The Frontstretch: Four Burning Questions: Traffic Troubles and Busch's Benevolence by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday June 28, 2012

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Can Matt Kenseth really move forward and win a championship following his announcement?

Kenseth’s announcement this week that he would be leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season came as a shock to most. After all, he’s been with the team for a large majority of his career and has become synonymous with that No. 17 car. Nevertheless, Kenseth is leaving at the end of the year and in his place will be 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Following the announcement, Kenseth conducted a plethora of media interviews. Which is weird because he has media availability this weekend at Kentucky, but whatever.

Anyway, Kenseth has insisted that he is still focused on the championship and winning in his final year with the team. Let’s hope so, since they’re leading the standings right now, but even Kenseth admitted that facing his crew was difficult in Sonoma.

For some reason, Kenseth is using last year’s champion Tony Stewart as reason to believe they are still in it. Since, you know, Stewart knew his crew chief Darian Grubb was leaving at the end of the year. Crew chief leaving vs. driver leaving … totally the same thing.

Stewart, as the driver, knew he’d be around the same group of guys and be a part of the same team. Kenseth, on the other hand, already has a deal in place with another race team. While a crew chief is a crucial part to the team, it’s just not the same thing. When Kenseth himself is saying the situation is uncomfortable, that is all I need to hear to say that we’ll likely be seeing someone else holding the trophy … this year.

This ugly memory of the inaugural Cup race at Kentucky is one the track spent millions hoping to avoid for 2012.

Will traffic issues overshadow the race again, or did Kentucky learn their lesson?

Those who spent any amount of time in the traffic jam at Kentucky last year are probably simmering with rage at the mere thought of it. What was a fantastic turnout for the debut race at the track turned out to be a nightmare when hundreds of fans were turned away due to lack of parking. For a track that worked so hard to even get a Cup date, it disappointed those who showed up for it.

But … hold up! They’ve fixed it. They promise! A literal multi-million dollar project by Kentucky Speedway has a completely changed map where parking is concerned. 20,000 new parking spots, seven lanes of road heading into the track, and expanding exit ramps have all been put in place to eliminate the harrowing back-up that even had track personnel showing up late. Man, it sounds like they’ve got this figured out!

Of course, it won’t really help matters if those who were turned away won’t show up this time. But, hey, at least they’re trying!

How long will the current Kurt Busch last?

I swear Busch goes through more mood swings than a pregnant woman. No offense, DeLana!

The guy was practically in tears after a tough loss at Sonoma last week, but handled it like a champ and didn’t threaten to beat the “you know what” out of any reporters.

Gosh, what a concept, right? An actual champion of the sport actually acting like one? He was so gentlemanly, in fact, the media felt the need to applaud him at the end of his required post-race press conference. Because he wasn’t a douche. Makes sense.

So, kids, if you’ve been keeping up, it’s okay to be a complete jerk for a while because when you finally wise up … you’ll get rewarded for it!

It’s very possible that Busch learned his lesson with the suspension, but I’ll have to see more than one emotion-laden interview to be convinced of that. Just don’t tell any reporters.

Will fans keep tuning in if broadcasts like last Sunday continue?

If you read my colleague Phil Allaway’s “NASCAR TV column”: you don’t need me to say any more about it. To be honest, I focus so much on Twitter and the various NASCAR applications when watching from home (RaceView, Racebuddy, etc.) that I hardly notice the broadcast for anything other than replays. What I do know is that my Twitter timeline was filled more with complaints about commercials and the quality of the broadcast and because of that I was missing some actual updates.

Honestly, even I have to admit it got excessive. Commercials were every few laps, and though there weren’t many storylines to follow, the ones that did exist typically were ignored.

In a sport that is trying to cater to a younger demographic, constant commercials and limited focus on the actual event isn’t going to cut it. I’m sure that most of NASCAR’s diehard fans will tune into Kentucky regardless of who is broadcasting, but in order to build your base you have to have a watchable product. Half of that is the on-track racing. Even if they don’t want to hear it, the other half of that is the quality of the broadcast. Let’s hope Saturday night’s event is much better in both departments.

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06/29/2012 09:20 AM

Thanks to you and and Phil for bringing to everyone’s attention ,“did anyone miss it?” last weeks coverage of the Sprint race! It was HORRIBLE!!! What else can I say?

06/29/2012 10:23 AM

Best wishes to Matt Kenseth on this year chase. He is one class act that is going to come back and bite Jack Roush in the ass.

06/29/2012 10:26 AM

Great point on Busch! I will be convinced when he gives a good interview and doesn’t HAVE to…

06/29/2012 12:28 PM

I missed the Ky traffic debacle, but I’ve sat in enough race day traffic to know that if it was THAT bad the first time I went, I wouldn’t go back. They didn’t even refund people’s tickets, did they?

TV coverage has been terrible all year. Fox was so busy focusing on one car at a time even in their side by side commercial segments – ha, obviously they think the fans are stupid – we’ll be so happy to get side by side that we won’t notice its simply a commercial with one car in the other side. Oh yeah and that would be the car sponsored by whoever paid for the ad!

TNT was pretty good for the first race and is now back into their commercials, commercials, commercials, plus the booth doesn’t actually call the race, even though they have a PXP guy in there. Alexander is apparently only there to bring up topics for Kyle and Wally to discuss, not to actually call the race. Then when they managed to totally screw up the camera work for the final restart! The back of the building? Really? I don’t expect them to be any better and ESPN has their own agenda and scripted coverage. I have trackpass and use twitter and the radio feed to actually follow the race.

Over the past years I have wondered why I continue to watch the TV broadcasts – hope springs eternal I guess, but I’m about to opt out and I’m not one of the demographic that TV is trying to attract. Heck if they continue to drive everyone away, there won’t be anyone left.

06/29/2012 02:02 PM

It wasn’t a traffic issue at Kentucky, it was a parking issue, You can have 15 lanes going into the track, but if there are no places for vehicles to park, you have the same result.

There should be no problems this year as they will have far fewer people attending this season. The product isn’t that great on the track to warrant the possibility of going through that again for some I’m sure.