TV Times – More Questions Than Answers at Halfway Point of Season
There are numerous questions we could ask at this time of the year. For instance, does JR have a shot at taking the Chase to the Sprint Cup? Will Kurt Busch finally decide to behave himself? Can Jimmie Johnson win another Sprint Cup Championship? Will the Indy Car race that was scratched in China be replaced? Only time will tell.
When NASCAR competes on a road course, it seems that there’s always a surprise winner. This time it was Clint Boyer who kept his cool on the green and white Checker finish. “That GWC was nerve wracking,” he admitted in Sonoma’s Victory Lane, his first win of 2012. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson made the top five.
Bridesmaid in this race, Stewart exclaimed, “We had an awesome car today!” yet it obviously wasn’t good enough to get by Boyer. An unusually guarded Busch revealed, “I made mistakes today. However, I have to thank my crew. I was happy with a top five.” JJ quipped, “We’re happy with our finish.’ (Really, JJ?) To sum it up, road races are always tough to figure when the NASCAR crowd blows into town. And even after running out gas, among other things, Gordon was able to recover and finish sixth.
JR finished way back after getting collected late in the race. When questioned about what his chances may be for the Chase, he was very forthcoming with, “At this point, we don’t know how to fight to take the championship!” – an understatement, indeed. If he and his team can come up with a strategy, it had better be quick.
A day earlier, the NASCAR Nationwide series performed at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. No surprise here – Nelson Piquet, Jr., took that one, his third start in that division. Trent Owens, Piquet’s crew chief, made it a point when he said, “We’re planning on running Watkins Glen too.” Piquet is the first Brazilian driver to win a NASCAR race. He was elated with his performance by wrapping himself in the Brazilian flag. “The key to the win today was my being able to maintain the right gap and stay out of trouble,” he said, and must have felt confident enough to predict, “My (Camping World) Truck win will come soon.” Following the Elkhart Lake event, Eliott Sadler now leads the Nationwide points.
Earning the Nationwide leftovers were Michael McDowell, Ron Follows, Max Papis, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Jacques Villeneuve. McDowell said “At the end, things started to fall our way.” Surprisingly enough, we expected that when Danica got punted unceremoniously out of a top five spot by Villeneuve in the late going, she would have made an issue of it. But she didn’t. As a result, she ended up 12th overall. Afterward, Villeneuve explained what happened saying, “When I came up on her, I hit the brakes but they didn’t bind up until it was too late.” But good-natured Danica let the incident pass by saying, “It was a typical stockcar race on a road course. My guys really did a good job.”
Across “the pond” in Valencia, Spain, Fernando Alonso won his second F1 race of the season. An elated Alonso gushed, “It was great to win in my home country!” Kimi Raikkonen was next, while Michael Schumacher came in third. Alonso also came from an eleventh place start to win GP of Europe. A few highlights from the race – in the early going, Lewis Hamilton crashed out; Sabastian Vettle won the pole; Schumacher said, “It was great to finish in the front. I got great satisfaction from that”; Raikkonen said, “It was good to win some points.”
At the IZOD Indy Car race in Iowa where the grid qualified via heats instead of time trials, Ryan Hunter Raye won it with team owner Michael Andretti getting the runner-up spot. It was Raye’s second win of the 2012 season. Marco Andretti said, “We’re back on top.” Tony Kanaan was next followed by Scott Dixon. Tony Kanaan said, “I’m happy with that finish.” Following Iowa, Will Power leads the point chase while Raye was next. Dario Franchitti went out in the early going. The Iowa race was the last oval for the Indy Cars until they go to Fontana.
On China, there was a lot of talk about making an upcoming Grand Am race at another mid-western road course. But odds are it just won’t happen until next year because it takes a good solid year to promote a double-header event like that.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s return to Victory Lane has already reaped some benefits for NASCAR. The ratings for that Sunday’s race at Michigan were up 15 percent year-to-year, from 2.7 to 3.1 in the Nielsens as the No. 88 ended a 143-race winless drought. However, that number also marks a season low for the sport’s television audience; typically, TNT is the least-viewed of the three networks that cover the sport. The 3.1 rating is also three percent lower than the 3.2 earned at Pocono last week, kicking off TNT’s summer coverage of NASCAR.
NASCAR’s most-watched television partner is looking to continue in that role for years to come. FOX Sports, currently televising the first 13 races of NASCAR’s schedule, has entered into negotiations for an extension. Several reports have confirmed the move, although both sides are far from finalizing an agreement.
FOX, which first started broadcasting NASCAR races in 2001, has been rumored to want more races on the Cup schedule. From 2001-06, they and fellow sister station FX had roughly the first half of the 36-race slate before cutting back to 13 under the current contract. It’s the first of three networks to enter future negotiations with the sport; the current deal for all of them expires following the 2014 season.
Both items came from StockCarGazette.com.
Here’s some latest program information from the Speed Channel.
MODERN HOTRODZ GOES BEHIND SCENES AT RICHARD PETTY GARAGE: SPEED has agreed to an eight-episode deal taking viewers inside the famed Level Cross, N.C., race shop that now builds one-of-a-kind custom cars for a broad array of clients, including A-list celebrities.
Watch as former and current mechanics share first-hand experiences, lessons learned, and the tricks they had up their sleeves to repeatedly guide the King to Victory Lane. With 200 NASCAR premier series wins and more than 700 top-ten finishes, no team did it better.
With a mix of storytelling and modern custom car building, Modern HotrodZ is expected to premiere late in 2012.
EARNHARDT JR. WIN IMPACTS SPEED: It was quite clear that NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver ending a four-year win drought delivered viewers to SPEED’s post-race programming on Sunday. With Dale Earnhardt Jr., back in the winner’s circle, NASCAR Victory Lane enjoyed a 152% year-to-year ratings increase; Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain was up 56%.
SHOOTING COMPLETE ON RU YOU FASTER THAN A REDNECK? SPEED has completed track shooting for its new competition series, RU You Faster Than a Redneck? Hosted by comedian Jon Reep (http://www.jonreep.com/), the series pits domestic hot rods against custom imports in a series of races on a South Carolina track. The series is expected to premiere in the fourth quarter of this year. (Logo and photo attached)
BARRETT-JACKSON ORANGE COUNTY LIVE ON SPEED: SPEED begins its exclusive live coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction from Orange County on Friday at 5 p.m. ET. For more information on the auction and three-day television lineup, please visit http://www.speedtv.com/programs/barrett-jackson-automobile-auction and keep up with the ongoing action through the SPEED Social Garage (hashtag #BJA2012).
STACY DAVID’S GEARZ BACK FOR 2013: SPEED has renewed the popular program Gearz for a sixth season on the network, ordering a minimum of 13 new episodes of the automotive repair and restoration program. For more information on the program, please visit http://staceydavid.com/. New episodes are expected to premiere in February.
SPEED2 ADDS CANADIAN MOTOCROSS TO LINEUP: SPEED2, the authenticated broadband network complementing the SPEED linear network and now available to more than 35 million subscribers, recently added Canadian Motocross to its lineup. For a complete list of offerings on the rapidly growing broadband network, please visit www.SPEED2.com.
The summer heat of August may be three months away — but a new fundraising partnership is already burning up the pavement for a statewide non-profit organization. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) recently teamed up with Lebanon-based Bill Martel Racing to promote breast cancer awareness and education at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountain 125 and The Pennsylvania ARCA 125 – Presented by Menard’s. These events will take place during the first weekend of August at The Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA.
America’s most popular form of motorsports will nudge its way onto the vintage race scene this summer when 27 historic stock cars participate in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Scheduled for August 17-19 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, the event will feature the Shelby Cobra as its traditionally feted annual marque, but the addition of the stock cars promises to add a new dimension to the hundreds of sports and race cars entered in the historic race.
Check Jayski.com to see what’s happening in the world of motorsports this week into the weekend.
Note: Information for this column came from various sources and personal notes
|Looking in the Rearview Mirror: Left and Right Turns||Atop the Spotters Stand: Kentucky|