as the play-by-play man on NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series. The change will end another career that has spanned over three decades on cable and network television in NASCAR, open-wheel racing, and sports cars. It will also leave a pretty big hole in NBC Sports Network’s coverage for 2013. I have no idea who could possibly be in line to replace Jenkins other than Mike King, who works for IMS Radio and provides play-by-play for NBC Sports Network’s coverage of Firestone Indy Lights.
On Sunday, ESPN on ABC provided coverage of the Izod IndyCar Series’ crown jewel for the 48th consecutive year. For this telecast, they went all out. 80 cameras were set up for the broadcast, including ones on 12 different cars. Four of those (Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe and Dario Franchitti’s) had dual-path technology on their cars. That allows for ABC/ESPN to make use of two different cameras from one car at the same time. You might remember that ABC/ESPN debuted this technology in last year’s Brickyard 400.
Brent Musberger was brought out of mothballs to host ABC/ESPN’s coverage on Sunday, and I have no clue why. He brings bupkis to a race telecast. It is like he’s there just because he’s 73 and a TV veteran. Problem is, Musberger is a veteran of college football and the NBA, so he’s clueless at IMS. It would benefit ABC/ESPN not to bring him back next year.
ABC/ESPN’s one-hour pre-race show mainly consisted of feature stories. Since most of ABC/ESPN’s IZOD IndyCar Series viewership is at Indianapolis, this event is where they put most of their longform pieces, running them at a time where viewers could be introduced to drivers. Not a terrible thing long-term, but it could be spread out a little more.
The primary feature (which aired first) was a piece about the late Dan Wheldon, who was the defending champion of the race. ESPN used file footage from several past interviews with Wheldon, along with some family videos to compile an image of Wheldon in the last couple years of his life. I’ll admit that at this point, it is nothing that I hadn’t already seen over the past seven months. Of course, having said that, Wheldon kinda came off like he had a mild case of OCD. However, there was some new interview footage with several drivers and Dan’s widow Susie and sister Holly as well. It was generally pretty well put together. SB Nation’s Jeff Gluck claimed that he was near tears watching it in the Media Center at the track. As for the infamous crash itself, ESPN presented some still frames of the incident, plus aftermath footage on video. Marty Reid’s call of the crash was interspersed in as well.
Another feature was focused on the long-term friendship between Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello. It was a nice piece where they talked about racing against each other and how close they became, especially after Kanaan’s father died. However, if you checked out IndyCar 36: Tony Kanaan a few weeks ago like I did (and critiqued for a past edition of the Critic’s Annex), it seemed like a repeat.
A third piece saw J.R. Hildebrand reflecting back on losing the Indianapolis 500 last year when he hit the wall trying to lap Charlie Kimball and how much it hurts. A fourth piece centered upon Helio Castroneves’ desire to join the club of four-time Indianapolis 500 winners (currently inhabited by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears). Also, since Castroneves is a past champion of Dancing With the Stars, they showed him ballroom dancing with an unnamed partner. Both of these pieces were expected airs, but strong additions.
Finally, ESPN showed a piece where a number of different drivers talked about the history of Indianapolis. This piece was actually shown on SportsCenter in the days leading up to the race, but it was still put together real well.
I rarely (if ever) comment on the time around National anthems here in this critique, but ESPN chose to air a piece about the new “Radiator Springs” section of Disney’s California Adventure. Problem is, they almost missed the National Anthem to do it. They got lucky on that one. Had they missed a syllable, hell would have been rained down upon the network.
This was ESPN’s second Izod IndyCar Series race of the season, and I think that fans have been spoiled from the two American-based races that aired on the NBC Sports Network. Heck, they proved that even the much-maligned Brian Barnhart can help a telecast. However, ESPN’s broadcast from St. Petersburg was… ugly. Indianapolis was better, but not ideal.
At Indianapolis, we didn’t miss any retirements. However, we didn’t see a whole lot of the field unless they were towards the front. In other words, ESPN broadcasted the race like it was a Sprint Cup or Nationwide event.
Another gripe that I had surrounded the Mike Conway-Will Power crash on Lap 81. Both drivers walked away from the savage incident. I would have liked to get some comments on what happened, especially since Power entered the race as the points leader. We didn’t get anything, and there’s no reason why we didn’t get anything. ESPN, you gotta do better than that.
For Indianapolis, ESPN brings in Eddie Cheever to join in with Reid and Scott Goodyear. In the past, he has brought absolutely nothing to race broadcasts. To use some baseball terminology, his WARP was terrible and he would have been batting below the Mendoza Line. On Sunday, Cheever was a little better, but still not really good enough to warrant his presence.
Post-race coverage was typical length for an Izod IndyCar Series race on ABC/ESPN. There were five post-race driver interviews (Franchitti, Kanaan, Dixon, Briscoe and Sato), plus an interview with the winning car owner. Of course, this being ABC/ESPN, they couldn’t resist sticking a microphone in the face of Ashley Judd (Franchitti’s wife). There was no mention of the point standings before ABC/ESPN left the air. Had to check the IndyCar website to see where everyone is in points (despite the DNF, Power still has a 36-point lead).
Compared to St. Petersburg, anything is better for ABC/ESPN, and they definitely improved. The pre-race features were pretty good, although that paid piece from parent Disney was ill-placed at best. The additional, paid segment from GoDaddy where James Hinchcliffe answered ridiculous questions and completed a training montage (which featured him chasing a chicken) was silly, but I guess Hinchcliffe’s like that. GoDaddy’s insistence on scantily clad stuff is a little out of control, though (I don’t think we’re going to see a commercial with Hinchcliffe in Lycra briefs anytime soon). The race itself was excellent, although I was holding my breath when Conway had his wreck. Out of the three booth commentators, Goodyear is the best of them. Cheever only does a couple races a year and Reid just seems like Reid (not comfortable).
On Saturday, the Nationwide Series returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway for one of the series’ long-term gems. This race actually predates the Nationwide Series. Prior to 1982, it was basically an open event for anyone in the Late Model Sportsman category.
Since the race was aired on ABC, there was no RaceBuddy to be had. ‘Tis a shame, but that’s life. ABC has power over those types of decisions and they don’t want streaming to cut into their ratings.
Since NASCAR Countdown was only scheduled for 15 minutes, ABC/ESPN chose to not have the Pit Studio on the premises and just have Bestwick host from the booth again. This adjustment meant an old-school pre-race show that consisted of driver interviews (five, to be exact). I liked it. Simple and to the point.
Even though Travis Pastrana was in the race on Saturday, he didn’t receive all that much coverage. He simply had an awful event with two spinouts and a terrible-handling car. Other than his incidents, Pastrana only played a small role in the broadcast. For what he did Saturday, that was proper.
We saw a decent amount of racing for position during the afternoon, but it is still not as inclusive as it should be. They’re getting there, but it’s going to be a work in progress for the entire season. We just have to keep on them. Rusty Wallace was in the booth in place of Dale Jarrett and I’m still not really a fan of him in there. He can be helpful at times and definitely knows what he’s talking about, but he rubs people the wrong way.
Post-race coverage was limited, given the time circumstances. There were four post-race driver interviews and a chat with the winning crew chief (Jeremy Bullins). There was no check of the points before ESPN left the air, but there was acknowledgment that Sadler gained significantly on Stenhouse.
I generally thought that the telecast was OK, but nothing special. I give kudos to Andy Petree for calling out Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on his questionable moves on Justin Allgaier late in the race. We’ll have to watch in the future to see if that affects something later in the season.
Sunday evening brought the Sprint Cup Series out for 600 miles of action at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Since Monday was Memorial Day, most of FOX’s pre-race was based around that fact. For example, the bottom scroll that usually shows various tweets about the upcoming race was replaced by a listing of members of the military who have died in the past year.
There was also a feature on Bud Moore, 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee and World War II veteran. Moore talked about storming Omaha Beach in Vichy France on D-Day in 1944, which he claimed was one of the scariest days of his life. He also talked about serving under General George Patton. Admittedly, I don’t recall hearing much about Moore since his induction, but it is good to hear from him.
During the race, we had a lot of the problems that FOX had in Darlington. Just as I’d figured, they would have no problems at all covering pit stops during the Sprint All-Star Race. However, as I wrote two weeks ago FOX’s production crew has this tendency to “go over the helmets” of the on-air staff when stuff comes up. This week, FOX missed large chunks of three different pit stop sequences due to commercial breaks. Cripes, man. I guess it just wasn’t their night. Drives me absolutely nuts. N-V-T-S nuts (bonus points if you know the movie where that statement comes from).
Speaking of commercial breaks, there were 62 minutes’ worth of commercials under the green flag during Sunday night’s race. That was spread out through 22 commercial breaks. I cannot think of a race since I’ve been calculating green-flag commercials that has had that many. Granted, the fact that this was a 600-mile race without a bunch of yellows definitely played into it, but it just seemed to be way too much.
Early on in the race, Darrell Waltrip was talking about how he could see a whole bunch of three and four-wide racing out there. What were we looking at? A roof-cam shot in which we couldn’t see any such thing (the action Darrell was referring to was behind it). I know a lot of you don’t like Darrell (had a conversation with former colleague Brody Jones about that Monday afternoon), but if he’s pointing that out on-air, you gotta show that. Don’t make your commentators look like fools, even if they do that to themselves on a regular basis.
Dave Blaney was forced to the garage due to engine problems after roughly 40 laps on Sunday evening. We never got any kind of an explanation from the broadcast for it. Zilch. Found out about the issue on Twitter. It wasn’t like Blaney was parkin’ it. He had a sponsor in SealWrap. (For the record, the No. 36 car blew a motor).
Even though the race was run at record pace (nearly 156 mph for 600 miles), there was not all that much post-race coverage. This shortening was due to the fact that FOX’s telecast was only scheduled through 10:30 PM EDT despite only a couple of 600-mile races ever being completed in less than four hours. FOX provided viewers with four post-race interviews, plus checks of the unofficial results and point standings before they left the air for the night.
In all honesty, I just didn’t enjoy this telecast. It exhibited many of the facets of broadcasts that have angered me this season. The only thing that I was happy about Sunday is that not all the focus in the race was centered upon the very front of the field. However, they need to do something about the commercial placement. I refuse to believe that the production staff is that dense over their terrible placement. It’s probably a Los Angeles problem (where FOX is based) and the people at the track are just bound to the network’s directives.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, we’re back to a normal setup. All three of NASCAR’s series will be back in action at Dover International Speedway. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series will return to Belle Isle Park for the first time since 2008. This time, the Rolex Sports Car Series will serve as the primary support as opposed to the American Le Mans Series, which is currently in their pre-Le Mans break.
Friday, June 1
Saturday, June 2
Sunday, June 3
~- Approximate start time
NOTES: Since ABC is televising Sunday’s Izod IndyCar Series race from Belle Isle, qualifying will not be televised at all. Sorry. Also, the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) will be back in action on June 7 at Mid-Ohio.
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series events from Dover for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch.
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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Thank God FOX is done after Dover, Im sure the suicide rate will go down after Micheal and Darrell are off the air.
Fox are just getting worse by the day. Stupid zoomed in shots of cars running by themselves while you can see in the corner of the screen there’s a race for position going on a few places back. They just don’t care about covering the racing.. all about Hollywood shots and not deviating from their pre-planned stories.
Your Quote was from History of the World Part 1.
it’s almost like the in car camera operators are being run by ADHD gamers with game joysticks.They run the joysticks like the way they see it in a game being played.
I’ll agree, Jarrett is better than Rusty in the booth, but my gawd, you complain he rubs some people wrong?? There are 2 idiot Waltrips to put up with & many,many, many more complaints!! I agree with other posters, Fox doesn’t know, or doesn’t care about showing RACING, only greed & stupidity. [think simpsons]. Glad to see them go!!
Funny thing happened Sunday (I watched the races live due to rain in my area)…. my wife walked by the TV and said she had been listening to the TV booth team speaking during the Indy 500. She stopped what she was doing in the other room and sat down to watch (she NEVER watches any racing). She mentioned how intelligent the announcers sounded versus NASCAR announcers and that she was intrigued enough to sit down and watch. She watched 2/3 of the race until our neighbor came over. When the 600 started she commented; “those idiot announcers sound like morons…how can you listen to that redneck babble?” She went on to comment that it was no wonder to her that NASCAR TV ratings are in the toilet. I say BZF + FOX = let’s watch a movie!
Who can blame Dr. Dirt for walking away from the freakshow circus called FOX.
I’ll be SO glad to NOT see or hear Larry Mac and his over the top bias anymore.
The wife and I took a drive and came back to watch the end of the race only to see 10 minutes of Danica coverage so we turned it off.
You’re preaching to the choir, Phil. I like the comment from Craig about the cameras being run by ADHD gamers! Perfect description of why I decided that I’m done with Fox for the rest of their season. I got enough information from trackpass and twitter to know what was going on in the race since the cameras wouldn’t show me anyway. I’ve reached the why bother stage of following NASCAR.
I watched the Indy broadcast and yes it had some flaws too but at least I saw more action on the track.
I have to laugh – BZF’s brilliant idea to spice things up with the “chase” has resulted in dull and boring racing for the 26 races because everyone is points racing. Before they’d race every week because it was important, now the goal is to be in the top 10 and then compete – sort of.
I happen to like TNT’s coverage best of all the tv partners – I love racebuddy! It’s a shame they have some of the worst tracks to broadcast from and it is the middle of the summer.
One of the few weekends I didn’t have to suffer through Crusty and the Motormouth brothers nor the poor camera work of both Faux and BSPN. I actually saw the races live at the track. What a blessing. My condolences to all those who suffered through the Faux & BSPN broadcasts.
Be glad when the nauseating love affair with Danica is over! Getting tired of hearing about nothing but her.
If she is in the race at all, then they make sure that they show her. I think this race was the only time that I ever saw so much time dedicated to a driver running in the mid-30s.
Also, DW continually made excuses for her. It was never her driving abilities, it was always the car’s fault.
Give it up! This woman is not a great driver. She is only famous because of how she looks!
Ratings UP for the Indy 500 without Danica… Ratings DOWN for the Coke 600 with Danica…
Draw your own conclusions.
I’ll miss Bob Jenkins. He (and Larry Nuber) became the voice of NASCAR for me.
What’s Mike Joy’s contract look like? Can he take the Indycar job? He’s better than FOX allows him to be, and he also must be getting sick of Darrell hogging the show.
Craig and Gina, those in-car cameras are in fact controlled by production guys from BSI (a shared resource between all of NASCAR’s TV partners) with joysticks. It actually does look a little like a video game. Pretty cool, actually. Each guy controls the panning cameras on 2 cars with the joystick and can switch from view to view. However, I don’t think they zoom anymore.
Andy, I’m not privy to those type of contract details. Joy does have a little experience covering the Izod IndyCar Series (he did play-by-play for races aired on TNN and CBS in the late 1990’s), but I don’t think he’d leave FOX to do it.
Oh, and Ghost of Curtis Turner was right. I did quote History of the World: Part I.