Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Couch Potato Tuesday · Phil Allaway · Monday July 2, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where overall race telecast critiques are the name of the game. Its been a tough couple of weeks, unfortunately. First, we had the Junior-centric coverage at Michigan, then whatever you guys want to call TNT’s coverage at Sears Point (Note: Yes, I know it is Sonoma Raceway now, but the hill that the track is built into is actually called Sears Point, therefore, I am not in the wrong for calling it Sears Point). Just to add to the stink from Northern California, this fan video captured a couple of instances that were never mentioned on TNT’s broadcast in Turn 2.
This weekend, the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series were all back in action at very hot Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Could the TV partners deliver a decent telecast?
Before we start, ESPN made it official last week that they have dropped the Craftsman Tech Garage from their NASCAR telecasts. As a result, Tim Brewer will no longer be appearing on ESPN. The general opinion of the Tech Garage segments was almost completely dependent on where ESPN was that week. For those races in which there was enough room to put it in the Infield, it was quite informative. They could get stuff like broken air guns or tires which melted For places like Watkins Glen, where the Craftsman Tech Garage was located behind the frontstretch grandstands (and outside of the track gates, technically), not so much. However, one thing is most definitely true. It is the fact that Brewer was very clearly at home in the portable studio. He loved that place. Just look at that huge smile right there. Absolute cheese city. That is the mark of a very happy man. As much as ESPN may have misused the Craftsman Tech Garage over the years, I’ll miss it.
On Thursday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned from another one of their way-the-deuce-too-long breaks to race at Kentucky Speedway. Compared to the other two races in Sparta, this appeared to be the most competitive of the three…I think.
NCWTS Setup was the usual pre-race show. The primary feature was about eventual race winner James Buescher, his wife Kris, and how they met at a race track as kids. I’ll fully admit that I never knew that Kris ever raced before. Apparently, this meeting came very early in James’ career back when he was running Legends cars. Keep in mind that he’s only 22 now, and he was a rookie in the series three years ago. According to Kris, he was shy as heck and decided to talk about her race car instead of asking about her. Whoops. I guess I don’t blame James. I probably would have done the same thing if I were in his shoes, if I even had the courage to go up and talk to her. The piece continued with a match race between the Bueschers. To win, James had to lap Kris. He failed.
Another piece centered upon Weekend Warriors Productions, the production company owned by Justin Lofton. This is the company whose logo was on the hood of a Nationwide car that Lofton ran in a one-off at Texas in April, 2010 and wrecked. We got to sit in on the making of a special production in celebration of Lofton’s maiden Camping World Truck Series win at Charlotte in May. What followed was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. The idea was Lofton treating the trophy as if it was a woman. But hey, I’ve got something much better for you than me trying to describe the craziness. The actual short is available for viewing on the homepage at Lofton’s website. It is only two minutes long, but it contains enough weird stuff to last a while.
SPEED’s telecast on Thursday night was easily the best of the weekend, despite the fact that James Buescher drove away from the pack and hid for much of the night. There was plenty of action to be had on track and SPEED did a great job of showing that action to fans. I didn’t feel lost at any time during the telecast.
SPEED also managed to stave off going to a break when Tim George, Jr. crashed exiting Turn 4 on Lap 102. I’d like to think that NASCAR’s other media partners would be able to resist the allure of the commercial break, but I’m not so sure these days.
Post-race coverage was decent. There were six post-race driver interviews and a quick interview with the winning truck owner/father-in-law Steve Turner. There was also a check of the unofficial results and point standings before SPEED left the air.
I was very happy with the telecast. There was just a completely different vibe from the telecast on SPEED as compared to the other two races this past weekend. It appears that there aren’t quite as many corporate sponsors that need to be pleased with the telecasts. As a result, there are less constraints to the coverage. SPEED’s telecast is more along the lines of what everyone would likely do if given the chance. Allen and Parsons were on note all night, while Waltrip was his informative self. I still think he’s addicted to watermelons. I know it is summer and they’re tasty, but it is like Waltrip is to watermelon like Mini-Me is to chocolate (“Its like catnip for clones!”).
Feed the Children 300
Friday night brought ESPN back to the track for their Nationwide Series coverage. For the first time in weeks, ESPN had nearly their full complement of on-air personalities. The Pit Studio returned to action with Nicole Briscoe and Brad Daugherty after multiple weeks away. Of course, the most notable addition to ESPN’s telecast was the return of Carl Edwards to the broadcast booth for his second Nationwide Series telecast.
Countdown started out with some technical issues, unfortunately. Marty Smith was on camera talking about Roush Fenway Racing’s somewhat sudden announcement that Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. would be taking over the No. 17, while Matt Kenseth (who is the only driver who has ever driven the car) will be leaving at the end of the year. By now, you should know that Smith only shows up on a race telecast when something notable happens. That isn’t very often. However, you’d expect that Smith’s microphone would be ready to go regardless. Guess not. We had a nasty reverb effect for the first two minutes of Smith’s time on-air. You gotta have that ready to go at all times.
In recognition of Stenhouse getting the No. 17 for 2013, ESPN aired a piece about Stenhouse’s evolution in the Nationwide Series. I can recall this being aired multiple times in the past, including at least twice last year. Was it pertinent to the Kenseth news? Yes. Do I think that was in the original plan for the weekend? Debatable. Tuesday is conference call day, so this might have broken after the call ended. Makes me think they had plans for something else to go there, but they couldn’t put it together in time.
I don’t believe that Edwards really improved much from Darlington. In fact, he may have regressed a little. Early on, Bestwick would throw Edwards some talking points in an attempt to get him involved. As the race continued on, Edwards seemed to get more comfortable in his role. However, Edwards’ time in the broadcast booth seems to me like they threw him to the wolves. When Justin Allgaier went to the booth during the ARCA race at Talladega, he just went up there almost as a lark, just to see what it was like and maybe help out a little. Dario Franchitti did the same thing during the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway. No pressure. However, Edwards is an official member of the team, and as a result, is far more important to the telecast.
Do I think that Edwards could eventually adjust to life in the broadcast booth and… not be a nervous wreck? Sure, he can. However, he can’t just show up with all but no training and expect to set the world on-air. He can only do some much training while still racing full-time in Sprint Cup. He would also have to want it, badly. Of course, having said that, when he is comfortable in the booth, Edwards can most definitely help out a telecast.
One thing that Edwards cannot help is a telecast that continues to be very much biased towards the front-running teams. How do I put this best? Remember two weeks ago when I wrote about the Quicken Loans 400 telecast becoming all about Earnhardt Jr.?. Late in the race, ESPN gave Austin Dillon the same treatment, despite the fact that he was running away with the event.
I know that this wasn’t exactly the most competitive race on earth (Dillon won the thing by nearly ten seconds and only eight cars finished on the lead lap), but there was probably some action for position to be had during the race. We just never saw all that much outside of the periods of time immediately after restarts. That’s a shame. Also, with such a low number of cars on the lead lap, it is more than reasonable to give substantial coverage to teams off of the lead lap. I don’t think ESPN really did much of that at all on Friday night.
Since the race once again ended way ahead of schedule, there was a fairly substantial amount of post-race coverage. ESPN brought viewers seven post-race interviews, along with interviews with the winning crew chief (Danny Stockman), owner/grandfather (Richard Childress) and father (Mike Dillon). There were also checks of the point standings and unofficial results before ESPN left the air.
ESPN cannot be so rigid in their coverage. A NASCAR race is fluid. Storylines change. You can’t spend an entire telecast beating down three storylines, ignore everything else and think everything’s going to be OK. At least there’s a plate race this Friday. They’ll be forced to be more inclusive.
Quaker State 400
Finally, we get to the Sprint Cup Series from Kentucky. Since it is Kentucky, Louisville-based Yum! Foods (the dudes that own KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, among others) purchased a significant amount of ad-space on the telecast. You probably noticed it. I know I did. In response to the uproar on the internet following the race (which apparently overshadowed anything that happened in it, sadly), I went back and counted the KFC commercials. There were nine of them. The same ad nine times. It is not that bad of a commercial. However, you see almost anything that many times in a four-hour block of time and it will drive you nuts. Of course, having said that, I swear that Clint Bowyer’s 5-Hour Energy commercial aired the same amount of times.
Countdown to Green featured the usual amount of pre-race analysis on the TNT stage. Kasey Kahne, who apparently thought that he was going to stink it up prior to the race, joined the trio (Alexander, McReynolds and Petty) briefly to talk about his weekend.
The NASCAR Generations piece was focused upon driver superstitions and/or routines. Petty talked about how his father loved to drive with a wet rag in his mouth. This was actually a method he used to counteract carbon monoxide in the car. Ned Jarrett talked about his fixation (for lack of better words) with the No. 11, which continues to this day from his time driving for Holman-Moody. Interesting piece, although Johnson didn’t have much to add, superstition-wise.
Another piece saw Marty Snider accompany Denny Hamlin to Anchorage to participate in a dog sledding competition in what appeared to be the wet parking lot at a FedEx facility. 2012 Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey was also there to give Hamlin pointers. Gotta admit, this was pretty pointless. I feel like Snider wasted his time traveling all the way to Alaska for that.
There was also a look into a pre-race meeting for Kevin Harvick’s team, since they were serving as the Inside Trax team for the night. Ultimately, this feature did not get anywhere near as much use in Kentucky as it did in Sonoma.
The race telecast itself was plagued by commercials just as badly as it was in Sonoma. It is a shame that the three minutes on, three minutes off scenario seems to be standard operating procedure now. It is ticking a lot of people off. Having breaks that close together means that no real flow can develop. This hurts everything in the broadcast from the on-air crew to the production staff.
Having said that, the booth had their moments of Zen. For example, the first caution flew (right after the third commercial break in the first 37 laps) for Scott Riggs slowing on the backstretch. It was a weird circumstance. His car seemed to roll to a halt, then restart and continue on its merry way. Riggs was already 29 laps down by that point, so I doubt he was trying to intentionally draw a caution. The team mentioned “electrical issues” as to why they DNF’d, but since R3 Motorsports has been S&P’ing for much of the season, that could be considered somewhat dubious. I think TNT should have at least followed up a little bit, enough to see whether it was a ruse or not. Instead, we got bupkis.
During that first caution, we got “Inside Trax Enhanced” audio during the first round of stops. This was meant to replicate being there in the pits. Of course, FOX had been doing that off and on during their portion of the season. That only works if you’re at the race. Otherwise, no thanks.
Overall, I just didn’t really like the telecast. I feel like I missed a lot of things, like when Greg Biffle got a flat and lost a lap. I don’t remember seeing that on the telecast at all. That’s kinda big. Weak. Coverage was often limited to the frontrunners and you would see people come out of nowhere at times. Turner Sports, it is your job to tell the stories and show how people move up through the field. I don’t think you did a great job at that.
Post-race coverage was decent since the race ended fairly quickly. Viewers were provided with eight post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Paul Wolfe). There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings before they left the air.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series return to Daytona International Speedway for their second visit of the year. Its going to be hot and humid, so the likely of an Amy Henderson Special is not all that high. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series is back in action on the Streets of Toronto.
Thursday, July 5
Time Telecast Network
Friday, July 6
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, July 7
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, July 8
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape delayed
Now, I will be in Daytona this upcoming weekend covering the action at the track for Frontstretch (Note: Watch for updates from the track on our own Twitter page).
For the Critic’s Annex, this week will see me critique the Continental Tire 150 from Watkins Glen International for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. For the July 12 edition of the Annex, I will write a bit about ABC’s telecast of the Honda Indy Toronto.
Also, remember that Saturday night is TNT’s annual edition of Wide Open Coverage. This means limited commercial interruption (for regular breaks) and more action on-screen. And not a moment too soon. I just wish their advertisers would let them do it more than once a year.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons below. Finally, if you would like to contact any of the TV partners personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage from last weekend, please click on the following links:
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.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Good riddance to the Tech Garage. It should be a separate half-hour show devoted to one or two subjects so that they can go beyond the pre-school explanations of what a car is. It couldn’t be any worse than those reality shows that Speed runs.
Stick & ball sports don’t interrupt the game to explain how to throw a pass or what the catchers mask is for. Let the internet bring the newbies up to speed, I wanna watch a race.
One good thing about the Cup coverage, no DW!
Wrong! The KFC commercial is about as obnoxious as they get.
Who wants to see an old bastard grandpa trying to beat up his smart-alec grandson?
TNT’s coverage was awful. If I hadn’t been following several Nascar reporters/writers on Twitter, I wouldn’t of know what was going on. After the third “mashed potatos vs mac-n-cheese” commercial, I muted the TV and listened to the PRN radio broadcast. TNT needs to do a better job.
Just when you think it can’t get any worse…TNT’s coverage tops them all. Thank god for Direct tv’s hot pass and the internet. NASCAR needs to get a clue as to why no one is watching. Had I not had Direct I would have just turned it off.
All I took away from the race was that I won’t go to KFC any more. I’m not sure that I’m going to bother wasting the electricity to even turn on the races at all. Fox has been terrible, TNT was good for one race but no more, ESPN will have its own agenda and pretend that the season started when they began covering the races and will also probably use the supertight TV cameras. Let’s see, it’s summer and ESPN will have the races during the best weather of the year — I’ll bet I can find something else to do.
I get better coverage via my computer, using trackpass, twitter and the radio feed.
The racing telecasts are getting worse each week. I like when you said “it is your job to tell the stories and show how people move up through the field. I don’t think you did a great job at that.” None of them do that. I use trackpass and mute the tv as well. Race buddy is good until it freezes. I thought TNT did a good job with the first race but since then they’ve gone steadily downhill. I’m starting to think Wally is on valium & Kyle is on speed (the drug not the show) or something. I’m not looking forward to ESPN either.
Showing a tight close up shot of a car and following it around the track while they yak about it is NOT showing the racing.
Keep the cameras panned back so I can see the battles and the track.
I don’t need to hear speeches about the cars either. Not from the booth and not from the pit reporters either.
Same narrow shots of one car lapping around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around… And to think I used to defend TNT as the one broadcast through the year that was watchable. Between this and KFC? Bleh.
SPEED’s broadcast was great as always though, the rest of the networks should watch them now and then. The battle for 2nd-through-6th was intense over the whole race, and we SAW it all.