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 · Tuesday September 25, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast criticism is the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup Series raced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with three lower level series (Whelen Modified Tour, K&N Pro Series and an exhibition race for the ACT Tour) as support. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series each raced at a somewhat empty Kentucky Speedway.
On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series came out to play in temperate Sparta, Kentucky.
The primary feature on Friday’s edition of the Setup was where cameras spent a day with Dakoda Armstrong. Unlike last time, when we met Armstrong’s brothers and went racing at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Friday brought a down home experience. Armstrong’s family owns an 8,000 acre farm in Indiana, and Armstrong took viewers out for a run through the corn fields on a tractor. This was an interesting look at Armstrong’s life away from the track (and what will likely be his overall life for quite a while). Armstrong is apparently out of sponsorship money and cannot afford to do any more races this season. The ongoing drought doesn’t help Armstrong’s case, either. Turner Motorsports owner Steve Turner is willing to give Armstrong one more race in the No. 4 since he basically didn’t even have a go Friday due to engine issues, but beyond that, who knows.
There was also a piece where SPEED talked to drivers about their first career victories in the Camping World Truck Series. This was in response to the seven first-time winners thus far in 2012. Timothy Peters, Todd Bodine, Ron Hornaday and Johnny Sauter shared their thoughts about their initial accomplishments.
SPEED’s race coverage on Friday night was pretty good to watch. There was a whole bunch of good racing for position and even drivers like the much-maligned John Wes Townley got his proper due. Yes, it wasn’t a career-best finish for Townley, but I cannot remember him running this well over a race distance.
However, this was a depleted field. Yes, there were five or so teams that start-and-parked. But, a series of crashes whittled the field down to the point that barely half the starters finished a 201 mile race. No real mention of this was made during the telecast. However, it was definitely noticeable. It was like watching a Budget Sportsman feature at Lebanon Valley where 33 cars start and much fewer than that finish the 20-lap race.
Post-race coverage was actually a little better than what we’ve been getting recently. SPEED provided viewers with six post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with winning crew chief Michael Shelton. There was also a check of the point standings before SPEED left to get to their tape-delayed coverage of Sprint Cup Qualifying from Loudon. That’s another story, though.
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series returned to action at Kentucky Speedway. ESPN had their secondary on-air crew on hand for the event.
A move by ESPN to air Countdown at 3:30 instead of 3:00 allowed for the whole pre-race show to air on ESPN instead of ESPNEWS. That was nice. Unfortunately, they’re not getting the same treatment this weekend at Dover (see below). I suppose that’s understandable since we’re getting into late September and sunset is starting to get a little early. The tall buildings (specifically the hotel that overlooks the backstretch) don’t help, along with the fact that Dover doesn’t have lights.
The primary feature on Countdown was a piece about how the Nationwide Series serves as a proving ground for drivers prior to their ascension to Sprint Cup. It included sound bites from Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., all past champions. With the exception of Stenhouse, all of the drivers interviewed are currently full-time in Sprint Cup, but three of those drivers earned Nationwide titles while full-time in Cup. I can understand how former series champions can be a help for a piece like this since they’ve been there and done it (and in many cases, are still doing it for fun), but there needed to be more representation from current full-time drivers.
This brings up a serious question that needs to be discussed. Who exactly is the face of the Nationwide Series? Is it Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., the defending champion of the series who’s leaving for Sprint Cup at the end of the year? Austin Dillon, Elliott Sadler, or even Danica Patrick, as unproductive as she’s been this year? Or is it someone else like Sam Hornish, Jr., or Michael Annett? Or, perhaps, are Sprint Cup regulars the stars? One could argue that ESPN answered the question themselves with this feature. Even with the “chose your series” rule for points, the Nationwide Series appears to still have an unfortunate identity crisis.
The race coverage once again featured the duo of Marty Reid and Ricky Craven in the booth. Craven continues to show himself to be a very knowledgeable and opinionated analyst in the booth. As his time in the broadcast booth has increased, he has gotten more comfortable up there. On the other hand, Reid brings a lot of experience to the table, but isn’t necessarily the best in the booth. On Saturday, there was a segment of the telecast in which he couldn’t seem to figure out how many drivers were on the lead lap. Now, I can’t claim to have ever been in the broadcast booth, but I do know that the booth commentators have access to a NASCAR Timing and Scoring monitor that is far better than the timing and scoring available for fans on the internet (let’s just face it, if you’re not at the track, it kinda bites). Reid needs to take advantage of that.
There were a couple of other instances that I griped about while watching Saturday. Just a couple of laps into the race, Joe Nemechek had an incident on the backstretch. I have no clue what happened to cause it, since ESPN chose not to show a replay. All we got was live aftermath footage showing Nemechek’s car stopped on the backstretch with damage to the right rear corner. That’s weak. Granted, the incident didn’t put Nemechek out (an engine issue later on put him out of his misery), but we’re talking about someone that entered the race ninth in points. It is one thing if you don’t have any footage of what happened. If that’s so, be honest and notify the viewers that you don’t have footage. If you did and still didn’t show it, then that’s just plain disrespectful.
A slight technical issue that I noticed was that the vertical aspect of the picture was stretched out more than normal. As a result, the BottomLine encroached on graphics during a chunk of the race. It was probably most noticeable during rounds of pit stops where the driver in tenth coming out of the pits would have his/her name cut off by the score of the Illinois-Louisiana Tech game (Note: That score didn’t actually cut off any driver’s names since it was a night game that occurred after the race was long over, but you get the general idea).
Post-race coverage was fairly extensive since the race ended ahead of schedule. ESPN provided viewers with seven post-race drivers, plus interviews with the winning crew chief (Danny Stockman) and owner (Richard Childress). There was also a check of the all-important point standings and the top-10 finishers before ESPN left for more football. However, they chose to leave ten minutes before the end of their timeslot, which in itself is weak.
There was a substantial amount of focus on the points race throughout the event, which I found to be rather annoying. Yes, we know that Stenhouse dropped three laps due to brain fade on pit road, then hitting the wall under green. I didn’t need constant reminders about this, especially since there’s still six races to go on the schedule. That type of overload is more typical of Homestead. And yes, it did take away from my enjoyment of the race.
Finally, we get to the Sprint Cup Series. 300 laps of flat-track action was on tap.
ESPN brought viewers a couple of interesting pieces. The first of which was a feature on Brad Keselowski and his recent outspokenness. Personally, I’m fine with Keselowski speaking out and wanting to get his thoughts out there. He’s not a moron. Knowing just how much he’s on Twitter, Keselowski might just be the Sprint Cup driver most in tune with the sensibilities of fans right now.
Now, in this feature, Keselowski stated that he wants to be the “voice of the garage.” I’m not in the garage much, but I don’t think you can just claim that you’re the main voice of the drivers and everyone will just say OK. They can either vote you as their main voice (happens sometimes in Formula One), or you have to earn it. How that is done is anyone’s guess. I don’t think it requires a championship, but it does require universal respect in the garage, and I’m not sure if Keselowski has that, yet.
After the feature aired, Rusty Wallace proceeded to throw Keselowski under the bus and stated that he’s simply the voice of Twitter, while champions are the voice of the garage. Knowing what we’ve seen from Rusty this year, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I saw it coming a mile away. I’d argue more that someone like Jeff Burton would be the voice of the garage, but that’s just my opinion.
Brad Daugherty did a sit-down interview with Michael Waltrip. Waltrip was there to talk about his operation, so we saw a somewhat subdued Waltrip as compared to normal. Waltrip admitted that he’s not really all that great at running a race team. I suppose the 2007 results might speak for themselves when he was going it alone. However, Waltrip believes that his primary skill is bringing together personnel to make things work. The signing of Scott Miller from RCR is said to be a very important part of this year’s form for MWR. Sound bites from Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin, in addition to the aforementioned Miller, helped to flesh out the piece.
Finally, we had a feature where Dale Earnhardt, Jr. talked about his love of fantasy football with Matthew Berry, who I think is so wrapped up in Fantasy Football that he knows bupkis about racing. For the uninformed, Berry is also known as “The Talented Mr. Roto,” and is a Fantasy Football expert for ESPN.
What was shown here is that Earnhardt Jr. is very knowledgeable about fantasy football (and the Redskins, especially). I think it could be an off-shoot of his own personality and his tendencies towards introversion. After all, outside of drafts, the hobby of fantasy sports is time consuming and often spent alone, pouring through data. It is well known that Earnhardt Jr. isn’t exactly the most accessible driver in NASCAR. I suppose the fact that his fans are the most numerous in number and (possibly) the neediest doesn’t help. Up until recently, if he wasn’t in the car or doing something for his sponsors, he was in his motorcoach. Jade Gurss’ book In The Red mentioned about how Earnhardt Jr. would spend his spare time in his motorcoach assembling RC cars back in 2001. Oh, and I did get a kick out of Dale’s Schlitz-based team name. That’s funny.
Last week, I noted that ESPN had a major league focus on the 12 Chasers and even those non-Chasers that managed to get themselves up front were still ignored. Sunday saw a partial repeat of Joliet. Kyle Busch was able to get himself to the front and got plenty of coverage both while he was leading, and after he fell back in the field due to his engine issues.
However, it should also be noted that Kyle has been quoted recently as saying that his interviews have dropped off since he’s not in the Chase. I suppose that just goes with not being in the Chase. However, I find the notion of Kyle Busch going on about not having a microphone in his face quite interesting. It is almost like a role reversal. As we know, Kyle is not always the friendliest during interviews, although he does have a better track record than his older brother. That’s even despite the fact that there is now a companion 52 minute Rageholic documentary of Kyle’s moments to go along with the 75 minute piece on Kurt.
In addition to Kyle’s coverage, other drivers outside of the Chase did get a bit of coverage on Sunday, but nowhere near what they would have gotten outside of a Chase race situation. We had coverage in the top-10, and coverage of Chasers who couldn’t keep themselves there (Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Greg Biffle, etc.).
I also don’t really like the idea of the Kid Rock promos airing during green flag racing. That takes away from the action that I and all the rest of my readers want to see. It just bites. That’s just about the only way that they could be intrusive. In their normal places, they’re fine.
Since Sunday’s race was run at record pace (this has to be the fifth time this year that has occurred), there was quite a bit of post-race coverage. ESPN aired seven post-race driver interviews, plus interviews with the winning crew chief (Darian Grubb) and car owner (Joe Gibbs) like on Saturday. There was also a check of those points before leaving for SportsCenter. However, this time, ESPN managed to fill their slot.
I think Sunday is along the lines of what the other eight Chase race telecasts might be like. Not too good if you’re rooting for someone that didn’t make the Chase, unfortunately. It bites, but for however long we have this format (at least through 2014, if not longer), it is what we will get and we’ll have to like it.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series both return to Dover International Speedway for their second visits of the season. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series make a haul out west to race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Friday, September 28
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, September 29
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, September 30
Time Telecast Network
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I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series race telecasts for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. Note that there is a good sporting chance that NASCAR Countdown will get bumped due to the Penn State-Illinois game. If it does, it’ll air on ESPNEWS. For future reference, consult this page if college football threatens to encroach on pre-race coverage. Also, I will be covering SPEED’s coverage of the F.W. Webb 100 in this week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter.
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.
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I like your Couch Potato columns. You hit on the significant flaws and highlights, and don’t harp on the same issues as though you were important enough to get them changed.
I was glad ESPN had the pit studio and Brad Daugherty in New Hampshire and not in Kentucky. Had Daugherty been in Kentucky when Stenhouse ran into Eric McClure on pit road, Daugherty would have let out such a joyous cheer! And he would have been totally ecstatic when Ricky hit the wall! Then, all you would have heard out of the pit studio for the rest of the race was “Elliott’s the Champion!” For the record, Daugherty and his blatant cheerleading for Elliott Sadler is the reason I stopped watching the Nationwide races. Nothing against Sadler, but I hope Stenhouse recovers and repeats as Champion, if for no other reason but to hear Daugherty cry!
sometimes i can’t help but feel rusty is a wee bit jealous of brad’s success in the blue duce.
ESPN prerace is a joke.
For the NW race, they basically focused on all the current Cup drivers. Every NW race seems to be this way, because they think this is what the fans want. I must be in the minority because I watch NW races to see NW drivers.
For the Cup, Dale Jr and fantasy football was just ESPN’s way of getting the NFL and Fantasy Football included into the race coverage. This piece was pretty self serving if you ask me.
Typical of Brian France’s nascar though. Got to cater to those casual fans who don’t take the time to learn about the other drivers in the series so we get the same group of driver/teams/owners stuffed down our throat week after week.
And the Nascar brass wonders where their fan base went.