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 May 28, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast breakdowns and critiques are the primary main objectives. This past weekend was one of the sweetest weekends of the year. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series had a “home game” at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Editor’s Note: Due to the extensive coverage of Charlotte, with FOX’s camera malfunction the Indy 500 critique will be found in the Critic’s Annex this week in our Frontstretch Newsletter. Don’t get our FREE daily look at racing news across the country? Sign up by clicking on the link.
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series returned from another weekend off to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With Rusty Wallace apparently convincing TriStar Motorsports to withdraw their No. 10 for Jeff Green after they qualified 28th (likely with the use of Big Bucks with no chance at a Whammy), there were no S&P’s for the first time in quite a while. Let’s see how ESPN did with their telecast.
Saturday was the first of three races that will air on ABC. Likely because of the ABC assignment, NASCAR Countdown was cut down to a mere 15 minutes. As a result, no Pit Studio or Pit Studio analysts were on the broadcast this week. Also, due to Indianapolis, the pit reporting corps were kind of thin. Pre-race coverage consisted of some analysis from the booth, plus four interviews.
The actual coverage brought a lot of the same issues with focus that I noted with the Indianapolis 500 telecast. There was once again, a high focus on the front of the field. As a result, viewers always end up asking themselves where the deuce certain drivers came from. This week, it was Kyle Larson. I think he was running outside of the top-15 for much of the race. Then, Larson started to use the cushion (to borrow a dirt track racing term) to his advantage. All of a sudden, we finally see his Visio/Hulu Plus Chevrolet up front after being ignored all day. It puts everyone in a bad position. Basically, they all look like goons because they all but don’t have any information on Larson from the rest of the broadcast.
Now, you have a couple of options here. They can rely on the pit reporters, who probably do have a fair amount of information on Larson’s day to share with the booth. Or, they can wing it.
Also on Saturday, Clint Bowyer came up to the booth to serve as a special guest analyst for the day. This turned out to be interesting. Bowyer, by nature is a quirky, talkative guy. While Bowyer’s normal personality that we’ve gotten used to over the past couple of years didn’t really come out, he did stick around for the rest of the race from when he arrived around Lap 50, and he had a lot of fun with it. Much like Carl Edwards, he came away from the experience having learned quite a bit.
“Enjoyed commentating the race today,” Bowyer tweeted after the race. “I have a new respect for all the people that make that side of these races go down.”
Based on that statement, Bowyer seemed a little bit overwhelmed during some of his time up there.
Post-race coverage was relatively brief since the race had already gone over the end of their specified time slot on ABC. There were five post-race interviews aired before ESPN left the air. There was no check of the point standings at all. I can’t speak for all markets here in the United States, but after the race ended, we went to “ESPN Sports Saturday” in Albany, which was scheduled for a half-hour. I think that’s a studio show. Not really all that important. ESPN could have taken the 40 seconds or so to give viewers the point standings. Heck, we’re not at that time of the year where we get constant point updates every six minutes yet, so a check of it at the end of the race is helpful.
Finally, we come to the marathon 600 mile classic. FOX was on the air for over six hours on Sunday night from Charlotte. Unfortunately, their own equipment negatively affected the race. Let’s take a look at the whole telecast.
I could sense way back during pre-race that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary race. There were absolutely no driver interviews on the whole pre-race show. Michael Waltrip was going to do his stupid Grid Walk (which I maintain should not take the place of actual driver interviews), but technical issues with Michael’s microphone meant that the segment got cut.
The primary feature was a one-on-one conversation between Darrell Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson. Johnson talked about how happy he currently is with his life and how hard he has worked to achieve it all. Admittedly, I don’t think I learned much about Johnson in the piece, but I found his quotes about responding to “haters” to be interesting. Johnson’s not afraid to stir things up on Twitter. He’s not blind to some fans’ beliefs that NASCAR rigs races and such. He just calls them on it. Perhaps that’s why he showed up to his media availability with a brewski. He just wanted to ruffle some feathers.
Since it was Memorial Day weekend, FOX had a couple of special features on the pre-race show. The tweets that are often displayed at the bottom of the screen were replaced by soldiers who had died in the line of duty over the past year, which is what they did last year. In addition, FOX aired a special piece where troops either wrote in or sent video messages to their favorite drivers. Those drivers then responded to their fans. I thought this was a nice touch.
Finally, before the issues that I mentioned above with Michael’s aborted Grid Walk, FOX showed a brief montage that showed off some of their equipment, including the Unlimited Cam that likely won’t show up anymore.
Knowing what happened during Sunday night’s race, I cannot talk about the race telecast without mentioning the rope incident. I definitely could not tell that anything was really wrong at first when they threw the yellow. With the shot that FOX chose to use a couple of laps after the restart, I could not see the wire/nylon rope hit Kyle Busch’s car. However, on second watch, I did see the bottle of Coca-Cola hit Jamie McMurray‘s car. To whoever thought that was a good idea, that’s real classy, you moron. Let’s face facts. What we saw Sunday night is similar to what could happen if someone pulled a Dick Dastardly-style dirty trick on the field and put a trip wire across the track. Had this occurred in say, 1986, we would have had a number of drivers injured in addition to the ten fans in the stands because we would have broken windshields, blown tires. It would have been much uglier.
Now, the idea of a sky cam having issues during a sporting event is not unprecedented. In 2011, “ESPN’s Sky Cam came crashing to the ground”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8mfRIJCViA late in the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Granted, that was a completely different issue as compared to Sunday, but still very dangerous.
The first thought that came to my mind was that some cretin threw something and hit the rope somehow. However, that’s fairly unlikely. It would likely take someone along the lines of Henry Rowengartner to make such a throw. Unfortunately, the clip I really wanted to put here isn’t on YouTube, so “this one”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Nd693I5X1E will have to suffice. Ignore the hilarious quote from the doctor and pay attention to the force in Henry’s throwing motion. It could have been enough to reach the rope.
Chris Myers did note that they were checking to see if any fans in the grandstands were injured prior to the 15 minute work period. Have to state that. Unfortunately, there was no further word from FOX about potential injuries until Lap 167, more than 35 laps after the restart. By that time, writers had already noted that stretchers and EMT’s had been dispatched to the grandstands to treat injured people. As far as I’m concerned, FOX should have notified viewers about that before they did. FOX also did do well to get Jeff Hammond down in Marcos Ambrose’s pit and show viewers just what it was that caused this stupidity.
The reactions of FOX’s analysts to NASCAR’s decision to allow repairs under the red flag were interesting. Larry McReynolds took the time to commend NASCAR for their response to the situation. I guess that’s ok, but it’s dangerously close to, if not outright pandering to the sanctioning body.
Darrell Waltrip actually claimed that this situation would make the race better. Uh. No. It didn’t. At best, NASCAR’s decision allowed the race to continue as if the drive rope never snapped. In other words, it was neutral. Had they not allowed repairs under the red, then it would have negatively affected the race.
Now, FOX has put out a press release that talks about what happened. We’ve already re-printed that press release “here.”:http://www.frontstretch.com/breakingnews/43161/ However, “FOX Sports did tell USA Today’s Jeff Gluck”:http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2013/05/27/fox-rope-camera-cable-coca-cola-600-fans-injured-hurt/2364255/ on Monday that the rope had the approximate strength of a steel wire and a similar diameter. In addition, the rope was designed to withstand far more force than it did before it snapped. The investigation continues into what happened, and FOX Sports does plan on sharing the final results of their investigation with NASCAR. Whether the general public gets to see those final results is anyone’s guess.
In addition to the rope failure, I noted that FOX was a little more inclusive than ESPN was on Saturday. I wasn’t quite as lost as I was during the Nationwide race.
Since the race ended a full hour beyond the end of the race’s original time slot, post-race coverage was fairly minimal. There were four post-race interviews, in addition to checks of the unofficial results and point standings.
Now, Myers apologized profusely for what happened with the cable wire and they were hopeful that everyone would be ok. Luckily, that will be the case. I cannot place unilateral blame on FOX Sports for what happened as of right now. We’ll have to wait until the investigation is over.
FOX is paying an incredible amount of money to NASCAR in order to cover the Sprint Cup Series. They ultimately just want to cover the races. Mike Joy even said that they want to cover the races, and do it in the most comprehensive way possible. At the time, Joy noted that FOX wants to take advantage of all of the technological gizmos that they have to do it. Sunday’s incident put the spotlight squarely on FOX instead of the race itself. They must feel horrible right now. The only thing I know for sure right now is that the CAMCAT, or “Unlimited Cam,” won’t be showing up at any races, anytime soon.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, NASCAR’s three National series will all be in action at Dover International Speedway. Meanwhile, the IZOD IndyCar Series will have the first of their three scheduled doubleheaders. However, they will be racing on a new configuration at Belle Isle. We’ll have to see how that works. Here’s your listings.
Tuesday, May 28
Time Telecast Network
Wednesday, May 29
Time Telecast Network
Thursday, May 30
Time Telecast Network
Friday, May 31
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, June 1
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, June 2
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape Delayed
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. Also, since Dover is the final race of FOX’s portion of the season, I will provide a review of FOX’s portion of the season. I will admit right here that I have already written part of it. The rest will be written after Sunday’s race.
In the Critic’s Annex, I currently plan on covering the Indy 500 along with the Grand Prix of Monaco, coverage of which aired on a combination of NBC and the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, this Thursday. Next Thursday, we’ll cover the Chevrolet Duals in Detroit for the Izod IndyCar Series.
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:
As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
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I never thought I’d see so many empty seats at Charlotte on Memorial weekend for the Coke 600.
Andy, the races at Charlotte have really been poor since the levigation. Long & boring, guess people have decided not to buy tickets. No wonder Bruton wants to move the race in October. IMO, they need to make the October race a daytime start – maybe around 5:30. It gets COLD at night! Since it is a chase race, they take forever with the intros and honestly, the race finishes up too late. People start leaving because they are cold (or bored).
For this weekend, I was out to dinner with friends, came home around 10:30 and figured I’d just see the end of the race. I was surprised to see it was still going on. Didn’t bother to watch the end since I came home just in time to see my favorite driver get wrecked. Made me VERY glad I hadn’t bought a ticket to the race.
Funky Butt Lovin.. Best movie quote