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 · Tuesday November 5, 2013
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast critiques are the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series were all in action at Texas Motor Speedway. Did the dreaded cobwebs knock anyone out of the races? I don’t know.
Before we start, Nicole Briscoe announced on Saturday that this past weekend was her final race weekend of the season. She’s taking the last two weekends of the season off as part of her maternity leave. Mike Massaro, who worked this past weekend on pit road, will take her place in the Quicken Loans ESPN Pit Studio at Phoenix and Homestead.
Also, FOX Sports 1’s NASCAR RaceDay Fueled by Sunoco aired a special feature Sunday morning entitled “Collier Strong.” Donnie Wahlberg narrated the piece, which talks about the Collier brothers, Andrew and Sean. Andrew is a machinist at Hendrick Motorsports, while Sean was a police officer with the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Police Department in Cambridge, MA. As you may remember, Sean was gunned down by the Tsarnaev brothers while on the run from police two days after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April. The piece features sound bites from Andrew Collier, his family members, and colleagues of Sean in Boston. I thought it was a touching piece. If you’d like to view it, it can be found on FOX Sports’ Shake and Bake blog.
WinStar World Casino 350k
On Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned to action once again at Texas Motor Speedway. 147 laps of action were on tap. How did FOX Sports 1 do? Let’s take a look.
The Setup started off with a look back at the Kroger 200 and Darrell Wallace, Jr.’s historic victory. Then, the focus switched to a slightly more offbeat piece. Apparently, Wallace and Michael Waltrip live in the same apartment complex (or, at least the piece made it look like they did). Wallace needed a little help getting his trophy up to his place and tapped Waltrip to help him out. Some hijinks briefly ensued before the clock reached its resting place in Wallace’s third-floor apartment.
The primary feature of the show was about the Bueschers (James and Kris) and how they’ve changed since becoming parents of an adopted newborn son whom they named Stetson. The young couple takes Stetson on the road for the races and it’s a bit of a challenge for them (probably cheaper than getting a sitter, but still, Stetson’s only a couple of months old). It’s just another sign that James Buescher has changed substantially over the past five years or so. He’s a much more mature individual.
Finally, we had another edition of Grassroots Beat to close out the show. Kristen Beat talked with Jeb Burton about his desire to continue racing late models while competing full-time in the Camping World Truck Series. Topics of discussion here included Burton’s experience starting out at South Boston Speedway playing an integral role in his maturation as a racer, and the fact that his relation to his father Ward (and by extension, his uncle Jeff) did not mean that he didn’t have to work hard for his career (he noted that at this time last year, he was working in a transmission shop after he ran out of funding to run with Hillman Racing). I thought that this was a pretty good feature that actually went a ways to distinguish Jeb as more than a spoiled rich kid. Jeb appears to be quite grounded and works hard for the opportunities that he gets.
As compared to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races that were aired on the ESPN family of networks this past weekend, I thought that FOX Sports 1 did a much better job of covering the action on-track. You got to see a lot more action for position. Part of that is likely due to the fact that Matt Crafton has been running away with the championship for months now (more than likely, he’ll clinch the championship Friday night in Avondale, AZ).
Having said that, there was a lot of time spent on Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, two Sprint Cup regulars in the field, and their issues. Keselowski lost a lap tooling around under caution with four flat tires after spinning out early. With the flow of the race being what it was, Keselowski was never able to get back on the lead lap despite having one of the fastest trucks on the track. As for Kyle Busch, perhaps he fell victim to the dreaded cobwebs that Keselowski tweeted an article about.
Post-race coverage was somewhat typical. There were four post-race driver interviews, plus an interview with the winning crew chief (Marcus Richmond). There was also a check of the point standings before FOX Sports 1 left to get to FOX Sports Live.
Overall, I liked the broadcast. There was a good amount of action shown for position, and the booth was quite lively. Meanwhile, it seemed dead on ESPN at times. I just hope that FOX Sports 1 can keep this up.
O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge
On Saturday, the Nationwide Series returned to action in Texas after taking the last couple of weeks off (Ok, who thought that was a smart idea?). ESPN was back with their usual cast. How did they do in covering the race?
Once again, there was no scheduled NASCAR Countdown on Saturday. There was regional coverage of college football in the 12:00-3:00pm EDT timeslot, followed by College Football Scoreboard. Ultimately, the games ended before 3:30 (thank goodness) and the race telecast could start on time…or so we thought. Seems like they weren’t ready down in Justin, TX when Wendy Nix threw it to them. We could hear Briscoe and Brad Daugherty talking about something. Not really sure what it was. All I know is they screwed up. I wouldn’t blame Briscoe and Daugherty for that, though. I think that was a basic miscommunication between Bristol and the remote production team.
Probably the main draw that ESPN had for their broadcast on Saturday was having Joe Gibbs in the broadcast booth as a guest. He spent 25 laps on-air in the booth. During that time, Allen Bestwick, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree peppered Gibbs with questions. Unfortunately, most of these questions were very similar to what Daugherty had asked Gibbs in their one-on-one interview that aired just last week. It just wasn’t necessary. Also, the constant line of questioning meant that the race was all but ignored during this period of time. The exception was when the caution came out for debris on Lap 71, bringing everyone to pit road (and yes, they did show the debris here (not sure what it was, but it was a black piece near the wall in Turn 2). Also, I didn’t even mention two additional facts. One, there’s the obvious fact that Gibbs, who was fielding four cars in the race was going to be biased towards his cars. Second, apparently I fell asleep Friday night and woke up in an alternate universe in which Sam Hornish, Jr. drives for Gibbs. Yeah, that’s bad. Don’t do that, ESPN. Check your graphics.
On Saturday (as well as Sunday), tires were a huge story. Unlike past issues, this one consisted of the tires unraveling, then eventually blowing out. ESPN put Goodyear’s GM of Worldwide Racing, Stu Grant, on the spot about the issues, which is always good to see. However, he essentially shifted the blame to the teams. That might make sense if we were talking about melted beads at Martinsville, since that occurs when teams use too much camber (surprisingly, we didn’t see any of that last week). However, I feel that what happened in Texas was the fault of Goodyear, and I believe that ESPN needed to press them on the issue more.
Having said that, ESPN did do a decent job in showing viewers just what these grated tires looked like. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything quite like that before.
Post-race coverage was very, very brief. You could see it coming. Despite four short cautions, the race ended right up against the end of the timeslot. Chatter from Brad Keselowski’s car made air that indicated that “They (meaning NASCAR) want you to be efficient.” That referred to Keselowski’s now signature celebration which includes donuts while hoisting an American flag out his window. Once he got to Victory Lane, ESPN interviewed him. And that was it. ESPN went straight to the 6:00pm edition of College Football Scoreboard.
Obviously, I would have greatly preferred more post-race coverage. There were a number of drivers that could have been interviewed. Heck, even just keep up the point race focus and give a little airtime for Hornish and Austin Dillon. They didn’t even show the point standings. I find it really sad that they couldn’t stay for five stankin’ minutes. However, I really don’t give a hoot about college football, went to a college that hasn’t had football since 1982 and grew up in a region that has traditionally gravitated towards the pro game. I don’t understand the draw.
AAA Texas 500
Sunday saw the Sprint Cup Series return to action in Texas. It was the eighth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. How did ESPN do with the telecast?
During NASCAR Countdown, there was plenty of discussion about the battle for the championship between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Way more than necessary. However, there was a new caveat this week. The three analysts (Daugherty, Ray Evernham and Rusty Wallace) were charged with breaking down the two contenders using five different criteria (Organization, Engine Program, Crew Chief, Pit Crew and the dreaded Intangibles), then combining everything into an overall pick. Based on that segment, all three analysts gave Johnson a 4-1 advantage and the edge (everyone agreed that Kenseth has the superior pit crew). I’m honestly surprised that everyone agreed on everything. Regardless, I thought that this was a nice way to break down the championship battle. Perhaps it’s something that ESPN should have done a couple of weeks ago.
The primary feature on the show was an off-beat piece where Kenny Maynski was charged with going to a track and talking to fans and drivers about random stuff. This is the type of piece that Mayne is very comfortable doing. Very Daily Show-ish. What I’m saying is that if you see the monstrosity that is Sunday NFL Countdown on a regular basis, you see stuff like this from Mayne on a regular basis. They’re usually covered under the title, “Mayne Event.”
Mayne Event antics can be funny. You get to see a different side of many of the people interviewed, something that you wouldn’t see if I were doing the interviews, one of ESPN’s pit reporters, or really almost anyone that normally covers NASCAR.
Also, it should be noted that Mayne isn’t a complete dunce about racing. He might have been when ESPN first hired him in 1994, but he ended up being given the job as the first host of rpm2night starting in 1995 (The weekend edition out of Bristol, CT; The weekday edition hosted by John Kernan out of Charlotte, NC launched in 1996). Mayne hosted rpm2night for about 18 months before leaving for SportsCenter. In that time, Mayne brought what I would describe as an interesting interpretation of events. For example, here’s an example of a highlight Mayne called from Dover in 1996. Ok, maybe it hasn’t aged all that well, but I thought it was an interesting way to look at it back when I was 12.
Eventually, Mayne was given the job of anchoring ESPN’s coverage from Daytona in 1998. You might remember when Dale Earnhardt appeared on the show, jacked up like never before. Unfortunately, there aren’t any clips of that. After ESPN lost NASCAR rights, Mayne was just about the most knowledgeable person in Bristol when it came to NASCAR, so he was chosen to voiceover a tribute to Earnhardt that played on SportsCenter. It was offbeat since Mayne is offbeat in general, but still touching.
The other notable feature was a look at the “Runner-up Curse” that has affected multiple teams since the inception of the Chase. This included sound bites from various drivers (Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer) that have been stricken by the Curse. Personally, I believe that’s it’s a misnomer, something that will put me against most of my colleagues here at Frontstretch. Apparently, you’re supposed to be at the top of your game all the time, regardless of what everyone else does, or you’re forever cursed. Heck, prior to the Chase, people did fall off in points from year to year. Did analysts claim that those drivers were cursed? Was Bill Elliott cursed in 1993? No, but I’d argue that his team outright fell apart due to external issues (Junior and his wife Flossie ran into marital problems, and that affected the whole operation). That wasn’t Elliott’s fault. Earnhardt wasn’t cursed either after his seventh title. He ran hard in 1995 and 1996, then injuries that weren’t completely taken care of started to pile up and slow him down.
During the race, ESPN chose to keep the points as they run graphic below the scroll for the whole race. Periodically, the points were referred to when certain moves were made. However, in addition to the graphic, a large percentage of the race was dedicated to Johnson and Kenseth. Way the heck too much.
This is why I hate this part of the season. You don’t get to see the whole story, or much more than a couple of stories, period. For example, Parker Kligerman made his Sprint Cup debut on Sunday and finished 18th, two laps down. This was the third-best finish of the season for the team, and their best run at an intermediate track ever. How much of a mention did Kligerman get on the telecast? Absolute bupkis. Not even a passing mention of Kligerman making his debut at all. I’m not saying this in some kind of misguided attempt to buddy up to Parker, but you have to at least mention him.
Also of note, the final segment of the race was spent covering Johnson, Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (finished second). That’s it. ESPN all but didn’t cover a number of stories that happened in that time, like tire issues for Aric Almirola. Yes, I know Almirola was running 18th at the time, but tire issues are tire issues.
Since the race ended so quickly, there was a good amount of time for post-race coverage. ESPN provided viewers with six post-race interviews, plus an interview with the winning car owner (Rick Hendrick). There was also a check of the point standings and
That’s all for this week. Next weekend, all three National series will be back in action at Phoenix International Raceway. It should be interesting. The grandstands are sold out for the Cup race on Sunday. Here’s your listings.
Tuesday, November 5
Wednesday, November 6
Thursday, November 7
Friday, November 8
Saturday, November 9
Sunday, November 10
Monday, November 11
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races from Phoenix for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. Note that Penn State-Minnesota will air on ESPN 2 starting at Noon on Saturday. It is possible that the game could cut into NASCAR Countdown. My advice is to keep tabs on that.
For the Critic’s Annex, I have chosen to cover the Whelen Modified season finale from Thompson, CT in its place. That will run Thursday in the Newsletter. For next week’s Annex, I’m thinking of covering the DTM race from Austria, but I would not be critiquing the telecast that will air next Monday. Instead, I would be critiquing the full race telecast, which is readily available on DTM’s official YouTube page.
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 a team doesn’t make the chase then the season is over for them. All teams not making the chase should treat the remaining “races” as test sessions.
Why not? What’s the point of trying for the win? Moral victory?
As long as this stupid chase is in place they might as well test for next season.
(Hey…anybody remember a few weeks ago when there was an exciting points race going on between a bunch of drivers? Hmmmm….)
I wonder how much longer before sponsors discount the final 10 races of the season because they get zero coverage from the TV networks. Actually, all but the top 10 (or 13, depending), disappear for the final 15 races. I hate the concentration on the ‘title race’, because it trivialized the entire season, and most of the season.
I wonder if that’s not in some of the sponsor contracts already.
And the closer it gets to homestead, the reality is ESPN will only cover the “relevant” drivers (from their perspective). This is one of the major issues for fans following NASCAR through the idiotic chase scenario. Most people have a favorite driver or a couple of favorites, but if they are not part of the chosen ones at the beginning of the chase, they get no coverage and as drivers fall out of contention, then they also don’t get coverage with a few exceptions. And so there is less and less reason to watch the next 2 races unless you cheer for the 48 and the 20.
The Chase has been a huge contributor imo to the ills of Nascar. You need to show those sponsors and they don’t. These teams right or wrong need them to run. I wouldn’t blame someone for pulling sponsorship. Also, during the Chase, by not mentioning drivers who aren’t in the Chase, one can get the idea that these guys stink because they didn’t make the Chase, and nothing could be farther from the truth. And do you really see actual racing during the Chase..nope and one of the reasons is nobody wants to race a Chaser hard, because if something happens to the Chaser, you DO NOT want to be that guy. Well..except if you are Jeff Gordon and you totally lose it and ram your competitor during a Chase race..: But that is o.k. according to many of his fans..lol.
The sickening Jimmie Johnson love fest will continue on for the last 2 races and I for one will not be watching much of it. The racing just isn’t exciting enough for me to endure that when there are plenty of other things on tv to watch.
ESPN just simply thinks that everyone should like Jimmie Johnson trying every so hard to show us what a swell guy. Why else do they show him kissing his wife after every national anthem and of course carrying his kids in victory lane this weekend.
I’m not a fan and never will be a fan no matter how hard ESPN tries. Treating a 10 race champ like some kind of god, the other drivers and their fans deserve better.