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 September 24, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, our weekly look at race telecasts. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup Series was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second of ten Chase races. Meanwhile, the Nationwide and ARCA Racing Series were both at Kentucky Speedway.
Before we start, there are a couple of news pieces that must be mentioned. Monday, NASCAR RaceHub returned to a one-hour format on FOX Sports 1. Unfortunately, they’re going to be doing it without Steve Byrnes. FOX Sports announced on Monday that Byrnes has taken an indefinite leave of absence for medical reasons. There was no further elaboration. Adam Alexander, who has mainly been covering football since the switchover to FOX Sports 1, will fill-in as host. We at Frontstretch wish Byrnes a speedy recovery.
Also, Bruton Smith mentioned multiple times at New Hampshire last weekend that he is sure that ESPN is gone at the end of the year and that NBC/NBC Sports Network will replace them. Smith seems to have Mike Mulhern in his corner as well. This very scenario was rumored a few weeks ago, but denied by both ESPN and Turner Sports. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens. If both TV partners leave a year early (remember, the existing deal lasts through the end of the 2014 season), then NASCAR will be forced to return to the negotiating table (again) to rehash the TV deals with everyone, and we’ll have a TV personality free-for-all.
On Friday night, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards was originally scheduled to hold their second-to-last race of the season. However, that didn’t happen. The race was postponed before the TV telecast even started, which is very rare. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons came on-air to explain why the race was postponed, showed the starting lineup and what happened to Frank Kimmel during practice to force him to go to a backup car. Afterwards, they went to a replay of Sprint Cup Qualifying from Loudon.
When Saturday afternoon came around, the race was moved over to the much less subscribed FOX Sports 2. How did they do on Saturday? Let’s take a look.
For the Zloop 150, FOX Sports welcomed former series champion Justin Allgaier back into the broadcast booth. I fully admit that the minute I heard that Allgaier would be in the booth, I changed my plans for this critique (I was planning to cover the Modified race from Loudon here). The move was made because I know a number of you don’t like Allgaier in the booth and it needs to be watched what he does to the booth dynamic.
There was very little pre-race coverage. FOX Sports 2 came on-air from Sparta, and they went straight to pre-race festivities. That’s to be expected since they still had Nationwide Qualifying to do after the race ended. I like to think that there would have been more pre-race coverage had the race gone off as planned Friday night.
During the race itself, FOX Sports 2 employed their time shifting method to broadcast the race. This is noticeable when they would go to commercial breaks for a couple of minutes and return about eight seconds after they went to break. My guess is that when ARCA stated that they were going green at 1:30pm, they meant a hard 1:30. FOX Sports 2 had the Modified race from Loudon in a 90-minute slot and filled that completely.
There appeared to be a focus on the top-10 drivers in the race. I’d argue that it’s really more of a reflection on the series as a whole than anything else. Keep in mind, we’re talking about a race in which 31 cars started (a 32nd car was on the grid, but did not start), and only 12 of those cars finished on the lead lap. The series may have peaked competitively a few years ago.
I did not find Allgaier’s presence in the broadcast booth to be quite as jarring as it’s been in the past. My guess is that Allgaier has watched some of his prior performances in the booth on DVD and realized that he jumps all over people. He has to pull himself back because of that. I thought that he did a decent job of that on Saturday, but he did have to stop himself a couple of times in order to make sure he didn’t run all over Parsons’ words. Allgaier’s commentary was decent. It added a little to the broadcast and didn’t take anything away. Also, I must note that Allen and Parsons don’t really have to go out of their way to get Allgaier to participate, much like other drivers who moonlight as analysts and just sit there.
Since the race ended relatively quickly, there was a good amount of post-race coverage. FOX Sports 2 provided viewers with six driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Harold Holly). There was also a check of the ARCA point standings. Inexplicably, there was also a check of the Cup points entering Loudon. I know we’re in the Chase now, but that’s not necessary.
Overall, ARCA put on a pretty good race at Kentucky Speedway. Allen and Parsons did a pretty good job covering the event, and Allgaier was able to add a bit to the telecast from his own experiences. It wasn’t the best one of the year (as far as I’m concerned, that was Iowa), but I enjoyed the telecast.
On Saturday night, the Nationwide Series returned to Kentucky Speedway for their second 300-mile assault on the track that is likely far bumpier than nearby Interstate 71. ESPN had a smaller production at the track for this race as compared to Loudon. How did they do? Let’s take a look.
With no Pit Studio or analysts, Ricky Craven and Marty Reid hosted Countdown from the broadcast booth. There were no features on the show, but a brief discussion of the new restart rules before nine pre-race interviews. Reid and Craven also added some analysis as well. It’s a much more straight forward feel for pre-race and I like it.
During the race, ESPN did a decent job at showing the action on the track, much better than in Loudon on Sunday. We actually got Up to Speed segments and races for position outside of the top-5. Craven was his usual educational self, while Reid was…himself, for better or worse. My only thought with Craven is that he might be repeating himself, or maybe being too descriptive. Regardless, having him in the booth is a nice change of pace from normal.
I was not a fan of ESPN’s cutaway from Brad Sweet’s Great Clips Chevrolet that was ablaze in Turns 3 and 4 to show single cars coming down pit road. That was something that could have been handled much better. Just don’t get what the thought process was there.
There were a number of technical issues late in the race that I feel need to be addressed. Now, with technical issues, I never know whether it’s just me having them, or if it’s everyone, so I’ll say my piece and everyone can chime in below. The second half of Saturday night’s race was plagued with a number of issues having to do with the feed. I would constantly lose audio, the picture, or both. I’m sure it was not an issue with my cable. Sure, it was raining a little outside at my house by that point, but I’m sure that wasn’t the issue. Not a good time for that, but it happens.
Marty Reid apparently needs to learn to count. He screwed up the call of the final lap of the race by declaring Ryan Blaney the winner one lap early. Granted, nothing changed at the front of the field on the final lap, but it doesn’t matter. This is not the first time that Reid has screwed it up. It’s apparently occurred multiple times this year. Also, he screwed up the lap count in the 25-lap Saturday Night Special at Bristol a couple of years ago (the one where Larry Pearson was seriously injured). It’s ridiculous. You’ve got all that stuff in the broadcast booth at your disposal and you screw up that often?
Since the race ran long by nearly a half hour, post-race coverage was quite brief. ESPN aired only three post-race interviews (and it would have been less than that if Ryan Blaney got himself to Victory Lane quicker than he did). There was no check of the point standings before ESPNEWS left the air for Air Force-Wyoming.
In all honesty, while the Craven-Reid booth pairing is a nice change from normal, Craven is forced to carry Reid at times. The end of Saturday’s race was just another glaring example. The first half of the race was pretty good to watch, then stuff under the control of the commentators and outside of their control really brought the telecast down. It’s a great shame, since I want them to succeed.
On Sunday afternoon, the Sprint Cup Series got lucky and got a cold front to move through New Hampshire quicker than expected. As a result, the Sylvania 300 went off without a hitch. How well did ESPN do with the broadcast? Let’s take a look.
While I think that even under normal circumstances, ESPN’s pre-race analysis from the Quicken Loans ESPN Pit Studio is overkill, at least they’re actually talking about the race at hand (most of the time). Once we get to this time of year, the race itself is not even secondary. It’s tertiary. All that matters is the Chase, and whether one of the Chasers wins or not. If a non-Chaser ends up winning, ultimately they don’t care. I’m not a fan of that. I can’t imagine that any of the tracks that host Chase races actually benefit any more from hosting a Chase race as they would from hosting a regular Cup race.
The primary feature of Countdown was about Jeff Gordon and his quest to help children. Marty Smith led viewers through a look back at Gordon’s philanthropy over the years, starting with a visit to the Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. Gordon also talked about his experiences spending time with former crew chief Ray Evernham’s son, Ray Jay, who had leukemia. There was also a portion of the piece dedicated to Gordon’s visit to hospitals that the Jeff Gordon Foundation supports in Rwanda (this happened during the 2012-2013 offseason). I found it to be an interesting piece. You really saw Gordon’s desire to help people come out here, especially in the quasi-home movies of Gordon with Ray Jay early on.
Another piece was focused on Kurt Busch and the various changes that he’s made since his complete and total meltdown at the end of 2011 that ultimately cost his ride with Penske Racing. Now at Furniture Row Racing, Busch has changed his mind set and it has paid dividends. Arguably, the time with Phoenix Racing last year was just the beginning of the changes, but Busch claims that he’s learned quite a bit from team owner Barney Visser. I thought that it was a good piece, not great, but good.
ESPN also brought back the “Stick a Fork In ‘Em” feature from last year. Oh boy. That stuff gets old really fast. I hated it last year and still hate it now. They could use that time and go interview drivers on the grid and actually find some stuff out about the dang race. However, as I stated after Dover last September when it debuted, Briscoe and the gang do seem to have fun with it. Doesn’t mean that I like it, though.
During the race, there were a number of long green-flag runs. You’d think that these would be opportunities to give proper updates on a number of different drivers, or even look back through the field and find some battles for position. ESPN chose not to take that route. Instead, we got a lot of single cars driving around the track, some analysis, and not a heck of a lot of action.
I recall watching the race and seeing something like a 50 lap stretch where we didn’t see any racing for position. I made note of this on Lap 147, basically asking to myself, what the deuce? Yes, Matt Kenseth took the lead away from Martin Truex, Jr. a few laps later, but it seemed like I wasn’t watching a race for much of the event. That’s not what I want to see. I felt lost at times. With 55+ cameras at the track every week, you should never feel lost watching a Cup race on ESPN.
The interview that Dr. Jerry Punch did with Kasey Kahne after his wreck was weird as all heck. I couldn’t read anything out of it. Perhaps Kahne really was confused as heck. My take away was that he might have suffered a concussion since he took a driver side flush hit on an unprotected concrete wall. Don’t underestimate those hits. You probably remember what a flush drivers’ side hit did to Jerry Nadeau back in 2003. The team claims he’s fine and just couldn’t hear the Punchmeister. Granted, Kahne’s hit wasn’t anywhere near as hard as Nadeau’s, but it was similar to the one Jeff Gordon had at Richmond a while back. Because of that, we might hear a little more about it.
Post-race coverage was fairly decent. ESPN provided viewers with six driver interviews, plus an interview with winning crew chief Jason Ratcliff. In addition, there was also the check of the points before ESPN left to get to SportsCenter.
That’s all for this week. Next week, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will both be in action at Dover International Speedway. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series will be way out in Las Vegas for a standalone race. No offense, but that doesn’t really work, especially without the IZOD IndyCar Series being there with them. Of course, we know why they’re not there.
Tuesday, September 24
Wednesday, September 25
Thursday, September 26
Friday, September 27
Saturday, September 28
Sunday, September 29
Monday, September 30
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series telecasts for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The final Rolex Series race at Lime Rock prior to the full merger will be covered in the Annex next week. Also, since I will be there representing Frontstretch this weekend in Connecticut, I’ll probably be able to add some stuff as well.
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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If you want to talk about driver side hits, remember Butch Lindley. He was one of the best drivers I’ve seen.
It’s too bad hardly anyone saw the best race of the weekend. The Modifieds did it again at New Hampshire. Why don’t they put the Cup drivers in Modifieds on Sunday?
Good to see that there are still parts of racetracks without the SAFER barrier. Way to go ISC. This, along with the Air Titan situation at Chicago really makes the ISC people (and their direct relations in NASCAR) look like buffoons.
Wish I had seen the Modified series race – the trucks & the modifieds are the best racing in Nascar.
I didn’t watch any of the other racing. Not thrilled with FS1, 2 or whatever. Nationwide series? What’s that? Again, didn’t bother. Glad that the weather cooperated for Loudon, it’s always a tough deal when it rains on race day.
Not a fan of the “stick a fork” deal either. I don’t watch the countdown most days, will probably skip it from here on out – after all, it appears that it is a 3 driver race.
Wish the chase would just go away.
I’ve become a 20 lapper. Sundays in New England this time of year are way too nice to spend inside watching Nascar or football; take the old convertible or HD for a ride, get home, watch the last 20 laps on Tevo, check out the empty stands and wonder when the France family will get the stones to do what the George family at Indy did and dump the bozo.
I have to say after everything that went down 2 weeks ago and the iffy weather on race day, the fans in New England still support Nascar because that was a nice crowd considering the circumstances.
Mike in SoCal, you criticism is right on, but NHMS is one of Brutons tracks, not an ISC track. Guess he would rather spend his money on a giant tv for texas than to keep the drivers safe.
Wish I had seen the modified race myself. Seeing them live at Loudon is a real treat. They never seem to disappoint. Its too bad Nascar treats them like the red headed step child considering they put on better races than the Nationwide and Cup.