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 August 20, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast breakdowns are standard operating procedure. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series were in action at Michigan International Speedway while the Nationwide Series made their first trip to Mid-Ohio.
Saturday was the much-ballyoohed launch of FOXSports1, the channel that replaces SPEED. While I’m sad to see SPEED go, I won’t exactly miss a lot of their weekday programming. Now, deals that were agreed to last week allowed the channel to launch in approximately 91 million homes. Will that cause your Pay TV bill to increase? No.
I can’t describe this much better than to come right out and say it. According to Sports Business Daily, FOX caved. It almost never happens in negotiations these days, but they caved. The per-subscriber fee for FOXSports1 is a mere 23 cents per subscriber. This is the same that you were paying for SPEED. If you remember, FOX wanted 80 cents per subscriber. It is a stunning defeat for FOX, who will not be making anywhere near as much money as they or almost any analyst thought they would. This pricing will continue until the expiration of the previously-agreed to deal to carry SPEED.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series raced for the very first time on the 2.25 mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course near Mansfield, Ohio.
NASCAR Countdown ended up overlapping with the end of the Camping World Truck Series race from Michigan. As a result, many of you couldn’t watch pre-race action live. What you missed was a pre-race show that was stripped down to the basics. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.
With no Pit Studio or no Pit Studio analysts, Marty Reid and Ricky Craven more or less hosted Countdown themselves (although Rick DeBruhl did introduce the show) from their broadcast perch across the pit straight from the pits. They introduced the 2.25 mile layout to those fans who were unfamiliar with it. Then, they got into the interviews, nine of them in fact. That is a usually high number.
For the race telecast itself, I don’t really know how it would be considered a surprise that Michael McDowell qualified on pole. Is it just because he wasn’t in a Penske Ford? This is the same guy that dragged the third Front Row Motorsports Ford into the top-10 at Watkins Glen and was looking good to put up a great finish before the track bar mount broke. He’s got plenty of road course experience from lower categories and his time in Grand-Am. Did they simply put the blinders down or something?
ESPN just plain seemed to be lost when it came to the Lap 27 incident involving Regan Smith in Turn 5. They originally showed replays from Marcos Ambrose’s car, and from two different exterior views, all of which failed to show what happen definitively. Reid thought that Sadler could have been involved from the start. They had a roof-cam on Sadler’s car, yet failed to make use of it. Since it didn’t appear that ESPN had their Dual Path technology available, I thought that it was looking out the back of the car at that moment. Then, the booth got thrown for a loop when Smith thought that Ron Fellows took him out.
By the next caution, they showed the perfect shot that showed Sadler spinning out Smith. I don’t get why it took them so long. They’ve got a room in their compound with people in there that look at screens and point out incidents like they’re contestants on Face the Music. Seriously, it should not have taken that long.
Post-race coverage was fairly decent. ESPN provided viewers with six driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Jeremy Bullins). In addition, there was a check of the point standings before ESPN left the air.
Overall, ESPN did an ok job keeping tabs of races for position on track. However, their spatial awareness leaves something to be desired. Granted, ESPN maybe isn’t the biggest offender out there when it comes to artificially building up drama, but they have an incredible amount of resources at their fingertips. The response to the Sadler-Smith incident was deficient. Reid is generally in his element with road racing, and even though Craven never raced at Mid-Ohio, he was great as well.
Michigan National Guard 200
Saturday brought FOXSports1 to the airwaves. While I greatly enjoyed falling asleep to Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole on FOX Sports Live late at night, they were not the first live sporting event on the network. That was the Camping World Truck Series race from Michigan. How did they do, and were there any changes from what we’re used to? Let’s take a look.
The Setup is now hosted from the FOX Sports stage outside of the track. Danielle Trotta was there, along with Michael Waltrip while cheering fans were in the background. Admittedly, this gave a vibe somewhat similar to the NBC Sports Network’s IndyCar pre-race shows.
There were a couple of prepared pieces that ran on the Setup. One followed Joey Coulter as he did some Basic Training with the Michigan National Guard (race sponsor). We saw Coulter getting the business from the drill sergeants, and also doing some tasks like using a human ladder to cross a “raging river.” It seemed like Coulter had fun with the training, but the drill sergeants definitely didn’t make it easy for him.
Another piece focused on the evolution of the Camping World Truck Series from its somewhat humble beginnings to what we have today. Drivers like Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague and Rick Crawford described how the early trucks were essentially bricks that were very tough to handle on the short tracks that populated the vast majority of the schedule early on. It was a nice look back and see what the racing was like back then. Granted, that wasn’t all that long ago, but a number of the venues are no longer hosting races. Flemington Speedway, Mesa Marin Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Saugus Speedway, Portland Speedway and Louisville Motor Speedway are all closed and/or bulldozed. The trucks leaving those venues didn’t help their cases, but they might have been on their way out regardless. Ffor instance, Louisville, which was directly in the flight path of Louisville International Airport, closed after the owners built Kentucky Speedway.
Overall, the broadcast of the actual race was not all that different from what we would have gotten had it still been SPEED instead of FOXSports1. However, I did notice some scroll issues the first two times that they went to side-by-side replays. They forgot to take the scroll off the live action screen and just have it at the top of the screen. Instead, we got a regular scroll and a mini-scroll. That’s a little jarring, to be honest.
The racing for position was actually quite good. FOXSports1 showed viewers a good amount of that action. However, I think they should have referenced the fact that the field size was down quite a bit. Even with Todd Peck driving a post-entry second truck for Norm Benning and a third entry for RSS Racing, they were still four trucks short of a full field, and a number of those 32 trucks S&P’ed. The series is not exactly looking all that healthy right now.
Ray Dunlap wrote an article last week that argued that the Truck race at Daytona should be moved to July in order to eliminate the six week break between Daytona and Martinsville at the beginning of the year and create Nationwide-Camping World Truck doubleheaders at a number of tracks. Perhaps that might be a good idea. However, we’re still quite a ways from having an official 2014 schedule to actually look at it.
The race ended up running a little long. As a result, post-race coverage was pinched a little bit. FOXSports1 provided viewers with only two post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Michael Shelton). There was also a check of the point standings before FOXSports1 left to get to a 1 on 1 (their spelling, not mine) interview with Tom Brady. The unofficial results were only displayed in the scroll. This angered a number of people on Twitter. Am I surprised that FOXSports1 took this route? No. Am I happy about it? No, I like having the unofficial results in full-screen. However, I understand why they did it. It’s not like they didn’t warn viewers that the changeover to FOXSports1 would change the way that post-race coverage would be governed. The schedule is no longer as fluid as it used to be. That is something that we’re just going to have to get used. It also might mean that we’ll have studio programming during rain delays in the future instead of a bunch of interviews.
Pure Michigan 400
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series returned to Michigan International Speedway for 400 miles of action.
Similar to what we saw in Watkins Glen, the Tony Stewart injury once again took center stage. We got a weekly Stewart update, plus an interview with sub of the week: Austin Dillon.
There was a feature that followed Hendrick Motorsports as they held pit crew tryouts. For lack of better words, the organization trolls colleges for athletes that won’t be going pro in their sports, but still want to do something athletic in their careers. A group of 20 travel to North Carolina for a mini-camp. This is basically like the NFL, only with tools instead of tackling dummies. ESPN chose to forgo music here, allowing the natural sounds of work to permeate the piece. That was interesting in that it drew more attention to the athletes.
Another feature saw Brad Keselowski describe his 2013 season, in his own words. The highlights and/or lowlights of the year were displayed in montage-form. The overall tone was positive, despite the issues that Keselowski has had this year. The piece was good in that it played to Keselowski’s strengths. Keselowski likes to talk and speak his mind. ESPN just let him do it to it here. That’s perfectly fine. What ended up getting cut, though, that might have been just as cool or better?
During the race, ESPN was using some really close camera shots. Now, traditionally, I don’t gripe about that quite as much as John Daly has in the past, but it got ridiculous pretty fast. By that, I mean the first lap. Clint Bowyer spun out and all of a sudden, we got right in Bowyer’s grille. Too close. Can’t put anything in reference when you’re that close.
In and around the restarts, there was plenty of action for position on the track and ESPN did a decent job in covering that action. When you got away from the restarts and the field spread out a little, ESPN would dive back into their stories for the day. I’m surprised that Dillon didn’t get more coverage than he did. Jimmie Johnson going out with a blown engine took one major story away from ESPN.
I liked the fact that when one of Bobby Labonte’s crewmembers got hit on pit road during a stop, ESPN didn’t just accept that they didn’t catch it and move on. They showed the footage from JTG-Daugherty’s own pit camera (on the big screen in their pit box) of the collision between Tyler Mitchell and Jeff Burton’s left front corner. That’s a good move and I hope that they employ it in the future if their own cameras don’t catch it. It would have helped quite a bit a while back at Martinsville.
Post-race coverage was actually quite decent. ESPN provided viewers with eight post-race interviews, plus an interview with the winning car owner (Roger Penske). There was also an update about the then-potential move for Mark Martin to take over the No. 14, which was just a rumor at that time. Not half bad. Honestly, I was surprised that the race ended before the timeslot ended with nine cautions.
That’s all for this week’s critique. The upcoming week is very busy for race fans with all three of NASCAR’s main series in action at Bristol Motor Speedway. In addition, the annual UNOH Perfect Storm 150 for Modifieds will precede the truck race on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Formula One and the IZOD IndyCar Series return from their three week breaks.
Tuesday, August 20
Wednesday, August 21
Thursday, August 22
Friday, August 23
Saturday, August 24
Sunday, August 25
Monday, August 26
@- Note that Saturday night’s Cup race will be on ABC. Since we’re in the middle of the NFL Preseason, those games can affect where you can see the Irwin Tools Night Race on television. To this degree, ESPN put out a nice press release to notify viewers on where you can see the race. I’ll list the affected markets and plans below:
The Buffalo, NY (WKBW) and Charlotte, NC markets (WSOC) will both be airing the Buffalo-Washington preseason game, which starts at 4:30pm. They currently plan to join either NASCAR Countdown or the race itself in progress once the game ends. My expectation is that both markets will not get any pre-race coverage. The Rochester, NY (WHAM) market is also airing the game. However, they plan to air NASCAR Countdown on their 13.2 subchannel, which serves as the market’s CW affiliate.
Phoenix’s ABC affiliate (KNXV, ABC 15) will be airing the Arizona-San Diego preseason game. As a result, all Bristol coverage on Saturday will air on a combination of ESPN and their 15.2 subchannel, which is normally an affiliate of the Live Well Network.
In Columbus, OH, ABC affiliate, WSYX, is airing Cleveland-Indianapolis, which starts at 7pm. Both NASCAR Countdown and the race will air on WWHO, Columbus’ CW affiliate.
Dayton, OH’s ABC affiliate, WKEF (ABC 22) will be airing Cincinnati-Dallas, which starts at 8pm. As a result, NASCAR Countdown and the race will air on a combination of ESPN and a digital subchannel of WKEF. That is, if they have a subchannel. It appears to have been dark since last year.
In Nashville, TN, ABC affiliate WKRN is airing Tennessee-Atlanta starting at 8pm. As a result, NASCAR Countdown and the race will be aired solely on ESPN.
In Philadelphia, PA, ABC affiliate WPVI will be airing Philadelphia-Jacksonville starting at 8pm. NASCAR Countdown and the race will air on a combination of ESPN and 6.2, normally an affiliate of the Live Well Network.
In St. Joseph, MO, ABC affiliate KQTV is airing Chiefs-Steelers starting at 7:30pm. As a result, NASCAR Countdown and the race will air solely on ESPN.
Finally, KRGV, which is the ABC affiliate for the Brownsville/Harlingen/McAllen/Weslaco, TX market, is also airing Cincinnati-Dallas. Viewers in that market can watch the race on either ESPN, or Channel 5.3, which is normally the region’s MeTV affiliate. This is a little different from the press release. Also note that it will jump to a show entitled “Svengoolie” after the race, so post-race coverage may be cut off.
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. This week’s Critic’s Annex will cover the ARCA Racing Series Primera Plastics 200 from Berlin Raceway.
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:
Note: If you’d like to contact the NBC Sports Network about their coverage of Formula One and/or the Izod IndyCar Series, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. The contact page on their website legitimately cannot be found. Hopefully, they get that fixed right and proper soon.
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.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
It looks like Fox Sports 1 is going to mirror ESPN as far as Nascar is concerned. Already they have removed all Nascar programs except Race Day(cut to 1 hr) and Race Hub, which they are moving all over the time table to make room for other sports. And already I am sick and tired of the TV Commentators saying how great Fox Sports 1 is.
The coverage of the Truck race wasn’t to bad except for MW running his mouth the whole time. Rick and Phil do a good job in the booth,but they need to get rid of MW.
I guess E.Sadler meant it when he told R.Smith that he would not win the NW Championship. By the way, did Piquet hit everybody in the race but the pace car?
I love a road course race, but ESPN was just lost Saturday. Marty Reid has no clue what driver is in which car. He calls out the car number, then we wait while he looks up the name of the driver. And I really like Ricky Craven, but he sounded lost much of the time too.
SPEED is still alive in Canada. While there is still the garbage like Pimp My Ride, Unique Whips, and some of the other crap that FOX brought in in an effort to kill SPEED (what was wrong with My Classic Car and Gearz?), they are replaying the races already run this year. Race Hub, while reduced to 30-minutes, is still on at 6:00 P.M. here, and is replayed at 11:00, then again multiple times between 6:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. the next morning. If I miss it the night before, I can watch it during breakfast! Also being shown are repeats of “The 10”. They are advertising Truck practice, qualifying and the Truck race for tomorrow (Wednesday), as well as the Whelan modified race between truck qualifying and the truck race. The initial showing of Race Hub moves to 4:00 for tomorrow only, with the repeats later as I listed above. For the rest of the week, and into next week, the NASCAR broadcasts are the same as they were before. As far as the compressed Race Hub goes, there is a noticeable difference in the show. It feels like they are trying to compress as much into the 30-minutes as they can. So far though, it still looks like the Race Hub of before, only shorter.