TV Times – Jimmie Johnson Wins Unprecedented 5th Sprint Cup In A Row
Congrats to Jimmie Johnson for winning a record-breaking, unprecedented fifth straight championship! The results of the Chase To The Sprint Cup were the same-old, same-old, yet the point race generated much fan interest, and that’s exactly what it was intended to do. This year’s experience was somewhat different with tensions riding all the way into the finale with Hamlin, Johnson and Harvick being engaged in such a close toss-up.
At Homestead on Sunday afternoon, Hamlin led the points, JJ was next and Kevin Harvick, third. In what became the tightest championship race since the Chase To The Sprint Cup began, Hamlin’s hopes faded after he wrecked but then bounced back salvaging a 14th place overall for the Fed-Ex team. “I’m disappointed because we were fast early on. We were still in it until that wreck,” he lamented. “We really did our best and had a great year as contenders. We’ll bring the momentum into 2011 and get it next year.” While Fed-Ex team owner Joe Gibbs sized it up by saying, “I’m also disappointed but I’m still proud of our team who fought all season long. We’re pretty solid and the pit crew did an excellent job.”
Johnson admitted that it was a roller-coaster ride for him during the race. He expressed doubts when Kevin Harvick got in front of him during an early period of the finale. But things managed to quickly change in spite of extreme tension and jockeying for position in this end-of-the-season points run.
Car owner Rick Hendrick had similar experiences in the pits during the race. “It really got nerve wracking with 20 to go,” he revealed. Yet JJ came through giving Hendrick a fifth straight NASCAR Cup Championship. Including Sunday’s victory, it’s now a total of ten owners championships for him.
A usually cool crew chief, Chad Knaus, who was also experiencing a much stressful day, blurted, “I’m proud of my team. They put us ahead of everyone else. It was awesome because I love to compete and we beat them all today!”
Kevin Harvick, in spite of coming in third giving him the runner-up spot in The Chase, reflected on the season’s long grind. He said that he wasn’t happy at all about NASCAR’S pit road speed charge resulting in a setback. “We came out swinging and my team (RCR) did their very best. We did everything we wanted to do except win.” Then turning philosophical, he said, “Overall, it was still a good day.”
Would it have generated more excitement for NASCAR to have either Hamlin, the challenger, or Harvick, the underdog, win the Chase? Of course it would have. If either one of them had won, the Chase would have had a typical storybook or Hollywood ending. But what it all came down to in the end was that the driver and team who had made the least errors won. Team JJ won it fair-and-square.
And it just wasn’t in the cards for Kyle Busch to take a third win over the weekend though. Fairly or unfairly, Busch ended up getting shoved out of the way by Harvick in the race’s late stages resulting in a busted-up car, a dramatic mass of smoke and fire. Kyle had won the Nationwide race a day earlier as well as the Camping World Truck race at the same track, starting off the weekend in a grand manner. What a disappointing ending to the weekend for him! No doubt, Busch will be looking forward to better Cup luck next year.
Almost lost in all the Chase hype was the fact that Carl Edwards won the Homestead race, while JJ finished second, good enough for him to win the points championship.
The Kobalt Tools 500 from Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday saw a double-digit drop in TV ratings on ESPN. Despite the closest points battle in NASCAR history, the telecast was still down 24 percent from its Nielsen numbers last year on ABC. The broadcast earned a 2.5 national rating and averaged 4.2 million viewers. Last year’s broadcast on ABC averaged 5.17 million viewers and pulled a 3.3 national rating.
This season ESPN moved all but three Sprint Cup Series races from ABC to ESPN, with ABC keeping the Saturday night races at Bristol, Richmond and Charlotte. The Bristol night race on ABC was the only event on ESPN’s broadcast schedule that gained viewers from 2009 (not counting races that were postponed). Of the 13 Cup Series races that have aired on ESPN, the broadcasts have averaged 4.69 million viewers while the three broadcasts on ABC have averaged 5.49 million viewers.
Last week’s Homestead-Miami was one of the eight races that shifted from ABC to ESPN. Last year it drew 5.61 million viewers for the finale. This came from StockCarGazette.com and Jayski.com.
Melbourne may not host the Australian Formula One grand prix after its contract runs out in 2014, Victorian premier John Brumby said today. The race, which has been held at a street circuit in the city’s Albert Park since 1996, lost A$34 million in 2007 and has posted losses in excess of A$40 million for the last three years.
“I know there’s a range of views in the community and it is a costly major event, but we’ve got it until 2014,” Brumby told ABC Radio. “We’ll look at whether we go beyond that. I’m not making any commitment beyond that.” Brumby’s ruling Labor party is up for re-election this month, and the opposition have questioned whether the taxpayer should continue to pick up the tab for the Melbourne grand prix’s losses.
Cologne-based Toyota ended its links with the Hispania Racing (HRT) Formula One team. The car manufacturer said HRT “has not met its contractual payment obligations and that it will pursue all available options to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this matter.” Toyota also said, “Toyota retains all intellectual property rights to its current Formula One car and is completely free to pursue other projects and support new customers for its high-performance engineering services.”
Toyota withdrew from Formula One at the end of 2009 but had already developed a car for 2010, which HRT was reportedly in advanced talks to use in the 2011 season. HRT, which was a late addition to the 2010 season grid and failed to score a point in 19 races, said it was “very surprised” by Toyota’s statement and that it would seek “further clarification.”
Formula One is understood to be close to giving the final green light for High Definition (HD) television coverage of the sport from the 2011 season. According to Autosport, “Plans are at a sufficiently advanced stage for orders to have been placed for the equipment that Formula One chiefs will need for the sport to be broadcast in HD.”
Bernie Ecclestone, the sport’s commercial owner, has said several times that he wants to be sure there are enough viewers capable of watching HD coverage and that broadcast channels were ready to distribute it. Formula One’s global partner LG, which has a commercial interest in the sport switching to HD, pioneered test footage of HD at the 2009 Monaco grand prix and more recently tried out 3D cameras at this year’s Canadian grand prix.
LG’s vice president of marketing and global sponsorship Andrew Barrett said he is confident the sport would be broadcast in HD next year, “Not wanting to speak for Bernie, but we all know that the sooner the better…The fan will understand that in a moment, and every fan can have it – as they almost all have the HD televisions in their house. It cannot come fast enough and I hope it is next year – and I am hopeful that it is next year.” The F1 info came from SportsBusinessInternational.
Lew Boyd’s Coastal 181 has his Holiday 2010 catalog out already, and we see lots of interesting motorsports-related books and movies on DVD’s listed on the eight page print-out. Go to www.coastal181.com.
As you know, the 2010 racing season has just ended. Check RaceFanTV.com for some tapes and other gearhead programing including 2010 World Rally on HD Theatre and Lucas Oil Off Road action from Vegas. (END)
NOTE: INFORMATION FOR THIS COLUMN CAME FROM VARIOUS REFERENCED SOURCES AND PRESS RELEASES.
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