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.
Phil Allaway · Monday August 27, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast critiquing is the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series were all in action back at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Also of note, we’ve breached the 250 critique mark here at Frontstretch (combined between the regular Tuesday critiques and the ones in the Annex). I thank my readers for hanging in there over the past three plus seasons.
The Camping World Truck Series held a rare Wednesday night race at Bristol Motor Speedway in conjunction with the Whelen Modifieds. I’ve already covered the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 in last week’s Critic’s Annex. Could SPEED do a little better for the trucks? Let’s find out.
As I mentioned in the closing of last week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday, there was a good sporting chance that you would see Rick Allen striping a parking lot. Sure enough, this happened. Clay Greenfield called in Allen and Phil Parsons to help him stripe and seal a parking lot. I know, this sounds ridiculous, but it happened. This is Greenfield’s day job, for lack of better words. Titan, one of Greenfield’s sponsors, makes the equipment that he uses to stripe lots and that got a fair amount of airtime. Admittedly, the SPEED duo held their own. Good to see someone like Greenfield get airtime.
Another piece saw Ron Hornaday participate in a competition at a local Food City to see who could rack up the most groceries in a short time. If that sounds familiar, it should. It is very similar to the “Big Sweep” on the game show Supermarket Sweep. Granted, Hornaday managed to win, but as Frontstretch’s self-proclaimed game show expert, I doubt Hornaday ever watched the show. Here’s a rule of thumb for a Big Sweep: Don’t ever go to a deli counter when you’re on the clock. Grab the giant hams that cost like $26 each, but that are out in the case where you don’t need assistance. Time is of the essence.
Also, SPEED brought viewers some pre-race interviews for what seems like the first time in weeks. That’s good to see. It should also be noted that the Setup was shortened a little due to the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 running long. Perhaps there could have been more than two had the race ended on time.
Yes, Timothy Peters led every lap, something that I noted hadn’t happened in the series since Ron Hornaday pulled it off at Louisville (on CBS, no less) in 1997. However, watching this telecast, you probably wouldn’t have known that Peters was unassailable. SPEED gave viewers plenty of action for position throughout the race, which is always good to see. The action that we were shown was excellent and it made a race that could have been very boring to watch quite interesting.
Post-race coverage was OK. SPEED brought viewers five post-race interviews and a check of the point standings before leaving the air.
Food City 250
On Friday night, the Nationwide Series returned to Bristol for their 250 lap extravaganza. In the Pit Studio, the grinding was the main topic of discussion, taking up a fair amount of Countdown. The rain also played a pretty big role as well.
The main feature of pre-race was a piece where Dr. Jerry Punch (an experienced college basketball commentator, although I think it was mainly with men’s games) interviewed Pat Summitt about how she first heard about Knoxville’s own Trevor Bayne. Apparently, Summitt and her team were at a donor event during last year’s Daytona 500 and she gathered the people there around the TV to cheer Bayne home.
The piece is designed to bring attention to “We Back Pat,” a foundation designed to benefit Alzheimer’s research. Summitt retired earlier this year after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia. The foundation was on Bayne’s car during the race and Summitt served as the race’s Grand Marshal.
Admittedly, by the time we got to Countdown on Friday, it was already the third time I’d seen the piece that day. It was a nice little piece. I suppose that you don’t live in Eastern Tennessee (and I don’t), then you don’t realize how much power someone like Summitt has there. Bayne talked about Summitt like she was the most important person in all of Tennessee (Heck, she might be the most well-known). Overall, this was nice, but it was played out by the time Countdown came along.
Since the rains that wiped out Sprint Cup qualifying lingered about for so long, it delayed the start of the race. Because of that, ESPN was able to bring viewers ten pre-race interviews, quite a bit more than normal.
Once the race finally got underway, ESPN brought viewers a somewhat typical broadcast. Much of the coverage was situated towards the front of the race, but with some looks back in the pack just outside of the top-10. Of course, since Danica Patrick was having a pretty good run, she got a fair bit of coverage as well.
There were a couple of strange freezing instances during the telecast that I didn’t hear anyone mention anywhere, so I’ll talk about it here. For lack of better words, the screen froze a couple of times during the race on roof-cam replays that were apropos of nothing. This was quickly fixed, though.
We didn’t miss anything during the race like restarts or anything like that, but it appeared that the commentary might have been a little off. The booth was convinced that John Wes Townley blew a tire and went into the wall. I’m thinking he broke a suspension part. It really bit the dust on the apron, but I’m convinced that caused him to crash.
Since the race started late due to rain, there simply wasn’t all that much post-race coverage. ESPN brought viewers three post-race driving interviews and an interview with winning crew chief Adam Stevens before leaving for Baseball Tonight, which kinda bites.
Overall, the Nationwide coverage was kinda forgettable. There was nothing glaringly bad about it, but nothing great either. It was just average at best. Nothing to write home. Which bites for me, of course.
Irwin Tools Night Race
Finally, the infamous Bristol night race was upon us. ESPN chose to put the race on ABC, meaning no RaceBuddy for you. Admittedly, I’ve only been using it for a leader board recently. Haven’t been able to really look at the available views for weeks due to it constantly crashing.
Countdown started a little late since the Little League United States Championship Game ran a full hour long (Whoever heard of 40 runs being scored in a seven-inning game?). Luckily, this didn’t really cut out much from the show.
ESPN brought viewers a good chunk of pre-race analysis from inside of Victory Lane instead of in the Pit Studio (at Bristol, the Pit Studio is located outside of the track up by the Dragstrip.) This was done while driver introductions with their pomp, circumstance and boring statements from drivers went on in the background. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for them to even hear each other with all the noise.
There was a short piece called “Hills and Hollers” that talked about Bristol’s ties to the early origins of NASCAR and rebels racing DeSoto’s on the local roads near the track. I guess that’s pertinent. Remember, bootlegging didn’t exactly die out once NASCAR was formed. I believe Buddy Arrington missed almost all of 1971 because he was stuck in jail after getting caught running moonshine. But, this feature just seemed out of place. I’m sorry.
ESPN’s race coverage was fairly interesting to watch. There was a continued bias towards the front of the field, but they did dip back a ways to show battles deeper in the pack. I think they would have done this more had there been longer green flag runs (the longest run Saturday night was 65 laps between Cautions Nos. 1 and 2). However, when they did take a look back, it was either to pick up battles involving championship contenders (Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., etc.), or something having to do with Danica Patrick.
Compared with radio broadcasts, or even Twitter, I found ESPN’s booth commentators to be quite calm. The whole Kenseth-Stewart mess didn’t exactly sound all that exciting if you were just listening to Bestwick’s play-by-play of it. The whole thing was crazy and they were kinda just going through the motions. I don’t like that.
Another gripe that I had was that certain things were either not conveyed at all when they should have been to the TV audience, or that there was a delayed response. The first example of this was when David Ragan ran in the back of David Stremme and apparently broke an oil line (this was Caution No. 4). This caused a fire on Ragan’s car, then spun him into the inside wall. I recall Twitter exploding about this when it occurred, along with multiple reports of people hitting the wall like we were back at Watkins Glen.
However, the first mention of any of this was five minutes later on ESPN. Basically, they had no clue why Kasey Kahne (who was leading prior to the yellow) lost so much space on pit road. They went back and looked at their available views and saw that Kahne got in the wall. I’m really surprised that it took them that long to notice what happened. Once again, don’t they have spotters that can tell them those things?
Another example was when Kurt Busch and Regan Smith crashed (Caution No. 8). ESPN showed one replay of the crash prior to a commercial break that showed Busch and Smith get together and wreck. Viewers could see that Dave Blaney was real close to the incident, but looked like he could avoid it. Guess not. We didn’t know that Blaney had hit Busch until he blew his engine two cautions later. Replays of Blaney’s expiration showed that his SealWrap Chevrolet had pretty serious damage to the front end, which likely caused the failure. It was only at that point that Bestwick mentioned that Blaney had suffered pretty serious damage in the aforementioned wreck (interestingly enough, Blaney’s not listed as being involved in the wreck on Racing-Reference, either). C’mon, ESPN. You gotta do a better job than that.
With all the yellows in the race, ESPN was right at the end of their timeslot when the race ended. As a result, post-race coverage was fairly brief. ESPN provided viewers with four post-race driver interviews and an interview with the winning crew chief (Darian Grubb). There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings before ESPN left the air.
I know ESPN definitely seemed to be excited about Saturday night’s race. But, it really didn’t come out in the commentary. It is a shame. Of course, they did get a kick out of Stewart throwing his helmet at Kenseth. Heck, they even broke out the old footage of Dale Jarrett throwing his helmet at Bobby Hillin, Jr. from the 1993 Food City 500 (Note: The throw wasn’t shown live back then, only via replay). I don’t know why it didn’t translate to the rest of the telecast.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, all three major series are back in action at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Meanwhile, Formula One returns from their summer vacation for what is sure to be an epic race at Spa in Belgium. Here’s your listings.
Friday, August 31
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, September 1
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, September 2
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape Delayed
SPEED’s presentation of The All-American Victory is a show about Dan Gurney’s victory in the 1967 Grand Prix of Belgium on the old 9.8 mile Spa circuit in the Eagle-Weslake, a car of his own design. Either this show, or another one called “Chasing Speed,” which goes behind the scenes with Michael Waltrip Racing will be covered for next week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex. For next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday, I will cover the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races from Atlanta.
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There were problems with the Irwin Tools race broadcast in the Chicago market. At least 10 times during the latter stages of the race, we were treated to a still frame from a commercial that lasted for several minutes.
It looked like someone, probably at WLS in Chicago, was cueing up a commercial for the next break and let the first frame of the commercial go out to the live feed. As a result, we missed a lot of action during key moments during the race including Tony Stewart’s helmet toss.
Although the race was pretty good, I was flipping channels because I didn’t want to watch some still picture with no audio when I wanted to watch the race.
This broadcast had the least good pit road reporting that I have ever witnessed in all the years I’ve been watching!
What I found a little disturbing was Dale Jarret’s reactions to guys trying to make a pass. Everytime two drivers would be side by side for more than a lap he would start advocating one dump the other. Once might have been cute as a call out to the “old” Bristol but to constantly harp on it I thought was a little extreme.
Glen H., I cannot vouch for your issues because I simply did not see them here. Like you said, that appears to be all on WLS. Sorry you had to deal with that.