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Couch Potato Tuesday: NASCAR Elimination Races and Match Game ’78?

We’ve made it through part No. 1 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. There are undoubtedly some disappointed drivers and disappointed fans. Our own Jerry Jordan is convinced that NASCAR’s happy that Jimmie Johnson failed to advance (but would never actually admit it). In all due respect, I doubt that. Even if Johnson is “vanilla,” he’s still one of the five most popular drivers in Sprint Cup. It’s not exactly going to help NASCAR to have a six-time champion watching 12 other guys having at it for the remaining seven weeks.

Before we get started, FOX Sports announced over the weekend that defending Sprint Cup Champion (and all-conquering winner from Sunday) Kevin Harvick will return to the broadcast booth for FOX’s annual broadcast of the Camping World Truck Series’ Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. When that race is run on Oct. 25, check your local listings for the air time in your market. Last year, we ran into some issues with stations bumping the race in favor of college football. We’ll have to see what happens there.

AAA 400

Sunday afternoon saw a quartet of drivers have their Chases come to an end. For others, employment probably ended as well.

During pre-race coverage, the primary feature was a sit-down interview that Jeff Burton conducted with Tony Stewart. I won’t rehash Stewart’s announcement from last week because we all know what it was, but Burton had the chance to ask Stewart why he chose to make the decision. While Stewart hasn’t been running well the last couple of years, he painted his decision as a calculated, long-term decision that had as much to do with Clint Bowyer’s availability as it did burnout. While that sounds interesting, I’m not sure if that’s the entire truth (despite the fact that Stewart would swear up and down that it was). A subsequent interview with Bowyer was done as well. The full interview will run later this week on NASCAR America.

During the race itself, it was ridiculous. I would have included a clip of what I was thinking while watching the race, but I can’t find one for you on YouTube. As a result, I’m going to have to explain it to you. In the 1999 film Wild Wild West, James West (Will Smith) and Artemis Gordon (Kevin Kline) are arguing about the best way to handle interrogation. Gordon describes West’s interrogation tactics as something along the lines “Shoot, shoot. Shoot some more, shoot shoot shoot, then once everybody’s dead, try to ask a question or two.” That’s how I interpreted the race coverage from Dover on Sunday.

It was all Chase, all the time. Listen, I know it was an elimination race. However, there is more to Sprint Cup right now than the Chase. Having this stupendously dumb Chase and the ultra-focus that results from it directly hurts everyone else in the sport. Unlike any other sport with playoffs, everyone else is still out there in Sprint Cup. They operate (outside of Talladega) in the shadows, but they’re there, giving it their all.

Sunday saw constant points updates for the entire race. Point updates below the ticker, constant updates of where everyone was at the cut-off, what if scenarios. If that’s your thing, you probably had a good Sunday. I spent the race exasperated. Even wrecks, the rare time in which lower-echelon drivers could get even a smidgen of airtime, were curtailed. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there weren’t wrecks (a couple of them). However, we didn’t get replays of a couple of them. For example, Brett Moffitt stuffed it in the wall with 47 laps to go to draw a yellow that stopped the potential fuel mileage run to the finish (and likely saved Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s day). How did that happen? If you only watched the broadcast, you could guess, but that’s about it. Even Front Row Motorsports’ Twitter page didn’t list a reason why Moffitt smacked the wall. All they stated was that the car was “Killed.”

I have no idea how the race would have been covered without the Chase in play. You take that away, and you might have had the most boring race of the year. Harvick led all but 45 laps. A grand total of three people led the race, and had there been qualifying, Harvick probably would have led something like 380 laps because he wouldn’t have been starting 15th. I think the end of the race might have been broadcast similarly to what we got because that was where the action was, but other aspects would have been done differently.

Dover is in its 21st year with the concrete surface, a surface laid down in order to save money due to the old asphalt surface constantly coming up. That led to constant track sealing and a series of races that could only be described as wreck fests (4 hours and 59 minutes for 500 miles in 1993, anyone?). However, if you take away the wrecks, Dover races were more exciting before the track was concreted. The cool weather last weekend didn’t help. It wasn’t quite the “it’s too cool for the rubber to adhere” weather that Martinsville always seems to have these days, but it wasn’t that far off.

Post-race coverage continued the Chase bias. All the Chasers in the discussion on Sunday got post-race interviews. Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, who already clinched spots, weren’t in that bunch. They effectively got a free pass. Also not included were drivers such as Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who put up great finishes on Sunday and got absolutely bupkis in coverage. Why? They weren’t in the Chase, and therefore didn’t matter to the group at large. It’s just so frustrating.

Bowyer and Paul Menard, who were in the Chase, got absolutely no post-race coverage despite being eliminated. A discussion between myself and our own Mike Neff on Twitter as to what they received looked like this:

Now, my love of motorsports and game shows are tied into my personality and I love to combine them as much as possible. But, in all honesty, that’s about as much as they got out of being in the Chase. A crockpot and some grit mix. Bowyer might not have even gotten the crockpot.

Three weeks in, NBCSN’s coverage of the Chase for the Sprint Cup has looked very similar to how ESPN has covered it over the past eight years. Frustrating and anger-inducing at times, just with a different on-air cast of characters. I don’t understand why NASCAR believes that this kind of super-focus actually benefits the sport at all. I don’t believe it does. It’s a crutch, nothing more. It was a move that Brian France made once he had full control of the sport (after apparently being denied the opportunity in the past by his father) in an attempt to capitalize on the new chaps that were watching the sport. Once the newbies lost interest, heck went down. The clinging to the Chase through at least 2024 will continue to hurt the sport for the foreseeable future.

Hisense 200

Saturday afternoon saw the XFINITY Series take to the track with absolutely no practice at all. Unlike a stupendously dumb storyline, this was the legitimate NASCAR equivalent to a soap opera (sight reading, since they shoot 200+ episodes a year). Threatening skies (and an eventual rain delay) only reinforced the “winging it” ideal of the day.

The championship was an important story on Saturday, but it wasn’t the only story in play. Yes, we had whackers. Kyle Busch was back, desperate to claim another victory. I swear that man turns into Gollum in the race car, but I can’t prove that. Hamlin was there as well.

Ty Dillon’s crash was big news for the championship, and it was covered properly. His tire failure seemed to come out of nowhere. The crash that brought the caution had nothing to do with it since it was behind Dillon. Brian Scott’s tire failure on the surface was pretty weird, but some good investigating by NBCSN discovered a serious error that led to the blowout. The valve stem was sheared away, either from contact on track, or by an errant air gun clipping on his first pit stop. Since the tire failed just three laps after the restart, the latter seems more likely.

Slower traffic was another big story on Saturday. I believe that it would have been a problem anyway, but the lack of practice made the slower cars even slower than normal. Josh Reaume had the rare dishonor of being parked by NASCAR for being too slow. By the time he was parked, he was something like 13 laps down.

I found the Saturday race from Dover to be more inclusive that what we got Sunday, but I still wish that NBCSN was better at updating viewers on all the stories going on. We got plenty of Joe Gibbs Racing being themselves, Regan Smith later in the race, the championship battle, and so on. The tale of Jimmy Means Racing’s issues was mentioned during a Through the Field segment.  It was something that probably should have been covered more substantially during Countdown to Green, but Countdown to Green was only 15 minutes on Saturday

However, we didn’t get much in the way of information on smaller stories in the field. For example, Ryan Ellis won his way into the race via a fan vote put on by Vroom Brands. He ended up behind the wall with a broken sway bar early, but was pretty quick. NBCSN never really updated why he went behind the wall (he returned at the same time that Derrike Cope went to the garage after smacking the wall, which occurred during a NASCAR NonStop commercial and was not replayed).

Since the race was delayed by a half-hour due to the rain, NBCSN decided to dispense with the 5:30 rerun of Mobsteel and keep the post-race coverage on until 6:30. As a result, viewers got more than a dozen post-race interviews in addition to point discussions and race discussions. Generally a good way to finish off a tough day at the track.

Rhino Linings 350k

I have no idea how this standalone truck weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway makes any money. Seriously. There is no support to the truck race there and hasn’t been since 2011 (and we all remember what happened that weekend). Granted, the trucks were the first major series to race on the 1.5 mile tri-oval there, but there really much keeping them there.

Also of note, a race starting at 10:19 p.m. on a Saturday night is a tough draw in general. West coast night races, while nice weather-wise, generally aren’t good for TV. Then again, it could be worse. How about after the Truck race at 10 p.m. local time, which is what Champ Car did back in 2005 (the race aired on SPEED the next day via tape delay). Regardless, we had 350 kilometers of action with the Chicken Man hitting pay dirt. How was it covered?

The Setup was back to a more normal setup for Camping World Truck Series race No. 501. Ray Dunlap returned with a great sit-down interview with Christopher Bell, who made his return to the series Saturday night for the first time since winning the 1-800 CarCash Mudsummer Classic back in July. Here, we learn a little bit about the up-and-coming racer who appears to be just as comfortable racing in the trucks as he is pulling slide jobs on regular joes in iRacing at Bristol. He seems like an interesting guy and Kyle Busch Motorsports is lucky to have him. Speaking of Eldora, Bell’s primary foe from Eldora, Bobby Pierce, will be back at Martinsville as well.

If you saw Saturday night’s race, the story that probably overshadows John Wes Townley’s victory was Austin Theriault’s huge crash on lap 14. For those of you who missed it somehow, here it is:

That was ugly. Theriault suffered a compression fracture in the crash, but he’s in good spirits right now back home. I found that FOX Sports did a decent job in covering the crash. They held off on replays until they knew that Theriault was out of the truck, which was important given the circumstances. There was genuine concern for Theriault’s well-being as well.

There was no reference on the broadcast to how Theriault was handled by the on-site rescue crew, though. That was not their best effort Saturday night. Seriously, it was kind of terrabad. I guess the booth chose to err on the side of caution here, but that was kinda ugly to watch.  I’m just happy they didn’t exacerbate anything. Unfortunately, no substantial updates on Theriault’s condition were released (other than him being awake and alert at the hospital) until after the telecast ended. FOX Sports did not speculate on his condition and handled the situation in a very professional manner.

Also, there was no immediate on-air statement about how Theriault hit an unprotected concrete wall. FOX Sports is known for making statements like this, the best example being Larry McReynolds’ rant back at Daytona after Kyle Busch’s crash in the Alert Today Florida 300. Most people watching the race know that Saturday night wasn’t even the first time this year that someone’s crashed in that spot like that. Erik Jones went head-on into the wall right there during the XFINITY race back in March.

Apparently, no one did anything about that in the last seven months. Expect to see the track’s management torn a new one.

Outside of the big crash, FOX Sports’ coverage Saturday night was decent. There was a good amount of battling for position and good overall coverage. Attention was given to Matt Crafton apparently trying to draw a caution late in the race (we’ll have to see what NASCAR says about those shenanigans later this week) and the various issues that Akinori Ogata had with his No. 63 (NASCAR probably should have parked Ogata before Reaume on Saturday).

Post-race coverage was tied into FOX Sports Live, so it was quite a bit shorter than it could have been (the race’s timeslot was through 12:30 a.m. EDT, but they cut out approximately 20 minutes early). Despite cutting out early, FOX Sports provided viewers with a decent amount of post-race coverage including proper due being given to Townley. It was a stark contrast to the treatment Townley got when he won his ARCA race at Daytona.

Overall, Saturday night was actually a pretty decent race at Las Vegas. Not having the Cup guys around led to a more natural conclusion. Townley winning is not as much of a surprise as you’d think. He legitimately had at least the third-best truck on track all night. He was fast and he didn’t make mistakes. He did what he had to do and laughed all the way home with a well-deserved trophy. FOX Sports did just fine covering the event. The second half of the race wasn’t exactly the most exciting, but they cannot control fuel mileage/green-flag feel races. They did well with what they were given.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway for their second visit of the season. Meanwhile, Formula One is in Sochi, while the World Endurance Championship returns to Fuji Speedway in Japan, where it is forecasted to rain on race day. Ah heck. The last time that happened at Fuji Speedway, the cars technically never took the green flag before the checkered flag was thrown. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. Here’s your listings.

Tuesday, October 6

TimeTelecastNetwork
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*# (from October 5)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 5)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 5)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1

Wednesday, October 7

TimeTelecastNetwork
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*# (from October 6)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 6)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 6)
4 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.Global RallyCross Lites: BarbadosNBC Sports Network* (from October 4)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.AMA EnduroCross: SacramentoCBS Sports Network* (from September 26)
8 p.m. - 9 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: SilverstoneCBS Sports Network*/ (from September 27)
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America: Circuit of the AmericasCBS Sports Network*/ (from September 18)
10 p.m. - 12 a.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: MisanoCBS Sports Network*/# (from October 3-4)

Thursday, October 8

TimeTelecastNetwork
12 a.m. - 1 a.m.AMA EnduroCross: SacramentoCBS Sports Network*# (from September 26)
1 a.m. - 2 a.m.Rolex Monterey Motorsports ReunionFOX Sports 2*/#
1 a.m. - 2 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: SilverstoneCBS Sports Network*/# (from September 27)
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*# (from October 7)
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America: Circuit of the AmericasCBS Sports Network*/# (from September 18)
3 a.m. - 4 a.m.AMA EnduroCross: SacramentoCBS Sports Network*# (from September 26)
4 a.m. - 5 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: SilverstoneCBS Sports Network*/# (from September 27)
5 a.m. - 6 a.m.Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America: Circuit of the AmericasCBS Sports Network*/# (from September 18)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 7)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 7)
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 7)
1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Practice No. 1NBC Sports Network
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.XFINITY Series Practice No. 1NBC Sports Network
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.K&N Pro Series East Drive Sober 125NBC Sports Network*/ (from October 3)
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.XFINITY Series Happy HourNBC Sports Network
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network
8:45 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.Better Half DashFansChoice.tv^?

Friday, October 9

TimeTelecastNetwork
3 a.m. - 4:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Russia Free Practice No. 1NBC Sports Live Extra$
7 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Russia Free Practice No. 2NBC Sports Network
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Fall Final 150NBC Sports Network*/ (from October 4)
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Practice No. 2NBC Sports Network
4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.XFINITY Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Happy HourNBC Sports Network
7:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.Countdown to GreenNBC Sports Network
8 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.XFINITY Series Drive for the Cure 300NBC Sports Network

Saturday, October 10

TimeTelecastNetwork
1:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.Red Bull Global RallyCross: BarbadosNBC Sports Network*/# (from October 3-4)
5 a.m. - 6 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Russia Free Practice No. 3NBC Sports Live Extra$
6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Russia Free Practice No. 2NBC Sports Network*# (from October 9)
8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Russia QualifyingNBC Sports Network
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.Sprint Cup Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network*# (from October 8)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR America SaturdayNBC Sports Network
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR RaceDayFOX Sports 2
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.Countdown to GreenNBC Sports Network
7 p.m. - 7:15 p.m.Countdown to GreenNBC
7:15 p.m. - 11 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500NBC
10 p.m. - 4 a.m.FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of FujiFOX Sports 2
11 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.NASCAR America Post-RaceNBC Sports Network
11:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network

Sunday, October 11

TimeTelecastNetwork
12:30 a.m. - 1 a.m.NASCAR Victory LaneFOX Sports 1
1 a.m. - 2 a.m.motoGP World Championship Motul Grand Prix of JapanFOX Sports 1
1:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Russia QualifyingNBC Sports Network*# (from October 10)
4 a.m. - 4:30 a.m.FIA World Endurance Championship Post-RaceFOX Sports GO$
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.Moto2: JapanFOX Sports 2*
6:30 a.m. - 7 a.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.Moto3: JapanFOX Sports 2*
7 a.m. - 9 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of RussiaNBC Sports Network
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.motoGP World Championship Motul Grand Prix of JapanFOX Sports 2*#
9 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network
12 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network*#
12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of RussiaNBC Sports Network*#
1 p.m. - 3 p.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: ZandvoortCBS Sports Network*/ (from October 10-11)
2:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network*#
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.Blancpain Endurance Series Year in ReviewCBS Sports Network
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.Mobil 1's The GridCBS Sports Network
10:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.GP2 Series: RussiaNBC Sports Network*/
11:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from October 10)

Monday, October 12

TimeTelecastNetwork
12 a.m. - 2 a.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: ZandvoortCBS Sports Network*/# (from October 10-11)
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.Blancpain Endurance Series Year in ReviewCBS Sports Network#
4 a.m. - 6 a.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: ZandvoortCBS Sports Network*/# (from October 10-11)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from October 10)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from October 10)
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from October 10)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR 120: Bank of America 500NBC Sports Network*/# (from October 10)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR Scan all 43NBC Sports Network
10:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.NASCAR Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#

Key:
* – Tape Delayed
/ – Highlighted Coverage
# – Repeat Coverage
^ – Available via free online streaming
$ – Available via password-protected online streaming. Check with your internet/programming provider for availability.
? – Unknown programming

The question mark has been placed by coverage of the Better Half Dash simply due to the fact that FansChoice.tv is notoriously slow in putting out their schedules. As of Monday night, they had not released their full schedule for the week. That’s a rant for another day. However, I’ve listed what I think is the start time for said race and FansChoice.tv should air it.

I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races from Charlotte in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. For the Annex this week, we’ll have additional coverage.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below. Even though I can’t always respond, I do read your comments and I’m happy with the increased number of comments so far this year. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons. If you would like to contact either of NASCAR’s media partners, click on either of the links below.

FOX Sports
NBC Sports

As always, if you choose to contact a 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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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor. Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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18 comments

  1. Avatar

    I was at the truck race and saw the crash happen and the aftermath in front of me. They loaded up Austin in the ambulance and took him straight to the helicopter lot and off to UMC. They didn’t bother taking him to the infield care center. I’m glad he’s OK.

    This is the first time in chase history that I have a driver in it, Go Martin Truex Jr! I have to admit, even I am getting sick of all the chase drivers only coverage. Ricky Stenhouse Jr finished 8th! and not word one was mentioned. I know it’s in the script, but good grief, enough is enough. It’s no wonder that nascar is losing ratings. It is my hope that the driver who wins the Cup won only one race, or none in the regular season. Too bad brian france can’t be impeached.

    Speaking of wins being important, it must not apply to the X and truck series when the Cup drivers stink up those races by winning them all the time. Regan Smith showed ’em on Saturday though, I’m glad his planets lined up.

  2. Avatar

    Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is SAFER is +\- $5K per foot. The LV stretch where Austin & Eric hit, basically, the exit of turn 4 to the beginning of the tri-oval, has +\- 300 yards of non-SAFER barrier, which equates to, roughly, $4.5M! As a dyed-in-the-wool Ford-ie, I certainly hate seeing a kid like Austin, or anyone get hurt (minus updates on his condition, I did not sleep a wink Saturday night). Regardless, I understand the passion behind fan’s, race team’s & media’s cries of “…all track barriers must be SAFER equipped”. But I am also cognoscente of the fact that it as an irresponsible & somewhat ignorant demand. Which is why I don’t expect it. Especially & specifically considering LV is an SMI (Speedway Motorsports Inc., Bruton Smith) track that is supposedly potentially loosing one or more of it’s Nascar calendar events. To which I understand, Mr. Smith replied by threatened to eliminate all Nascar events. So, imo, it is a sad but true fact of life that it is an unrealistic expectation. Reality is that SAFER is not feasible everywhere all the time. Especially in an environment where venues are consistently seeing decreasing revenues. Specifically at a track where “return on investment” seems to be a foggy proposition at best.
    With regard to the Insipid Chase hoop-la, spot on Phil! You absolute nailed it, again, & I am in categorical agreement! “What’s-his-face also rans” not only get no TV screen time, but also no TV commentator mentions, what-so-ever, & no post race interviews. Namely the #43 (p5) & #17 (p8), who both topped (among other Chasers) Ford Chaser #22 (p10). Same for #16 (p13) who topped Ford Chaser #2 (p16). RFR & RPM have been struggling all season & have clearly turned a corner on their performance issues in the last 3 – 4 races. Biff lead laps late & finished p4 at NH. AA (#43) has 4 top 10’s in the last 5 races & 2 top 5’s (cutting a tire & smacking the wall at NH being the only non-top 10 finish recently)! Yet, the narrow-sightedness caused by Chase gimmickry has relegated these teams (& many others) to nameless & faceless also rans! The Chase glorifies the 12 Chasers, but is a major disservice to the 32 teams, each of which having dispensed untold multi-millions of sponsor dollars thru the course of the season for the betterment of the sports, which then systematically diminishes their contributions to the sport at a time in the season when such teams would get the most mileage out of a kick in the wallet & media mentions. This greatly & needlessly devalues the sponsorships of these 32 also rans. So again, 100% agreement in the aspect that it might bolster returns, for Nascar, amongst greenhorn fans, in the short term. But in the grand & long-term scheme, it will prove to devalue this brand of motor sports, as a whole. Imo, new fans can be bamboozled by gimmicks like the Chase & Exhibitionists (in CWT & NXS), but those same gimmicks come with a cost. RACE INTEGRITY! Plus, as a for the Chase, they have not compromise the integrity of the season championship… they have ELIMINATED IT! “The Cup”, as it were, no longer exists! Richard Petty’s, Dale Earnhardt’s & all championships prior to the Chase are 100% incomparable to that of JJ’s or any Chase winners. As with changing the game, the NFL now has 2 point conversions, they move up the kick off line & move back the PAT line. The NBA went with no zone D, shot clock & 3-point shots long ago. Yet this tinkering has not up-ended their playoff’s or disrupted the continuity of their championship format the way Nascar’s has. Furthermore, this format has completely revised the way individual race & season-long strategy is played out. Teams that win early (Harv, Hambone, SuperBrad & Joey) have an upside to coasting thru the majority of the season. It is now systemically & fiscally irresponsible to go 100% grapes to the wall & risk tearing up cars when the points are reset 2/3’s of the way thru the season. In vast, imo, only a fool would believe teams with wins have NOT & do NOT sandbag races when it behooves their bottom ($$$) line. Furthermore, the whole wavier farce! Now this, for the first time in Nascar history, enables drivers who miss races (KuBu, KyBu) to be in contention for season championships. Heck, KyBu was p28 in the standings & some 460 points behind the leader before the Chase “reset” which wipes that deficit out entirely & puts him on even ground with the top drivers. Missing races, albeit MISSING 3 (KuBu) & 11 (KyBu) RACES, becomes TOTALLY IRRELEVENT! You also have circumstances like the #11’s multiple pit speeding penalties at Dover. For those who are Chase worthy, in-race penalties are largely irrelevant, not only for Chase race winners, but for race winners, throughout the majority of season. #11 advances no matter what, so why not gamble? In fact, one could argue, if you win Daytona, why not fake a mechanical failure & faux Start & Park until the Chase starts, no? Or why not faux S&P at NH & Dover if you have won Chicago & are guaranteed to advance? Imo, only a matter of time until that occurs (if it hasn’t already)! The Chase format enables such gambling & sandbagging among top teams because of the greatly diminished down-side to the punitive measures & the points are reset for each Chase round. Nice version of reality Nascar. Nice try, but NO SALE!

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    Wow, someone who wrote it like it is as far as the chase coverage killing the interest in the sport. Good column IMO.

    And this is supposed to be in play thru 2024? Well good luck to NASCAR and the tv partners with that. Considering the continuing downhill slide in both attendance and ratings and now NASCAR is relegated to two “other ran” cable channels, plus Gordon’s retirement now being followed by Stewart, I just don’t see things “picking up” all that much for NASCAR.

    I do see that one commenter above liked the broadcast just the way it was and that’s fine, each to their own. Me, I used to tune in to watch the actual races and the broadcast used to be about that, but no more so for me, there is very little reason to actually watch them. You may be right that Dover might have been boring even w/o the Chase. Part of the problem with many races, including Dover, is the COT and Flintstone tires. I think NASCAR must be trying to kill off Martinsville, both of their race dates are now terrible. The spring race is to early and the fall race is too late. If they wait to start that race at 2:45, they MIGHT make it before it gets dark, assuming no major issues occur. Martinsville was always my favorite track, too, what a shame.

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      My comment about the Chase being in until at least 2024 is based on my assertion that the Chase is in the TV deal which we’re three-quarters of the way through Year No. 1 of. Of course, it could be changed (the Chase didn’t start until year No. 4 of the first series-wide TV deal), but I doubt it. 2015 was always going to be tough ratings-wise because of all the cable races.

      As for Martinsville, it’s supposed to start at 1:15. Regardless, November 1 is a little late for Martinsville. You’ll have another race where rubber can’t be laid down because the track temperature’s too cool, leading to tire failures. Despite that, I think the race will still be halfway decent. The distinctly southern crowd might not show up in the numbers that everyone would want to see though (I’d go, but I’ll be in Homestead three weeks after that (more to come on that front) and Martinsville’s close enough to Charlotte that I’d be the third or fourth person from Frontstretch on-site.)

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        well according to 2016 schedule they’ll be racing here in atlanta at end of feb. that past feb we had some of the coldest weather of the year at that time.

        2016 farmers almanac says south will be cold and wet this winter.

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        What will be the excuses for the ratings post-2015, when the 1.7-1.8 range could seem like the good old days if the ratings descent of the Chase era continues at its current pace?

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        Thanks for the clarification on the 2024 idea, Phil. You may be correct that it is tied to the tv deal but you know what, if the ratings continue like this, I can’t imagine it will be sustainable. At any rate, I’ll be done with NASCAR except as a casual fan once Gordon finishes the race at Homestead this year.

        Glad to hear about the start time for Martinsville, when ESPN had it they had moved the start time to almost 2 p.m. and that was too late IMO. I agree though about the temperatures for November. Have fun at Charlotte & Homestead. Wave to us!

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    Ratings for the ‘playoff’ races are consistently sliding down hill. How can Nascar claim that it is wildly popular when it is draining away viewers in record numbers? If the excitement is so high, why aren’t fans paying extra to get NBCSports channel and Fox Sports 1? because they have managed to make 2/3 of the season irrelevant, and alienated fans of any driver NOT in the playoff. Yet media continues to beat this dead horse, thinking they can create fans by limiting access to the actual race. All that does is make people turn away in droves. Again…look at the ratings and fannies in the stands. That’s not excitement.

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    Phil, This must have been a difficult column to write. The truck and Xfinicup series have somewhere around statistical zero viewers so coverage of the coverage is pointless. To make things worse the Cup booth elected to have an uninterrupted four hour conversation about Chase points rather than cover the actual race on the track. So, the coverage was for the two lower series irrelevant and for the Cup nonexistent. How in the world are you supposed to write a column about that?

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    I’m a gray haired curmudgeon when it comes to the Truman Show –err, modern nascar under BZF. I’m also an old aerospace systems engineer. If BZF cared to dip into his deep pockets, it’s certainly reasonable to build a modular SAFER barrier that traveled with each series. Tracks would then only have to have adaptor plates of some sort for easy installation / removal. The powers-that-be would pick from a “Chinese menu” of components (varying lengths / curvatures / etc) that’d fit each track. BZF would own the equipment & tracks would own the adaptor plate. It’d be marginally expensive to develop & really expensive to travel throughout the season. Heck it’d be cheaper just to build and install permanently….but that’s the point.

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      i thought after dan wheldon was killed at vegas that safer barriers were to be installed all around the track.

      i guess some racer will have to pay the ultimate price before na$car looks into keeping concrete walls safer. sooner or later the odds will prove out and it will be a horrible thing, knowing that safety should, but isn’t, #1.

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    hey Phil love your articles every Tuesday but please stop hating on the Chase I LOVE it its way better than before 2004 and even the old Chase before 2014 where either the champion was already decided 7-10 weeks before the season was up (BORING) and where in the old Chase you only had 1 or 2 contenders and I agree they should’ve parked Ogata Saturday night in the truck race he’s a Kyle Larson wannabe who has no talent

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      So you only watch to see the championship, huh? The individual races aren’t worth watching regardless of the championship picture? Do you watch many of the races before the chase starts?

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      Well to each their own, but I think this format makes the championship a cheap crapshoot and the tv coverage does a disservice to all of the race teams.

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      So Lee, I’d love to see an answer to the question: how many of the last 10 races of each season, prior to the Chase (either format), have you watched in your lifetime?
      Also, please provide your definition of the word “hate”.

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        Biff, yeah, using the word “hate” or “hating” to define something what they really mean is “you don’t agree with me” is particularly annoying.

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    Agree with you on all points, that why I cannot watch…maybe I will shortly but the past two weeks not even a peek…which is what it has been for sometime, not like it used to be…..

    I do wonder how some sponsors have hung on so long with this stupid format, seeing is believing..your driver if they are not in it are IGNORED and IGNORED big time. Bad business move by NASCAR, it has to bite them at some point.

    Tis always amazing the team that needs the “Hail Mary” in this case Junior is saved by a lowly (should not be in Cup) back marker of the same manufacturer. Another miracle. Jeez is NASCAR the new Lourdes? No offense intended. And it seems to me it was a no brainer as Jamie does not sell nearly the ballpark in merchandise that Jr. does. It is obvious who the sacrificial lamb would be. My two cents. I could not watch even with the sound off due what I knew would happen..and it did.

    The MIRACLE comeback/win and points driving. Script.

    Yes, I am sure somebody will tell me I am wearing my tinfoil hat again……….

    The Xfinity race was o.k. but I am damn sick of Regan Smith seeming so desperate in his pre/post race comments to Kelley and Rick to keep him on. As for the Sadler thing, yes I know people tell me it is about the money, but damum..what has Elliott done for anybody in a very long time? What team is left to take his sponsor check when the current team drains their bank account. Come on.

    Truck Race…Tis amazing these drivers keep finding the spots where NASCAR cheeps out and take the hard hits.
    Nascar step up! While I understand Kyle’s need to vent, it seemed to me on he rained on this guys parade. You know the need for attention at all cost…seems to run in his immediate famil…sorta speak. Wow, shocked JWT did it, congrats. I mean really shocked. 🙂

    I find it commendable that Brad K. (owner) had people wanting him to provide answers to Austin’s condition and he said “when he is ready he will tell you”. Nice. And he did. And you are right, the lifeline to us knowing what was going on with this injury dropped the ball big time.

    Phil, I do not participate in social media, but if I have a problem with ya..well I will tell ya… 🙂

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      it sso sad to see Elliott about the money really hope he doesn’t take over Chase’s ride as that ride should go to a more deserving young talent like Custer Ben Rhodes or even William Byron and to think Sadler was so happy about reuniting with Ford and Yates Engines 🙁