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
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Couch Potato Tuesday · Phil Allaway · Tuesday October 9, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast critique is the name of our game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series were both in action at Talladega Superspeedway. High speeds and close quarters were definitely on tap.
Last weekend was the 50th running of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. As you probably noticed, we didn’t get it live this year on SPEED, which officially bites. SPEED decided not to put up the money to send a crew down to Bathurst for the race like last year. They even admitted that springing for airfare back to the U.S. in between Bathurst and Surfer’s Paradise was a terrible idea and that if they returned, they’d stay over during the break. Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip (along with Leigh Diffey and Calvin Fish) had a real ball covering both Bathurst and Surfer’s Paradise for the network. Waltrip may have nearly peed himself during his ride along with Jason Bright, but he was smiling from ear to ear the whole time.
However, V8 Supercars Australia stepped up with a free live stream of the race on YouTube for international viewers. I will say that it was pretty dang sweet. However, in Australia, race coverage started at roughly 7 AM local time. The stream didn’t go live until a half-hour before the race started, and due to that, the international viewers missed quite a few features. We did get a chance to see multiple driver interviews and a piece where former driver/team owner turned pit reporter Mark Larkham described all the various safety devices that are on the outgoing current V8 Supercar (there’s a new “Car of the Future” on tap for 2013 that isn’t radically different from what they have now, but there are significant differences).
Once the opening ceremonies ended, it was commercial-free for all 161 laps. Yowza. In all honesty, trying to watch an 620+ mile race without commercials in the middle of the night on a laptop is kinda tiring. Ultimately, this was a very competitive race, with 19 of the 29 starters finishing the race on the lead lap. All but four of the cars finished, but most of those off the lead lap had significant issues.
During the race, there was a fair amount of racing for position shown, but the 3.86 mile circuit proved very difficult to pass on. It didn’t help that someone forgot to clean up some oil-dry laid down before the race, which eliminated a passing zone early on. Like some of the NASCAR coverage here in the United States, the Seven Network does have some issues in actually giving the whole field their proper due. That didn’t really change much here, which bites. It would only be worse if they still had 45-60 cars starting the race instead of 29.
If you’re wondering how they could only start 29 cars here, it is the result of franchising and team licenses that haven’t been created in a decade or so. 28 of the teams are full-timers, while the only part-time team is one that is allowed to race as a result of Shannon’s Supercar Showdown, a made-for-TV reality competition put on by Shannon’s (an Australian car insurance company that is somewhat similar to Hagerty’s) to find a future V8 Supercar driver. The winning driver (18-year old Jesse Dixon) gets to co-drive a car in the race (they finished 20th, three laps down at the finish).
I greatly enjoyed being able to still watch the race live, even though SPEED decided to not send representatives to Bathurst (in the listings below, I have noted when the race will air on SPEED in a tape-delayed, truncated form). Unfortunately, unlike series like the FIA GT1 World Championship, they didn’t post the coverage to YouTube immediately after the race ended in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I guess the full race will be on their official YouTube channel in a couple of weeks, but I’d like the ability to view it on-demand, like how RaceBuddy is supposed to work. Of course, RaceBuddy is another story all together.
Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola
On Saturday afternoon, the Camping World Truck Series returned to Talladega for 250 miles of insanity.
There were two main pieces that aired during the Setup. One was the SPEED Spotlight, another look at race preparations. This time, the spotlight was placed on German Quiroga, a three-time champion of the NASCAR Mexico Series who was making his season-debut in a second Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. While Quiroga may be a champion, there isn’t anything remotely close to Talladega in Mexico. So, we got to see Quiroga learning the ropes with help from crew chief Rick Ren.
The other feature was based around Turner Motorsports’ drivers Nelson Piquet, Jr., James Buescher and Miguel Paludo, along with Rick Allen and Ray Dunlap, playing a friendly game of paintball. Not against each other, of course. That would be too easy. Instead, the pros came out to play. Let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty. Those guys got their buttocks handed to them. Regardless, it seems like there was fun to be had all along. However, I got to thinking here. Hard to believe this, but I think SPEED is literally running out of drivers to do features with. Never thought I’d say that. It is just that this is something like the third or fourth Turner Motorsports piece this year. I wish ESPN had that problem.
Now, the big story this weekend TV-wise had nothing to actually do with the actual races. We are currently in an eight day stretch of high sunspot activity. These solar phenomena can cause feed issues on broadcasts. This is what happened repeatedly last weekend, wreaking havoc with race broadcasts, not just at Talladega. The Formula One Grand Prix of Japan telecast was knocked off-air for about eight minutes due to this as well.
Now, I cannot vouch for any issues with my feed during the Truck race on Saturday. However, the trouble apparently started right around the time Rick Crawford spun out on Lap 32. Allen made multiple apologies for what he termed a “Solar Outage” that caused the issues. This was repeated multiple times. Unfortunately, we can’t do much about the Sun going through a flatulence cycle.
However, SPEED did miss the restart right after that. The solar outage had nothing to do with that. It was just a screw-up on SPEED’s part. You have to do better than that.
Post-race coverage was a little lacking as compared to normal. Perhaps Parker Kligerman’s interesting post-race celebration took a little too long (although, to be honest, I got a kick out of his claiming of the grass). There were only three driver interviews aired, plus interviews with the winning crew chief (Chad Kendrick) and car owner (Tom DeLoach). There was also a check of the point standings before SPEED left to get to SPEED Center.
Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500
Sunday brought the Sprint Cup Series out to play for 503 miles of action-packed craziness at Talladega.
There were a couple of features that aired as part of Countdown. One was about the ongoing Baby Boom in NASCAR. For those of us that have been watching for most of the past 20 years, the idea of wives or girlfriends getting pregnant was nothing new. I actually hadn’t even noticed that there hadn’t been a bunch of little ones running around for quite a while, to be honest. Regardless, ESPN had quotes from a few drivers about how having young children does and does not affect their mindset. Once again, only Chasers were quoted here. I’m sure there are other drivers that could chime in as well. Wouldn’t someone like Casey Mears be a good person to talk to about this?
Another piece had multiple drivers (again, all Chasers) talking about racing at Talladega. I don’t understand why Chasers are more qualified than anyone else to talk about Talladega, because they’re not. I could describe racing at Talladega just as well as most drivers these days. Your mama could do it too, provided she knows a little about NASCAR. Is it just because they’re more visible this time of year? Were all these pieces being shown shot in Chicago during the Media Day for the Chasers? At this point, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.
With a restrictor-plate race, it is fairly easy to show most of the field, unlike seemingly every other race on the circuit. As a result, ESPN did a decent job in showing most of the field on Sunday. However, most of their storylines were centered around the Chase, so most of the drivers didn’t get much emphasis unless they muscled their way to the front like Jamie McMurray managed to do.
The irritating sunspot outages came back with a vengeance during the race, causing a feed loss that lasted an entire segment on Lap 133. This outage didn’t just affect the race telecast on ESPN, but also knocked ESPN2 off-air (for me, at least) as well. The other non-ESPN channels in my cable system were fine. Now, I understand that this didn’t affect just me, but some lucky ducks were unaffected (I recall a viewer with DirecTV in Denver claiming that he didn’t lose anything). Other viewers took to Twitter and asked ESPN’s Andy Hall what the deuce was going on? OK, I don’t think anyone actually asked it quite like that, but you get the idea. He released a statement on ESPN’s behalf that said simply, “We apologize to NASCAR fans who have been affected by sun outages in various parts of the country while watching ESPN.”
By the time my feed came back, it was roughly six minutes later and ESPN was in a NASCAR NonStop segment. In addition, the caution had just come out. I want to say that Allen Bestwick explained what happened before ESPN went to the NonStop segment and that I didn’t see it because I thought the issues were on my end and not theirs (Translation: I was flipping back and forth, hoping the feed would come back). However, I cannot vouch for that.
With RaceBuddy being active, I could still keep tabs with what was going on in the race, but it is just not the same. You can only see so much, especially since ESPN’s version of RaceBuddy does not have battle cams, my favorite RaceBuddy cameras, available. Thankfully, after this point, I had no feed issues for the rest of the race.
Now, the wreck coverage was decent. The only thing I was worried about was that ESPN may have started to show replays a little too quick. They have a rule that states that they will not show replays until they can confirm the status of all involved. Luckily, everyone turned out to be fine, but I think that ESPN might have jumped the gun just a little.
Post-race coverage was fairly extensive. However, ESPN still failed to fill up their timeslot. They left for SportsCenter ten minutes early, which is pointless since SportsCenter right after a Cup race always starts off with more Sprint Cup coverage. There were ten post-race interviews (most of which were focused on the wreck), along with multiple checks of the all-important point standings.
Aside from the outage that ESPN couldn’t really do anything about, ESPN did an ok job covering the race. Likely the only reason that more drivers got airtime on Sunday is the fact that the natural flow of the race at Talladega would prevent ESPN from ignoring non-Chasers. Having said that, the Chase bias was definitely in play. Kurt Busch definitely got his airtime after his unfortunate outburst. I’m actually wondering what was said after that interview wrapped since there were a lot of media members around him at that time. Sounded like Kurt might have been trying to limit the number of questions.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams have a home game. Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the sole night race of the Chase.
Thursday, October 11
Time Telecast Network
Friday, October 12
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, October 13
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, October 14
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape Delayed
As of now, it does not appear that regional coverage of college football on ABC will intrude upon NASCAR Countdown, or the actual race broadcast from Charlotte on Saturday night since ESPN was nice enough to provide a half-hour buffer between that game and the start of NASCAR Countdown. Regardless, stranger things have happened. Also, remember that since Saturday night’s race is on ABC, RaceBuddy will not be available.
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in Charlotte for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday.
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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I would have enjoyed watching Bathurst but was unaware of the YouTube coverage. Did you mention it here beforehand? Also, you said that it started at 7am but you were watching it live in the middle of the night. How does that work?
I enjoy your columns. I don’t have ESPN so it helps me gauge what kind of coverage they provide.
While ESPN coverage is not perfect,they are not bias like Speed\Fox. It seem on Fox\Speed ,it all about the #15 and #56 cars. They get all the coverage. I have noticed that when the# 21 car is on the track,he is rarely shown or talked about by Speed.
The solar outages over the past few days are NOT caused by sunspots.. they are an annual problem as the sun passes directly behind the satellite being used to relay the broadcast.. every year year for several days, the sun is in just the right position for a few minutes to cause the ground receivers to read the sun instead of the signal from the “bird”.. these dates/times are distributed by the owners of the bird so every user (like ESPN) knows EXACTLY what day & time the outages will occur… FYI, the days are different for the various satellites as they are all separated some distance on the same arc….just trying to stick to facts & not ESPN’s announcers conjecture on the subject…
Am I the only one who figured out that ESPN / ABC’s Nascar Non-Stop really just means nearly non-stop commercials?
Did anyone notice that the “FOX Sports” logo was over top of the “SPEED” logo? Rumors abound that FOX is shutting down SPEED as we know it at the conclusion of the 2012 racing season and turning it into a regular sports channel with stick-and-ball sports being shown. There will be no more SPEED. No Race Day, no Race Hub, no Victory Lane, no Wind Tunnel, nothing! The new channel will so the Truck Series, but won’t show any pre-race stuff, no practice, and no qualifying. On the positive side, there won’t be any of that dumb garbage reality crap like Dumbest Stuff On Wheels, Pimp my ride, etc. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy all the pre-race programing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I usually watch Race Hub. Thanks FOX! Not only are you thumbing your nose at the fans, but adding the Waltrips to every program is also driving the fans away. Darrell is bad enough, but Micheal is so annoying that it hurts to watch with him on.
Oh well, as they say, all good things must come to an end. All I wonder is how much The Brainless One (initials BZF) got paid to screw the fans over.
My TV went out when Kurt had his issue. At least it didn’t happen during the last lap.
Thank you CountCulo for the explanation.
Andy, it started at 7am in Australia. Here in America that is the middle of the night.
Thanks cdakost, I saw the “local time” remark but failed to connect it with the “in Australia” part. Mostly because 7am doesn’t sound like the start time for anything but a foot race.
I re-read it when I became confused, but only saw what I wanted to see.
Haha no problem.