The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series took last weekend off. Despite that fact, there was still plenty of action to keep you occupied. The Xfinity Series traveled to Road America, while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series spent the weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario. Today, we’ll focus on the truck racing in Canada.
Ever since FOX Sports stopped sending their booth commentators to all of the races, there have been a number of events that have been under-served by coverage. The series’ sole visit to Canada was one of those races.
Before we get to that, we must talk about the network’s coverage of the ongoing Tyler Dippel mess from Sunday. Since the race was completed, we’ve gotten a whole bunch of clarity about this situation. At the time of the race, we didn’t have that information at our disposal.
Naturally, the notion of one of the series regulars getting indefinitely suspended the day before practice started was going to be big news. NASCAR said nothing as to why he was suspended and technically (as of this writing) still hasn’t given any specifics.
It was this environment that Todd Bodine waded into. He came out and stated that “this was strike three” for Dippel and indicated that he had been involved with some off-track issues. At the time this aired, none of that was public. The closest thing that could have counted as a strike that would have been public knowledge was the whole mess at Eldora with Ben Rhodes. However, I think it would be disingenuous on the part of NASCAR to give Dippel demerits for something that they’re just going to take and use to promote next year’s Dirt Derby.
It appears that Bodine had some more knowledge of the situation that was not public and used that knowledge to put together his opinion. The tone was quite harsh, harsher than I can recall for almost any driver’s actions in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series this side of Kyle Busch wrecking Ron Hornaday at Texas.
The issue also sparked a substantial discussion among the writers and editors here at Frontstretch. What was the proper way to handle this situation, not knowing what we know now? The sentiment was mixed. A couple of writers thought it shouldn’t have been mentioned at all. Had they taken that direction, it would have cast a shadow over all of NASCAR RaceDay – NGOTS Edition.
Others thought they should have simply made note of it quickly, then dropped it. That is essentially what NASCAR RaceHub did after Brian France got arrested last year, burying it while trying to keep the focus on Chase Elliott‘s victory. It was not well received. NASCAR America went the other way and dedicated a substantial amount of their Monday show to the arrest and the implications for NASCAR.
I thought that the situation needed to be addressed on the show like it was, but I think Bodine may have gone too far without the knowledge we now have. If this had aired Monday, then Bodine would have been fine to do what he did since it sounds like his comments were justified.
Problem is, Bodine’s comments were the first that most people had heard about potential issues surrounding Dippel. Yes, he had the confrontation with Rhodes at Eldora, but everything else seemed to come out of nowhere.
That said, Bodine’s words are accurate. You can’t just go screw around. I know I’m going to sound like Mr. Adler from South Park, but you can’t just do whatever you want. There are people at Young’s Motorsports dependent on Dippel (along with Gus Dean and whoever will be in the No. 20 for the rest of the season in addition to Spencer Boyd) for their livelihood. It is wrong to deny those people their incomes because you couldn’t keep it together.
Much of the rest of pre-race coverage was focused on the previous last-lap shenanigans and the playoffs itself. Viewers didn’t really get that much of a race preview.
During the race, I noticed some technical issues with my feed on FOX Sports 1. The screen would intermittently freeze early on in the race. Luckily, this issue seemed to go away as the race continued on. I have experienced this on two different TVs, though. None of my Frontstretch colleagues experienced this issue. If you did, by all means, comment below.
In the race, I felt that the camera shots were a bit substandard. It seemed like the shots were late. Really quite strange. At times, it reminded me of some of the ARCA broadcasts that we’ve seen this year. Not good for a national-level NASCAR series. Also, the booth commentators not being on-site meant that they seemed a little lost at times. Yes, calling a race at CTMP is nothing like calling a race at Pocono since you can’t see all that much from the booth. There’s just no substitute to being there.
The actual racing on Sunday was not all that bad. Brett Moffitt was pretty much in a league of his own, though. Toward the end of the race, the focus was on a pack of drivers a little further down the order including Ross Chastain, Tyler Ankrum, Johnny Sauter and more. That was some good action for viewers, including quite the moment for Ankrum and Chastain after contact in turn 1.
With a dearth of shenanigans (DJ Kennington getting dumped from 14th aside), the race ran short. As a result, there was a bunch of post-race time. FOX Sports 1 filled that time with five post-race interviews, along with checks of the points and unofficial results. I didn’t particularly like the driver interview breakdown since it skewed heavy on playoff drivers despite only two of them finishing in the top five. Just because we’re in the playoffs shouldn’t change how a race is broadcast.
Also, in regards to Kennington getting taken out by Austin Wayne Self on the last lap, there had to be something more to that. I just couldn’t tell you because we really didn’t see either driver much all day.
Overall, Sunday’s broadcast had some good moments on-track, and a quirky moment courtesy of former FOX Sports Live co-host Dan O’Toole. You had a tough situation to tackle in the Dippel situation. Bodine did not shy away from the challenge. I honestly like to see that. Problem is, being gung ho can cause problems. I’m operating under the opinion that Bodine was fine to go there Sunday (from the dudes at FOX Sports), but he went into territory that really wasn’t public knowledge at the time. Basically, a grey area.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is Throwback Weekend. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series will be back in action at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The weather is currently forecast to be near 90 degrees and humid. In other words, normal Darlington weather for Labor Day weekend.
The NTT IndyCar Series will be at Portland International Raceway for an assault on the short Oregon road course. Meanwhile, it is a busy weekend in the world of sports car racing. The FIA World Endurance Championship will kick off the 2019-20 season at Silverstone in England with the European Le Mans Series on the undercard. Finally, SRO America is back in action with Blancpain GT World Challenge America headlining at Watkins Glen in their first races since early June. TV listings are in the Television tab.
We will provide critiques of the Cup and Xfinity races from Darlington in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. For the Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter, we’ll have a look at Saturday’s CTECH Manufacturing 180 from Road America, in addition to Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 from World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
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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