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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: Postponed Races Are Nightmares to View

Rainouts are always difficult for anyone to deal with. NASCAR (and seemingly every major sport) pitches it as an opportunity for fans to use mobile solutions in order to follow the race if they can’t watch at home. In reality, a good percentage of workplaces have cracked down on those types of solutions in recent years.

I couldn’t watch the race live because I was at work. Something like FOX Sports GO would be blocked on my work computer. Surprisingly, NASCAR.com’s live leaderboard was not (for comparison purposes, I can’t check live timing for IMSA at work because that’s blocked).

At my job, there’s literally about five or six of us that follow NASCAR. We all had to use our own methods in order to keep up with the race.  In my case, it was a combination of NASCAR.com’s leaderboard and the SiriusXM app. Let’s face facts: It’s just not the same without moving pictures, no matter what you think about the on-air personalities.

In past years, the spring race at Dover has been run in support of autism awareness. While that was not in the name of the race this year, the support continues. A feature aired about Christian Sanchez, a 17-year-old out of California who is on the autism spectrum. We learned about how Sanchez was not necessarily the best student in school but could thrive when his fandom of NASCAR could be tapped to help him learn. Quite interesting to see.

We saw Sanchez travel to Fontana for the Auto Club 400 to hang out with Daniel Suarez. It made for an interesting weekend, one spent hanging out on the grid, asking questions (at one point, Sanchez point blank asked Suarez what the deuce was going on with his battle royale with Michael McDowell the previous weekend at ISM Raceway), seeing the sights and watching Clint Bowyer goof off.

For Sanchez, going to Fontana, taking in the sights and spending time with his favorite driver was a bit of a sensory overload. Regardless, it was pretty clear that he had the time of his life.

Other points of interest here included the recollection of a harness race held for publicity at Dover Downs in 1980 in which Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough raced each other in a trotter race. I already knew that such a race occurred, but what I didn’t realize is that Allison apparently brought in a ringer horse to stomp everyone.

The rain in Dover resulted in a different kind of pre-race.  Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Adam Alexander spent their pre-race in the driver’s meeting tent, while Michael Waltrip spent time interviewing drivers in the coach lot.

We also got some discussion about building model cars. Apparently, Mike Joy found a two-pack of Darrell Waltrip models (the Mountain Dew Buick from 1982 and the 1983 Pepsi Challenger scheme) in a secondhand store and bought it.

After Sunday’s rainout, the action started at high noon on FS1. NASCAR apparently started things a little later than it expected, but we finally got some racing.

Brad Keselowski’s fueling issue just before halfway could have really hurt his effort. Ultimately, it did not. Handling woes did. There was a bunch of conjecture about whether he could make it to the end of the stage. Why not have the assigned pit reporter ask Paul Wolfe about it?  The people at MRN Radio did and had Dillon Welch notify listeners about it. Why can’t FS1?

The racing for position that viewers got to see on Monday was not half bad at times but lacked at others. As you can imagine, probably the best action of the day was toward the end of stage two when Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. were going at it. You had multiple lines in use and it was great to watch.

Outside of that time period, especially toward the end of the race, that was lacking. However, that was not really the fault of FS1. The field really spread out over the final run of the race. Going 131 consecutive laps without a caution will spread the pack out quite a bit, and that seems to happen quite a bit at Dover these days. We’re a long way from antics like the last couple of years when the track was still asphalt, and 500-mile races took nearly five hours.

Post-race coverage was relatively short given the four-hour time slot given to the event on FS1. The race ended with enough time for a bunch of post-race coverage up until 4 p.m. I can’t actually say for sure that FS1 officially considered that to be the slot for the race because the network no longer puts its TV listings on its website. Apparently, that simple act apparently requires writers, which to its own detriment, it no longer has.

Regardless, viewers only got interviews with the top three finishers (Truex, Bowman and Kyle Larson), along with a points check. There was also a brief amount of analysis before FS1 left Dover for an episode of Speak for Yourself.

Was this broadcast enjoyable to watch? At times, yes.  There was some good racing to be had. I still think that the focus was too narrow, especially once Truex and Bowman got up front.

I crave information during races. I cannot be alone with that opinion. Give me as much as possible. FS1 needs to make better use of its pit reporters. Their on-air role has seemingly been reduced over the past year or so, and I can’t see how that could possibly benefit the broadcasts. It’s as if they want the broadcasts to be more of a personality-driven affair that doesn’t care about being informative. That’s not a good move and won’t do anything to help people learn about the sport. The Virtual Cutaway car pieces are more or less the lone exception to that rule.

Next weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for a night race. This has traditionally not been the most exciting race on earth, but strange things tend to happen. Aric Almirola’s crash with Joey Logano and Danica Patrick in 2017 is a good example of that.

The Cup teams will be joined there by the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Meanwhile, the NTT IndyCar Series will be at Indianapolis for the INDYCAR Grand Prix, and Formula 1 will travel to Barcelona for the Grand Prix of Spain. Listings can be found in the television tab above.

We will provide critiques of the Cup and Truck races from Kansas in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. As for the Xfinity and Truck races from Dover, they will be covered in the Critic’s Annex later this week in the Frontstretch Newsletter. A secondary critique there will cover Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.

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.

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Matty

Just as an aside, while I was at work, I went to NASCAR.com punched up the in-car for the #4 and watched the entire race out of the front window of Harvick’s car. Very enjoyable & free.

Brian

I also watched part of the race with the various “in car” cameras available via the nascar.com running order.
Only issue I had was there was one labeled battle cam but was not showing many actual battles and the camera operator seemed to have an over fasciation with Erik Jones and the 20 car even though it was running “by itself” for many laps but caught glimpses of actual position battles in front of and behind him. This view also seemed to focus more on the middle to back part of the field and usually was not showing any “battles” within the top 10.
If it is labeled on the site a “Battle’ cam then actually be showing battles.

The corner cam which was situated outside of turn three so you could see cars off two and down the backstretch and then into turn 3 was interesting viewing as well. This really showed 1) how many different ways drivers/cars entered turn 3, and was very noticeable about how fast an actual lap at Dover is and how spread out the field gets about 4 laps after a restart. last running car literally goes out of frame just before or just after the leader pops off of turn 2.

Ken Smith

Getting tired of the Mike Joy / Jeff Gordon love affair with Chase Elliott! After the 2nd stage caution pit stops, they were talking about how smart he was to stop at the end of pit row for a second so he would start on the outside in 4th instead of inside in 3rd. Apparently they were not watching their monitors or they would have seen him screw it up, and actually came out in 3rd! To top it off, they expressed surprise when they saw him lining up in 3rd place for the restart! Can’t wait for NBC to take over.

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