Ah yes, the classic wreckfest. Ever since Kansas Speedway was reconfigured in 2012, wrecking has been a regular presence. This weekend, both races had more than their share of wrecking.
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Obviously, the biggest story to come out of Saturday night was the huge crash involving Aric Almirola, Joey Logano and Danica Patrick on lap 200. The wreck itself was caught from multiple angles, including the roof cam on Logano’s car.
FOX gave the situation the proper respect that it deserved. Everyone understood that the situation was fairly serious. It is the kind of thing that NASCAR fans aren’t really used to these days thanks to all of the safety innovations that have come about in recent years. Having covered events live where drivers have been in serious crashes (most notably last year at Lime Rock), it is the uncertainty and fear that just gets you right in the gut.
Everyone seemed to be legitimately concerned…except for Patrick. She was upset that she got taken out from what was her best run of the year. I can understand her anger. If you got right-reared at 203 mph, you’d be upset too…assuming that you walked away from the crash.
I knew she was upset when she got out of her car. She had that stompy thing going that we’ve seen out of her before. Then, she confronted Logano much like the time she confronted Denny Hamlin last year after the Sprint Unlimited.
In her post-care center interview (which I’m honestly surprised that she consented to), she basically ranted about Logano the whole time. It appears that either she did the interview without knowing about Almirola’s situation, or that she was too angry to care. For the sake of the situation, I’m leaning towards the former here, but a number of fans are going the other way.
I thought that Jeff Gordon did a great job here. He was the first to notice the hole in the hood flap and equated that to a broken brake rotor. Failures such as that are crazy in general. Sam Hornish Jr. had a brake pad fly out of his No. 77 Dodge after the checkers at Texas back in the fall of 2010. The pad apparently flew over the catchfence, broke a window on The Speedway Club and struck a man in the chest. At the time, I was somewhat hesitant to believe the story because it sounded like something out of a movie.
As the wreck coverage continued, updates were slow in coming since it took so long to get Almirola out of the car. Admittedly, that had me a little more worried than I probably needed to be, but you have to be understanding here. You don’t want to screw up that reporting. You do that and bad things happen.
At the very end of the broadcast, FOX Sports 1 showed some still photos of Almirola at the scene of the crash. In them, you could see that Almirola was in a bunch of pain. There has been a discussion as to whether FOX Sports 1’s decision to air the photos was appropriate or not. Personally, I’m not sure. Yes, it did drive home the kind of pain that Almirola was in and why he could not get out of his Ford Fusion on his own. However, the photos could be considered shocking or prurient to some.
I found that FOX Sports 1 did have some good shots to help viewers understand things. For instance, Logano dropped like a rock early in the race due to a tight condition. Later on, a close-up of Logano’s car indicated that his nose was detaching from the splitter, allowing air to get in-between. Yeah, that would definitely cause some handling issues.
There were a couple of issues during the broadcast. The biggest of those was Mike Joy almost screwing up the lap count and calling Kyle Busch as the winner of the first stage one lap early. You have to be very careful about that. As long-time readers of this column remember, that is more or less what got Marty Reid fired from ESPN in 2013.
Luckily, Joy stopped himself from screwing up. Also, Joy doesn’t have anywhere near as much of a track record of screwing up as Reid did. I’m reminded of what Allen Bestwick told me back in 2009 in regards to those situations.
“When words come out of your mouth, there’s no backspace, and no spell check,” Bestwick said at the time. “There it is, world. Consume it [the information].”
Also, there were a number of drivers who were dealing with vibrations on Saturday night. Some of them resulted in unscheduled pit stops (Ex: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). I wouldn’t be shocked if they led to the tire failures that we saw last weekend. The tire issues were reported on, but not reported on. We didn’t get a good look at tire wear all night. Granted, that was probably because of the fact that we didn’t have a full round of green flag pit stops all night thanks to 15 cautions.
Regardless, I think that FOX should have looked at these vibrations a little closer than they did. It ultimately played a big role in the race. One of those vibrations led to the aforementioned huge crash.
Finally, I do think that there was a good amount of on-track action for position. This was actually a pretty good race to watch…in between the wrecks. According to my notes, there were no missed passes for the lead. We saw them all on-track (or in the pits). There seemed to be more variation in lines Friday night than during the Cup race, though.
Also, the official time for the race was 3:24, but it was nearly midnight here in Upstate New York when the checkers flew. Can’t do much about 15 yellows in a race, two of which didn’t need to happen.
Since the race ended roughly an hour behind schedule, post-race coverage went right into NASCAR Victory Lane. Here, viewers got five post-race interviews, a review of the race and a check of the points. Admittedly, a rather slender show.
I actually feared that the baseball game immediately prior to NASCAR RaceDay was going to run long and eliminate pre-race coverage. However, that did not come to pass.
Pre-race had fairly little to offer in just a half-hour of coverage. Patrick talked about her Wonder Woman scheme (Note: I actually liked that scheme) and the OneCare sponsorship she had, while Larry the Cable Guy was himself (I thought the hat Larry was wearing was a Piedmont Airlines hat in addition to his 1997 Dick Trickle t-shirt, but it was actually a Dinoco hat. It just looked like Piedmont Airlines’ logo from a distance). On Saturday, the blue-collar comedian admitted that he originally planned to riff on Kyle Busch in his command before being talked out of it. That would have been interesting. Note that Larry the Cable Guy noted in the article that he was sure that Kyle would not have been offended in any way.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has the Monster Energy All-Star Race, a race that never has the same format twice these days. In other words, it is the Lady Gaga of racing. The Camping World Truck Series will serve as primary support.
In addition, the Verizon IndyCar Series has two days of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Finally, Pirelli World Challenge is back in action at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park with all the classes in action.
I will provide critiques of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series races from Charlotte in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. For the Critic’s Annex in the Newsletter, I’ll be covering Friday night’s Toyota Tundra 250 from Kansas Speedway. The original plan was to cover the truck race here and last weekend’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis in the Annex, but that INDYCAR race might have been the most boring race that I’ve watched in five years. Also, stuff happened on Saturday night. I’ll cover the truck race properly in the Newsletter. Ben Rhodes will get his proper due.
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. 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.
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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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