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.
Phil Allaway · Monday October 1, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast breakdowns are the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series each raced at Dover International Speedway, while the Camping World Truck Series raced Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Before we start, here’s an example of what not to do on an ESPN3 live feed. This is from ESPN3’s coverage of the Global Rallycross Championship race in Las Vegas, held after the Smith’s 350. Remember, if your commentary makes Deadspin, more than likely, you’re doing something wrong. In this case, very wrong. Now, SPEED2 telecasts for the CTSCC are done in a somewhat similar fashion, but you never see anything remotely like this. I have no clue what the deuce those two commentators were doing.
OneMain Financial 200
If you happened to take a look at our Twitter feed on Saturday afternoon, you might have noticed that we posted a guarantee at 2:00pm that NASCAR Countdown would start on ESPNEWS. I posted that myself, using the metric I mentioned recently here in the column. At 2:00pm, the Penn State-Illinois game was at halftime. Sure enough, 3:00pm came along and the game still had 14 minutes to go. It bites, but I’m going to help prepare you guys for that.
The main piece shown on Countdown was a special tribute to Chris Economaki. Ed Hinton narrated a look back at Economaki’s long career in motorsports journalism, complete with clips from ABC and CBS. Afterwards, the Pit Studio analysts each gave their own memories of Economaki. It was quite touching. I’d argue they should have extended that to the pit reporters as well. I entered the field of quasi-motorsports journalism way too late to ever see him at a track, but I’m sure that he would have been quite the interesting man to meet. Unfortunately, ESPN viewers didn’t get a chance to see this feature, as they did not join Countdown until after it ran, which of course, bites.
ESPN made it fairly clear in Countdown what they were going to be focusing on during the race telecast. That would be the championship battle between Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Austin Dillon for one. Next was the ‘whackers who raced Saturday (Logano, Kyle Busch, Kahne, and to a lesser extent, Menard). Finally, in their tertiary story, you have the young guns Ryan Truex and Darrell Wallace, Jr.
Ultimately, it was the first two stories that took precedence during the race telecast. Logano stomping everyone (again) is big news. As for the championship fight, the closer we get to the end of the season, the more important that becomes. Problem is, ESPN’s been treating the battle like it is Homestead for most of the last two months. I’d imagine that there’s already a sense of burnout among viewers. I can only speak for myself there, but it is there, believe me.
ESPN’s telecast was just too focused on the two primary stories listed above. There were multiple segments where we didn’t get any racing for position, just endless discussion of Logano’s car while we watched him drive four seconds ahead of everyone else, lapping slower cars. Why couldn’t we see some action for position instead. Was there none? I don’t know, since ESPN never took the time to look for some action outside of the time around restarts.
Due to the relatively quick pace of the race, ESPN had plenty of time to fill with post-race coverage. They provided viewers with 11 post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Adam Stevens). There were also multiple checks of the point standings (in and out of the scroll), along with post-race analysis from the broadcast booth.
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series returned to Dover for the third race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Last week, I griped about the lack of non-Chaser coverage. Did it get any better Sunday? Let’s find out.
During Countdown, the primary feature of the show was a piece about Denny Hamlin, his past issues with focus, and how he’s matured this year. Sound bites from Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb were used for the piece. I thought this was interesting. In Mirror Driving, we’ve discussed Hamlin’s maturity at times and how it has cost him in the past. However, he isn’t flipping out quite as much these days. Nothing like what Greg Biffle did on Sunday (Note: I basically couldn’t figure out what he was saying in that censored audio clip that aired on ESPN. It was like watching Jerry Springer back in the late 1990’s).
Another piece had a number of drivers (all Chasers) talking about the relationship between the driver and his car. For lack of better words, this was an extension of the whole “seat of your pants” feeling. I don’t think anyone who’s been a fan of the sport for a while got much out of this, but it was nice to watch.
Finally, ESPN unveiled a new feature for Countdown called simply “Stick a Fork in ‘Em!” If you didn’t see this on Sunday, I think you can figure out what it means pretty easily knowing what time of year it is. Truthfully, our own fearless leader wrote an article after Joliet that was somewhat similar in topic. No forks in Tom’s piece, though. Based on what I saw Sunday, Wallace, Evernham and Daugherty are going to get a kick out of doing that for the rest of the season.
Like I predicted last week, the race telecast was stilted heavily towards the Chasers. However, the race itself threw a wrench into ESPN’s plans. The Lap 70 caution that came out in a middle of a round of stops resulted in only seven cars (after Bobby Labonte got the Lucky Dog) being on the lead lap, and it never got above ten for the rest of the race. Honestly, I had actually wondered what ESPN would do in this situation.
What they did was seemingly narrow their focus even more than normal. Much of the rest of the race was effectively focused on the six that managed to stay out until the yellow flew. Labonte never really got much of a mention, much less airtime. Then, Labonte made a green-flag stop about 25 laps after the restart. This was never noted on the broadcast. I was sitting there watching it and honestly said to myself, “What happened to Labonte? Tell me, dudes!”
A situation like what we saw on Sunday should not have limited ESPN to only really showing footage of the lead lap cars, or even just the Chasers. However, aside from a few occasions, that’s what we got. Makes you want to rip your hair out.
An interesting moment in the event was when Bobby Allison stopped by on Lap 134. Most definitely wasn’t expecting that. While there, Allison compared Jimmie Johnson to David Pearson and claimed that Kyle Busch possesses a mentality behind the wheel similar to his own when he was still driving. Personally, I could buy the Johnson to Pearson comparison, but these days, that strategy could apply to any number of drivers.
There was this weird “Word Cloud” that ESPN displayed on Lap 306 as a way to show what people are discussing on Twitter. That’s nice and all, but I’d prefer that stuff to be shown under caution only, please. Same thing with those mid-race montages (which was a repeat of the montage at the beginning of NASCAR Countdown with race footage from Sunday spliced in).
Since the race ended quite early in its timeslot, ESPN was able to provide a decent amount of post-race coverage. We got eight post-race interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Paul Wolfe). There was plenty of post-race analysis from the Pit Studio and broadcast booth, in addition to a check of the all-important points.
After the race, there was a mini-controversy that was centered around the fact that Kyle Busch was not interviewed after finishing seventh. ESPN claimed that Kyle declined an interview request. Kyle disputes this and says that no one was at his hauler. He continued to say that he had “plenty to talk about” and that they had at least ten minutes to spare. I just don’t know what to say here. Perhaps some people were a bit gun shy after Watkins Glen. Maybe Dave Burns misinterpreted what Bill Janitz, Kyle’s PR rep said as a refusal when he really mentioned something along the lines of a cool-down period.
Smith’s 350On Saturday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for another go-around on the high banks. It turned out to be an excellent race, once people stopped spinning out in Turn 4. How did SPEED do? Let’s find out. On the Setup, there was one change of note on the show. Rick Allen hosted the show from outside of the broadcast booth. Why was this so? Krista Voda was sideline reporting for FOX on the Washington-Tampa Bay game, and thus, was back in Tampa preparing. Allen did just fine here. After a brief recap of Kentucky, we got into the meat of the proceedings. The primary feature of the night was a piece where Turner Motorsport’s drivers (James Buescher, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Miguel Paludo, along with Nationwide Series drivers Justin Allgaier and Brad Sweet) took a tour around the grounds at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. This featured what I think was a censored moment when Allgaier swore in amazement when told that the barns at the track can hold up to 1440 horses. This was nice to look at, but out of place since Kentucky was last week. However, I think SPEED had the feature on Dakoda Armstrong that aired last week in the can for quite some time and no one knows when he’s going to race in the series again, so they chose to air it when he was entered in the race. That’s understandable. The SPEED Spotlight was on Travis Pastrana, who made his Camping World Truck Series debut in the ride formerly held by Armstrong. We got to see Pastrana get more and more comfortable behind the wheel of the truck with the help of his existing ThorSport teammates. Matt Crafton’s a natural here since he was already serving as Pastrana’s driver coach for Nationwide races, while nine-time ARCA Racing Series Champion Frank Kimmel served as his spotter. Pastrana seemed to be able to adjust to the truck a whole lot quicker than the Nationwide car. Of course, then he spun out five laps into the race. There were also two offbeat clips that made the show. One showed Brendan Gaughan driving his food truck, The Rusty Pickle, from the South Point Hotel and Casino (that his family owns) to the track, where it entered with the transporters and set up shop in the garage, selling their wares. According to that site, they specialize in Southern-style food and are available for private functions in addition to setting up in public locations. I’m surprised that SPEED didn’t really show what they served, just joked about the name. If only Benny Parsons were there. You’d know he’d want in on the grublets. Also, there was a rather silly piece on Todd Bodine and Ron Hornaday trying to turn their rather horrible luck around. This included footage of the duo trying to find a four-leaf clover, thinking of splitting a wishbone, and even supposedly calling Jimmie Johnson for advice. This seemed a little out of character for those two, especially Hornaday (he strikes me as incredibly serious all the time). Of course, it didn’t work. Hornaday was out early with engine problems, while Bodine spun out on the first lap. The race was full of excellent racing and SPEED did a great job bringing viewers that on-track action. There was plenty of side-by-side and even three-wide racing to be had as well. Allen, Parsons and Michael Waltrip do a very good job of making even the most mundane segments of racing exciting. Here, when we have exciting racing, they come into their own. If you’re not completely exhausted, as I was on Saturday night (for reasons that had nothing to do with the Truck race), it makes the telecast just that much better. Having said that, I do have some thoughts, but they’re more on the technical side of things. Early in the race, the lap counter froze on Lap 9 after the second restart and stayed that way for multiple laps. I have no clue why happened, but after Chris Lafferty’s first spin, this was not a problem for the rest of the race. Also, SPEED chose to put the starting lineup of the race in the scroll instead of using their usual starting lineup graphic package. I’m not really a fan of that. Its not like they didn’t have time to do the normal setup. Post-race coverage was about average. SPEED gave viewers five post-race interviews and a check of the point standings before they left the air for the night. They might have provided more, but the shear number of cautions, especially early on in the race meant that they had gone over their timeslot. Overall, I really enjoyed watching this race. There was so much action left and right and the booth made it just that much better to watch. The battle for the win was excellent (for everyone except Matt Crafton, who’s probably still bummed out right now), and generally brings the best out of the booth.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series return to Talladega Superspeedway for 750 miles of action. Back in the late 1990’s, this weekend used to be known as “White Knuckle Weekend.” I think that it is still accurate, even though the 2006 repave has made the track much easier to drive.
Thursday, October 4
Time Telecast Network
Friday, October 5
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, October 6
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, October 7
Time Telecast Network
^- Available via free internet streaming
I will provide write-ups of both the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races from Talladega for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. Also, stay tuned for this week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex where I’ll take a look at Inside NASCAR on Showtime.
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Phil, how about talking about how ESPN didn’t even bother……oh nevermind.