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 November 6, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where TV criticism and opinion is the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series were all at Texas Motor Speedway.
Before we start, I have a clarification for you regarding the feature on Timothy Peters that ran during NCWTS Setup prior to the Martinsville race. Last week, I mentioned that SPEED had aired that before. I was right. However, I was under the opinion that it aired during a prior episode of the Setup (hence why I was feverishly going through my pages of notes). Instead, the Peters piece aired earlier this season on NASCAR RaceHub. A shortened version of it is what aired on the Martinsville Setup show.
WinStar World Casino 350k
On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned to action. How did SPEED do with their telecast?
NCWTS Setup was a fairly typical affair. For the first half of the show, there wasn’t really anything to write home about. That is, until they referenced Kyle Busch’s retaliation from last year, complete with clips of the wreck. I know Kyle Busch was in Friday night’s race, but I don’t think anyone really wanted to re-live that stupidity again. Neither did Kyle, since he declined SPEED’s interview request. I’d argue that he would have been willing to talk about the race at hand without referencing last year’s case of stupid.
This week’s SPEED Spotlight featured James Buescher, Turner Motorsports, and an unlikely star in a portable generator. Apparently, RCR’s No. 3 team (Ty Dillon) placed their generator in the No. 31 team’s personal space, which irritated some of Buescher’s crew members. Why reference a rather innocuous moment here? It shows just how much Buescher has matured in recent years. In the past, Buescher may have gotten as flip-out angry as his crew chief did. However, Buescher was the calmer party here and that just might be one of the reasons why he’s in position to possibly claim the title this year.
Unfortunately, SPEED has been afflicted with a case of championship fever. There was an unusually high amount of focus on the title chase during the telecast. My guess is the fact that the race ran so quickly actually played a role in what we saw.
Regardless, there was still a good amount of racing for position and SPEED did a decent job in bringing us that action, especially in and around the restarts. It just didn’t feel quite the same to me.
Since the race ended with more than 45 minutes left in their timeslot, you would expect SPEED to provide quite a bit of post-race coverage. Not so fast. Instead of providing viewers with a load of analysis, SPEED gave viewers what amounted to only slightly more than the bare minimum. There were only three interviews and not even a full check of the points before SPEED left for SPEED Center a full half-hour early. Let’s face facts. There are a fair number of people that dislike Adam Alexander on SPEED Center as it stands, but this move is ridiculous. Is it too much to ask to stick around for ten more minutes? They were playing with house money and still decided to leave early. Just doesn’t make any sense to me.
O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge
On Saturday night, the Nationwide Series returned for the first Fall night race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Luckily, the game between Ohio State and Illinois (a butt-kicking) ended quickly enough that pre-race coverage was unaffected. However, once we got there, there was only a little bit worth noting.
That one thing was a really nice feature on Johanna Long, the part-time driver of the No. 70 ML Motorsports Chevrolet. We learned a little about Long’s introduction to motorsports and her ascendance into NASCAR. Along the way, we heard from Long’s parents, Landon Cassill (got dumped at Five Flags), and even Jeff Burton (tweeted in support of Long during one of the Richmond races). For those of you who did not see it Saturday night, you can watch it here.
Watching the piece, I realized that despite their shortcomings in covering the Nationwide Series at times, ESPN has actually done a decent job this year (and not just with the feature Saturday night) in introducing viewers to Long. A number of ESPN’s analysts (most notably Rusty Wallace) think highly of Long and believe that she has a lot going for her. As much as I’ve written about how SPEED has done an excellent job introducing viewers to the drivers in the Camping World Truck Series, Long was kinda left out of that exposure when she was there. She was just…there. I don’t really remember learning much about her other than the fact that she won the Snowball Derby in 2010.
During the race coverage itself, ESPN had a definite focus on a couple of stories. They’re quite familiar if you read my critiques on a regular basis. One was the championship battle (Stenhouse, Sadler, and to a lesser extent, Austin Dillon), while the other involved the ‘whackers in the race from Sprint Cup (Harvick, Kyle Busch, etc.). These groups completely dominated the race telecast.
Instead, ESPN should have given a little more coverage to the tire issues that occurred during the race. Tire problems caused multiple yellows Saturday night, while other drivers (most notably, Danica Patrick) had tires go down and had to make unscheduled stops. Apparently, Goodyear described the situation as a “high wear situation.” Take a look at Patrick’s right-front tire here. That’s a little more than a high wear situation. That’s looney tunes. Ultimately, there was bad wear during the Cup race as well.
Post-race coverage was very brief since the race was right up against the end of ESPN’s timeslot. There were only three interviews before the telecast ended. Elliott Sadler apparently wanted some time to cool off before talking, but that ultimately meant that he got bumped from the show. After the race, there was quite a bit of griping about Ryan Blaney not getting interviewed. I agree that it stinks, royally. Unfortunately, ESPN had to go. I think he would have made air had the stupid Denny Hamlin – Austin Dillon confrontation never happened.
Speaking of that confrontation, the whole thing was a little weird. Apparently, Austin started the bumping match after the race. I wish ESPN showed footage of the start of the sheet metal scraping. They only caught the end, when Hamlin tried to end it against the concrete wall. Also, that interview Hamlin gave was interesting. If Hamlin weren’t already ensconced in Sprint Cup, he could have committed career suicide like Billy Tanner did at Talladega in 2007.
AAA Texas 500
On Sunday afternoon, we were brought the Sprint Cup Series by ESPN.
NASCAR Countdown, when they weren’t showing footage of the… shenanigans that Eddie Gossage planned for the Nationwide garage, brought a decent pre-race show. The primary feature was a piece on Gene Monahan, former trainer for the New York Yankees who now works in a similar role for Hendrick Motorsports. I suppose that makes sense when you really think about it.
In the feature, which originally aired last week on NASCAR Now, Monahan talked about how proud he was of his 39 years spent with the New York Yankees, and his love of motorsport. Retired Catcher Jorge Posada vouched for Monahan’s love of racing, stating that unless he was performing his normal training duties, you could not pull him away from a race on TV. Ultimately, cancer forced him to retire from the New York Yankees. Once he recovered and moved to North Carolina, HMS came calling.
Since I live in Upstate New York and get Yankee games on cable (all 162 games are aired here), I had heard Monahan’s name before. Had no clue that he got involved in motorsports, though. This piece was an interesting look at one of the more obscure members of HMS’ winning organization. I generally liked it. This feature was also followed up by an in-depth look at the lineups for the two teams (Nos. 2 and 48) fighting for the title. That’s nice to look at, but something that could have been done at any time, not just here.
There was a clip shown from Dale Earnhardt, Jr.‘s sitdown interview with Hannah Storm late in the show. It was designed solely to plug ESPN’s SportsCenter Special, which airs tonight at 8:00 PM. Based on the clip, there is a different feel with Storm interviewing Earnhardt Jr. as opposed to most everyone else with ESPN that has interviewed him. It’s enough for me to want to see how it turns out. Earnhardt Jr. appeared to be his normal, giving self, which is always good to see.
Also, the Stick a Fork In ‘Em segment was finally excised from the show (although it was referenced on at least one occasion). It’s about time. Been waiting for that for weeks.
During the Chase, ESPN always seems to have issues with not being inclusive enough in who they choose to cover during the race. As a result, there’s always drivers that seemingly just appear up front. It’s like this scene from 1999’s Dogma, where Azrael (Jason Lee) appears out of “nothingness” and talks about returning to nothingness soon (Viewer Discretion Advised, contains a lot of Profanity and Violence).
Well, who appeared out of nothingness this week? Tony Stewart, who finished a fine fifth on Sunday. However, for much of the afternoon, Stewart was way out of the hunt, just struggling to stay in the top 20. Teammate Danica Patrick dusted Stewart at one point (that’s not meant to be an insult, since Patrick did quite well on Sunday and kept herself on the lead lap almost all day). All of a sudden, after spending a substantial amount of the race around 18th, Stewart’s suddenly in the hunt with nearly no explanation. ESPN just has to do a better job with storytelling. This Johnson-Keselowski focus is simply not the best way to go if you want to know everything that is going on.
Also of note, there were at least three cautions that flew due to debris on track (the first yellow technically also flew due to debris, but that came off of Juan Pablo Montoya’s car and eagle-eyed viewers could see stuff falling off Montoya’s car right after he came off the wall). Aside from the Montoya incident, where NASCAR waited four laps to throw a yellow after the wall contact, we never saw any of the debris. I know that I sound like a broken record at times about this topic, but it has to be said… when you don’t show the debris that brings out these cautions, viewers will get antsy.
Some will think that NASCAR simply made up the idea of debris so that they could bunch up the field. According to a brief piece that aired on Friday during qualifying, ESPN has up to 65 cameras at the track each weekend. They make use of the zoom function on a regular basis. Take advantage of the zoom to find this nasty debris (which I’m fairly sure does not look like Snidely Whiplash). If you can’t find it, tell the viewers that you can’t. Honesty goes a long way these days.
Since the race ended after the end of its prescribed timeslot, post-race coverage was relatively brief on Sunday. There were three interviews and a check of the points before ESPN immediately went to SportsCenter. I think post-race would have been a little longer had the race not started at 3:15. With the race ending slightly after 7:00 PM EST, ESPN needed to show those all-important NFL highlights.
Honestly, when I watch these races, I try to take as many notes as I can to help myself with the critiques. There wasn’t all that much I could say in those notes on Sunday. It was pretty hard to follow what was going on unless you follow Johnson, Keselowski or Bowyer. Beyond those three men, good luck. I know that it’s Chase time, and that means a narrowed focus, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, all three of NASCAR’s National Series are back in action once again, but this time in Phoenix, Arizona. Meanwhile, ESPN is airing their special one-on-one special with Hannah Storm tonight.
Tuesday, November 6
Time Telecast Network
Friday, November 9
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, November 10
Sunday, November 11
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races from Phoenix in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. For this week’s Annex in the Newsletter, I’ll cover the Peak World Finals from the Dirt Track at Lowe’s. For the November 15th Annex, there are a number of specials that can be covered there. Provisionally, I’ll pencil in a look at Beyond 200: The Hendrick Motorsports Story.
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My concern is the lack of any judgement of the cup drivers regarding the drivers in the lead for the championship? The San Francisco team does not play in the Little World Series.
Since Hamlin is the ‘interloper’ in this series, I think it’s Denny that should stay out of the way. The ESPN focus on only the top 3 or 4 ‘chasers’ has made trying to watch the races totally incomperhensible. No wonder people are turning to anything else on TV. This is NOT how you grow your viewers.