Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: NASCAR Audience Increases For NBC, Kansas

Kansas last weekend saw a couple of interesting races. Matt Kenseth probably should have won both of them, but was denied on both Saturday and Sunday. Of course, we all know that the 2003 champion is a little angry today, but he’ll get over it. Last weekend saw the Chase once again front and center on NBC.

Hollywood Casino 400

Sunday brought the Sprint Cup Series back out for the fifth race in the Chase. I was a little nervous for how the race would be covered after Charlotte, but I was hopeful that we would have a solid broadcast. What we got was a little better than Charlotte, but information-wise, it’s still lacking.

During pre-race coverage, NBC aired a piece where Steve Letarte talked to a number of crew chiefs (Todd Gordon, Adam Stevens, Cole Pearn, etc.) about how they manage their teams during the Chase. The takeaway here is that calmness appears to be key. Also, I couldn’t be a crew chief. I darn near damaged my own car Saturday because I nearly missed a state civil service test because I left the admission notice at home.

If you watched the ARCA race on Friday night on FOX Sports 1, then you noticed a number of tire problems, so much so that it made me think of the sidewall buckling issue that resulted in Bill Venturini crashing out of the 1995 ARCA 200 at Daytona (and the resulting angry interview with Bill’s wife and Wendy’s mom Cathy.) Thankfully, we didn’t have a race quite like that on Sunday, but Austin Dillon did end his day early due to a blown tire.

Dillon’s crash happened during a commercial and likely didn’t receive the attention that it deserved, given that Dillon was running a swell fifth at the time. We got a short replay while NBC was going to commercial after pit stops, then an interview with Dillon in the garage. Admittedly, fairly frugal.

NBC’s coverage of Dillon throughout the race Sunday was quite skimpy. Despite running all the way up to fifth, the No. 3 really didn’t get much coverage. I felt that he really snuck up on the leaders. Hadn’t really heard much out of him all day, then he shows up in the top five. 12 minutes later, he’s in the wall.

For the most part, NBC was good about making note of the drivers having issues with the wall. Also, they paid extra attention to the track cleanup efforts Sunday after last week’s stupidity in Charlotte. For what it’s worth, the extra work did seem to help.

The main topic of discussion coming out of Sunday was clearly the contretemps between Joey Logano and Kenseth late in the race. NBC was zeroed in on the two drivers in the 10 laps prior to the collision. You could tell that they were building up to quite the climax. Kenseth’s style of racing late is familiar to anyone who’s watched him since he moved to Joe Gibbs Racing. The driving as far onto the apron as possible, the haranguing of his spotter to get lapped traffic out of the way, it was all there.

In regards to the actual incident, it appears that no fault was given to Kenseth here. Instead, they laid full blame on Logano despite the fact that Kenseth’s move put Logano in the wall. They thought that Logano should have cut Kenseth some slack. I just don’t know about that. Given the circumstances, I don’t think Logano should have. I don’t believe that it was acknowledged that Logano ended up in the wall due to that move. As a result, I thought Logano was lucky to be able to hold on to win. Luckily, his car was not hurt as bad as it could have been.

Post-race coverage was once again focused in on the Chasers. Despite 10 drivers being interviewed, Jimmie Johnson couldn’t get any airtime until the last two minutes of the NASCAR America Post-Race show on NBCSN. Kasey Kahne, who tied his best finish of the year in fourth, got nothing at all. It appears that NASCAR is going out of their way to make sure that the Chasers are available for NBC at the end of the races for comment, but they’re doing so at the expense of other drivers who had great runs.

I still believe that the Chase is getting too much focus on the broadcasts at the expense of everything else that is going on. For example, Dillon’s tire failure occurred after 41 laps of green-flag racing. That’s not a full fuel run. I would have liked to see what the tires were looking like at the end of runs. While outside of Dillon, no one had a major failure, I feel like it’s still important to give the viewers an idea of what the teams are dealing with.

Kansas Lottery 300

Saturday afternoon saw the Xfinity Series take on Kansas Speedway. JGR’s Cup drivers dominated the show, leading every lap. Did NBCSN still put up a decent broadcast despite the uniformity at the front?

Countdown to Green’s primary piece was a look back on Brian Scott’s wedding to wife Whitney from early 2014. You might remember that his vows to Whitney and Whitney’s daughter, Brielle, ended up going viral for a time.

Turns out that Scott was up all night, nervous as heck, before his wedding and wrote the vows at 3 a.m. I can attest that it’s rather tough to produce good work that late at night. I’ll fully admit that I’ve done that for Frontstretch in the past. Scott admitted to being very satisfied with his ability to write decent vows at the last minute

Given the traditional “spend your final night apart” setup prior to the wedding, Whitney had no clue what Scott had planned for the vows. As a result, she was just as surprised as everyone else in attendance. Since then, the couple has added a son of their own and are living happily in North Carolina.

Outside of NASCAR, the wedding video is probably the only way that people who aren’t NASCAR fans would have heard of Scott. As a result, using the wedding footage is actually a good way to promote the Richard Childress Racing driver who is way overdue for a win. I thought that the piece was put together thoughtfully and was rather fun to watch. Admittedly, I’m not really the biggest proponent of viral videos. While I did know all about the video, what Scott did and how popular it was, I really hadn’t watched it. Also, for those of you who want more, Scott uploaded his full wedding video onto YouTube as well.

Saturday saw Leigh Diffey in the booth for the final time in 2015 and he did a decent job up there. I know that he’s an acquired taste for some viewers (my mom’s not a fan of racing in general, but she finds all of NBC’s racing commentators to be obnoxious, especially Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett), but I find Diffey to be solid. In addition to Jeff Burton (likely a bit nervous since his son Harrison was making his K&N Pro Series debut that evening in California) was Ray Evernham in a rare booth appearance. Evernham has come a long way since his somewhat stilted debut with ABC back in 2000. He can articulate his views a lot better now.

Much like on the Sprint Cup broadcast, the championship battle did take center stage. However, without a Chase in play, the race itself is a little more important. Having said that, Kenseth and Kyle Busch comprehensively stole the show. It didn’t take long for the leaders to put nearly three-quarters of the field down a lap, and NBCSN didn’t really do the best job of conveying that to the viewers. Yes, we have the ticker at the top of the screen, but much like in education, not everyone is a visual learner. You got to say what’s up as well.

The race for the win was a legitimately good race. I just wish an NXS regular was in there instead of Busch and Kenseth.

I felt that NBCSN could have done a better job in covering the Jennifer Jo CobbKorbin Forrister wreck that occurred during one of their NonStop segments. Yes, we got a replay, but the booth didn’t seem to know what the deuce happened to cause Cobb to hit the wall. In situations like these, I go to Twitter to see if I can find something. An update from the team posted to JJC Racing’s Facebook page indicated that Cobb’s car broke a truck arm and that pitched her into the wall. I know that Cobb is 1) Not exactly a big name in NASCAR and 2) Not a regular in the NXS, but that ultimately shouldn’t matter. My desire is for race broadcasts to be as complete as possible. Viewers also should have gotten some kind of an update on, or an interview with Forrister as well. I know he’s best known right now for his support of Donald Trump’s presidential run, but that doesn’t matter.

Post-race content was relatively short since the race ran up against the end of the timeslot. Viewers got the typical four interviews, but those interviews covered the two stories of the day (JGR kicking butt, and the championship). Drivers like Ryan Sieg did get some dap for his good finish (eighth), but not a whole lot else. Unfortunately, the big interview in post-race coverage (Regan Smith announcing that he’s leaving JR Motorsports at the end of the year) didn’t make the show due to time. I know time’s an issue, but I always like to see a more inclusive broadcast. If it takes throwing someone in the truck with a bunch of screens at his disposal (including timing and scoring), so be it. Smith’s interview not making the show was weak in retrospect, but sadly out of NBCSN’s control with live coverage from Notre Dame in waiting.  Knowing that it wasn’t an actual game, but a pre-game show that the XFINITY broadcast ran up against, I think NBCSN could have held off for a minute or two to get us the Smith interview before leaving for Indiana.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend is Talladega. Oh man. You know what’s at stake. Unfortunately, the Cup race this weekend is on NBCSN. Normally, this would be an opportunity to get Sprint Cup to a larger audience, but it coincides with Formula 1 racing in Texas. Ouch. Here’s your listings.

Tuesday, October 20

1 a.m. - 2 a.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*# (from October 19)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 19)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 19)
8 a.m. - 11 a.m.Monster Energy Cup: Las VegasFOX Sports 1*# (from October 17)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network

Wednesday, October 21

6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 20)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 20)
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR Scan all 43NBC Sports Network
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: Brands Hatch (GP Circuit)CBS Sports Network*/ (from October 18)

Thursday, October 22

6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 21)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 21)
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.K&N Pro Series West NAPA 150NBC Sports Network*/ (from October 17)

Friday, October 23

4 a.m. - 5 a.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*# (from October 22)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 22)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from October 22)
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of the United States Free Practice No. 1NBC Sports Network
12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.Off the Grid: TalladegaNBC Sports Network
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.K&N Pro Series West NAPA 150NBC Sports Network*/# (from October 17)
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.Camping World Truck Series Practice No. 1FOX Sports 1
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Practice No. 1NBC Sports Network
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of FujiFOX Sports 1*/# (from October 10)
3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of the United States Free Practice No. 2NBC Sports Network
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.Camping World Truck Series Happy HourFOX Sports 1
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Happy HourNBC Sports Network
5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.NASCAR Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
10 p.m. - 11 p.m.The Soup Invades NASCARE!

Saturday, October 24

3:30 a.m. - 5 a.m.FIA Formula E Championship: BeijingFOX Sports 1
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: Brands Hatch (GP Circuit)CBS Sports Network*/# (from October 18)
9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.Rolex Monterey Motorsports ReunionFOX Sports 1#
10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.Mobil 1's The GridCBS Sports Network
10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.Camping World Truck Series QualifyingFOX Sports 1
12:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.NCWTS SetupFOX
12:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of the United States Free Practice No. 3 and QualifyingNBC Sports Network
1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.Camping World Truck Series Fred's 250 Powered by Coca-ColaFOX
4 p.m. - 6 p.m.Sprint Cup Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.Off the Grid: TalladegaNBC Sports Network#
9 p.m. - 11 p.m.Sprint Cup Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network*#

Sunday, October 25

2 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.1979 Daytona 500: Pop-up StyleFOX Sports 1#
2:30 a.m. - 4 a.m.motoGP World Championship Grand Prix of MalaysiaFOX Sports 1
10 a.m. - 12 p.m.NASCAR RaceDayFOX Sports 1
12 p.m. - 2 p.m.NASCAR America SundayNBC Sports Network
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.Moto3: MalaysiaFOX Sports 2*
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: Brands Hatch (GP Circuit)CBS Sports Network*/# (from October 18)
2 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.Countdown to GreenNBC Sports Network
2 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.Mobil 1's The GridCBS Sports Network#
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.Moto2: MalaysiaFOX Sports 2*
2:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.F1 CountdownNBC
2:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500NBC Sports Network
3 p.m. - 5 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of the United StatesNBC
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.F1 ExtraNBC
6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.NASCAR America Post-RaceNBC Sports Network
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network
7:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network*#
8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.NASCAR Victory LaneFOX Sports 1
8 p.m. - 10 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of the United StatesNBC Sports Network*#
11:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network#

Monday, October 26

6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from October 25)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from October 25)
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from October 25)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR 120: CampingWorld.com 500NBC Sports Network*/# (from October 25)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.Off the Grid: TalladegaNBC Sports Network#

* – Tape Delayed
/ – Highlighted Coverage
# – Repeat Coverage

Remember that Kevin Harvick will be in the broadcast booth on Saturday afternoon for the truck race. Also, note that not all TV markets will be airing the Fred’s 250 Saturday afternoon. As we found out last year, some FOX affiliates are beholden to air college football. I will contact FOX Sports and see if any affiliates will be affected.

I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series race broadcasts from Talladega for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here on Frontstretch. For the Annex on Thursday, we’re going to take a look at NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN’s studio shown on Sunday nights that recaps Cup races. For next week’s Annex, we’re going to take a look at Friday night’s episode of The Soup on E! Why? According to a commercial I saw Sunday featuring host Joel McHale and Dale Earnhardt Jr., they’re “invading” Talladega. We’ll have to see just what that actually entails.

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.

About the author

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 the Super DIRTcar Series.

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Tis an amazing wonder to watch the media protect the “older guys”. Saint Matt never gets a breath of a bad words. Well because he is such as nice guy…you know as opposed to that horrible nasty younger guy. What the hell are these people thinking. And Matt being the veteran of many situation he created milked his academy award potential moment as the victim and he hadn’t a clue as to why that horrible Logano was so mean to him. Oh phullleeezze.

These same paid idiots have time and time again seen deliberate successful attempts with their bully like behavior and they studder a bit and say..well “Kevin missed breakfast this morning so it’s the other guys fault”…it’s dropped and the other guy gets a week of bad press. Nasty system. And shame on them. Then you have Stevie Blabbermouth Letarte giving Logano super intelligence figuring he was going to eliminate his competition all while he was concentrating on driving a hair width between him and the guy in front of him at almost 200 miles an hour. Give me a break! And those stupid comments among others have spawned a cottage idusty of other stupid people parroting the same thing. Jeez. Talk about the dumbing down of the sheep.


ROTFL, kb! Great post. While I’m not a fan of JLo, I am also not a fan of Matt the Brat. I do think that some of the drivers are more of a “bully” than others and the media plays on it depending on how much mileage they think they can get out of it.

since my fav wasn’t involved, I can sit back and enjoy all of the ruckus but I know that it burns when it is your guy who is being castigated.


The whole thing is just silly. Some are made to wear halo’s when they clearly are not worthy and then anybody else…well you seen it. Strange stuff. :) :)


One other though if I may. The older guys are getting older. The only young guy to come along in some time and prove his mettle and challenge is Logano. And mostly he is treated like it is a horrible thing. It is not. There is a pack of very potential competitive youngsters coming up the ranks…a few but not all. It would be a wise move for the powers in the media not to over inflate the young ones coming in as they do all to frequently, but when they mix it up with the older guys and the older guys get bested because “it’s racing”, don’t demonize the younger driver and stop making all around excuses for the older guys. Stick to the facts, stop manufacturing drama. And, shut up a lot of the time. The bias is bad, and not professional. I know it sounds vague, but I am sure some of you notice what I write about.


remember when logano was coming up, he was the “next greatest thing since sliced bread”. his first few years at gibbs in the 20 were trying at times.

i fear the same will happen with chase elliott….high expectations with the elliott name and going into the 24 ride. chase has ran decently in xfinty but hasn’t set the world on fire this year. his few cup starts were barely mentioning.


I remember Janice…they gave him a hard time. But I do think that Chase Elliot will not get the same treatment. I feel he is driving a Chevy, his Dad is a Nascar legend and he drives for Rick. I think it will be interesting to see how it goes down. But they do need to stop the suck up stuff of the “Royalty” at what point do these guys call the older guys out? Haven’t really seen it yet, and there has been some bonehead moves.

Bill B

Yeah, that whole “sliced bread” thing really worked against him IMO. You are nothing when you enter a new series until you prove you are something.
Fans don’t like being told how great someone is and having the media continually treat them like a star until they actually have results that warrant such attention (see Danica).


See Kyle Larson. See Eric Jones. See PR fluff trying to disguise an increasingly uninteresting product.


Yup, Randy Lajoie gave him that nickname. He didn’t like it, but it took a life of it’s own. That nickname was a setup for failure and scorn. It certainly did create a problem. But the media kept at it, as they do everything else.


Are you lagon’s dad, or just fan club president?


Neither, just noticing the way the press treats some and anothers. Being the youngster out on the Sprint Cup circuit, it is a fascinating thing to watch…Myself and others notice..and I think it gets overlooked most of the time. And their is always bias…


They might not broadcast the truck race in all markets! Who saw that coming? Imagine not broadcasting an event just because nobody cares about it. If the truck series was a television show it would have been cancelled by now. But I’m sure NASCAR is on top of the situation. More Toyota’s and more Cup drivers, that will turn it around. That’s the ticket!


Kick mikey out of the booth and I might tune in to the trucks more often but I am not willing to subject myself to that moron for multiple races.

Bill W.

GinaV24, I’am with you on Mikey. He has got to be the most phony and obnoxious person in any tv broadcasting booth, except for the other Waltrip.

Bill B

Also stop letting cup guys (I’m looking at you Kyle Busch) steal the thunder and money from the series.


YES to all of the above. Bill B, Bill W, GinaV24, and JohnQ.

Phil Allaway

It’s not because no one cares about it. Last year, the Greensboro, NC market (I think) didn’t get the race on FOX. If you’ve seen NASCAR ratings by TV market, they clearly care. It’s essentially NASCAR’s highest rated market. However, their FOX affiliate had a contract that required the football on Saturdays.


Seriously Phil! If There was even the slightest interest in the Cup World Toyota Series you can bet that with 200 or so channels and all that time to fill, some one would broadcast it. The truck numbers are so low that they hardly register. The series is dead. NASCAR killed it.

Phil Allaway

In situations that I described above, the race coverage could be shifted to a subchannel, or even placed on another over-the-air local channel. In recent years, the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte was a bit of a problem because of ABC affiliates pre-empting the race for various reasons including newscasts. Last year’s situation was just a perfect storm of events running long. We’ll see what happens.


Who can forget the last few years of the ABC/ESPN contract when preseason NFL games either pushed the Bristol night race up the dial or in some markets, couldn’t be seen at all if there was no backup channel? The race that used to be can’t miss TV became can’t find TV.


There was a segment on Fox Business this morning this morning saying that ticket sales would soon no longer be the largest revenue generator in sports. Rather media rights would be the prime source of dollars. Seems like Brian was ahead of the curve on that one.


No TV, no NASCAR. Mr. France better be careful though. No fans, no TV,……..see where this is going.


Brian caught a break this time around with two networks looking to fill air time for fledgling cable sports networks. Don’t see that happening next time around.


You have a problem with Toyota’s ?,


oh and does anyone think that possibly a few more eyeballs were on the Cup race because it was on a channel that most people actually have w/o having the shell out more $?


to most folks that would be a sure thing….but of course to na$car they’re going to see it as “increased viewership”.

remember, na$car things we’re stupid and gladly drink the kool aid that they hand out.

what they need to do is find a way to measure the % of households where the tv’s are on the channel with the race, but there’s no one actively watching, just catch a few minutes here and there when someone walks into the room where the tv is located.


Yes why did NBC even bid to broadcast NASCAR RACES if they didnt want to show them on thier main network that everyone get Why cant nascar do something about it. instead of thier secondary network NBCSN.


Harold, maybe before commenting, do some research , do you know why NBC has most of their NASCAR races on NBC/SN?, and do you know why they wanted to get the rights for NASCAR?, they are using NASCAR to help grow that network, same thing that FOX is doing with FS1/2, they are using NASCAR to help grow those networks.

NASCAR agreed to this deal, NASCAR knew what NBC was going to do before the any ink was put down.


The ratings were up from cable last year but were the lowest chase race on broadcast and the lowest of any broadcast race since at least 2004 (courtesy sports media watch).

Did you see what will be on NBC proper instead of Talladega and Martinsville (2 of the best races in the chase IMO)? US Grand Prix and Mexican Grand Prix!


That just shows you what NBC thinks about NASCAR!!!!


I think somebody should have put a muzzle on Brain “The Sheriff” Vickers this weekend. He of all people in what he said. My goodness I remember his momentary lapses of sanity in more than one race. He seemed to have completely lost his mind and looks like a visit to the The Shady Acres Sanatorium for ones needing a rest was in order. Lol. Brian, come on man. Look in the mirror and stop the hypocrisy. Bahahaha.

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