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.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday March 5, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast breakdowns are the topic of discussion. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were in Avondale, Arizona for their first visit of the year. For the Cup Series, it was the first unrestricted race weekend with the new Gen6 cars.
Before we start, today is the annual upfront sales presentation for FOX Sports. It is expected that they’ll take this time to formally recognize the new FOX Sports 1 channel. As many of you have undoubtedly heard by now, SPEED will become FOX Sports 1 at some point later this year, likely in August. The effect on NASCAR programming for the rest of 2013 will probably be noticeable, but it shouldn’t effect Truck races, or even the practice and qualifying telecasts (that stuff is under contract through the end of next year). However, there are already signs of changes. Trackside on Saturday morning instead of Friday night is just one example.
Dollar General 200
Even though we’re deep in the heart of basketball season, it doesn’t mean that live sporting events cannot encroach on pre-race programming. On Saturday, ESPN 2 was airing a live Missouri Valley Conference game between Wichita State and Creighton from Omaha, Nebraska (Congrats to Creighton for winning the regular season MVC title). Unfortunately, that game went long by nearly ten minutes. Despite the fact that it was a foregone conclusion, the last three minutes of that game took forever. ESPN chose to standby here instead of pushing NASCAR Countdown to ESPNEWS, for better or worse. I wonder what actually got cut because of it.
Once Countdown started, the focus was mainly on the news of the past week. First was the horrible crash at the end of the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona and the fallout from it. It was captured using race footage, interviews during the broadcast and out, and footage from SportsCenter. In addition, there was an update about the two remaining fans still at Halifax Health Medical Center (as of Saturday). It was a comprehensive wrap-up.
Secondly, there was the big news about Jeremy Clements’ suspension. Nicole Briscoe put the topic to a discussion amongst the analysts (Ray Evernham, Ricky Craven, Brad Daugherty). They appeared to be unanimous in stating that the open-ended penalty that Clements received was appropriate for the crime. I described the situation to one of my friends who formerly worked for a couple of local news stations and asked for his thoughts. He stated that it should have been considered an off-the-record conversation. The only reason that he was suspended was that the NASCAR PR rep was there and he/she was likely in a position where he/she would have had to report it to their superiors (ultimately setting Clements’ suspension in motion), or be fired. In other words, Clements is watching TV at home again this week because he got ratted out by a NASCAR representative.
The question that begs to be asked here is, “Is Jeremy Clements racist?”
Jeremy Clements is about as racist as Mr. Petto from The Boondocks. That is to say, not at all, but he definitely didn’t choose his words correctly. I’d link you guys to something from that particular episode, but there are so many N-words in there (“friendly” and unfriendly) that there’s no way I could post that here. The description of that episode is that Riley’s teacher, Mr. Petto, claims that he called Riley the “friendly” version of the N-word in what could be best described as an ill-fated to try to relate to Riley, who apparently uses it every other sentence. The episode, entitled “The S-Word,” is worth a watch, if you’ve got an open mind.
ESPN’s race telecast seemed to be focused on just how great Kyle Busch was. Yes, he stomped the field. However, almost anyone in Phoenix knew that was as likely as the Kardashian-Humphries marriage falling apart. You gotta give the viewers some more. Later in the race, there was a fair amount of coverage of battles. But again, this coverage was focused on a few drivers. Sam Hornish, Jr. in particular with his Frankenmustang after getting in a wreck barely two laps into the race. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson spent almost the entire race fighting each other. Other than those particular drivers, we just didn’t see all that much action. I’d like to see more inclusive coverage. It’s like every week about seven to nine teams get coverage, and everyone else is a bit player unless they wreck, or do something that affects those seven to nine aforementioned teams. That is not the way to cover a race.
Since the race ended right up against the end of ESPN’s timeslot, there really wasn’t much post-race coverage to be had. ESPN interviewed the all-conquering Kyle Busch, showed his post-race celebrations and the top-10 finishers, then left the air. They only showed the unofficial results in the scroll during the cool down lap. Once Kyle got back around, that was it for that. Weak. They could have done better.
Subway Fresh Fit 500k
Sunday brought the Sprint Cup Series back to action at Phoenix International Speedway for the Gen6 car’s first unrestricted race.
Since Sunday’s was the first race back in Phoenix for Sprint Cup since the Gordon-Bowyer craziness went down, there was a full scale look back at the shenanigans, including some angles that, until last week, hadn’t been seen by the public at large. Those shots from right down in the trenches were excellent, by the way. They didn’t make the broadcast from ESPN back in November because of all the obscenities that were caught by the cameras. Granted, you can just censor that stuff with bleeps now, but it’s not so easy when you’re live.
Another piece saw pole sitter Mark Martin take team owner (and FOX analyst) Michael Waltrip for a ride around the track in the pace car. Here, Martin and Waltrip talked about things like taking the shortcut on the backstretch and what they call “Hip Hop Wednesday” at the shop. I guess that’s Martin’s day with heavy weights. At best, this was filler. They could have made better use of the time by interviewing more people.
Due to last week’s insanity, I couldn’t properly cover Danica Patrick and the focus given to her. Sunday’s broadcast allows me the time to properly cover it here. Sunday’s pre-race coverage started with a montage of Speedweeks for Patrick, then an interview with Patrick (one of only two in the show). There was also a good amount of coverage given to her during the race, despite her never getting beyond 25th (which was where she was running before the blown tire took her out).
This “Danicamania” is driving me nuts. If you go back to my critiques from 2010 and 2011, I chastised ESPN for a lot of the same reasons that FOX must be chastised now. Brad Keselowski is right when he told USA Today’s Nate Ryan that Patrick should be given less of a chance than she gets now. It’s obvious that FOX has given Patrick far more coverage than she deserves. Now, it’s time for Patrick to make herself worth the coverage she gets. Put up or shut up. I don’t know if she can do it this year, but she better next year.
Also of note, NASCAR issued a technical bulletin this week that bans roof cams at non-short tracks and plate tracks due to the discovery that they give the leader of the race an unfair aerodynamic advantage. Am I surprised at this move? Not really. It happened before back in the 1990’s. The dome that houses the roof cams was nearly as tall as the old stalk that used to be used. I figured that it was a matter of time before they dropped the banhammer once again. In response, FOX is forced to use more of their gyro cams for in-car coverage. That stuff gave me a bit of a headache during the Daytona 500, but it’s not quite as bad at Phoenix. This site gives you a little idea of what we’re dealing with.
Also of note, FOX’s side-by-side strategy (as far as placement is concerned) is ok for now. However, their decisions regarding what to show in the small box reserved for the race during the breaks needs improvement. If you’re going to give me side-by-side coverage, give me more than just a shot of the leader (whoever that might be at the time). If there’s racing for position going on, show me that. Yes, it’s not as bad as last year’s “sync the in-car cameras to the ads so that we have sponsor synergy” move that drove me nuts, but it still needs improvement. Also, they need to find a way to keep the scroll during the side-by-side segments.
The race itself ended over 20 minutes past the end of it’s timeslot on FOX. Despite running quite late, FOX gave viewers a decent amount of post-race coverage. There were five post-race interviews, along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Finally, there was post-race analysis before FOX left the air.
Overall, FOX’s race coverage was ok. They probably did use the gyro cams a little too much. They seem to be further back in the car than even the older style cameras from the 1990’s, so I feel removed from the action. The shots were a little tight at times, which didn’t allow FOX to show off as much of the tandem battles for position that they talked extensively about during the second half of the race. Finally, there were a number of drivers that had great days, yet barely made the telecast at all, like AJ Allmendinger (finished 11th). Also, what happened to David Stremme? He was on the lead lap in his Swan Racing No. 30 until he apparently made an unscheduled green flag pit stop and ultimately finished three laps down. I have no clue why he would have made the stop (assuming he stopped when the rest of the leaders did). Swan Racing’s website and Twitter are no help, while Stremme himself only tweeted out an apology for spinning out Dave Blaney (he claimed that he was having brake issues). I always stress inclusiveness over exclusiveness in these critiques, and it’s no different here.
Also of note, they didn’t spend enough time dealing with the various tire failures on Sunday. Darrell Waltrip simply attributed them to bad setups, much like analysts would do at Martinsville. However, is that the only reason why someone would blow a tire at Phoenix? Probably not. Maybe that’s what happened to Stremme.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series stay out west and travel the 300-ish miles from Avondale to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Tuesday, March 5
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Wednesday, March 6
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Thursday, March 7
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Friday, March 8
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Saturday, March 9
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Sunday, March 10
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Monday, March 11
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I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races from Las Vegas in next week’s critique here at Frontstretch. For this week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex, we’ll take a look at Richard Petty: A Racer’s Life. For the March 14th Annex, we’ll take a look at the DVR Theater known as NASCAR Now. Does the move to late nights allow the show to be a little more comprehensive with their news, or does it just mean the show’s on while you’re snoozing?
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I have to disagree on the cameras. I prefer the in car cameras over the on the roof camera. It is nice to see the drivers perspective and there is a bit of nostalgia to them since it is what they used to use in days gone by. The Gyro cam is fascinating. Headache? I just wish I could wrap my head around how it actually works. I am a tad slow there.
FOX’s coverage? Show racing, not a single file procession. If the best on track racing is Kvapil and Gilliland, show me Kvapil and Gilliland.
I love the gyro-cam! I wish they’d do more bumper cam and in car cameras so we can really get a feel of the the racing.
LOL… Why would FOX show us passes happening during the side-by-side commercial when they don’t show us passes happening during the actual coverage. Let’s start there and then worry about commercial coverage.
I can’t help but feel the gyro-camera actually exagerates the banking as the driver feels/sees it while racing. That may not be an accurate assessment but it seems to me a stationary camera would convey exactly what the driver sees as they go through a corner.
I liked the gyro camera the first time I saw it. After that, not so much. Can’t stand Waltrip, like many others.
IMO the poor TV coverage by both ESPN & Fox continues to be a turn off factor for many of the fans – certainly it is for me. I forgot the N’wide race was on until my brother called me somewhere around 4 p.m. EST. I thought the coverage was lacksadasical at best. Yeah, yeah, KyBu is a monster in a JGR car and tromps all over the less well-funded (except for the other Cup efforts) in the field. Personally I thought Larson dogging Johnson was pretty funny. Obviously Johnson didn’t like it though.
Wait, you can’t criticize Danica? Didn’t you get the memo? If you don’t think she’s absolutely perfect, well, then you’re a hater. So really tired of all that. I’d be happier if they would just let her race and cover her like a normal competitor, but that doesn’t seem to be possible.
Speaking of passing, NASCAR once again overpromised and underdelivered with the Gen6 car. Why don’t they learn that it would be better to say – hey, it’s a work in progress rather than trying to convince everyone that it is “the answer” only to disappoint the fans again?
Maybe it will get better, I don’t know. By the time that happens, the weather will be nice and I plan to spend more time doing things other than being less than spellbound by the TV
Agree with Gina. I was so excited for the season to start and 2 races in I am tired of it already. Can’t they cover the whole field? They have about a dozen they cover and the rest may as well not be there. The telecasts are what is ruining Nascar.
Have noticed that all the hype during Speedweek and the 500 has calmed down substantially as it became more and more apparent that NASCAR had only served up another aero-sensitive turd.
Give Danica some credit. The broadcasters obsession with her has taken some heat off of Dale,Jr. But it is pretty clear that any driver that is taking as long as she has to adjust to stockcars probably never will very good. You kind of have it…or you don’t.
I too agree with Gina and Nanner. The TV coverage is ruining NASCAR. Hey Phil, how about getting us BZF’s email so we can tell HIM how we feel about the TV coverage?
Tommy, I’m willing to give Danica credit for the smart race she ran at Daytona. I have no issue with that. My problem is really with the media – all of them – and the constant barrage of “news”, real or just talking about nothing” that is being done.
I agree that it has taken some heat off of Jr. That’s probably fine by him – he’d like to just be able to race. Danica would probably like that, too.