NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Monday October 21, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, the one area at Frontstretch where TV telecasts take center stage. This weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series were each in action at Talladega for high speed antics. However, a completely different type of high speed show was in play at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA for the Izod IndyCar Series.
Before we start, last week, there were reports that FOX Sports will no longer bring their stage to Sprint Cup weekends starting in 2013. That is part of a continuing move towards studio-based programming during race weekends. NASCAR Live had already been moved away from the stage and in the studio prior to the SPEED-to-FOX Sports 1 shift. However, NASCAR Live never depended on any kind of fan involvement. NASCAR RaceDay Fueled by Sunoco is at heart, a show for the fans. I feel like it’s going to be a completely different show without the fans hanging around. At the very least, there’s going to be a sizable hole in the Midway at some of the tracks.
MavTV American Real 500
On Saturday night (or late Saturday afternoon, depending on your time zone), the Izod IndyCar Series held their final race of the 2013 season. The championship was in play, there was great action on track, and strange things happened. How did the NBC Sports Network do? Let’s take a look.
In a rare move, IndyCar agreed to push back the start of the race by roughly 20 minutes in order to wait out the sun. I can understand the move since it’s kinda scary to drive into Turn 3 at 225 mph and not have a clue where the deuce you’re going.
Because of the delay, there was roughly 20 extra minutes of pre-race coverage. However, NBC Sports Network really took full advantage of their extra time.
IndyCar Live started off with a recap of the Houston doubleheader. No real mention was made of the “jump” exiting Turn 1, but a lot of time was given to Dario Franchitti’s massive last lap crash. There were also a number of interviews. With the additional time that was added thanks to the sun delay, the Grid Run was brought back. However, Robin Miller did have a heck of a time finding anyone to talk to.
During the race, there was a fairly high focus on the championship battle, and I thought that was unnecessary. With the high amount of attrition Saturday night, the only way that Helio Castroneves would have had any chance of wrestling the points lead away from Scott Dixon was if Dixon wrecked or broke. Since neither scenario occurred, just finishing the race (they were two of nine drivers to do so) kept the status quo intact.
Having said that, Auto Club Speedway does put on a great race for IndyCars (arguably, the track was built for them), but no IndyCar race in Fontana has looked anything like the two run there since the series returned last year. There was a lot of great racing throughout the field and the NBC Sports Network did a good job bringing that action to the viewers.
Outside of the championship chase, if NBC Sports Network focuses in on something, it’s probably quite important. One of those things were the dreaded seams. While they can be an issue during Sprint Cup races, it’s worse with IndyCars. The big crash with Justin Wilson occurred when Wilson ran over a seam entering Turn 1. With that, he lost control and it was on. I thought that the commentators did a great job of explaining that.
The other major story was the fact that the track was really, really dirty during the race. And not just from the wrecks and mechanical issues. There was dust everywhere clogging up the air intakes on the cars. This probably led to a number of blown engines. The Ed Carpenter Racing team used a regular Shop-Vac to vacuum out a bunch of crud from the radiator. That also led to likely the only occasion where you’ll find a camera focused in on a trash can during a race telecast. The stuff that came out of the Shop-Vac looked like stuff you’d get out from under your couch. Good luck keeping a 2.2 liter turbocharged V6 cool with that stuff around.
With the wrecks and 55 laps of caution, the race ended at 12:25am EDT, a full 25 minutes over the end of the scheduled timeslot. Despite this, we still got a full post-race show. There were five post-race interviews, checks of the unofficial results and final point standings, and the championship trophy ceremony before NBC Sports Network left the air at 1:00am.
Things weren’t all good for NBC Sports Network, though. There was a technical issue just before the 300 mile mark that saw the entire feed drop out shortly after a side-by-side segment. After roughly 20 seconds of nothing, they went to commercial. Upon returning from the break, Leigh Diffey apologized for the issues.
Ultimately, I did enjoy watching Saturday night’s race. The action on-track was great and NBC Sports Network did a good job in showing us that action. The coverage of the big wreck was also pretty good. We got plenty of reaction interviews and replays. We were lucky that Wilson was the only driver hurt in the crash. Replays showed that a half shaft just missed hitting James Jakes in the helmet.
On Saturday afternoon, the Camping World Truck Series returned from yet another long layoff for 250 miles of action at Talladega. Almost no one made it out unscathed (and that’s not hyperbole). How did FOX Sports 1 do with it? Let’s take a look.
Once again, the specter of college football reared its ugly head Saturday since the Texas Tech-West Virginia game went long by ten minutes. It bites, but that’s life. I cannot do anything about the general public’s bloodlust for large dudes in helmets crashing into each other for no real monetary compensation.
The Setup saw the return of Krista Voda to the air, fresh off of maternity leave. It’s good to have her back, and it’s clear that she missed being at the track on a weekly basis. Danielle Trotta did a good job in her place, but I think everyone will be more than pleased to have Voda back in the fold.
With only about 15 minutes of air time, there really wasn’t all that much to pre-race coverage. The show started with a recap of Las Vegas, which, with the ongoing stupidity that is the Camping World Truck Series schedule, was nearly a month ago.
The only feature of the show was a look at a charity go-kart race at the GoPro Motorplex (formerly Mooresville Motorplex) where a bunch of NASCAR notables teamed up to race for charity. Seemed like a fun day all around. There were sound bites from five different Camping World Truck Series drivers, in addition to Travis Pastrana and Ray Dunlap, who to no one’s surprise, laid an egg on track.
Luckily for us viewers, races at Talladega are not the toughest races to cover. With much of the field in one big pack, it isn’t too difficult to see what’s going on. The rule changes have made it difficult for a twosome to run away from the field by ten seconds.
With the field being really close together, the booth commentators can often see incidents long before they occur. Sean Corr’s spin that brought out the third caution was basically predicted a lap or two in advance. I don’t know what the heck he was thinking with the move, but he simply didn’t account for other drivers around him when he made his move. He got lucky and was able to continue afterwards (only to get wrecked again less than 15 laps later).
Post-race coverage was insufficient knowing what happened at the end of the race. Viewers needed as many updates on drivers involved in the last lap crashes as possible before FOX Sports 1 left the air. What we actually got were interviews with race winner Johnny Sauter, points leader Matt Crafton and Kyle Busch, who took a heck of a hit. Oh yes, and replays. Plenty of them.
I would have liked to at least see an interview with David Starr, who avoided the wrecking and finished second. He would have been up to talking. In addition, given the seriousness of the situation (and it was), FOX Sports 1 should have stayed on the air a little longer in order to fully size up the situation. Ultimately, they left the air with way too many unanswered questions.
However, it must be said that the end of Saturday’s race was basically the perfect storm of bad luck for a TV broadcast. You essentially had the end of a race with no one to talk to because everyone wrecked. Almost everyone of note was in the Infield Care Center. People were still being released 20-30 minutes after FOX Sports 1 left the air. Of these drivers, only two that I know of did not talk to the press that were assembled outside. One was Miguel Paludo, who declined interview requests, but later tweeted that he was ok. The other was Justin Lofton, who was taken to the hospital with what turned out to be a broken thumb.
Camping World RV Sales 500
Oh yes. 500 miles of action for the Sprint Cup Series. Action was at hand. No “Big One,” but still plenty of action. How did ESPN do with the race? Let’s see.
Once again, the Chase continues to be the major story of note. Everything is framed within the Chase, which makes it very difficult to actually preview the race. Now, since it’s Talladega, it’s obvious to me that ESPN cares about the race itself. Not enough to actually preview the race on its’ own merits, though.
There was a piece where Dale Earnhardt, Jr. talked about the essence of racing at Talladega. There probably isn’t anyone better than Earnhardt Jr. in the Cup Series to do this, and I thought that he did a good job. Speaking of Earnhardt Jr., he made three separate appearances on Countdown (the aforementioned feature, a regular interview, and then some time in the Quicken Loans ESPN Pit Studio). That’s some Junior overkill there.
The primary feature was a piece about Richie Parker, an engineer at Hendrick Motorsports that was born without arms. An interesting piece, for sure. This is not by any means a new feature. The feature ran both on NASCAR Countdown and on SportsCenter earlier this season.
During the race on Sunday, there was a lot of pack racing towards the front of the field, and some stragglers as well. I would say that 97 percent of the coverage, if not more, was centered on the front of the field. There were some notable drivers that hung out back and didn’t get all that much coverage. I suppose that tactic is why the commentators didn’t seem to know what caused Kasey Kahne to lose the draft. With the overall lack of cautions, losing the draft was effectively a death sentence.
Kyle Busch got the beneficiary when Marcos Ambrose and Juan Pablo Montoya crashed, and that the only way he could possibly redeem his day after missing his stall early on. Luckily, Busch calmed himself down after that mess. I don’t think I’ve heard a rant that salty from him in quite a while.
ESPN held off on going to commercial on Lap 78 when Marcos Ambrose wiped out in the tri-oval, allowing viewers to actually see the crash in real time, instead of via replay. I’m grateful for that. Sometimes, it’s very tough to stop a break from coming on. You got to hope that the dudes in the TV compound notice what’s happening in time.
The run to the end of the race seemed to take the booth commentators by surprise. To me, not so much. I don’t admit to spending all my spare time looking at recent race tapes to identify trends (I think that’s Andy Petree’s day job). However, what we saw at the end of the race was not unprecedented. It’s happened multiple times towards the end of plate races recently, most notably at Daytona. Also, it had been quite a while since the final pit stops and the action generally seemed to calm down the further into a run you got.
Having said that, had Austin Dillon not wrecked exiting Turn 2 and drawn the race-ending caution, the whole finish probably would have been different. Heck was about to break loose. The tandems may have shown up for all I know. Interestingly enough, NASCAR’s move to throw the caution started another discussion on Twitter. Not only was the decision to throw the yellow debated, but whether NASCAR should institute the ARCA GWC rules (unlimited GWC’s until the race ends under green, even if the yellow comes out on the final lap).
Since the race ended quite early (it was the sixth fastest 500 mile NASCAR race ever run, behind five previous Talladega races (May 1997, May 1985, April 2001, October 2002 and July 1992), there was more time than normal for post-race coverage. However, ESPN did not make use of all of it. In the 15 minutes or so that they did use, there were six driver interviews, plus a check of the top-10 finishers and the point standings before ESPN left the air to get to an expanded SportsCenter.
I just don’t feel that they needed to leave early. Unlike Saturday, only a couple of drivers were involved in the last lap crash, and ESPN did interview one of them (Austin Dillon). We could have gotten some more driver interviews, and even a short preview of Martinsville. Preferably something that previewed the race itself and not just the Chase at Martinsville.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series travel to Ridgeway, Virginia for 700 laps of action at the paperclip. Meanwhile, Formula One travels to India, where Sebastian Vettel has a good sporting chance of clinching the World Championship. Here’s your listings.
Tuesday, October 22
Wednesday, October 23
Thursday, October 24
Friday, October 25
Saturday, October 26
Sunday, October 27
Monday, October 28
Couple of notes. First, the late morning and early afternoon editions of NASCAR RaceHub will be rerun at 5:00pm EDT on FOX Sports 2 (if you get the station). Second, due to the World Series this week, NASCAR Now is pre-empted late Tuesday and Wednesday nights (Games 1 and 2).
I will be back to provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series telecasts for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday.
If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons below. Finally, if you would like to contact any of the TV partners personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage from last weekend, please click on the following links:
Note: If you’d like to contact the NBC Sports Network about their coverage of Formula One and/or the Izod IndyCar Series, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. The contact page on their website legitimately cannot be found. Hopefully, they get that fixed right and proper soon.
As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.
©2000 - 2008 Phil Allaway and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I don’t know what others think, but I think ESPN cannot wait to get out of their NASCAR deal.
It’s a shame, but they hurry it along when the races are over like you wrote.
I believe they’d drop it tomorrow if they could.
The Indy Car race was entertaining but FAR too much Helio. Every 30 seconds it was either a shot of him, his incar camera or something pertaining to him. Way too much. Why networks bombard us with coverage of drivers they THINK we want to see and pretty much ignore everyone else unless something major happens is hard for me to grasp. How hard is it to just show the race?
ESPN has been that way for years. Nascar is just filler for them and you can tell based on pre and post race coverage. Late getting started and early leaving. Those football scoreboard shows have more viewers than Nascar so such is life as Phil says.
Its really quite sad at these tracks that people just accept the fact that drivers could get injured or even killed. Given the probability of a big wreck happening, you would think people would be a bit more concerned of the safety of their stars. But I guess as long as people are making a ton of money, that’s all the matters, right?