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!
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 12, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where telecasts are the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were back in action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For Cup, it was the first intermediate race for the new Gen-6 cars.
Sam’s Town 300
Usually, we only have issues with other events cutting into NASCAR Countdown during the college football season in the fall. However, March is another bad time for that due to the various tournaments for basketball. On Saturday, the regular season ACC matchup between North Carolina State and Florida State ran long by 17 minutes. Ordinarily, this infringement would just bite. We’d miss out on whatever feature ESPN had planned and some analysis from the Pit Studio.
However, Saturday’s Countdown was a planned 15-minute show. The Pit Studio (along with Nicole Briscoe and her analyst cohorts) was taking a planned vacation prior to heading to Bristol, Tennessee, so Allen Bestwick was due to host the show from the broadcast booth. Due to the overrunning game from Raleigh, ESPN chose to bump pre-race coverage to ESPNEWS. There, ESPN did four pre-race interviews in what could be considered a basic, bare bones edition. Generally, I liked it. Short but sweet…
The race telecast was middle-of-the-road by ESPN standards. There was still a fairly high focus on the frontrunners during the event. Since Sam Hornish, Jr. led a large amount, he got a lot of airtime. I know that it’s a broken record by now, but I want to see more coverage throughout the field.
I think ESPN is taking the right route in regards to their coverage of Travis Pastrana in the series. Last year, they did all kinds of profiles and features on him, but now they’re playing a wait and see game to watch how he develops as a racer. They’re giving Pastrana coverage during the races, but not an insane amount, as if he’s the only up-and-comer competing. It is a far different approach as compared to how they treated Danica Patrick during her first full season in the Nationwide Series (and how FOX is treating her now as a Sprint Cup rookie, to their own detriment).
During the race, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. showed up and spent 20 or so minutes in the booth. While he was up there, Stenhouse answered some questions on restarts and compared the Nationwide CoT to the new Gen-6 car. Otherwise, he stayed quiet. The booth had to go out of their way to involve Stenhouse in the conversation, which takes away from the race in general. I guess either the driver is introverted or he just didn’t have all that much to say. One thing is for sure: Bestwick, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree won’t have to worry about Stenhouse taking over a broadcast anytime soon, like Justin Allgaier has unintentionally done in the past during ARCA telecasts on SPEED.
The end of the race ran up against the end of the network’s timeslot. As a result, post-race coverage was relatively light. ESPN did five quick interviews, then left the air to get to the Ohio Valley Conference Championship Game (Murray State vs. Belmont in Nashville).
The telecast was OK to watch. However, just being OK is not necessarily good enough. I still want a more inclusive race broadcast. I don’t need to be staring at single cars three seconds ahead of everyone else all the time. That’s when other battles should be highlighted, regardless of whether those drivers are on the lead lap or not. Also, Stenhouse didn’t do much in the booth, but I’m sure Zest (his sponsor for the weekend) was happy to get the random plug when he finished up there.
Kobalt Tools 400
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series was in action. The topsy-turvy weather resulted in a screwy race in which certain drivers that earned good starting spots, as a result of their performances in 2012 were literally rolling chicanes.
FOX had two short feature pieces during their pre-race show. One saw Michael Waltrip (who still shouldn’t be on the broadcast because he, as a car owner, is hopelessly biased) and Stenhouse take a trip over to the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas to have a good time. First up was a trip on the Big Shot, an amusement park ride where riders are pneumatically shot into the air at 45 mph. Here’s a similar example at the Great Escape in Queensbury, NY. That was all for Michael, but Stenhouse wanted more, specifically SkyJump Las Vegas. This ride is a controlled descent of over 800 feet to the ground. If you’d like to try it out, it costs $109.99, with pictures and/or video extra. They made it sound like bungee jumping (which has been attempted off the tower in the past), but it really wasn’t. Naturally, Michael begged out of that.
The second piece saw Darrell Waltrip sit down and talk to Carl Edwards about Phoenix. This piece was boring. I already knew that Edwards just wanted the losing streak to be over. Also, I don’t need back flip analysis. I don’t give a hoot about that.
Race coverage was not bad, but it still could use some improvements. For example, I’ve previously ranted this season about how FOX needs to do something during the side-by-side segments other than showing the leader. They still did not give us much action during the brief side-by-side segment early in the race. Instead, we got a couple of minutes of Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson (separately), isolated in a shot, with a break to show Clint Bowyer’s unscheduled pit stop. It’s as if Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip continued commenting during the break, and then the footage corresponded to that mystery commentary. I don’t think that’s true, but that’s just what it looked like to me.
FOX (McReynolds in particular) correctly predicted that there would be “comers and goers” in the early part of Sunday’s race. I just don’t think anyone thought Clint Bowyer would fall back as quick as he did. Back in January, Bowyer referred to the Mazda 6’s in the Rolex 24 at Daytona as chicanes. Sunday, Bowyer was the chicane. They literally could not show how fast Bowyer was dropping through the field. All we got were a couple of updates, laps apart showing how Bowyer was in a freefall. However, to be fair, we did get at least one pit update that indicated that Bowyer believed he had a flat. Ultimately, he stopped during the side-by-side commercial on Lap 14, having dropped into the 30s by that point. That almost seems like a record for someone who didn’t wreck or blow an engine at an unrestricted track.
Also early on, FOX used an infrared camera in a couple of instances. They’ve done it a few times in the past. Here, we saw it used on pit road, and with a stationary camera exiting Turn 4 that showed the groove was significantly warmer than the rest of the track. Interesting, but still kind of gimmicky.
FOX’s entire booth took a stand against the No. 11 team’s strategy of leaving Denny Hamlin out on 40-lap tires during the third caution. Yes, Darian Grubb felt the need to gamble there since Hamlin was the last driver on the lead lap (he’d gotten the Lucky Dog on the previous caution), but that was simply not the time to gamble. The chances were way too high that he would get screwed over by a yellow, as encapsulated by Darrell’s reference to short-term gain, but a long-term loss. That’s exactly what happened. Hamlin was lucky to finish where he was before the gamble (15th), thus creating a push. Good analysis here.
Finally, I still don’t understand the constant need to remind viewers every time that someone uses the apron that it isn’t out of bounds. NASCAR laid those double yellow lines at Daytona and Talladega for a reason. They’re not just for the drivers, but for TV viewers as well. We’re not blind. Granted, my readership here does not consist of just casual fans, but how many people watch a Cup race for the first time every week? That’s hard to quantify. ESPN wasn’t like that during their heyday in the 1990s. They did have “Track Facts,” but that was once a race, and it was never the same thing twice. You learned the rest by watching. FOX needs to embrace that.
Post-race coverage was OK. Viewers were treated to four interviews, in addition to checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Also, there was a weird “podium graphic” thing that FOX is doing this year that shows the top-3 finishers. I guess it’s something that they did during the Media Day at Daytona last month, but it’s really stupid and needs to go.
Las Vegas was an interesting race for the new Gen-6 car. I think the long green flag runs didn’t necessarily show off how racy it is, but it won’t necessarily hurt the car’s image. It’s arguable that the drivers are still getting used to the overall feel of the Gen 6, since seemingly everyone was loose. Somehow, only Bobby Labonte well and truly wiped out all day (I’m not going to count Marcos Ambrose’s slide that drew the second yellow on Lap 160). The booth (especially McReynolds) sold the raciness of the Gen-6 car, sometimes to a substantial level. However, we’ve still got a ways to go with it.
That’s it for this week. Next weekend is the first busy one of the racing season. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide cars will be back in action at Bristol for their first short track races. Meanwhile, the American Le Mans Series will hold their first and biggest event, the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. Broadcast coverage for that one has switched networks, providing same-day telecasting for the first time since 2010. Finally, Formula One returns with their first outing on the NBC Sports Network.
Tuesday, March 12
Wednesday, March 13
Thursday, March 14
Friday, March 15
Saturday, March 16
Sunday, March 17
*- Tape Delayed
Note that “The Reveal” refers to the big announcement scheduled for Thursday afternoon at Sebring International Raceway. Here, the new name for the combined Grand-Am/ALMS series for 2014 will be announced for the first time.
I will have full critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races from Bristol in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. This week’s edition of the Annex, in our Frontstretch Newsletter will dive deep into DVR theater for NASCAR Now. Have the overnights benefited the show? We’ll find out.
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It’s a small detail, but I wanted to let you know that the NC State-Florida State game was in Tallahassee, FL, not Raleigh as mentioned here (I know, I’m an NC State fan who had to endure their loss instead of the pre-race show).
So far this season, I’ve been happier with ESPN than FOX. Probably because of better Nationwide Series racing and Allen Bestwick being in the booth. I wish FOX would return to the way they were when I first saw them in ’01, but times have changed and I don’t see FOX changing their formula anytime soon.
I shut the whole thing off when DW and Mikey took a stand and said Hamlin was wrong in what he said and that Nascar was 100% correct. What a couple of tools.
agree with James, i’ll take ESPN any day over most of the FOX “talent” – ICK!!!!
I did Ann one better. I never even turned the race on until it was nearly the end. I knew that all of the paid shills for NASCAR would get up and thump their chests about how wonderful NASCAR is and how wrong Denny was for making his comment.
Since I happen to stand with Hamlin on this issue, I wasn’t going to waste electricity on listening to Kenny, DW or any other talking heads on Sunday.
NASCAR, Fox and ESPN have done a pretty darn fine job of making me a casual fan. You know, one who only watches the last 10 laps of the race? If this is what they wanted, instead of an engaged and interested fan base, they’ve been completely successful.
You are right about M.Waltrip not being in the booth. DW controls the booth and Mike Joy and Larry Mc are his puppets. Joy must get bonus money every time he uses Bower,Truex or Martins name.
Words cannot express my total contempt for Larry Mac. What an arrogant SOB.
At least fox doesn’t show their “news” at 1AM like espn’s “nascar now”. Regardless ,of liking or disliking dw, he knows the sport. And why is Mikie in the booth different than rusty and the “big guy” on espn who both own team’s ??
It gets worse in regards to NASCAR Now, banzaibonnie. I tried to watch the show last night and I’m confident that it never aired. NBA Tonight ran until 1:30am, then they went into regularly scheduled programming. Weak.
Regardless of what lunacy Larry and the Waltrips spouted this week, the problem with this week’s coverage was again how much racing they showed. I read a stat yesterday claiming there were 2,300 green-flag passes in this year’s race, as opposed to 1,300 in 2012. Certainly, you could see hints of this—the leaders would occasionally run into big clusters of 8-10 cars even deep into green-flag runs—but FOX rarely focused on these packs, not that any network ever does. During long green-flag runs, FOX spent much more time building narratives for the lead cars than trying to pick out racing further back in the pack.
It’s definitely important to keep the viewers informed on the competitive cars, but instead of just showing tight shots of the car in question logging laps, why not split the screen and show good racing elsewhere on the track at the same time? It would make long runs more interesting to watch, and it’s not like they’d miss anything by not taking the full screen to show a single car in isolation. All the TV networks have this problem, and if they really want to show how much racing the Gen-6 car is producing, they’d do well to fix it.
Zetona, They need the close up shots of the cars so it can be counted as advertising. If they showed a wider view with more cars the sponsor logos of the teams that paid money to Fox could not be seen clearly, meaning less money for Fox.