The third network to cover the Sprint Cup Series takes their turn at glory this week, as ESPN/ABC begins their NASCAR coverage at the historic Brickyard on Sunday, July 27th. The final 17-week stretch to finish off the year follows a 21-race schedule that was covered by both FOX and TNT. Those networks had their ups and downs over the course of their second season under NASCAR’s current TV contract; but overall, they delivered the results that people expect from networks that have plenty of experience covering the sport. However, both FOX and TNT did have some major flaws that ESPN can learn from — and not repeat.
Midwest drivers Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer had strong runs; but in the end, it was Carl Edwards who scored the victory at Gateway, his second win in only five starts under new crew chief Drew Blickensderfer.
I said last week I’d talk about Bob Daniels in a future column. This being Brickyard week, it seems like a good time. Actually, at IRP we used to call it “Kroger Week.” I met Bob Daniels when I was flagging for ASA and working full-time as a weekly newspaper editor in southern Indiana. He, of course, was the General Manager of IRP since NHRA had purchased it in 1979.
What is concerning about Jason Leffler and his No. 38 team is that while they have struggled, Braun Racing’s No. 32 team has continued to perform at a high level. Kyle Busch won at Charlotte in the No. 32 and was among the fastest cars in the field at Dover and Nashville. Development driver James Buescher scored top 15s in Braun Racing cars at Kentucky and Milwaukee. Denny Hamlin finished runner-up at Loudon. Brian Vickers was a top-five car at Daytona before breaking a rear end. Braun Racing clearly hasn’t forgotten how to put a fast Nationwide Series car on the track, which makes Leffler’s struggles all the more perplexing. Something is definitely amiss when a team’s sole full-time driver can’t keep up with its part-timers.
Did changing from day to night do anything to improve the competition at Chicagoland last weekend? Eight years after debuting at the 1.5-mile track, are there enough grooves to make NASCAR racing more exciting there?
1. Difficulties With Rejection? – New York City and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s Grand Ballroom have once again been selected as the site for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony, to be held December 5th, 2008. Guys… isn’t this the same place that has time and time again rejected your attempts to bring Sprint Cup racing into their backyard? Don’t you know when you are not wanted?
JGR dominated a very uneventful race once again Friday night, with Kyle Busch leading 101 laps of the Dollar General 300 and scoring an easy fifth win of the season in his No. 18 Camry.
Fans can vote online this year for the Most Popular Driver award in eight touring series other than Sprint Cup. That’s great. What’s not so great is NASCAR’s reluctance to put some drivers on the ballot at all. As of Wednesday of this week, Wallace wasn’t on the Nationwide Series ballot, despite being a series regular. Neither were Mike Wallace or Steve Wallace, also full-time drivers in the series. Many fans complained, and those names were added to the ballot, a week after voting opened. But what of the other drivers who have raced in the series? Where are their names?
Recently, Assistant Editor Amy Henderson sat down with Marcos Ambrose in New Hampshire to talk about the Tazmanian native’s Sprint Cup debut, his family’s move halfway around the world, and just how much gold he’s found away from the track while participating in his favorite hobby. Strap in as Frontstretch goes Beyond the Cockpit with Marcos!
Did NASCAR make the right call by throwing the yellow flag and stopping the race with Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch running side-by-side on the last lap?