Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Filippi Works Out Payment Issues, Returns to Dale Coyne Racing

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jul. 14, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXVI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Today, the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams are pulling into New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this weekend's races.  In addition, there is also a Pit Stop Challenge for Whelen Modified Tour teams being held in the track's FanZone.  If you're in the Loudon area, the FanZone opens at 5 p.m. with the Sprint Cup Series Hauler Parade at 6 p.m.  The Pit Stop Challenge is at 6:15 p.m.   If anything of note breaks, we'll have it for you here at Frontstretch.

Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Luca Filippi Back with Dale Coyne Racing in Toronto

Dale Coyne Racing announced on Wednesday that Luca Filippi will return to the No. 19 this weekend in Toronto.  Issues with sponsor payments put Filippi out of the seat starting at Indianapolis in favor of Gabby Chaves.  Read more

Have news for the Frontstretch? Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.

Editor's Note: Potts' Shots Will Return Next Week.
The Critic's Annex: Iowa Corn Indy 300
by Phil Allaway

Last weekend was very busy in the world of NASCAR with three radically different races at Kentucky Speedway.  Storywise, it was a rather perplexing weekend.  You never knew what was going to happen.

Meanwhile, the Verizon IndyCar Series traveled to Iowa Speedway for 300 laps of action.  Pre-race coverage indicated that it would be a hard-fought race full of side-by-side action.  What we got was not really that.  How did NBCSN handle the butt-kicking?

In regular editions of Couch Potato Tuesday, I often comment about over-analysis in pre and post-race shows.  You get 45 minutes of pre-race and FOX or NBC might interview three people before the race.  That was not the case on Sunday at Iowa.  In the half-hour edition of Indycar Live, viewers got ten pre-race interviews.  NBCSN managed to cover the race from all angles.  Such an approach is rare these days and refreshing.

When you really think about it, that is technically the point of a pre-race show.  To inform viewers of the issues that should affect the upcoming race.  As much as I like one-on-one pieces and features that help viewers learn more about the chaps that they'll be watching in the race, regular driver interviews should be the backbone of a pre-race show.  FOX Sports especially has gotten away from this in recent years.  I'm sure that a number of you reading this critique might remember Bill Weber saying something to the tune of, "If you don't watch, you're starting the race a lap down" in regards to Countdown to Green on NBC or TNT.  That isn't necessarily the case now on NASCAR broadcasts.  It should change.

Brian Till made a somewhat rare appearance Sunday as NBCSN's play-by-play man in place of Leigh Diffey.  Normally, this results in a relatively staid affair.  However, given the action early in the race, it was like having a radio announcer call the first 25 laps of the race.  That's not really necessary.  Bob Costas did something similar when he was pressed back into NBA play-by-play service by NBC in 2002 after Marv Albert was hurt in a car accident.

Coverage during the race was a little tough.  After the first pit stop, Josef Newgarden was simply on another planet compared to everyone else.  Tony Kanaan described it best after the race by saying, "We're all out there in Indy Lights cars while Josef has an IndyCar."  There were battles for position from time to time that NBCSN would show, but not that often.  By the time the first yellow flew, Newgarden had lapped everyone except for Simon Pagenaud.

I'm a bit unclear on how so many people took wavearounds to get back onto the lead lap during the first yellow and were able to maintain it.  Given the pit windows in the race (described quite well in a low-tech fashion by Jon Beekhuis during IndyCar Live), everyone would have been coming up on their second pit stop when Ryan Hunter-Reay blew his engine.  Iowa in INDYCAR is not Pocono in Sprint Cup.  You can't take a wavearound, then come in as soon as the race restarts, do your pit stop and stay on the lead lap.  NBCSN needed to do a better job explaining it.  I didn't get it when I watched the race live on Sunday and I didn't get it when I re-watched the race to take notes for this column.

Post-race coverage was rather substantial.  Viewers got interviews with the top 8 finishers, in addition to checks of the results and points.  We got quotes from both Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan about a near-collision in turn 2 just after halfway that could have been ugly.  Generally one of the more complete post-race shows I've seen in a while.

Generally, I did enjoy the coverage from Iowa on Sunday.  However, there is still some work to do for NBCSN's INDYCAR crew.  We'll use Rossi as an example.  He was the first driver a lap down at the finish in sixth.  I honestly have no idea how he got there, knowing that he started 17th and didn't seem anything like a top 10 car for most of the race.  I would have liked to see a little more about how he got there because when he showed up on the lead lap on the final restart, I was rather surprised.

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at
Frontstretch Line of the Week
From Pocono Raceway's Ricky Durst: Ticket Sales Are No Longer About Tickets

"Going back to my golf days, everyone comes to the course with different skills and expectations As a teacher, you have to identify what they are.  It's really no different in ticket sales. When that phone rings or I answer emails, I've got to ask some probing questions about camping, view preferences, budget restrictions, family members and of course, the favorite driver. So we want to be more than order takers, we want to try to position ourselves as consultants"  - Pocono Raceway's Ricky Durst, on his mentality when it comes to selling tickets and camping slots to consumers.


by P. Huston Ladner

by Aaron Bearden and Tom Bowles

by Bryan Gable
by Toni Montgomery

by Aaron Bearden

by Tony Lumbis

Q: Jason Keller is best known as being a mainstay in the now-XFINITY Series during his career.  In 1992, he was 22 and just getting started in the series with a limited schedule.  The New England Chevy Dealers 250 was one of five races that he ran that season.  He had a decent day going until he ran into trouble in turn 3.  What happened?

Check back Friday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  In the late 1990s on shorter tracks, Rusty Wallace was someone that you likely would have to deal with at some point.  The 1999 Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire was no exception.  In this race, Wallace qualified up front and ran well.  However, his race ended early.  What happened?

A: Gordon had been leading until he got loose in turn 4 a couple of laps earlier and dropped all the way to eighth.  Wallace ended up getting in front of Gordon in the fallout from the No. 24 getting out of the groove.  Naturally, Gordon wanted to get back to the front.  Gordon made a move to the inside on lap 139 in turn 4 and had contact with Wallace.  Wallace did a 360 and broadsided the wall with the passenger side.  The crash can be seen here.

Rusty Wallace was able to drive back to the garage, where the Penske team made repairs.  Rusty eventually rejoined the race for a couple of laps before pulling in for the day.  He would finish 42nd.  Gordon moved back up the order and eventually finished third behind Jeff Burton and Kenny Wallace.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview Sunday's New Hampshire 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Zach Catanzareti returns to answer Four Burning Questions heading into this weekend's action in Loudon.
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