NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Couch Potato Tuesday · Phil Allaway · Monday September 3, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race broadcast criticism is the name of the game. This past week, the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series were each at Atlanta Motor Speedway for 1,000 miles of racing and wearing tires down to the cords. Speaking of wearing down to the cords, I’m pretty sure that Trevor Bayne did quite a bit of that on Sunday night if his practice laps Saturday were any indication. His car seemed to be more at home at Lebanon Valley than Atlanta.
Also of note, we’re getting into college football season again. Countdown prior to both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races was affected by games running long. I have no idea why ESPN thinks that it is a good idea to allot three hours per game. They have to run exceptionally fast in order to finish in that amount of time. At this point, ESPN literally has the power to dictate terms to schools about when they start games (the Tuesday night MAC and Sun Belt Conference events are just one example of this.) I’d suggest moving the start times up, but I guess they’d probably wait until next year to execute any changes.
Finally, Jamie Little stated on her Twitter page back in July that she thought she would be back on pit road by Richmond, but according to the press release that ESPN sent out on Monday, that’s not the case. However, I’m sure that you’ll see Little pit reporting again before the end of the season. With that said, onto the critique.
Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200
On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series was back in action at Atlanta Motor Speedway. For SPEED, the big story on this night was Kyle Busch’s return to the series. Hooray. I really don’t think I cared about that, to be honest. Regardless, there was a nice little montage of Kyle’s accomplishments in the series.
The primary feature on the Setup was a piece where Ty and Austin Dillon travel to a couple of places in the Atlanta area, apparently to promote the AdvoCare 500 and give away tickets to the race. This manifested itself in one of the more unusual games of Dodgeball that I can remember seeing. Picture a combination of GSN’s Extreme Dodgeball and Spike’s SlamBall and you’ll get a good idea of what was evident here.
That was followed up by a climbing competition between the brothers at what looked to be a Bass Pro Shops. I still think the whole dynamic between Austin and Ty is kind of played out on pre-race shows. I would have liked to see a feature with someone else, or even a replay of the piece on Timothy Peters that aired on RaceHub last week (which I wish NASCAR’s YouTube page would post instead of clips of Jimmy Spencer throwing helmets).
Another piece had the race’s namesake, Jeff Foxworthy, tour through the garage and talk to drivers about the strangest stuff they’ve seen at tracks. This was nothing short of an ad for his Grit Chips that sponsored the race (apparently, they’re spicy?) and a medium for Foxworthy to tell Redneck jokes or something similar to them. Not impressed. Surprised that Foxworthy didn’t throw in a plug for his new game show, The American Bible Challenge as well.
Sandwiched in between these two pieces was some pre-race analysis and a couple of pre-race interviews. It was weird this week. Both pre-race and race coverage could be best described as a sandwich. The meat was good, but the buns might make you sick.
The race coverage was full of competitive action for position, which is always great to watch. SPEED’s booth always does a great job bringing us the action and Friday night was no different, despite the fact that Waltrip sometimes drives me nuts.
For a race that ended as fast as Friday’s event did, the post-race coverage was very slim. There were only two post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with winning crew chief Marcus Richmond. There was also a check of the point standings before SPEED left the air for SPEED Center a full half-hour early.
C’mon, dudes. I can understand leaving a little early in this circumstance due to running out of people to talk to. However, you gave us the bare minimum when you should have gone beyond the norm. It is like going to a local wrestling match just because 1990‘s WWF wrestler Doink was going to show, then he all but no-shows a match, then scampers away due to bowel issues (Note: Link contains strong language and adult content galore. Viewer discretion is most definitely advised) There definitely should have been more post-race coverage. I left with an empty feeling.
The meat of the coverage, which is really the most important part of the telecast to most of my readers, was quite solid. I was happy with what we got there. However, everything else was a mess. I have no clue why.
NRA American Warrior 300
On Saturday night, the Nationwide Series returned to Atlanta for 300 more miles of action. Kevin Harvick opened up a can on the field that hasn’t been seen in years. But, how did ESPN do? Let’s find out.
When it came time for NASCAR Countdown to start, the Southern Miss-Nebraska game still had nearly eight minutes remaining. ESPN then made the immediate call to move Countdown to ESPNEWS. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Previously, they would just sit there and wait and wait. If features couldn’t air because of the wait, it would just get pushed back a week.
ESPN joined Countdown 21 minutes late, right in the middle of a discussion about Travis Pastrana and Danica Patrick. We got interviews with the duo and a prediction that Patrick would drop like a stone. That happened Sunday night, but not really on Saturday. It just looked that way because Harvick was over a second a lap faster than Patrick.
Speaking of Pastrana, he had a great run on Saturday night until he wrecked. Knowing that he had stayed out during the sixth caution (the McClure crash), he was probably in need of a stop and drove past the use-by date on his tires.
Unfortunately, for race fans, once the green flag fell there really wasn’t all that much racing for position shown. Most of the action seemed to be around the restarts, then there seemed to be a focus on individual cars. Many of these individual teams were ones with Cup drivers in the seats, except for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
There were some other gripes as well. Kasey Kahne dropped out of the race on Lap 128, but it wasn’t mentioned on the broadcast at the time. 30 laps later, ESPN did interview Kahne. He made it sound like the tire issue on Lap 106 eventually caused him to drop out, but he really didn’t go into much detail. There were also some strange sound issues on the restart from the fourth caution. Sound effects for graphics were going off despite nothing happening. Found that rather annoying.
Now, what you’re probably going to take away from this telecast is the whole spat between Harvick and Brad Keselowski over the water bottle. The bottle did not bring out the yellow. However, ESPN did show multiple replays of Keselowski throwing said bottle out of the car, including one from inside of Keselowski’s car. Harvick apparently saw these replays on Sprint Vision during the yellow and was angry at Keselowski as a result.
After the race, Harvick confronted Keselowski and said his piece. Keselowski kind of just sat there and took it, thinking that Harvick was making himself look bad. However, Keselowski stated (in response to a fan) on Twitter Monday that he believes that ESPN was solely responsible for the confrontation. It is one thing to want to play up storylines, but Keselowski is accusing ESPN of trying to create stories where there is nothing.
Post-race coverage was average. ESPN provided viewers with four post-race interviews, including chats with both Keselowski and Harvick. The pit reporters relayed information to both drivers that the yellow was not thrown because of the water bottle. The responses: Keselowski was flustered as heck. Can’t recall seeing him like that. It was like he was in shock or something. Harvick must have said something that unnerved Keselowski.
Meanwhile, Harvick took a different stance and seemed to immediately put it on ESPN, saying in response to Dave Burns telling him that the bottle did not cause the yellow, “Why‘d you guys keep showing it on the replay, then?” He then continued to say (for lack of better words) that NASCAR didn’t want him to win.
Needless to say, ESPN is the Nationwide Series’ exclusive TV partner. They are in the business of televising the races, reporting on what happens in them, and explaining why these things happen. The storylines that often get pimped on Countdown, NASCAR Now and other shows, that’s stuff that naturally happens. ESPN doesn’t influence the occurrence of any of it.
I don’t believe that ESPN tried to create a storyline here just to benefit themselves. However, I do believe that they should have tried to find the piece of aluminum that really brought out that caution. They’ve got enough cameras and people on-site that should have seen something. Then, they could have shown that video to both Keselowski and Harvick and ended this whole stupidity before it got out of hand. Instead, we’ve got fightin’ words, taps on the face and scowls. ESPN would do well to go back and look at as much of the coverage from Atlanta as they can and find the debris this week. They have video from the whole race from every camera on-site. And when they do find evidence of it, show it to both Harvick and Keselowski (and everyone else, for that matter) so that this whole stupidity goes away.
Editor’s Note: ESPN, through PR spokesperson Andy Hall contacted us reinforcing the claim the network did, in fact show debris that wasn’t the water bottle. After informing viewership that NASCAR claimed the water bottle didn’t cause the caution, which occurred after the clips of Keselowski throwing the bottle out, they cut to a truck on the track where Reid said, ‘This was one of the two stops that were made during the commercial.’ However, it is difficult to make out what, exactly the track workers are picking up in the clip; ESPN also showed a clip of the water bottle being picked up in later broadcasts. They claimed the caution came out 92 seconds after the bottle was thrown.
Finally, Sunday night brought the Sprint Cup Series back out to play for 503 big ones. Was this race any better than Saturday night?
Like on Saturday night, Countdown was adversely affected by a college football game running long. This time, the Louisville-Kentucky game ran long. Like on Saturday, Countdown started on ESPNEWS, and migrated over to ESPN when the game ended. What did you miss if you don’t have ESPNEWS? A little pre-race analysis in the Pit Studio and about half of Rick Hendrick’s interview.
Speaking of Hendrick, he spent much of his time talking about Jeff Gordon’s accomplishments and the 20th anniversary of DuPont sponsoring the No. 24. Interesting, I guess. Hendrick’s quite the smooth talker.
The main feature of the show was a piece on Richard Petty at age 75. Granted, Petty’s birthday was two months ago just before the Coke Zero 400, but since Petty made his final Cup start at Atlanta in 1992, they figured this was the best place to run it. Scott Avett narrated the piece, which talked about Petty’s accomplishments and general pop culture during his career. In addition, there were also comments from various racing personalities, both active and retired. I thought it was very well put together and really encapsulates what Petty ultimately means to NASCAR at large.
There was also a brief look back at the infamous 1992 Hooters 500, which I wrote a long form recap of for the Newsletter back in 2010 when Turning Back the Clock was a weekly piece. Just know that race is epic, and the whole dang thing is on YouTube, courtesy of Flyer2359 (Go in his videos, then go to Page 13).
Once the race got going, I noticed a couple of things. One, there was a large focus on single cars during the race. This kind of bites since we miss out on battles on track, wherever they might be. Maybe it is the long green flag runs, I don’t know. Around restarts, ESPN would show battles, but once spread out, we got a whole lot of single cars unless a couple of dudes in the top-10 were having at it. I suppose long runs are a good time to peruse through the field and find battles wherever they are on-track, and for whatever position, I don’t care where.
The single car focus was also supplemented by a substantial desire to show the drivers at work. I cannot recall a race in which more shots of the drivers “working the wheel” in the corners were shown. I think we know by now that Atlanta is a tricky track to get around. It doesn’t need to be shoved down our throats.
Whoever was leading during these long runs (Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., etc.) got an unnecessary amount of coverage. However, once they fell back (or prior to the point where they took the lead), they got very little. I doubt most viewers would have realized that Truex was in real contention unless they looked up at the scroll. This is why voicing out rundowns is so important during green flag runs. It decreases the chances of people coming out of nowhere to contend.
Also, our own Summer Bedgood noted on Twitter during the race that ESPN’s commentators sounded really dejected after the Johnson-Hornish-Newman crash on Lap 270. But not for the reason that you might think. They appeared dejected that Johnson crashed out instead of Newman. For Johnson, he locked into the Chase at Bristol, so he’s out there just to win and improve his base point total for Joliet. Meanwhile, Newman’s now in a win-at-all-costs scenario that can still be for naught if Kyle Busch somehow moves into the top-10 this weekend. I just found this interesting. I don’t believe that ESPN favors Johnson over anyone else, though.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief since ESPN was right near the end of their timeslot. There were three driver interviews and a check of the points before ESPN left to get to the 11:30pm SportsCenter. The points were done in such a way that you couldn’t tell the margins in the top-10 because they decided to show who was in. Not a real fan of that. There are other ways to get that across than just putting “IN” where the point margins would be.
Honestly, I was not a real big fan of ESPN’s telecast on Sunday. I will say that there wasn’t too much Chase wild card discussion like I feared that there would be. Of course, that’s only a brief reprieve. Richmond will be ridiculous. I want these telecasts to be more inclusive, show more action down the order. As both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races this weekend proved, even some of the best teams can get lapped. Given a 100 lap green flag run, I think Harvick could have lapped the field Saturday night. Just because someone is a lap down (or two or three) doesn’t automatically make them a ghost.
That’s all for this week. Next week Sprint Cup and Nationwide are due to race at Richmond International Raceway.
Friday, September 7
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, September 8
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, September 9
Time Telecast Network
I will provide critiques of both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races from Richmond in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. Catching Speed will appear in the Sept. 6 Critic’s Annex.
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:
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Just a note about the water bottle issue. I do think ESPN created the issue on purpose. Brad threw the bottle out two or three laps B4 the caution but they made it look like he just had done it. Also watched Race Hub last night and they also made it into a big deal.I think Brad showed a lot of class in the news media by not reacting to the face pat by Harvick. Can’t say the same for Harvick or the Media or Steve Burns. Love your articles.
You do terrific write-ups on the coverage each week. You highlight the problems that many of us see, but there’s no hidden agenda. You’re also willing to point out the good bits, something that’s lacking from other media critics.
Coverage has improved a little over the years but not enough. Not only is it not what it should be, but it’s below what ESPN gave us in the Eighties.
Part of this is the networks’ fault, part is due to the things that NASCAR is telling them is important. Things like in-car cameras that are nothing more than subliminal advertising placements.
Harvick of course has demonstrated once more why ,
Well said DON.
How did Danica Patrick miss hitting the empty water bottle?
Phil, any possibility of getting an interview with someone in charge of the racing broadcasts at ESPN? Maybe it would help us understand why the coverage is so poor. Talking about it is one thing but we need to figure out someway to change it and make it better!
Nice recap of the races. The nationwide race was a totally snoozer and the cup race wasn’t that much better.
It would be nice if the TV folks would use wide shots – let us see the race. People might actually realize there is a reason to buy a ticket and go to the track if they saw the racing instead of in car and single car shots.
DP would have hit it if it was a shoe! LOL
Joe, I would love to interview anyone involved with ESPN’s broadcasts. In fact, I recently tried to, and ESPN declined my request. I mentioned it in the intro to my post-Michigan critique.
Sue, I still believe that Brad was out of sorts on Saturday night. Yes, he didn’t take potshots at Harvick, but he just wanted to be out of there. Harvick probably said something incredibly insulting or threatening to Brad on pit road.