Race Weekend Central

Talking NASCAR TV: Race Coverage at Fontana Improves… But Digger Still Lurks in the Shadows

Before we begin, as you may remember I was quite critical of FOX’s broadcast of the Daytona 500 – most notably the lack of any mention of rain up until seemingly lap 85 or so. Well, I’ve had an email exchange with Mike Joy since then, and Joy’s take on the issue was that they didn’t want to jump to conclusions too quickly. In Joy’s own words, he said that the announcing booth “…weren’t trying to jinx ourselves with ‘what-ifs.’ [as to what might happen if the rain would shorten the race].” While not all fans might agree with that take, it’s definitely a plausible explanation that makes sense. Also, Joy reassured me there was no gag order on the weather information imposed by anybody – a fact always notable for those NASCAR fans insistent on conspiracy theories to understand.

Great Work in the Pits Guides Matt Kenseth to His 2nd Straight Victory in 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana

For years, it seems, Matt Kenseth’s pit crew, affectionately known as the “Killer Bees,” has been considered to be the best pit crew in the Sprint Cup Series. Tonight, they proved it. Kenseth greatly benefitted from the speed of the Killer Bees on pit road to gain the lead back on the final round of pit stops under the caution at lap 210. From there, Kenseth held off the advances of Jeff Gordon to win the Auto Club 500.

Talking NASCAR TV: SPEEDing Through 2009 Daytona 500 Week in 3,000 Words or Less

Now that Speedweeks at Daytona are over, it is time to look back and reflect upon what we have seen, and what we have been provided for our viewing pleasure by NASCAR’s media partners for Speedweeks (FOX, SPEED and ESPN2). Before I begin, I should state this. Speedweeks is supposed to be the most important time of the year in NASCAR, at least for the television partners. This is because the races at Daytona during Speedweeks are the biggest events of the year for each series that races. This includes the ARCA Re/Max Series that had their season opener back on February 7, in addition to NASCAR’s three national series. As a result, telecasts of said races should be held to a greater standard. It is to this standard that I have to critique the broadcasts.

Matt Kenseth Scoots in Front Just in Time to Win 2009 Daytona 500

Matt Kenseth entered Daytona winless in his last 36 starts. That winless streak is now history. Kenseth passed Elliott Sadler in turn 3 on lap 145 for the lead under threatening skies. Half a lap after the pass, the yellow came out for a crash involving the No. 98 of Paul Menard and the No. 31 of Jeff Burton. During the caution, the heavens opened up, and the race never restarted. After less than 15 minutes, NASCAR called the race at 6:48 p.m. with 152 laps (380 miles) completed. Kenseth was thus declared the winner of the 51st Daytona 500.

Talking NASCAR TV: Verizon Uses FOX to Work Around Sponsorship Ban

Well, we’re through pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 and the Budweiser Shootout. As your TV critic, it is my duty to look everything over and pass some judgment on it; and starting this week and throughout all of 2009, I plan on doing just that. With the departure of the Daly Planet from the NASCAR scene last week, this column remains one of a select few that touches on television’s role with NASCAR – and I’ll do my best to meet that challenge head on. As I grow into this role, I hope to be what LeAnne Schreiber is for ESPN, someone that people can come to about their issues with TV coverage and get them addressed (although Schreiber is also on the verge of leaving her post). Of course, my duties are limited to covering just NASCAR TV programming… but I hope to have the same type of effect.

Martin Truex Jr. Claims the Pole for the 2009 Daytona 500

On Sunday, Martin Truex Jr., with a lap of 47.872 seconds (188.001 mph), claimed the pole for the 51st running of the Daytona 500, which rolls off on February 15. Truex’s margin over second-place Mark Martin was only 47 thousandths of a second. These two drivers are locked into their starting spots for the Daytona 500. After the nearly three-hour qualifying session ended, Truex was all smiles.

Kevin Harvick Battles Back from Losing the Draft to Win the 2009 Budweiser Shootout

Sometimes, history can, in fact, repeat itself. In a scenario very similar to the one that allowed Kevin Harvick to win the Daytona 500 back in 2007, a lane opened up on the high side at the end of the backstretch on the final lap. Harvick took advantage of the hole, took the lead away from Jamie McMurray on the last lap, and then benefitted from a crash that froze the field to claim victory in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout. However, it was not that easy. Harvick hit the wall early on in the race and lost the draft, but was saved by the second caution, when David Reutimann and David Stremme crashed.

Talking NASCAR TV: 4 Big Offseason Changes for 2009

Editor’s Note: After an offseason of hibernation, our TV critique is back! Join Phil Allaway on Tuesdays every week as he picks apart the ups and downs of NASCAR coverage in 2009. After a long offseason – seemingly made even longer due to SPEED Channel’s near complete lack of offseason motorsports programming (which is another …

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