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 race telecast critiques are the primary objective. This week, we have three race telecasts from Chicagoland Speedway. Also, a quick warning. There will be rehashing of the Richmond stupidity. All three telecasts touched on it.
On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned to Chicagoland Speedway for their fifth visit. It was a pretty interesting race.
The Setup started off with an update on the Friday ruling that put Jeff Gordon in the Chase. We’re talking a basic explanation here, complete with footage from the Brian France-Mike Helton press conference. Gordon’s press conference footage was also played, as were interviews with Joey Logano and Martin Truex, Jr.
Then, Danielle Trotta put Michael Waltrip on the spot for a reaction to Friday’s announcement. Waltrip gave a one-sentence response and didn’t explain why, effectively sidestepping the question. Instead, he used the time to explain his race team’s actions at Richmond on live television. This is even though Waltrip technically already explained his actions via press release last week. He stands by what they did, even though it was callous. He hoped that “clarity” came out of the mandatory meeting on Saturday. I suppose it did, but it’s still a little too early to tell.
That wasn’t supposed to be a place for Waltrip to spout his piece about the collusion. He made it about himself. That was Trotta asking Waltrip, as a Sprint Cup car owner, his honest opinion about the changes. I’d argue that as disgraced as Waltrip is right now (or should be), he’s still someone who has his foot in the garage as an owner. Also, he works for them. In retrospect, they probably should have found someone else to talk about the issue. However, if they did, it would have been the elephant in the room for the whole telecast.
I can definitely understand why some fans were none too pleased about Waltrip being able to stay in the broadcast booth with no punishment after the stupidity. However, Waltrip didn’t help his case with anybody. He essentially said, “We’d do it again.” He didn’t realize the bad PR he was going to get and wishes that it could do away, but he’s fine with what he did.
I’d argue that the primary reason that Waltrip wasn’t suspended from his current role at FOX Sports 1 is the fact that this didn’t occur in the Camping World Truck Series. Had it occurred there, he likely wouldn’t have been allowed on the broadcast. I will say outright that Waltrip did make himself look bad on-air. I wouldn’t have had a problem if FOX Sports decided to park Waltrip for a little while and replace him with someone like Todd Bodine for a couple of races.
The primary feature of the Setup was a sit-down interview that Kaitlyn Vincie (normally a correspondent on NASCAR RaceHub) conducted recently with German Quiroga. Here, Quiroga talked about growing up in Mexico, how he got into racing, and what he thinks about representing Mexico in the Camping World Truck Series, amongst other topics. Essentially, this was a nice introduction to Quiroga for viewers. I liked the piece, but I feel that SPEED/FOX Sports 1 should have done it earlier in the season. We’re almost seven months in now.
During the race, there was a lot of excellent racing throughout the field. FOX Sports 1 did a good job in bringing some of it to us, but there were a number of stories that weren’t really covered well.
If you wanted to see Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch duking it out, with a little Ryan Blaney mixed in as well, you definitely got that. If you wanted to see something beyond about sixth, good luck. Honestly, I wanted to know how the heck John Wes Townley got himself up to sixth (best finish of the season for the Chicken Man). However he did it, he did it very well and very quietly. I’m sure other fans wanted to know how other drivers were doing as well.
I also felt left in the dark in regards to a couple of incidents. Justin Jennings dropped out of the race with 50 laps completed after hitting the wall. Judging by the time when it occurred, it was possible that Jennings got in Jennifer Jo Cobb’s fluids and smacked the SAFER Barrier. Based on the telecast, I don’t know where he hit the wall, or why. All I can tell you is that he did. No replays at all. Just a quick look at Jennings’ flat-sided No. 63 Chevrolet after the fact.
Thanks to MRN Radio’s Twitter feed, I now know that Jennings smacked the wall exiting Turn 4 after getting in the fluid. However, FOX Sports 1 did a shoddy job at covering this incident.
The wreck that took out Scott Riggs wasn’t covered all that much better. At least we got something resembling a replay. It was a little hard to tell, but it looked to me that Riggs had contact with Jimmy Weller exiting Turn 4, which turned him into the wall. However, from the one view we got at full speed, it was really hard to tell.
I found the update at halfway with exactly the same information about NASCAR’s decision to allow Gordon into the Chase to be somewhat unnecessary. I don’t watch a Camping World Truck Series race to see that. I know it’s a big story, but the whole thing’s going to be rehashed again and again and again. It could wait for FOX Sports Live.
The side-by-side commercial break made a rare appearance with 25 laps to go in the race. The reasoning given by Rick Allen was that “we didn’t want you to miss a potential pass for the lead.” Well, Allen was right, since the pass for the win occurred during the side-by-side sequence. This generally looks like what we got on FOX during their Sprint Cup portion of the season. However, I’d still like to have a scroll on-screen during these segments. Just makes things easier for fans, plus the competition does it too (ESPN, NBC Sports Network).
Post-race coverage was brief, and I’m not really sure why it was brief. The race had a 150 minute timeslot that was due to end at 11pm. Yet, for all of their post-race coverage, they were trying like heck to get to FOX Sports Live. Unnecessary. Ultimately, we did get five post-race interviews and a check of the point standings before FOX Sports 1 left, but that was only because it took so long for Kyle Busch’s truck to get pushed to Victory Lane (Note: The team waived off the tow truck, likely thinking that they could get a penalty if they accepted that push). Yes, a lot of stuff happened on Friday, but please allow the truck broadcast team to actually fill their timeslot. That’s weak.
Dollar General 300
On Saturday afternoon, there was a lot of football out there. Whoop-dee-do. I really don’t care all that much about it. Because of all that football, NASCAR Countdown got sacrificed. I suppose that’s better than trying to put it on at 3:00pm when we all know dang well that the game preceding it won’t be done by then. Unfortunately, that means that we basically didn’t get any pre-race analysis.
What we did get was a breakdown of all the rule changes that were announced during the closed-to-all-media mandatory meeting that occurred a couple of hours earlier. Technically, none of this even concerned the Nationwide race, something that was noted on-air.
During the race, we had yet another Kyle Busch buttkicking. When they weren’t talking about the continued stomping of all comers by Busch, there was a substantial focus on the championship battle, which ESPN seems to believe is down to a race between Sam Hornish, Jr. and Austin Dillon. Since the two drivers effectively checked each other for 300 miles, little changed between those two.
I did like the opinionated analysis of the crash that dropped Elliott Sadler down the order. Sadler didn’t do anything wrong there, and managed to get run over from behind by a driver (Brett Butler) who was legitimately 11 laps down, and essentially the slowest driver on track. If we had some more post-race coverage, I would have liked to see ESPN interview Butler about the incident. You know, so he could have a chance to explain himself. Unfortunately, all we have is the fact that he put himself out of the race and cost SR2 Motorsports a buttload of money.
Post-race coverage was kind of brief. There were four post-race interviews, but that was it. There was no graphic for the point standings, despite it being constantly referenced throughout the race. The drivers interviewed were winner Kyle Busch (no surprise there) and three of the contenders in Nationwide points (Hornish, Dillon and Elliott Sadler, who got interviewed because he was run down by Brett Butler).
I didn’t really find much about the race telecast that stood out. I was happy that we got to see the debris that caused one of the yellows, but not pleased that we couldn’t see the other one. ESPN was pretty convinced that Kyle Larson had a track bar issue that eventually blew his left rear tire and put him in the wall. However, it was later dismissed as a regular rub caused by contact.
On Sunday afternoon, the Sprint Cup Series returned to Chicagoland Speedway for another 400 mile tour. Let’s just say it took a while. It was over eight hours between the green flag and the checkers. ESPN wasn’t actually on the air that whole time from Joliet, but they did a yeoman’s job to cover the events. Let’s take a look.
During NASCAR Countdown, much of the focus was on the Richmond issues, and the fallout from that. Roughly the first 40 minutes of pre-race coverage consisted of playing video from various press conferences, discussion of the new rules, and more Richmond discussion.
It should be noted that ESPN’s analysts didn’t just state the facts here. Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty laid their opinions right out there in the open. It was obvious that they didn’t really agree with all of the moves that NASCAR has made in response to the collusion. The penalty, but not really a penalty given to Clint Bowyer was emphasized.
Mike Helton joined Allen Bestwick, Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett in the broadcast booth. Let’s just say that Helton looked like he had slept about ten hours in the previous week. He’s completely whipped out. Unfortunately, he couldn’t really add much to help the discussion. If this weren’t the Chase, I’d tell him to go take a week off and get his bearings back. Unfortunately, he needs to be there every week.
ESPN also went out and talked to a couple of drivers about the Richmond stupidity and how it reflected on the sport. Here, I thought that Jeff Burton’s comments were the most poignant on the issue. Then again, Burton just might be the best person in the garage to ask any important question about the sport to.
During the race itself, there was a fairly substantial focus on the Chasers, but not totally. You still generally got a good idea where non-Chasers were. It didn’t seem too much different than, say Atlanta was. I don’t think that will last throughout the whole Chase, but here’s hoping.
ESPN did a decent job in bringing us the various issues with tire punctures after the rain delay. I have no idea why they didn’t just send out the sweepers because that was ridiculous. Not cool. The various engines woes were a bit of a mixed bag. Naturally, they did a good job covering the issues that befell Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Logano and Cole Whitt. These failures all caused cautions. Brian Vickers’ issues were also covered well. I’m pretty sure Denny Hamlin didn’t feel much like talking after his failure (Note: Sunday night’s failure dropped him to 27th in points, behind the No. 10 of Danica Patrick). However, there was no coverage at all of the engine failures for David Reutimann or Timmy Hill. I don’t recall a mention of either driver going behind the wall on the telecast. Hill’s engine turned traitor during the caution for Earnhardt Jr.’s blown engine. One camera shot caught smoking coming out of the exhaust pipes of Hill’s car. Reutimann’s went about 30 laps earlier.
ESPN only stayed on air once the red flag started for roughly an hour before leaving to go to SportsCenter. In that time, there were 12 driver interviews, plus an interview with Chad Knaus. In addition, there was plenty of analysis from the Quicken Loans ESPN Pit Studio. My guess is that they would have stayed with the telecast the whole time had the line of storms north of the track not reached Chicagoland Speedway before the track was dried. Once that occurred, they realized that they were in for a long wait. With no one to interview (drivers were all hanging out in their motorcoaches, watching TV, making runs to Sonic Drive-In (This actually happened), or outright sleeping), ESPN chose to leave Joliet at 6pm EDT in order to go to SportsCenter. They promised updates from the track, which we got via live look-ins. Mudskippers were referenced.
Since the race ended a little after Midnight, post-race coverage was relatively brief. ESPN provided viewers with four post-race driver interviews, and an interview with the winning car owner (Joe Gibbs). There was also a check of the points, both below the scroll and in a full-screen graphic before ESPN left the air to get to NASCAR Now.
Overall, ESPN did a pretty good job, given the circumstances of a very long day in Joliet. The NASCAR NonStop breaks are a welcomed addition to the telecast, but I honestly don’t think about them until they show up. They work better than FOX’s version. Also, having NASCAR Now come on immediately after the race essentially gives you a nice post-post-race show with two of the best guys ESPN has in Mike Massaro (aka Giant Carton of Ice Cream Man) and Ricky Craven
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Chase continues in New Hampshire, where our own S.D. Grady has already claimed her spot. The Sprint Cup Series will be there, with the Whelen Modified Tour as the primary support. Meanwhile, the Nationwide and ARCA Racing Series will be at Kentucky Speedway. Frank Kimmel will be crowned champion there, since there’s no way in heck that Mason Mingus will make up enough points to take the championship to Kansas. Here’s your listings.
Tuesday, September 17
Wednesday, September 18
Thursday, September 19
Friday, September 20
Saturday, September 21
Sunday, September 22
Note that the Nationwide race from Kentucky is on ESPNEWS Saturday night. That was in the TV schedule from the start of the season. The football is everywhere, what can I say. ESPN will be showing Auburn vs. LSU, while ESPN 2 will be airing Colorado State vs. Alabama (here’s a guess of the final score: Alabama 62, Colorado State 7).
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide race telecasts at bare minimum in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The third race is currently up in the air. It’ll either be the Zloop 150 or the F.W. Webb 100 from New Hampshire. Whatever is not covered there will be in the September 26th edition of the Critic’s Annex in the Newsletter.
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.
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Why Nascar or for that matter, the other owners allow a biased multi-team car owner in the Sprint series Fox broadcast booth for any reason is beyond comprehension. All it is is a 3 – 4 hour Michael Waltrip and MRW sponsors infomercial. Can only hope Nascar Nation keeps venting their displease to FOX and they get him out of the Cup broadcast booth and he takes his position as car owner on the pit box like the rest of them. FOX, FIX THIS PLEASE!!!!!On the entire planet there must be 1 non bias good person available. Even Erin Andrews would be better than the current clown with no integrity.
reaper your exactly right. I wrote a letter to the CEO of Fox with a copy to the head of FOX Sport stating that Waltrip needed to be removed from the booth. I stated that by not removing Waltrip,that they condoned his actions.
Its interesting that JAWS hasn’t come out from under a rock with his take on the matter. He has never been a lost for words any other time.
Reaper, well said. I won’t watch any NASCAR TV that Waltrip, any Waltrip for that matter, is participating in.
As soon as Mikey started his diatribe, they should have gone to commercial & he should have been replaced in the booth.
Fox has chosen to make the Waltrip’s their “face” on the network. That is a major turnoff for me as a fan. I pay for raceview and I use that to follow the races in preference of watching them on TV – in good part because of the Waltrip Brothers show. I am simply NOT interested in the biased, unprofessional and now unsportsmanlike opinions offered by them.
More and more I think about “cutting the cord” and doing without cable TV.
Conflict of interest is Nascar’s middle name.
Gina, you said it all.