Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Multiple Drivers Make XFINITY Returns

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Aug. 11, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXXXVI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Today, the race weekend officially gets underway at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  While there is no on-track activity today for the XFINITY Series, the garage is open this afternoon.

Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Three XFINITY Teams Make Mid-Ohio Driver Announcements

On Wednesday, three separate XFINITY Series teams made driver announcements for this weekend's race in Ohio.  Owen Kelly, Andy Lally and Jordan Anderson are in for the weekend.  Read more

Pirelli World Challenge Announces Driver Ranking Allocations for 2017

On Wednesday, Pirelli World Challenge announced driver ranking classifications for 2017 in the GT and GTS classes.  The Sprint races are effectively unchanged, but there are changes in Sprint-X, which gets a greater emphasis for 2017.  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 soon.
The Critic's Annex: Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
by Phil Allaway

Welcome back to the Critic's Annex, where additional races are critiqued.  While the Sprint Cup Series was racing at Watkins Glen International, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was racing at Road America on FOX Sports 1.  The race was pretty decent, but how did FOX Sports cover it?

Unfortunately, the race fell victim to those dreaded scheduling issues that everyone hates.  The USGA Women's Amateur Golf Championship 36 hole final that directly preceded the race broadcast went long.  As a result, the first half-hour of the broadcast aired on FOX Sports 2.  We've talked about the disadvantages of FOX Sports 2 multiple times in the past.  Needless to say, its not ideal, but I know why FOX Sports did it.

30 minutes into the race, the race moved back to FOX Sports 1.  In that time, viewers who don't have FOX Sports 2 missed the No. 70 Mazda going behind the wall (according to the official IMSA pit notes, they broke an oil pump after only six laps) and an early caution due to the No. 26 of Don Yount going off the road.

For how much IMSA is apparently paying for their coverage on FOX Sports (part of the money that manufacturers have to contribute each year goes towards their TV deal), I don't really think IMSA is completely pleased with what airs on television.  When they started posting race broadcasts to YouTube, they would post the FOX Sports broadcasts.  Now, they post the livestreams with commentary from IMSA Radio (at most races, that means you get commentary from John Hindhaugh and Jeremy West).  Admittedly, that move was likely based on input from subscribers to IMSA's official YouTube page (of which, I am one of them), but it is telling.

Part of the reason for that is rather blatant errors, like when Mark Kvamme crashed his Starworks Motorsport No. 88 at turn 3 at the same time as one of the BAR1 Motorsport entries stopped out on course.  The FOX Sports broadcast made it look like the two cars were one and the same.  That's wrong, dudes.  Even with the camera angles we got, I could tell that they were the same car.  Ryan Eversley could tell as well and called the broadcast out for screwing up.

I can't tell the commentators to look out the window for a couple of reasons here (They're not on-site and even if they were, Road America's huge).  No replays were shown, so they never actually corrected their mistake.

Another instance saw FOX Sports 1 cut away from the leaders' pit stops to show a full-screen interview with Chevrolet Motorsports Vice President Jim Campbell.  While Campbell is an important figure in sports car racing thanks to Corvette Racing's success, the race is not about his butt cheeks.  That definitely could have waited.

Back on Monday, the sports car racing pace lap of the week covered the final five minutes of the race.  For me, this was the most exciting portion of the race.  FOX Sports clearly knew where the action was and stuck with it...for the most part.  The GT Le Mans contenders were all over each other after the final restart and we saw everything.  I'm honestly surprised that Tristan Nunez didn't get some kind of post-race penalty for spinning out Risi Competizione's Toni Vilander in the last couple of laps.

As for the GT Daytona battle, I suppose that was just as great.  However, I really don't know because we didn't see any of it.  Weak sauce.  I can tell you that Jeroen Bleekemolen held off the pack to take the win and that the top 7 finishers were within six seconds of the lead at the finish.  FOX Sports should have used some kind of a split-screen setup after the final restart in order to show off that action.

Post-race coverage was somewhat typical.  Viewers got interviews with the class winners.  The exception to this rule was an interview with second-place GT Le Mans finisher Richard Westbrook, who was right in the middle of the late-race scrum noted above.  There was also a check of the unofficial results before FOX Sports left the air.

Overall, the action was good, but the presentation was lacking.  While I like Justin Bell, his little features break up the flow of the broadcast.  They honestly need to go.  Shove them on the IMSA YouTube page along with the ride-along laps.  I say this despite the fact that having the Michelin mascot out on the track like that was rather humorous. 

The sad truth is the broadcast presentation is probably hurting the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at this point.  The races are great.  The tracks are great.  Saw a picture on Twitter last week that showed a sign recommending great places for viewing and taking pictures.  That's excellent.  Need more of that.  The broadcasts, which were cut down in scope this year in some kind of a cost-cutting move, have hurt a little.  I knew going in that it wasn't going to be great, and in some aspects (pit road coverage), its a little better than I thought it was going to be.  With less dudes around to help the broadcasts, they're suffering.

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 Beyond the Cockpit: Patrick Carpentier on Danger, Success & Why He Races

"It was crazy. It was so fast. I remember talking to Paul Tracy, a couple other guys, Tony Kanaan, and it was like 'My god, can you see something or not?' And they were like 'No, man I can't see.'

Paul Tracy told me he was just looking at the dash and almost crashed because I was already in the corner. Never in my life had I been around Texas and the track felt like there was no straightaway. We averaged in qualifying, I think it was 230 mph, we qualified outside pole. I remember that lap, I was wide open all the way around and couldn't see a thing inside the car. I got loose in [Turns] 3 and 4 and the car got sideways [describes with his hands] and it came back to me. It was just luck because I was not quick enough to catch it.

By the time we got to race, they said, 'No, no we cannot do that.' We're pulling more than seven G-forces combined."  - Patrick Carpentier, on the weekend of the 2001 Firestone Firehawk 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, which was cancelled due to G-Forces.  Here's a clip of what qualifying was like from Adrian Fernandez's car.  Also, Carpentier qualified at over 233 mph for the race.


by Aaron Bearden and Sean Fesko

by Dustin Albino

by Bryan Gable
by Toni Montgomery

by Huston Ladner


Q: In the same CART race at Mid-Ohio back in 1998 where Michael Andretti had his big wreck, Alex Zanardi finished an uncharacteristic 12th, then had his point stripped away after the race.  Why?

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

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  1994 was the first year for Honda in CART.  Rahal Hogan Racing was the launch customer for the powerplant and struggled through the season.  What was the most distinctive part of the Honda engine that first year?

A: The Honda engine had a distinctive deep sound in 1994, not dissimilar to a Judd engine in Formula One.  While the engine was reasonably powerful, it was not fast on ovals.  Both Bobby Rahal and Mike Groff had to use purchased outside chassis just to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.  Reliability was also a big problem as well.  The Rahal Hogan Racing team switched from Honda to Ford for 1995 as a result.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview the XFINITY Series' trip to soggy Mid-Ohio, while also providing news from Thursday.

Aaron Bearden fills in for Amy Henderson in this week's edition of Holding a Pretty Wheel.
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