Pocono Raceway is a tough place for creating exciting racing. The current rules package rendered the race as a bit of an unknown. Those that watched last year’s Pocono Green 250 for the Xfinity Series got a taste of what they were in for.
Once again, the rulse package played a huge role in what viewers got to see on Sunday (June 2). The overall action was not particularly exciting for much of the race.
The restarts were fairly interesting. You got to see some fanning out, but not all that much. Drivers such as Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. were more than willing to press their luck on fanning out, but everyone else really kept themselves in line.
Everything that has been written about the race indicates that it was extremely difficult to pass. That was the least of the problems Sunday. It was difficult for drivers to even get to each other in order to attempt to pass. The tall rear spoilers and aero ducts effectively eliminated the possibility of the draft working. You could sweep past someone that got stalled out, but once the field spread out, that was highly unlikely.
What dis that all mean for the broadcast? It meant that FOX Sports 1 didn’t exactly have a lot of great action to show. There were some side-by-side battles from time to time, but not too often.
Having said that, if there is a lead change under these circumstances, they would do well to acknowledge it. The booth failed to acknowledge Clint Bowyer snatching the lead away from Kyle Busch on lap 73 (this was on the restart right after Corey LaJoie’s crash) for two full laps. Yes, there was other stuff going on, but I don’t understand why they chose to ignore it. Just 25 seconds after acknowledging it, Busch swept back past on the outside in turn 3.
With a dearth of on-track action to show, FOX Sports 1 should have taken the opportunity to cover as many stories as possible. They don’t really do a good job of that under normal circumstances, and Sunday was not really any different. It just looks worse than normal since there was so little action. You have to give the viewers something to look at. Otherwise, it was just plain unexciting to watch.
I also noted a couple of positive changes during the broadcast. FOX now has full field rundowns during the side-by-side commercials and Crank It Up segments using the FOX Box. Sunday was the first time I really got a good look at the setup, and I actually like that better than the pylon. The previous FOX Box setup from 2017 was clunkier than they have now, and the current setup really works well.
Also, FOX Sports 1 introduced a new wrinkle for the scoring pylon that shows positions gained or lost. On Sunday, this was only used after the first lap following restarts. Given Sunday’s race, maybe this wasn’t the best use of the setup, but it is intriguing. That used to be done with a small box that highlighted a collection of drivers. Now, it covers the entire top 20. As a result, it is far more comprehensive.
I did notice some technical issues early on with the feed, which cut out a few times right before Austin Dillon had his wreck. Not sure what was going on there. In situations like that, I just assume that it was on my end, but if anyone else had those issues Sunday, by all means make note of it in the comments below.
Post-race coverage was decent in scope. Viewers got interviews with seven different drivers after the race, in addition to a check of the points and post-race analysis. Much of those interviews talked about the aforementioned difficulty in regards to passing.
Prior to the race, FOX Sports 1 aired an interesting one-on-one interview that Jamie Little conducted with Chip Ganassi in his Pittsburgh-area home. The piece started out with Ganassi simply stating, “I like winners.” If you’re reading this, then you probably see him tweet that every now and then. Heck, he even has a hashtag for it.
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) May 20, 2019
For Ganassi, this is a simple mentality of life for him. He’s not a fan of the whole “everybody gets a trophy” thing.
For me, the most interesting part of the piece didn’t get a lot of time here. That was when the whole DC Solar mess came up. The DC Solar raid/bankruptcy seems to have affected Chip Ganassi Racing far more than anyone thought. Ganassi made reference to deferring contractual payments to his drivers in the interview, but did not elaborate. He says everything will be back to normal in a year or so. Perhaps Ross Chastain will get another chance with the team once they’re ready to return to the Xfinity Series.
Honestly, I would have liked for Little to go into a little more detail with Ganassi on the DC Solar issue. Perhaps he couldn’t really do that due to legal issues. Perhaps it got cut out. It struck me as interesting and I wanted to know more.
Finally, the Darrell Waltrip retirement tour is in full swing. Prior to the race, a piece aired where Waltrip drove his chrome golf cart around the track and talked about the memories that he’s had at the scalene triangle. For the most part, this piece concerned things that happened during his TV career. The exception seemingly was Davey Allison’s infamous crash from 1992.
Also, for some reason, he drew a blank while trying to reference Saturday winner Cole Custer right before the race. It’s like he outright forgot the man’s name and tried to call him Cole Trickle. I guess they’re about the same height. I know Waltrip hasn’t called a race in the Xfinity Series since 2006, but he would have done well to better familiarize himself with the up-and-coming future stars of the sport. It’s only proper.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is the first split weekend of the season for NASCAR’s National Series. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series will be at Michigan International Speedway with the ARCA Menards Series competing on Friday. Meanwhile, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series will be at Texas Motor Speedway for their second visit of the year, supporting the NTT IndyCar Series.
In addition, Formula 1 will be in Montreal for the Grand Prix of Canada. Finally, SRO America’s series will be at Sonoma Raceway in California for some action. The TC America series will rejoin the fray after sitting out the weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. TV listings are in the Television tab.
We will provide critiques of the Cup and Xfinity races from Michigan in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The Critic’s Annex Thursday will cover Saturday’s Pocono Green 250.
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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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