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 · Monday September 30, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where we cover race telecasts and talk about their highs and lows. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were in action at Dover International Speedway. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series traveled all the way to Las Vegas for a one-day, standalone show.
Before we start, we have ESPN news. Marty Reid is out at the network, effective immediately. Up until Kentucky, Marty Reid was the play-by-play commentator for ESPN’s IZOD IndyCar Series coverage and part-time play-by-play man for Nationwide Series races (typically standalone events and those occurring during the Chase).
Multiple members of the media sought responses from ESPN. A spokesman stated that Reid is no longer a part of ESPN and that the network “has gone in a different direction.” Reid’s bio has also been removed from ESPN’s Media Zone website.
My guess is that while Reid’s performance at Kentucky may have been the final straw, there was plenty of evidence showing that he just didn’t seem to have it anymore, most notably last year’s screw-up of the names of his colleagues prior to the Indiana 250. Plenty of Reid’s issues have been painstakingly documented on YouTube. In fact, that’s what comes up when you search for Reid.
I’m reminded of a press conference back in 1993 for Bernie Kosar. He was the starting quarterback of the original Cleveland Browns; then, he was suddenly cut midseason. The head coach’s reasoning at the time was “diminishing skills, “and that head coach was a younger, but still grouchy Bill Belichick. Well, I think we have another example of diminishing skills with Reid. Not even Buford T. Justice’s seniority could save him.
I can add that ESPN didn’t make the move immediately after the Kentucky screw-up. Every Monday, the network sends out a press release that advertises their motorsports coverage for the upcoming week (race telecasts, NASCAR Now, etc.). That release still had Reid calling Saturday’s race. The release also included a link, shortened for tweeting purposes. However, the version I have no longer exists. The release was later updated to eliminate mention of Reid. Evidently, the network had a change of heart after the original press release was put out.
Reid worked with ESPN off and on since 1982. Reid worked on Winston Cup telecasts as a pit reporter at least as far back as 1987, specializing in sports cars and off-road coverage. He founded Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) in 1998, which immediately supplanted SODA and became the premiere short course off-road series in the United States. Reid also commentated on the series’ races, which were aired on ESPN networks in the early years. In the late 1990s, Reid was the voice of Craftsman Truck Series races on ESPN networks until Dr. Jerry Punch took over the role. He also worked on NHRA telecasts.
Allen Bestwick, who called Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 200 at Dover, will call the remaining Nationwide Series races for the rest of 2013. While ESPN’s IndyCar responsibilities are over for 2013, ESPN will announce a Reid replacement in the broadcast booth for next year’s IndyCar races at some point in the future.
While the move will put more of the work burden on Bestwick’s shoulders, I have no doubt that he can handle it. I’m a little more intrigued about what’s going to happen for the IndyCar races on ABC next year. Who gets that slot? If they’re going to promote from their existing IndyCar on-air team, then it’s Vince Welch’s to lose. Based on his previous work in the booth for Nationwide races, I don’t think my readers would like that all that much. However, Welch has over 15 years of experience covering IndyCar with ESPN and FOX Sports Net. If not Welch, then it is a toss-up. ESPN might be forced to look outside the company. Either way, we wish Reid luck with his future endeavors… whatever they might be.
On Saturday night, the Camping World Truck Series made their annual trek out to Las Vegas for a 350 kilometer sprint. FOX Sports 1 was there to cover the race, but did their issues from Kentucky follow?
I’ll fully admit, I did not expect the Army – Louisiana Tech game to encroach on the Setup. Ultimately, the game went 40 minutes long and pushed the entire Setup to FOX Sports 2. It bites. Luckily, it appears that NASCAR held up the start of the race in order for the event to start on FOX Sports 1. We’ll start there.
Last week, I talked a fair amount about audio visual issues with the telecast from Kentucky. Those issues unfortunately continued in Las Vegas. I need you guys to help me out here. It’s not because I didn’t see the race, but because I need someone to vouch for what I’m dealing with.
I think Time Warner Cable (my provider) is probably responsible for 20 percent of the issues I had, but I think the rest are on FOX Sports 1. I had some rather serious sound issues that lasted for a couple of segments of the race. I would describe it as if a speaker blew and put out some nasty feedback. That could be any number of issues. Perhaps some debris struck one of those clear, semi-circular pieces of equipment and screwed it up. Maybe there was an issue in one of the production trucks. I don’t know, but it made part of the race hard to watch.
I also had some feed cutouts and outright audio drops during the telecast. Just not good all around. If all of these problems are on FOX Sports 1, then I hope they can get them fixed soon.
Post-race coverage was screwy. Since the event ran up against FOX Sports Live, someone made an incredibly stupid decision to cut away from Timothy Peters in Victory Lane for a brief FOX Sports Live segment that included highlights of the race you just watched before cutting back to Ray Dunlap for Peters’ Victory Lane interview. Seriously… you guys could have waited a couple of minutes, ended at-track coverage and made your flagship show less disjointed. What the deuce? It’s nowhere near as bad as how SPEED screwed over John Wes Townley back in February, but still pretty bad.
Sad thing is, the issues I mentioned above really killed my enjoyment of an otherwise pretty good telecast. We saw a good amount of racing for position and a good amount of enthusiasm out of the broadcast booth. The telecast was fairly inclusive in what got shown. For the most part, that’s what I want to see. It’s a shame that the technical issues overshadowed a good booth performance.
5-Hour Energy 200
On Saturday afternoon, the Nationwide Series returned to Dover for their second visit of the year. Joey Logano spanked the field, but got busted in post-race technical inspection (more to come on that later this week). How did ESPN do under unusual circumstances? Let’s take a look.
Football once again reared its ugly head with the West Virginia-Oklahoma State game running long by over a half-hour. That bites. It’s even worse knowing that ESPN didn’t even schedule NASCAR Countdown at all. So that they did not miss the start of the race, ESPN chose to move coverage over to ESPN Classic, a move that they hadn’t made in quite a while. Carriage of ESPN Classic is down significantly from where it was in 2007, so a lot of viewers likely couldn’t see it. I’m sorry. That just bites, but the hands were tied (again).
ESPN conducted four quick driver interviews prior to the opening ceremonies. This was more than likely the original plan had the coverage started on ESPN. Interestingly, no reference was made to Reid’s dismissal from ESPN on the telecast. Since Bestwick is used to working with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth over the past few years, the transition was seamless.
Ultimately, the first 26 laps of the race aired exclusive to ESPN Classic. The West Virginia-Oklahoma State game was long by 37 minutes. Ouch. Not unprecedented since I’ve been writing this column, but ouch. The ESPN Classic move was a surprise. Recent years have seen this circumstance result in pre-race coverage on ESPNEWS.
Due to the early caution flags, most of the coverage was dedicated to the various pit strategies. There really wasn’t all that much coverage of actual battles. We saw a couple early on, then nothing. It seems like ESPN has something against showing battles between drivers off the lead lap. With Logano whooping as much tail as he did, I don’t think you can abide by that. We were treated to Bestwick and the rest of the booth talking about fuel mileage and trying to make the race seem exciting when it really wasn’t. I feel like there had to be something out there that was better than what we saw.
With the race running quite short (it was not run at record pace, but not far off it), there was a good amount of post-race coverage. There were seven post-race interviews, plus checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Finally, the booth added some post-race analysis before ESPN left the air.
On Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series returned to Dover for another 400-mile affair. Jimmie Johnson won it once again, while Dover continued its pedestrian nature that we’ve become accustomed to over the past few years. How did ESPN handle the race? Let’s take a look.
The primary feature of Countdown was an interesting piece on Kyle Busch. Dave Burns gathered Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers together, then had them write down a number of things that Busch has changed this year. Interestingly enough, they both wrote the same thing. Rogers explained that Busch has seemingly calmed himself down in the race car this season. As a result, Busch can give better feedback to Rogers, who in turn can make the car better. A significant part of the piece was also dedicated to Busch’s drive to win, which is prodigious. That doesn’t necessarily surprise me.
What did surprise me was all the talk about religion and Busch’s belief in God. Granted, Busch drives for Joe Gibbs, who is very open about his religious beliefs, and has had I Am Second, a ministry, featured prominently on his car. But I cannot remember Busch talking at length about his beliefs. That made this feature stand out.
Another brief piece talked about Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s road to racing. Earnhardt Jr. talked about how he had always wanted to race as a youngster, but then realized that it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. The Intimidator wasn’t the kind of the man to just shower Earnhardt Jr. with the best of everything, so Earnhardt Jr. was doing it on the cheap. He was competitive, but not the greatest. It wasn’t explicitly mentioned here, but I believe that he was referring to his time driving late models in the Carolinas.
He stated that Godfather Tony Eury, Sr. convinced his father to put him in a Nationwide car in 1997 after they announced Steve Park’s move to Cup. Earnhardt Jr. thought it was a joke at the time. However, he has grown into his role in the 16 years since then. I thought that this piece was an interesting look at the beginnings of Earnhardt Jr.’s career. In this era of “rich kids” buying rides and influence, Earnhardt Jr.’s rise to the top, despite a famous father, was quite tempered. His own dad had to be convinced to give him a ride.
During the race itself, there was a high focus on the Chasers. Everything seemed to be predicated around one of the Chasers (and really, one of a group of four or five of them) winning the race. Much of the coverage built towards that.
There was really a dearth of coverage of racing for position. I know that we had long green-flag runs on Sunday. However, that’s not necessarily an excuse for just showing us single cars for most of the day. There has to be something out there. I’m not a moron. Dover International Speedway is a one-mile oval where laps in the race take 23-24 seconds. There’s typically something going on with 38 or so cars on the track.
ESPN did make use of the Gyro Cam that FOX extensively promoted during the race, but they didn’t draw all that much attention to it. However, what little we saw of the camera in Clint Bowyer’s car proves that it is available from BSI for all of NASCAR’s TV partners to use. FOX is just the only one to emphasize it.
Post-race coverage was fairly brief. ESPN brought viewers five post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning car owner (Rick Hendrick). In addition, there was a check of the all-important points before ESPN left the air.
I came out of Sunday’s race with an empty feeling. There could have been more to Sunday’s telecast than what we got. ESPN needs to make a bigger effort to cover action for position, even if it doesn’t involve Chasers. Simple as that. I’m sure this Chase is hurting the sport, but everyone is blind to it.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will each be in action at Kansas Speedway. They’ll be joined by the ARCA Racing Series, which will hold their season finale. Meanwhile, the IZOD IndyCar Series finally returns from their month-long break for the final doubleheader of the season in Houston. Here’s your listings.
Tuesday, October 1
Wednesday, October 2
Thursday, October 3
Friday, October 4
Saturday, October 5
Sunday, October 7
*- Tape Delayed
A couple of notes before I continue. I have the K&N Pro Series East broadcast from New Hampshire listed for Wednesday at 1:00 PM. That is what the listing on FOX Sports 1’s website says. It actually does not jive with what NASCAR has on their Home Tracks website, though that caters to their regional series. NASCAR Home Tracks lists 11:30 AM on Friday as the air time, which is currently covered by an episode of NASCAR RaceHub.
Also, like last weekend, there is no NASCAR Countdown prior to the Nationwide race. ESPN’s Noon college football game is Maryland-Florida State. It is scheduled for three hours, with College Football Scoreboard scheduled for 3:00 PM. We’ll assume that it’s not happening. I don’t know why ESPN insists that a college football game can finish in a three-hour window because everyone knows that they can’t, including their competitors.
I will cover the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Izod IndyCar Series telecasts for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. For the next two weeks in the Annex, I’ll be covering FOX Sports’ coverage from Lime Rock, with some surprises. For example, I make a very brief appearance on the actual broadcast (yeah, it’s one of those blink and you miss it kind of things). This week, I’ll have the Rolex Series’ feature race of Championship Weekend presented by BMW. For October 10th, I’ll have coverage of the two Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge races, with bonus information (the stuff you’ll miss from FOX Sports’ editing to fit the races into two-hour windows).
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 ones full of rants and vitriol.
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ESPN should bring Bob Jenkins back for IndyCar telecasts’. I know he announced some IndyCar last year.
How in goodness name can they single him out when all their Nascar “personalities” are overly hyper in the most false way possible acting like airhead poodles..you know who you are Nicole and Danielle and the men of the group the premier Nascar butt kissers…come on. Sad.
Phil H, while I wouldn’t be opposed to ESPN getting Jenkins to replace Reid on IndyCar telecasts, Jenkins officially retired at the end of last year. At the time, he did it to care for his wife, Pam. Pam has since died, but I don’t foresee Jenkins coming back.
Also, I didn’t write about it in the article, but perhaps, ESPN might give Jamie Little a tryout in the IndyCar booth. My main issue is that she has very little booth experience. I don’t know how she would adjust to the surroundings. I’m interested to find out, though.
“I’m sure this Chase is hurting the sport, but everyone is blind to it.”
You left off “except for the fans” at the end of that sentence Phil.
You can add “and Brian” to “except for the fans.”
I gave the coverage of the race a D because the side by side is a joke. Race coverage is about 1/4 of the screen, not exactly side by side.
Reid had done a pretty poor job of covering NASCAR now for a while, maybe this was just the last straw, so to speak.
I can’t say since I didn’t watch the race. I got home, turned on the TV and there was a football game. I tried the various other ESPN channels, didn’t see it, didn’t see anything about where it might be, so I went off and did other things. Doesn’t really sound like I missed much anyway. I didn’t vote on the race coverage sinice I didn’t watch any of it and we went to Dover on Sunday. At least what racing there was, I got to see w/o depending on the TV.
I no longer watch the truck races. Until Mikey is out of the booth, that will remain my choice. If I remember, I might turn on the radio feed through my computer, but that’s only if I remember.
I refuse to “chase” the races all over channel list. Remember when the first tv contract was signed? One of the statements made was “you won’t have to wonder where the race is”. Well, that’s long gone and so are a lot of fans.
I’m sorry from the perspective that I never like to see a person lose their job, but man, Reid had gotten really bad at it. I can’t say that Vince Welch would be my choice as a replacement, but whatever.
I haven’t had any audio visual issues w/ the truck race. I don’t have time warner, so they could be the problem.
The easy answer for IndyCar for the portion stuck on ABCis Bob Varsha. He’s the best remaining out there who happens to have an extensive open wheel background but I don’t know if he’s still under contract with Fox.
Marty Reid would’ve been best served sticking to the NHRA telecasts where he was superior to Paul Page.
Alex, as far as I know, Varsha is still under contract with FOX Sports to do sports car racing and the Barrett-Jackson Auctions. However, FOX Sports did let him sub on NBC Sports Network’s F1 telecasts for a few weeks this year in place of Leigh Diffey. It’s feasible, especially since ESPN (via ABC) only has the rights to something like 5 weekends of racing. The questions here would be whether or not Varsha wants to do it, and whether the 2014 IndyCar schedule would conflict with his Tudor USCC duties.
Unfortunately, I can’t answer either one of those questions. The IndyCar schedule for 2014 isn’t out yet. If it mirrors this year (and it won’t, since Baltimore’s gone), then it could easily happen since there would be maybe one conflict at best. However, I have no clue if Varsha would do it if asked.