Changes Expected for NASCAR's Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, NASCAR 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.
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 changes are expected to take place beginning this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Couch Potato Tuesday · Phil Allaway · Monday November 12, 2012
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast breakdown is the name of the game. This past weekend, NASCAR’s National series were all in Avondale, Arizona for 662 scheduled miles of action. I have no doubts that ESPN wasn’t expecting what they got on Sunday, but let’s take a look at the three race telecasts on offer.
Lucas Oil 150
Friday night saw the Camping World Truck Series return to the track that hosted the series’ very first point race, Phoenix International Raceway. Granted, that inaugural 80-lap race (not a misprint) was just one part of the annual Copper World Classic, but we had a very competitive 150-lap race Friday night.
The primary feature of SPEED’s Setup was a look at the series’ changing focus from NASCAR’s equivalent of the Champions Tour (formerly the Senior PGA Tour) into a breeding ground for upcoming talent. There were plenty of soundbites in the piece from a number of current and former drivers to augment the segment. It was interesting to watch, but I picked up a real difference of opinion here. Drivers like Ty Dillon and Justin Lofton are obviously pleased with their present standing, but a couple of veterans had a slightly more wistful stance. Especially Ted Musgrave. They must have caught him on a bad day or something because he was extra crusty.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t quite as much to take away from this week’s SPEED Spotlight of Ryan Truex. We learned that Ryan’s the quiet type. Nothing wrong with that. Also, the team raced for Sandy relief Friday night, resulting in the final chunk of the piece becoming an infomercial. And lastly, we got to see Joey Coulter’s house, Cribs-style. It’s nice and all that you want to show us Coulter’s home (which is fairly nice), but there just wasn’t much to work with here. Also, the Cribs franchise has been around since 2000 (cripes, 12 years). It’s a bit played out.
During the race on Friday night, there was quite a bit of action on track for position. SPEED generally did a pretty good job covering this action. However, I did have a couple of gripes.
The second caution of the race came out for a wreck involving John King on Lap 44. It appears that King hit the wall exiting Turn 2. Footage of King struggling to drive his stricken Ford back to the pits aired during the race telecast. I couldn’t tell you how King’s truck got so beat up that he was out on the spot. Why? Because the incident wasn’t caught live and no replays were shown of it. I can understand not catching it live, but not showing bupkis in the form of replays bites. Remember, I’m not in Avondale, Arizona watching this race. I’m at my house in upstate New York. You have to throw me a bone here. If you don’t have any footage, tell the viewers that you don’t and save face.
Friday’s race was given a 150-minute time slot. At the time, this surprised me. A race run anywhere near cleanly wouldn’t come close to filling that time. However, Friday’s race all but did. As a result, post-race coverage was relatively tight. There were four post-race interviews, plus a check of the all-important points.
Great Clips 200
Saturday afternoon brought the Nationwide Series back out to play at Phoenix. Let’s take a look at how ESPN did with the AAA circuit.
During Countdown, the primary feature was a piece about Sam Hornish, Jr. and his time with Penske Racing. What did I take from it? Hornish didn’t come to NASCAR just for the money. He pretty much completely dispels the notion of that here. I was actually surprised at how he claimed to feel about racing in the IndyCar Series towards the end of his tenure there. Obviously, his team owner had nothing to do with those feelings since he still drives for Penske, but the idea that he didn’t feel anything in IndyCar was striking. Perhaps he was sick of people like Tony George (still in control at the time) and the much-maligned Brian Barnhart (recipient of the double middle finger heard ‘round the world). And to think that people thought that Hornish might end up back there after 2010?
A second feature covered the story of former Sprint Cup Series car owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bud Moore. Moore talked about his time serving under General Patton during World War II, then coming home and getting involved in motorsports. The feature was used mainly since Veterans’ Day was on Sunday and the piece was pertinent to the time of year. Generally, I enjoyed it, but being the complete nitpicker that I am these days, I noticed a slight error. They displayed Geoff Bodine’s victory at Sears Point as having occurred in 1992. It actually happened in 1993 in a truly epic duel. One of my personal favorite Cup races.
Also, Saturday was supposed to mark the return of Nur Ali in the No. 70, fielded in Phoenix by Rick Ware Racing after Robinson-Blakeney Motorsports was shut down and went on the auction block recently. However, Ali struggled as badly (or even moreso) than he did at Kansas (his qualifying speed was just 102 mph, 7.5 seconds off the pole), so a move was made before the race to shift Timmy Hill from the S&P No. 15 to drive the No. 70. It was not referenced much during the race, especially since ESPN did not cover Nationwide qualifying.
Like the last few weeks, ESPN had a couple of primary aspects of the race that they focused on. The championship battle between Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and to a lesser extent, Austin Dillon, was an important part of ESPN’s telecast. Having said that, they weren’t anywhere near as much of the focus as Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson on Sunday.
Post-race coverage was very short since the race was past the scheduled end of their time slot. There were three quick interviews and allusions to the points situation. By that, I mean that they talked about Sadler’s 20 point deficit to Stenhouse, but never showed a graphic. Admittedly, compared to what happened on Sunday, there really wasn’t much to write home about on Saturday. We saw a lot more of what we’ve seen in recent Nationwide broadcasts from ESPN. Nothing overly bad, but nothing all that great either. The focus on Sadler and Stenhouse at nearly everyone else’s expense just hurts the race coverage and will continue to until the focus is opened up.
Finally, we come to Sunday. Heck definitely went down.
Last week, ESPN played an excerpt from Hannah Storm’s sit-down interview with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. that aired in full last Tuesday night. This week, excerpts from both Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski’s conversations aired.
For Johnson, the segment where the Johnsons showed Storm their picture gallery was aired. Yes, it’s a nice little setup that they came up with, but it didn’t draw me in.
In Keselowski’s case, they played the portion that I probably wouldn’t have played. It was all about Keselowski’s time with JR Motorsports. While yes, those were formative years for Keselowski when he wasn’t interrupting one-on-one interviews with TV personalities, I found the portion of the conversation where Keselowski talked about his family’s sacrifices more interesting. For lack of better words, the Keselowskis bankrupted themselves to further Brad’s career, then the Keith Coleman team went belly-up barely a couple of months into 2007 (you might remember that being the No. 23 team with sponsorship from Oklahoma’s Centennial (of statehood).
Another feature saw Ray Evernham in one of the production trucks narrating a comparison of driver-crew chief relationships between Johnson-Chad Knaus and Keselowski-Paul Wolfe. The differences are quite stark, yet the results are nearly the same. Very interesting. With the No. 48, it’s Chad’s way or the highway. Meanwhile, Wolfe and Keselowski are much more open. I feel like Knaus would drive other drivers nuts with his ways.
Finally, we also had a piece on trash talk narrated by Marty Smith. Clips of past altercations and angry interviews featured here. Also, clips of great trash talkers like Shannon Sharpe were included (Note: No Gary Payton? That guy’s the grandmaster of trash talk). However, it needs to be noted that trash talk, fracases, and angry dudes after the fact are completely different things. If this were about another sport, I suppose it would make a little more sense. I only say this because there really isn’t that much trash talk in NASCAR. I suppose the piece would have made more sense had it been framed as something having to do with “Boys, have at it.”
During the race, ESPN seemed to spend the vast majority of the telecast focusing on just Keselowski and Johnson, to the detriment of everyone else. A strategy such as that would lead viewers to believe that there was all but no passing on the track. I just don’t like that strategy. I don’t care what time of year it is, a more inclusive telecast is always a good thing. People will thank you for it.
Also, a random note. I don’t recall this being referenced by ESPN’s commentators, but Johnson was shifting early in the race. He would downshift to third gear entering Turn 1 so that he would get a better run off the corner, then upshift to fourth before the dogleg. I’m not griping here, but simply noting something that I (and probably everyone else in Phoenix) didn’t expect. I thought he was going to rip up his transmission before the end of the race at that rate, but as we’re well aware, Johnson found another way to eviscerate his championship chances.
If there is one place where ESPN actually shined on Sunday, it was their coverage of the donnybrook. The only thing that I wished that ESPN did was to cut to the overhead shot about three seconds earlier than they did. By the time they did, Gordon was already out of camera shot. Honestly, I’m surprised that no one got hurt there. The cameraman who followed Bowyer step-by-step on his hustle to cut Gordon off at the pass gets special kudos. Having never held an HD camera before, I cannot completely vouch for this, but I’m sure those cameras are pretty heavy pieces of electronics. To give viewers a great shot while at full sprint takes some skill.
Had heck not gone down on Sunday, we would have had a full 20 minutes of regular post-race coverage. However, the crash, acts of pugilism and clean-up resulted in the race somehow running long. As a result, actual post-race coverage in the telecast was quite minimal. There were three interviews, and a check of the points. If they had had more time, I would have liked some discussion about the final stretch of the race. The commentators correctly pointed out at the time that there was still oil on track. It was visible to the naked eye, man. NASCAR, if they were smart, should have extended that red flag at least five more minutes. Also, yes, a yellow should have been thrown for Patrick’s wreck. I stated on Facebook after the race that it was the sorriest finish I’d seen in years, and I stand by that. Dang officials acting like idiots.
The rest of the post-race coverage was covered on SportsCenter by a combination of Kevin Connors, Steve Weissman and Ricky Craven. Now, Craven’s…seen some stuff before. Jokes aside, he’s the right guy you want to have talk about the fallout from an incident at a NASCAR race. Makes me wish he was actually there on Sunday and not back in Bristol.
In the studio role, Craven was a calming influence more than anything. Pat Riley would like working with Craven since Craven keeps himself poised, no matter what is going on. This greatly benefits the viewing audience as well. Meanwhile, Connors and Weissman appeared somewhat shocked and unnerved about what they were seeing. It’s like they couldn’t grasp what was going on. Granted, they were trying to grasp the biggest fight in Sprint Cup since 1989 (I think it’s a cross between the 1989 Winston throw down, and an ugly brawl at South Boston Speedway during a Busch race in 1998). Connors was apparently barely a Freshman in high school back then, while Weissman (who I think looks a little like Brett Weir in the Jerky Boys movie) might have reached double digits in age by that time.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is the season finale for all three of NASCAR’s top series. Trophies will be handed out and crews will go nuts with joy. However, that isn’t the only game in town. Formula One makes their return to the United States this weekend as well. As a result, the typical three hour edition of NASCAR RaceDay Fueled by Sunoco that marks Homestead isn’t happening this year. In fact, the show’s been shortened as compared to normal.
Thursday, November 15
Time Telecast Network
Friday, November 16
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, November 17
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, November 18
Time Telecast Network
~- Approximate start time
Also, of note, ESPN Classic is replaying some classic season-ending races this week. The marathon starts Thursday morning with last years’ Ford 400 at 11am, followed by the 2007, 2008 and 2009 races. The 2010 Ford 400 will air at 9am on Friday. Check with your local cable/satellite/Telco provider for channel availability.
I will provide write-ups of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series season finales for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The Annex this week will cover SPEED’s presentation of Beyond 200: The Hendrick Motorsports Story. I’ve read good things about it, but haven’t put fingers to the keyboard as of yet. For next week’s Annex, likely to run on the 21st due to Thanksgiving, I’ll be covering Kurt Busch: The Outlaw. I have no idea what to expect there, but I’m looking forward to it.
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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