Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: FOX Gives Aric Almirola Wreck Proper Respect

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.

Go Bowling 400

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.

Aric Almirola leads a pack of cars at Kansas before being caught in a fiery crash later in the race. (Photo: Russell LaBounty /
NKP)

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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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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kb

Nope, she knew did not care. I am convinced. There is just no way she did not know. This is her shtick and she got burned by it, finally.

She was not the only one involved due to mechanical failure. Logano wasn’t exactly lounging in an Infinity pool on the shores of Waliea sipping a Mai Tai, while Aric was immobile and in pain. Aric wasn’t exactly lounging in a lounge chair by the Infinity pool with a cool towel press, a cool mist spray and a 20 dollar Mai Tai also! Get over yourself DP!

kb

“WAILEA”…freaking hate this keyboard! Run down to Office Depot is in order!

Kurt

I thought the race coverage for this race was terrible. The first (2) cautions were missed during commercials! And it’s hard not to miss a lead change when they only show the top 5 cars the entire night! I didn’t even know Brad Keselowski was in the race until he got towards the front at the end. I also wish Fox would figure out some consistency with their leader board display. There were many notable drivers in the rear of the field at different points but the scrolling ticker would rarely continue showing all 40 driver’s positions. It would reset after showing the top 10, then the top 17, the top 20, and then the top 25…sometimes even the top 7! 7? Really? It was never consistent.

And while the TV coverage of the wreck may have showed respect- I think DW could have stopped talking long enough for someone else to add proper commentary. It seemed to me he was “downplaying” the wreck by insisting that medical crews and rescue personnel were simply following protocol and safety procedures by cutting off the roof of the car and bringing in a back board. What? Multiple times he advised viewers that these were only precautions. Proper protocol would be Aric getting out of the car under his own power…meaning he was either pinned or injured. Just because the window net is down, DW, doesn’t mean the driver is alright. Maybe if he wasn’t in love with the sound of his own voice- he’d stop rambling every time he had an open microphone instead of relaying pertinent information.

Al Sorensen

Major concern re Aric’s wreck: I know this was a bizarre situation, but what if his car had caught fire like Patrick’s? How does NASCAR intend to alleviate that situation? Is there a solution to that possible nightmare?

BillNASCAR24@aol.com

The cars used to have a fire extinguishing system. I haven’t heard them mentioned in years but I remember drivers talking about how hard it was to breathe after they used them (the powder would get in their lungs) and remember seeing a couple go off back in the late 90’s or early 00’s. So, do they still have those in the cars? (I’d hope so)

Sol Shine

I like the format for this column and what it covers. A lot of detail in here on things I missed completely. Fills in some blanks and adds a lot of information. Nicely done!

Your mention of Bestwick was interesting, I like him a lot and I think he is probably the best person doing that job today. I also like Mike Joy, but Bestwick is better. If they would just get Jaws off of the broadcast and get Gordon to lose the nasally whiney voice things would be better. Gordon often has decent commentary, but oy vay that voice at times is annoying.

rg72

Bestwick was swept up with the mass ESPN layoffs but staying on through the Detroit Indy Car doubleheader the first weekend of June. I guess he could be some type of free agent depending upon the non-compete clauses in his severance agreement with ESPN.

Tom B

I don’t think DP knew the condition of AA. Her car in a ball of fire came to a stop far from the other two cars. If she looked up there, she saw all the window nets were down. Joey was actually there to see AA in pain. Incidentally, no one came rushing over to see if DP might of been on fire physically. I can understand her composure after vacating that inferno. Once again, someone takes her out with a big time hit. This time she was in a ball of fire instead of hitting head on into a wall at 200 mph. It gets to be old sh*t after a while. Besides, that’s what these interviews are really all about, let’s get the driver to sound like a jerk after a big crash.
The fact that nobody wants to address is, why AA hit them a full speed after the yellow lights were displayed. The replay shows the back end of his car coming around in turn one. Instead of locking it down, he accelerated, trying to save it and hit them at full speed. A poor choice to do when the yellow flag is out.
Haters are going to hate DP. And I kind of get it. Usually it’s envy and resentment She should get out before it gets terminal, because they will keep pounding on her.
All of the commentators make huge mistakes every week. Mike Joy calling the 21 car Trevor Bayne several times for one. I don’t think they watch the track, just the little monitor in front of them. But, it is not an easy job to do. Just try it sometime. I think two people calling the race is enough. One professional commentator and a retired driver. I like Phil’s analysis every week. The broadcast should be critiqued. Maybe someone can learn something and improve themselves. So far I don’t think the powers to be are reading this.

kb

Ah no… that is not what happened. He did not accelerate to accelerate, he ran over debris that cut the brake line. And fluids on the track from the other cars. He did not accelerate.

I very rarely IF EVER mention her, she is not worth it. You can go back and check my comments, I cannot remember the last time I gave her a valid though. Funny how the argument in her “defense” is somebody is always “jealous”, that is the most juvenile and moronic statement! Nobody is jealous, just calling out the truth. And I do not for a minute believe the IN Care center is a bastion of silence and NOBODY was apprised of what was going on regarding Aric.

Nope, people are giving her shit and rightfully so because her interview was just so shockingly self absorbed and void of any realities other than her own ego. But obviously she offended me and others, and we spoke out. Not jealous at all. Her self absorbed rant was made more obvious by Logano’s outward feelings towards his fellow competitors, and her interview was babbling, lying, pointing fingers, the woes me routine etc. and only mentioned Aric as an afterthought because Jamie Little brought it up.

Tom B

Thanks for the info about debris cutting AA brake line. I did not hear anyone else say that but you. I don’t recall addressing my comments to you directly. So why the defense rant? I thought you, last year predicted the demise of Nature’s Bakery sponsorship. Kudos! I do think she is not competitive, along with 20 other current drivers and should get out. Please, what kind of world do you live in that has no ‘jealous’, a word I did not use. I’m just looking at this from a different perspective. Relax kb.

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