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 July 16, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast criticism is the name of the game. If you’re wondering, there was no critique last week because I was in Daytona covering the Coke Zero 400 weekend. However, just because I was in the Media Center doesn’t mean I didn’t have some thoughts about what TNT provided. I wrote about that particular race last Thursday in the Frontstretch Newsletter.
This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were both in action at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series was at Iowa Speedway.
Before we start, yesterday, ESPN officially launched their “Race to the Chase” brand campaign, which will do exactly what you think it will. At first, it will consist of a new 30-second commercial entitled Burnout, devised by Wieden + Kennedy, creators of the This Is SportsCenter ad campaign back in the mid-1990’s. There will be more promotional opportunities on ESPN networks in the lead up to ESPN’s return to Sprint Cup at Indianapolis.
Also of note, during Saturday’s telecast from Toronto, NBC Sports Network’s Leigh Diffey mentioned on air that ESPN’s Nicole Briscoe is expecting her first child. We at Frontstretch send our congrats to the Briscoe’s.
American Ethanol 200
On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned from another break to race in a standalone event at Iowa. Speaking of children, Krista Voda is pregnant with her first child. She spent the weekend in New Hampshire, where she was thrown a surprise baby shower. As a result, Danielle Trotta was brought in to substitute.
The primary piece that aired on the Setup revolved around how different the trucks will look at the Mudsummer Classic. To help us out, Ray Dunlap took a trip to Kyle Busch Motorsports, where the truck that Scott Bloomquist will drive was on display. Dunlap showed viewers the various aerodynamic changes that will be made to the trucks, in addition to the tires that will be run. The only thing that Dunlap did not mention is the fact that the teams will be running bias-ply tires instead of radials, which I think is a first for the series.
There was also a montage where a good chunk of the regulars talked about their thoughts about racing at Eldora. The 15 drivers questioned seemed to be looking forward to it, but some, like Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Ross Chastain, seemed to be a little apprehensive.
Todd Bodine was brought in to take the place of Michael Waltrip for the weekend. The result of that change was a completely different dynamic in the broadcast booth. Bodine is a lot like Ricky Craven in that he can bring a lot of information to viewers and get that information across in a reasonable matter. Having said that, Bodine is very inexperienced in an analyst’s role and it showed at times. It did take a little getting used to (Waltrip’s been in the booth for Truck races for quite a long time now), but I would not be opposed to having Bodine back for another go-around. Bodine, while he did have fun, would much rather be back in the No. 13 (or any other competitive truck).
During the race, there was a fair amount of time given to the race for the 20th spot in owners points since that is the cutoff in order to be locked in for the CarCash Mudsummer Classic presented by CNBC Prime’s The Profit. Ultimately, that came down to a race between Wauters Motorsports’ No. 5 of Tim George, Jr. and the No. 81 for SS-Green Light Racing, which was being driven by Jimmy Weller in his Camping World Truck Series debut. Neither George or Weller had a good run on Saturday night, but the No. 81 will be locked into next Wednesday’s race in Eldora via a tiebreaker (David Starr has two 13th-place finishes in the No. 81, while George’s best finish this season is a 14th).
Since the race ended pretty quick (there was still 32 minutes left in the timeslot when the checkers flew), there was a fair amount of post-race coverage. SPEED provided viewers with seven post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief. There were checks of the driver points and owners’ points as well. After the final interview, SPEED left the air early and went to a bonus episode of The 10 to fill 15 minutes of time.
Overall, SPEED did a pretty good job on Saturday night in balancing the major stories on tap and still bring viewers as much content as they can. Having said that, there were a few drivers that didn’t really get all that much coverage. Outside of the incident with Ty Dillon in the final couple of laps, Erik Jones didn’t really get much of a mention, even though he finished second. Ron Hornaday, who finished fourth, is another example.
Bodine in the broadcast booth may only be a one-time thing, but in a pinch, he would work just fine. He’s still a little raw, but with more experience, he’ll only continue to improve.
CNBC Prime’s The Profit 200
On Saturday, the Nationwide Series returned to action in New Hampshire. Did ESPN provide a proper broadcast, or leave people pulling out their hair?
At the beginning of NASCAR Countdown, ESPN took the time to introduce race fans to Ryan Preece, a Whelen Modified Tour racer who made his Nationwide debut Saturday for the combination Tommy Baldwin-Scott Lagasse, Jr. team. It was a nice little interview, although it seemed that Preece anticipated the questions and answered them before they could be asked.
In one feature, Roush Fenway Racing teammates Trevor Bayne and Travis Pastrana traveled to Fenway Park in Boston to have a hitting competition. That particular section reminded me of the Ricky vs. Trevor competition that aired in segments on NASCAR Countdown last season. Later on, the duo took a Duck Boat tour through Boston Harbor. The two Roush drivers had some fun that afternoon.
Finally, we had another entry in the series known as The Real Juan. This time, Montoya is celebrating his son Sebastian’s eighth birthday at a place called Game Time in Miami. Seems like an independent Chuck E. Cheese/Discovery Zone kind of place. Fun was had all around. This piece was more about the Montoya’s four kids and how different they are from each other.
New Hampshire was the last major race weekend prior to ESPN taking over the Sprint Cup Series. So, even though he was fairly close to home, Bestwick took the week off. In his place was Marty Reid, fresh off of his final IZOD IndyCar Series telecast of the year. Reid was his normal self in the booth, but I just don’t think he works quite as well with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree as well as Bestwick does.
This week’s special guest in the broadcast booth was Martin Truex, Jr., a past winner at Loudon in the Nationwide and Busch North (now K&N Pro Series East) Series. Truex didn’t really stay all that long, about 40 laps. However, while he was there, Truex did give some analysis. Reid didn’t necessarily have to prompt Truex’s participation, which is always good to see. It seems that Truex came to the broadcast booth with a plan for the half hour or so that he was going to have up there, and stuck to it. I think he did a pretty good job, but I wish there was more of it.
During the race, ESPN seemed to focus on two specific topics. One was the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash and the drivers eligible for that competition: Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and Sam Hornish, Jr.. The other topic was the domination of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. ESPN must expand their focus. Next week is a standalone race. Only a couple of Sprint Cup drivers—Joey Logano and JJ Yeley—are entered in Sunday’s STP 300. While there are a few Nationwide regulars that ESPN likes to focus on from time to time, like the four drivers eligible for the Nationwide Dash 4 Cash, the remainder of the field may as well be comprised of a bunch of invisible Halo characters.
Due to the three GWC’s, there was very little post-race coverage. There were only two post-race interviews (winner Kyle Busch, and Austin Dillon, who won the Dash 4 Cash). The results were shown in the scroll, while the point standings weren’t shown at all before ESPN left to get to the 6 o’clock news. I understand the circumstances, but that’s a little weak.
I thought that ESPN’s telecast was ok to watch, but definitely not groundbreaking. It was simply a lot more of what I’ve been talking about for much of this season. Not enough action for position and too much focus on a couple of stories. Fall outside those stories that were decided on Tuesday during the conference call and good luck getting your name out there. Reid was ok in his role. I would have preferred to have Bestwick calling the race, but understand the need for rest.
Camping World RV Sales 301
Sunday marked the final Sprint Cup race of the season for TNT. It’s been a trying five weeks so far. Did they redeem themselves on Sunday?
The primary feature of Countdown to Green was an interesting piece on Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Cup Series Champion, and a very down to earth fella. The fact that Kenseth’s even in Cup is the result of a spot of luck and the cultivation of respect amongst his fiercest competitors on the Wisconsin short tracks. In reality, Kenseth’s still a down home kind of guy. The piece did focus a good amount on his departure from Roush Fenway Racing at the end of last year. However, we don’t get the whole story here. That’s not TNT’s fault, but it’s because Kenseth didn’t want to divulge the whole story for fear of disrespecting Jack Roush. While that bites for those of us who “gots to know,” we ultimately can’t do anything about it. We also saw that Kenseth’s quite the family man, one who is not afraid to get down and dirty when it comes to things like playing dolls with his daughter, something that not all fathers do on a regular basis. I liked the piece. Although, we didn’t get all the information that we would have liked to get from Kenseth, it is totally up to him whether or not we can get that information. I would have liked to see Roush interviewed here, to be honest. He wasn’t.
TNT’s final All-Access of the year followed around Martin Truex, Jr. In addition to the regular race recap from Daytona and a very quick clip of the Monday team meeting (“I ran well and got wrecked,” Truex said), we go out to the apparently traffic-choked Lake Norman, where Truex relaxed with some fishing from his boat. In addition, Truex spent some time with pediatric cancer patients at the Levine Children’s Hospital. There was lots of fun to go around there.
During the race telecast, I found that TNT seemed to be a little off the pace. Kyle Petty would point out some trouble on the track, and there would either be silence from the booth, or they’d wait until they finished their previous sentence before Adam Alexander would talk about the incident. It appears that Alexander wants the production crew to catch up to them before saying anything. I’m not really a fan of that approach because the viewers can miss things as a result. A good play-by-play commentator is not necessarily just a wrangler of analysts in the broadcast booth, but someone who can guide the production staff as well. It appears that Alexander is just not there yet. Yes, he’s had two years, but that’s only equated to 12 races and some practice sessions. That’s not really all that much experience. It’s absolutely nothing compared to what Mike Joy and Allen Bestwick have under their belts. Alexander simply needs more seat time, and I don’t think he’s ever going to get it. The switchover from SPEED to FOX Sports 1 next month will likely hurt him even more.
Post-race coverage was OK, but cut back just a little due to TNT going over their timeslot. There were five post-race driver interviews and an interview with winning crew chief Rodney Childers. There was also a check of the point standings, but no outside of the scroll check of the unofficial results.
We’ve now reached the end of the Summer Series. How do feel that TNT did this year? Not so great. The excising of Wide Open Coverage at Daytona led to a telecast where fans missed a lot. Didn’t help that their move to have the final 30 laps commercial-free was 1) Basically a lie and 2) Hurt the rest of the telecast with near constant commercial interruption. It says something that the often jaded NASCAR Media regulars felt the need to comment about it in the middle of the race, as did some of the drivers (most notably David Stremme) afterwards. Overuse of commercials has been a constant issue with TNT since 2001, but this year was the worst year for it in quite a while.
As mentioned above, Alexander is just not getting enough time to really work himself into the role of a play-by-play man. Six weeks a year doesn’t cut it. After August 17, he won’t even have SPEED Center anymore (it’s cancelled). I just don’t believe that Alexander will ever get the experience so that he be the best he can be. There simply isn’t enough room anymore.
That’s all for this week. Next week is the second and final off-week of the season for the Sprint Cup Series. While it will bite that there won’t be Cup race on tap, there is still some racing to be found. The Nationwide Series travels to Chicagoland Speedway for a standalone weekend, with the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards for support. Meanwhile, the American Le Mans Series travels to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Tuesday, July 16
Wednesday, July 17
Thursday, July 18
Friday, July 19
Saturday, July 20
Sunday, July 21
Monday, July 22
I will provide critiques of the Nationwide and ARCA Racing Series telecasts for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The Critic’s Annex for this week will cover either the Town Fair Tire 100 for the Whelen Modified Tour or the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Honda Indy 2 in T.O.
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Adam Alexander is a terrible PXP guy. His flat monotone doesn’t work and silence when something is happening on the track is just bad broadcasting. Let’s face it the production cameras are never going to keep up. That ship sailed when all the TV entities decided to show the leader or single car shots. TNT actually does the best of showing the entire field and racing somewhere other than the front, but their commercial load and poor PXP choices don’t work well. I like Kyle and Wally. I had enough of Larry Mac from Fox so I mute the tv whenever they show him. Plus he lost my respect when NASCAR emasculated him for his comments. Now he’s just another paid shill singing the NASCAR is wonderful song.
Not looking forward to ESPN – all chase all the time broadcasts. Bestwick is one of the best current PXP people IMO. Unfortunately having Rusty Wallace (he’s got a fast hot rod) and Brad (stick a fork in him) Daugherty, along with the constant points, points, points, chase, chase, chase commetary leaves me uninterested in watching. BTW, I’ve tweeted my opinion directly to AB, ESPN-NASCAR and Rusty, but they don’t care because the suits say this is how its going to be. It doesn’t mean I have to watch though so I will vote with my remote. I can keep up with whatever is going on via twitter & my computer far better than being annoyed at the poor TV coverage.
Good riddance to TNT. This year was a big step back for them, and it was more noticeable because FOX stepped up their game in the first 13 races. Adam Alexander is not and will never be as good as Mike Joy or Allen Bestwick, and while Wally and Kyle are better, they can’t carry the telecast on their own. Many people praise TNT for showing more of the action than the other networks, but this year was a parade of missed incidents, even when not in commercial, with few on-track incidents being shown live and the booth being completely unaware of lead changes at times.
Even if they hype the Chase to no end, ESPN should still provide good broadcasts. Allen Bestwick is as good as anyone when it comes to PxP, and lest we forget, there will be side-by-side commercials in the second half of all Chase races.
It’s been really shocking how bad TNT was this year. I don’t know where THAT came from. Even though TNT has been stuck with the usually boring summer races, they always did a decent show in the past.
I’m really hoping that NBC (or somebody else) steps up and gets the rights to show Nascar. At this point I’m willing to give ANY network a chance.
Zetona, I just can’t stand all the chase hype that ESPN does. It takes away from the racing they are supposed to be covering, IMO. Lucky us, we’ll get to see the 2nd half of the last 10 races in the small screen while the commercials show in the large box and while they update us on the points as they run! Sorry, but that’s not enough for me. I’ll stick to radio, my computer and twitter for the races so I can actually get coverage.
Side by side doesn’t add much when they show the in car camera the entire commercial of the car that they are showing the commercial for.
Not looking forward to ESPN at all. Saw their first commercial for Indy and the first sentence was about the Chase. It should be a long 17 weeks.
I never knew that they had their production meetings so early in the week. How do you expect to cover a race correctly when you choose your storylines 5 days before the race? What happened to letting the story tell itself on race day?
Why don’t they just wait until the Richmond race is over to tell who is in the chase? As if we care! They can tell us who the 12 drivers are and then we can watch as 31 cars and drivers and SPONSORS turn invisible.
What exactly did Stemme say? I’m really intrigued by this.
Steve, it is true that they have Tuesday conference calls to generate ideas as to what to focus on. That is just the initial discussion, but the foundation is often set there. However, there are additional production meetings during the race weekend itself. This is when information from each of the pit reporters is shared and more storylines can be constructed (and existing ones are fleshed out).
George, I think Stremme was reacting to what a number of fans tweeted him about the race telecast in Daytona after he wrecked out. Apparently, TNT’s broadcast killed the evening for them and he was understanding about it. He also suggested that fans e-mail NASCAR if they didn’t like what they were seeing. Later, Stremme promised to pass on his fans’ thoughts to NASCAR on the issue. To that end, I’ll also include a contact e-mail to NASCAR and other series here in future columns.
AA should be in the pits and Sheheen back in the booth. Whoever decided to switch them a few years ago is a moron.
TNT, please do us NASCAR fans a favor and get out of the NASCAR business. Kyle Petty is awful! You have three guys in the booth talking for four hours and saying very little about the car race going on.