Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: Kansas Speedway Brings Tire Woes, Jamie McMurray in the Booth

In the third series-wide TV contract, the month of May has become a cable month for NASCAR. It’s not exactly great for the NASCAR Cup Series as it lowers the series’ visibility, but it’s what we have.

Before we get started, film distributor Utopia announced Wednesday that it will have a new documentary about Kyle Busch entitled Rowdy that will debut at the end of June in Nashville. It will have a one-night theatrical run in selected theaters on June 29.

See also
'Rowdy,' a Documentary About Kyle Busch, Coming This Year: Watch the Trailer

The whole thing strikes me as being somewhat similar to Blink of an Eye, the film based on Michael Waltrip’s book, right down to the fact that Fathom Events is involved in the theatrical release. If the film is available locally in the Albany, N.Y. area, I intend on attending with pen and notebook in hand. Tickets go on sale Friday.

Sunday brought the NASCAR Cup Series to Kansas Speedway for its first visit of the year. The big story of the whole weekend surrounded the tires and the various failures.

FOX Sports acknowledged this issue early and often. During the “What About Bob?” at the start of NASCAR RaceDay, it was the top story of the week, as it should have been.

Problem is, that isn’t exactly sexy. It can get down to the nuts and bolts. For purists, that’s fine. Those who aren’t diehards might get turned off.

Of course, Darlington brought the gift to FOX Sports that was the Joey LoganoWilliam Byron spat. Is it over, or it is not? I don’t know, but it gave plenty of material for NASCAR RaceDay. We covered the story Friday after both drivers talked to the media in Kansas.

See also
Joey Logano, William Byron Agree to Disagree Going into Kansas

All I can tell you is that it was all for naught. Nothing really happened between the two of them all day, mainly because Logano crashed in practice (because of the aforementioned tire issue) and struggled for most of the day in a backup car before finishing 17th. I think they needed to cover it to a certain degree, but not as much as they actually did.

In regards to the tires, the tires seemed to fail (if they were going to) 20-25 laps into a run. Daniel Suarez, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell all had their failures in or around that time period. Larry McReynolds theorized that the teams started too low on air pressure. This would cause some internal issues in the tire. The cords could break inside. As air would build up, the broken cords could cause the failure.

In regards to Erik Jones’ wheel nut issue, I’m reminded of the 2004 Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. There, Miracle Motorsports had trouble for much of the race with getting the left rear wheel off. With four hours to go, it jammed up for the last time and they simply could not get the left rear tire off of their Lola B2K/40-Nissan. As a result, they had to drive the final four hours on the same left rear tire.

Back then, the LMP2 class was not particularly strong. Just finishing at Sebring was an accomplishment. They finished 16th overall and won the class by 16 laps while also dealing with transmission issues.

Unlike the Miracle Motorsports team, Jones’ pit crew was able to finally get the wheel off after what had to be a half-dozen pit stops. They used the air wrenches, a massive torque wrench, cutting tools and pretty much everything they could think of. Jamie Little got some good quotes from James Houk, Jones’ tire carrier, about the whole situation.

For Sunday, FOX Sports 1 had Jamie McMurray in the broadcast booth alongside Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer. The result was a bit of a mish-mash. It seems like McMurray wanted to be able to contribute as best as he could, but that Bowyer might have gotten in the way of him doing so. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t intentional on Bowyer’s part, but it appeared to me that they were working on different wavelengths.

As a result, Bowyer and McMurray together in a booth doesn’t really work. That said, I believe that McMurray would work well with Joy alone, or with a different analyst. McMurray is a generally low-key commentator. He’s not going to be the really flashy guy out there. He’s going to get in there, say his piece and contribute what he can, then get out and let Joy continue his play-by-play. As we all know, Bowyer is not that guy. He’s Mr. Bouncy Bouncy.

Doing the studio work for FOX Sports 1 over the past couple of years has made McMurray quite a bit more comfortable on television. I think he could do a lot more on television if he wanted to.

Racing-wise, how the race was to watch depended on where you were. Kyle Busch commented via radio after stage one that he found it very hard to pass since you had to run up high beyond the first few laps into the run. The broadcast did a decent job in finding battles on-track, but you could tell that the frustration was creeping in due to the tire failures.

The end of the race was actually quite exciting since Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson were clearly going for it. Honestly, you’re starting to see some of the old Larson coming out from when he was still driving for Chip Ganassi. He’d get excited late in races and hit the wall a bunch of times to take himself out of contention.

The action was quite fierce out there and had the battle for the lead gone on much further, Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin could have stolen the victory. I wish more fans were at Kansas Speedway to watch these battles as the grandstands sadly appeared to be pretty bare on the broadcasts (although I wasn’t there, so I can’t vouch).

With the cautions, the race ran right up against the 210-minute limit. Post-race coverage was rather brief as a result. Viewers got interviews with Kyle Busch, Larson and winning car owner Hamlin (barely). The broadcast was over and viewers shifted to NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series coverage from Virginia Motorsports Park before Kurt was even out of the car in victory lane.

Post-race wise, this was pretty bare bones. I’d like to see more post-race coverage. Perhaps this could be done on a combination of FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app, similar to what INDYCAR does with post-race shows on Peacock. Unlike NBC, FOX doesn’t have a general entertainment app at its disposal since Disney bought FOX recently. Hulu is the closest thing, but that’s tied to ESPN.

There were a fair number of stories that couldn’t get covered since FOX Sports 1 left Kansas within 10 minutes of the checkered flag. I feel that FOX Sports needs to do a little better job at covering the stories, but I believe it’s cut its on-site presence down enough (remember, it’s been using only two pit reporters for Cup races much of the season) that it would be difficult to pull off.

The broadcast ended up rather frustrating to watch due to the tire failures. This is something that NASCAR has to figure out because it’s hurting the product. If that means mandating minimum tire pressures, which I believe it’s done in the past at times, then do it.

I don’t think I’d want to see Bowyer and McMurray working together in the booth again based on what we saw Sunday. It was a mess, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault that it was a mess. Both men bring different things to a broadcast. They both have their place, but they don’t mesh.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend is All-Star Weekend for the NASCAR Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway. We’ll be back in the land of ridiculously convoluted stuff. Being able to properly explain this shenaniganry will be key.

Cup teams will be joined by the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The NTT IndyCar Series will be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, practicing and qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. The coverage there starts on Peacock today. Formula 1 will be back in action at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona in Spain, while SRO America will make its first visit to NOLA Motorsports Park. TV listings can be found here.

We will provide critiques of the action from Texas in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. For the Critic’s Annex, we currently plan to cover both the Camping World Truck Series Heart of America 200 and the ARCA Menards Series Dutch Boy 150 in separate columns.

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.

FOX Sports
NBC Sports

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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share this article

14 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bill B

I wish McMurray would stay and Bowyer leave. I have noticed that, as Bowyer has become more comfortable in the booth, he has started talking over the other two in the booth when they are in the middle of a sentence. Very rude.

What’s most exasperating about the lack of post-race coverage is how much time they waste on the pre-race “show”. Too bad they can’t cut the pre-race show by 30 minutes, start the race 30 minutes earlier, and have time left for the post-race show.

stubbscupseriesdotcom

The pre race shows for Bristol and Dega were really good.It brought back the old Speed pre race show and College GameDay feel which brought back a sense of atmosphere just watching on TV. NASCAR really felt like a whole event that everyone was watching for those two weeks….. and then back to the CGI studio. I’ve got nothing against Spake, Vincie, Adam Alexander, Bobby Labonte or whoever may be doing that show for a particular week, but it’s boring and flat. I can’t hardly even watch NASCAR Race Hub anymore because even though I like all of the people on the show, it doesn’t have the same feel as the Jimmy Spencer/Steve Byrnes show or even what Race Hub was 6 or seven years ago where half of their set wasn’t all CGI. If Fox would talk about the race at the track for an hour without all the goofy shenanigans, it would make the pre race show much easier to stomach.

johndawgchapman

For me, the absolute ideal booth parings, would be Mike Joy, Larry Mac, & Jamie Mac. With no Waltrip within a hundred miles of it.

Clint could run off some of his excess energy, by joining the pit road reporters. We already know he can run down pit road. Faux has shown it like 50 times, (so far.)

As for the coming race, I live for Sunday afternoons, & the occasional Sat nights. But this one would better serve the teams, as an off week. It’s the one race well maybe 2 if you throw in the clash. That I wouldn’t mind if I missed it.

Bob

Well if u would take waltrip and Boyer out to a field and tie them up it would be better for fox what a bunch of bad attempts at comedy

Two wasted weeks are the clash and “all star” race good picnic weekend with the family

Charlie

Thanks Phil. I haven’t watched more than 5 minutes this year. I do watch the NHRA and Indy series. Problem is the late start. I skipped Martinsville this year and only plan on attending the Charlotte races. I haven’t missed a May race since 1965 and a fall Charlotte race since 1963. The sport does not interest me. I do listen, and only when MRN covers it. The sport has always been manipulated by the France family, but it reeks of it lately. The will lose hard-core fans.
Also, Mike Joye has no credibility with me. I like the changes with different folks in the booth and Boyer is fun. Adam Alexander does a good job with Xfinity and I really Jamie Little with the ARCA series. If Fox wanted to be bold, switch she and Joye.
All Star Hype this week. good luck.

Kurt Smith

Jamie was decent, and I didn’t mind him at all in the booth. Of all the guest commentators this year, I felt like Chad Knaus was by far the best. He offered great insight, was well-spoken, and he was even humble admitting to some mistakes he made as a crew chief…which I can tell you from watching did not happen very often.

Clint isn’t terrible, but he gets on my nerves sometimes. I grow weary of hearing “I’m telling you man”. But that will never be as annoying as Boogity.

janice

i always think i see a different race. i enjoyed jamie mac in the booth. i guess i just tune bowyer out or something. jamie has come into himself with broadcasting. sure he’s not a hype person and doesn’t scream.

considering what the weather forecast was for kansas friday and very early sunday morning, they had chamber of commerce weather for the race. i really thought we’d be waiting til monday for the race. the pre-race stuff seemed to go on forever on sunday.

the all star race has lost it’s luster. used to be a million to the drivers was a crazy amount of money. i actually forgot it had moved and was thinking of heading to charlotte. glad i remembered. Tx is not a day trip from GA but of course over $4 for a gallon of gas puts the kabosh on all travel for me. oh no does this mean they’ll trot out bryson byrnes to carry the $1,000,000 in the briefcase with waltrip? wonder if tire issues will play into the all star race.

wildcats2016

I missed the race. After heavy rain on Saturday where I live, Sunday’s weather was really nice so I took advantage of it to be outside. I’ve never been that big a fan of the racing at Kansas.

Not a fan of Bowyer or any Waltrips in the booth. I like Jamie McMurray though.

Not going to rush out and buy tickets to see a documentary about Kyle Busch. Nope, not going to waste a cent on it.

Shayne

The 1 hour pre-race shows need to go. They’ll cover everything again and again during the actual race. No way you can escape it. I was asleep before the competition caution. Woke up with 80 laps to go. Got a recap and watched the finish.

Fox cares more about bowling than racing. How many folks wanted to watch the race, but were unable because they don’t have FS1?

Business as usual for the networks and NASCAR.

DoninAjax

Bowling draws a bigger audience than the NA$CAR event.

stubbscupseriesdotcom

No it doesn’t lol. The PBA can’t even average 1 million viewers on Main Fox while Cup races double it up on Cable.

Jeremy

True. Funny to think that back in the 70’s (I believe it was, maybe late 60’s), the PBA was more popular than the PGA and NASCAR!

Jim

I admitted to being an outlier last week and I’ll stay that way again on Larry Mac. I’d love to see him on site in the pits, not in the booth. I really enjoyed Jamie Mac — much preferred to Clint — who I liked early last year but am very quickly getting tired of now. I would never miss the permanent absence of Clint and Michael W. Most of the time I’ve been OK with Mike Joy — but because they (mainly Clint) are now playing up to his “history/trivia” knowledge, that’s starting to wear on the broadcast. Talk about the race — provide more information on ALL the participants.

Matty

A little different opinion here. I didn’t enjoy the old guy in the booth at all. But the back and forth with Bowyer & McMurray was fascinating regarding car set-ups, tire pressures, race strategy and pit strategy. It felt like watching the Manning brothers on MNF.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com