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.
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where we take a look at race telecasts each week. The goal is to break them down, talk about where they shine, where they fall off a cliff, and how they can be improved. This past weekend was quite an adventure. The Sprint Cup Series made their first visit of the year to Pocono Raceway, while the Nationwide Series held a rain-plagued standalone event at Iowa Speedway. Finally, the Camping World Truck Series raced Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
WinStar World Casino 400k
On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned to Texas Motor Speedway for their first of two assaults on the high banks in their traditional role as primary support to the Izod IndyCar Series.
The Setup started off with a look at some of the news and notes. For SPEED, that was kind of rare, but I am of favor of it. That was followed up by a montage-style recap of the Lucas Oil 200 from Dover.
The primary feature of the Setup was a feature on Brendan Gaughan. The feature was designed to look back on the 2003 season, when Gaughan was driving for his father and had a career season. At the time, Gaughan simply thought that the disappointment in Homestead was just a bump in the road as far as his career was concerned. Today, it’s the high water mark of his career. Since then, Gaughan has floundered and still has not returned to Victory Lane. Driving for RCR in the Trucks this year reunited Gaughan with 2003 crew chief Shane Wilson, so there was a fair amount of time given to how the two work together then and now. Overall, this wasn’t bad. I liked watching it. I was surprised to find out that Gaughan has effectively never watched that race. Mind you, this is the same guy that said this on live television back then.
The race itself was fairly decent. With the long green flag runs on Friday night, there wasn’t all that much racing for position, especially in the middle segment. SPEED did their best to bring us information about what was happening on-track. I didn’t feel lost during the race telecast.
I didn’t notice any glaring issues with the race presentation that negatively affected the race watching experience, which is always good to see.
Since the race ended pretty early, SPEED had the opportunity to bring viewers a healthy amount of post-race coverage. Ultimately, that didn’t necessarily equal any more coverage than normal. SPEED provided viewers with interviews with the top-5 finishers, plus chats with the winning crew chief (Mike Hillman, Jr.) and father (Ward Burton). There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings, along with a little analysis of Jeb Burton’s winning move before SPEED left the air.
DuPont Pioneer 250
For the Nationwide Series, Iowa Speedway marked their first true standalone race of the season. There were only going to be a couple of Cup drivers in the race. However, the rains that washed out the event Saturday night put an end to that. How did ESPN do with what ultimately became a marathon?
The weather looked ok when ESPN came on the air for NASCAR Countdown at 7:30pm. However, it was all downhill from there. The sprinkles started just as ESPN started their telecast, then the steady stuff came on in. When this happens, ESPN puts their rain delay protocol in effect.
What that means is an array of driver interviews and features. However, the features that were aired here were repeats. The first feature was a piece narrated by Marty Smith about how athletes that excel at their sport are not necessarily the most well-liked.
The second was the piece that ESPN aired prior to the Aaron’s 312 about Travis Pastrana going in for “mental testing.” To save you time, you can read my thoughts about that here. ESPN also replayed the feature that they ran last week at Dover about Sam Hornish, Jr. and the piece where Kyle Larson effectively introduced himself and talks about his background. In addition to these features, ESPN ran 18 driver interviews prior to the race being postponed on Saturday night.
Due to even more threatening weather, it appeared that NASCAR made the decision to hurry up the start of the race. As a result, the cars had already received the one-to-go before green when ESPN came on-air Sunday. There was only time to talk about a couple of main topics before the green flag came out.
Even with the early start (10 am local time), the rains returned with a vengeance shortly after halfway. During that stoppage, ESPN filled that time period with 19 driver interviews, three crew chief interviews and a check of the current running order. I’d say that it was more than adequate.
Post-race coverage was minimal, given the sheer amount of extra time that ESPN had spent in Iowa. There were interviews with the top-3 finishers, plus the winning crew chief. Once again, the point standings were not shown. The unofficial results remained in the scroll.
Overall, I thought that ESPN provided viewers with a slightly stripped broadcast as compared to normal. Without a lot of the frills that you usually see on a Nationwide telecast when they’re supporting the Cup Series, ESPN had to pay a little more attention to the actual race at hand. Given the circumstances, they did just fine. There was plenty of good racing for position that actually did make the telecast for a change. Not having Kyle Busch around definitely benefits the telecast. It’s like Busch has a magnet underneath the small white splotch on the back of his Monster Energy fire suit that attracts ESPN’s attention. Without Busch, we got a more inclusive telecast with 96 percent less fawning. My readers will more than likely agree that that is a good thing.
Party In The Poconos 400 presented by Walmart
On Sunday afternoon, Turner Sports (via TNT) returned for their 31st consecutive season of Sprint Cup coverage, live from Pocono Raceway. TNT returned the same eight on-air personalities that they had in 2012. How did they do? Let’s take a look.
Countdown to Green showed off a couple of new aspects of TNT’s coverage. For one, they will have a backup car from one of the teams available in order to show mechanical aspects. That’s a nice touch, but there’s something else at play here. In the past, TNT has had their own COT with a body that can be lifted off to show this stuff. What we have here is nothing more than a cost-cutting move. I don’t know if TNT had to pay Germain Racing to use their backup car for the segments or not.
TNT also unveiled their new “All-Access” feature, where they cover a team for the entire week leading up to a race. This week, we saw a brief recap of Dover for Denny Hamlin’s team, followed Hamlin to a couple of team meetings, a trip to Memphis for a FedEx appearance, and a 50-mile bike ride. It was a nice piece, but it’s not really anything new (ok, it is for TNT). Going in, I thought that TNT was going to deliver something similar to what ESPN did during the Chase back in 2010. That is essentially what they did. Having said that, I still thought that it was interesting.
Another piece had a number of drivers (Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards) talking about the restart rules. The whole thing was kind of tongue in cheek, but it did point out some of the issues with the current restart rules. In all honesty, none of what you’ve seen recently was all that much of an issue before NASCAR instituted double-file restarts with lead lap cars in both lanes.
As for the race itself, oh boy. I watched this event live on Sunday and had serious trouble trying to figure out just what the deuce was going on. I know I don’t talk about commercials very much, but they were so pervasive on Sunday that there was no flow to the telecast at all. They were taking breaks for three to four laps, then coming back for five-ish laps, then four more in commercial.
When TNT was not in commercial, they didn’t show a whole lot of racing. Instead, they would just show single cars without much context. Also, they showed most of the first round of green-flag stops in full-screen without a scroll. As a result, I was kind of lost during that segment. I know that I griped quite a bit about FOX’s approach to covering Sprint Cup recently, but touches like showing a split-screen during green flag stops and a list of who’s pitted and who hasn’t is really helpful. I don’t like guesswork when it comes to telecasts.
Speaking of the scroll, it’s been renovated for the first time since 2007. The change is not all good, unless you’re a corporation with your logo on it, in which case, you’d love it. The amount of screen taken up by the scroll and sponsor is increased by what I think is 50 percent. The company with their logo on the scroll is fully across the screen now, instead of a small area to the left of the scroll. Also, the lap counter has been moved to the right side of the screen and has been enlarged. I’m not a fan of the move, because it cuts off some of the action. It’s just about as bulky as the scroll FOX used in 2004 and 2005.
TNT also seemed to not really care about telling viewers why the first caution came out. This happened during a commercial break. TNT returned at the end of a round of stops, then took another break and almost went back to green before Kyle Petty told viewers that the yellow was because of “a cloth, or a crying towel” on track exiting Turn 1. I found the crying towel thing a little funny, but yeah, you need to work on that, TNT.
Post-race coverage was pretty decent. TNT brought viewers six post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Chad Knaus). There were also checks of the unofficial results and point standings, in addition to post-race analysis from the broadcast booth, and from Larry McReynolds. Since NASCAR took possession of NASCAR.com since last year’s Summer Series, there was no post-post-race show on RaceBuddy. That appears to be dead. ‘Tis a shame, since I liked that.
Pocono showed me that TNT has a lot of things to work on for Michigan. I understand their need to advertise companies so that they can pay for their telecasts, but they have to space out their commercial breaks better. If you don’t do that right, then it’s literally a quick burst of action in-between Sprint commercials, and nobody enjoys that. Also, please make a point to show some action on-track. Prior to Lap 125, it seemed like they never showed anything other than individual cars. Also, give viewers updates on what happened to certain drivers that had issues. I have no clue why AJ Allmendinger ended up a lap down by Lap 15. It appeared that he made an unscheduled pit stop for…something and it screwed up his day. TNT never mentioned it at all. You have to throw us a bone. I hope that some of we saw Sunday was just rust. Otherwise, this is going to be a long six weeks.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are both scheduled to race at Michigan International Speedway, with the ARCA Racing Series as tertiary support. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series travels to the Milwaukee Mile. Here’s your listings.
Tuesday, June 11
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Wednesday, June 12
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Thursday, June 13
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Friday, June 14
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, June 15
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Sunday, June 16
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Monday, June 17
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*- Tape Delayed
I will provide guaranteed critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. I’m currently undecided on whether the ARCA race from Michigan will be the third race, or if the Izod IndyCar Series race from Milwaukee will be covered. Whichever one isn’t covered will be covered in the June 20th edition of the Critic’s Annex in the Newsletter. For this week’s Annex, we’ll have an IndyCar tripleheader (both halves of the Chevrolet Duals in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans, plus Saturday night’s Firestone 550k).
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Phil, I have to say one thing. You were wrong about them not mentioning why Allmendinger ended up a lap down, albeit they did it late in the race. They tried an alternative pit strategy where they ran the race backwards, like a road course, which caught him a lap down.
Q: Does anyone know what to me is the best part of going to the Michigan race is?
A: I do not have to watch the race on TNT!
Larry Mac…enough for me to turn off the TV.
It was too nice a day to stay inside to watch a race from Pocono. I usually like TNT but they do have more commercials than even Fox. I agree with JP about Larry Mac’s presence. Sorry, I was tired of the Fox crowd after Daytona – I’m certainly not interested in having his voice in these telecasts, too.
I worked outside and in the house, coming in once in a while to see if there was anything worth watching. Since the answer was a resounding “no”, I kept moving.
Not impressed with the racing or the telecasts in 2013. I don’t expect ESPN’s coverage to be any better since they will bang the Chase drum until I leave the room.
If NASCAR wants me to be interested, the racing needs to be better.
The best thing about TNT? No Waltrips constantly cheerleading for JGR, MWR, Felon Motorsports and its subsidiaries SHR & Phoenix Racing, and no cheerleading and shilling for Toyodor, Aarons , and the official fuel & tire providers.
No man gravy being exuded by DW over the most over-hyped, under-performing, celebrity spokesmodel in the role of a Cup driver.
No excuses being made up by the Faux crew for under-performing drivers or placing blame on the wrong person for an accident that’s caused by one of DW’s favorites. No excuses for bad tires from Badyear. It’s a breath of fresh air.
The two real highlights of the race? One was the dead air when Princess Sparkle Pony’s car was shown and the post-race interviews. They interviewed the top finishers and that was it. Nobody breaking their neck to interview the 29th place finisher or anyone a lap or more down.
I agree 100%. TNT did an awful job last year and I fully expect them to do an awful job this year. The commercials are so frequent yopu can’t get into the flow of the race. My biggest complaint is Kyle Petty and Wally dallenbach are awful. They are so busy trying to be funny they tell us NOTHING about what is happening on the track. Someone please tell these guys their job is to let us viewers at home know what is going on. I don’t know how Kyle Petty can talk so much and still say NOTHING.
I love people like Mad Man. They can’t stand all the attention Danica gets, yet they bring her up in comments sections every week, (or in his case his own blog) or both, even when they aren’t mentioned.
If TNT is running their “Wide Open” coverage for Daytona, this is how they make up for it. No commercials at Daytona means more commercials for the other races.
What is it with the media’s hyper focus of the front of the field. TNT is notorious for this as well as ESPN. The Indy Car race on ESPN, as soon as Helio took the lead, everyone else was forgotten. And they wonder why race fans are losing interest. Why would anyone be tempted to go to a race watching one of these things on tv?
I’m not sure TNT was really doing the broadcast of the Pocono race. Adam A.,Kyle,Larry Mc and half of the crew covering the pits work for Fox/Speed. I bet the camera crew and the director also work for Fox/Speed.
My optimism for the TNT broadcast ended the moment they brought up the ticker for the first time and I saw the giant sponsor logo above it, taking up what felt like a quarter of the screen. On the whole, FOX did a better job this year than last. Early signs are that TNT will be worse than ever before.
“The amount of screen taken up by the scroll and sponsor is increased by what I think is 50 percent,” Sponsor LOGO has to go. if I wanted a 19 inch screen I would go back to 1984
Pretty good critique Phil.