Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: New Management Structure at Richard Petty Motorsports

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Sep. 1, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLI
What to Watch: Thursday
- Today is pull-in day for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams at Darlington Raceway.  Friday continues to be up in the air.  Stay tuned to Frontstretch for continued updates.

Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Brad Keselowski Docked 10 Points in Penalty Report

On Wednesday, NASCAR issued their weekly report of penalties.  No less than 15 were handed out, but none as severe as the P2 penalty levied on Brad Keselowski's No. 2 team for failing the post-race laser inspection on Sunday.  Read more

Richard Petty Motorsports Announces Competition Restructuring

On Wednesday, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that Sammy Johns has relinquished his duties at the track and the shop, effective immediately.  Phillipe Lopez and Scott McDougall will temporarily replace Johns.  Read more

James Hinchcliffe, SPM Hit With Post-Texas Penalty

On Wednesday, INDYCAR announced that the No. 5 of James Hinchcliffe had too much wear on his domed skid plate after the conclusion of Saturday night's Firestone 500k.  As a result, the team has been fined $25,000, while Hinchcliffe and owner Sam Schmidt each lost 25 points.  Read more

Helio Castroneves Wants Head Protection for 2017

Recently at Pocono, Helio Castroneves had a wheel on Alexander Rossi's car nearly enter his cockpit on pit road.  While he walked away, it was a scary circumtstance and Castroneves wants INDYCAR to create a solution to prevent it from happening again.  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: Careers For Veterans 200
by Phil Allaway

Saturday was a complete mess, simple as that.  The weather's been like that this season and this upcoming weekend appears to be no different.  Everyone in the NASCAR industry is keeping their eyes peeled to the weather forecasts in order to see what Tropical Storm Hermine is going to do.  The general opinion is that it will make landfall tomorrow in Florida just east of the Apalachicola National Forest either as a strong Tropical Storm or a minimal Hurricane, then move to the northeast inland.  I wouldn't be shocked if NASCAR wipes out all of Friday's activity because of it, despite the fact that it probably wouldn't be raining until after one practice is complete for both Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams.

In Michigan, it was not a tropical system, but regular thunderstorms that delayed the start of the Careers For Veterans 200.  At the time NCWTS Setup started, lightning was in the area.  As a result, the grandstands had been cleared and the pit reporters were hanging out in the Media Center.  Viewers did get a few good interviews from what appeared to be a small raised platform similar to a stand for photographers (Note: I've never been to Michigan International Speedway, so I'm actually not sure about that).

The primary feature of the show was a piece where Ray Dunlap interviewed former series champion Ted Musgrave to see what he's up these days.  In short, he's completely disconnected from motorsports.  Other than a period of time last year when he was spotting for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Musgrave doesn't go to the track anymore.  It's debatable whether he watches the races or not (this was not broached during the piece).  He's settled into a life where he works when he feels like it and isn't on anyone's schedule.  In short, he's comfortable now.  Great.

Personally, I like these pieces.  The Camping World Truck Series has changed so drastically in the past few years that its almost unrecognizable.  Musgrave's time in the series was during a time in which the Craftsman/Camping World Truck Series was not just a stepping stone, but also a landing spot for regional racers and young guns as well.  I feel like the series has lost something.  The series is still quite competitive, as Saturday's race proved once it finally ran, but it's just not the same.

FOX ceased live shots from Michigan (on FOX Sports 1).  For the rest of the scheduled timeslot, reruns of The Day: Remembering Dale Earnhardt and the thirty minute version of the 1979 Daytona 500 with pop-up factoids aired.  At 3 p.m., FOX Sports 1 left Michigan to go to baseball coverage, moving the coverage (when it would resume) to FOX Sports 2.

We've explained multiple times why FOX Sports 2 is less than ideal in this column.  However, the availability of the network is continuing to improve.  According to Sports TV Ratings,FOX Sports 2 is now in 51.8 million homes, an increase of roughly 28 percent since the channel launched a shade over three years ago.  Still, that only covers 45 percent of U.S. households.  As a result, you get fans ranting because they can't get the race.  News Corporation seems to be playing some kind of long game in getting FOX Sports 2 into more homes.  Its partially due to the fact that the channel doesn't really have a direction.  I have no idea what its supposed to be competing against.

Once the race finally got underway, you had a slipstreaming adventure.  Very exciting to watch.  Just one thing.  Vince Welch really didn't seem to be into it.  Instead, he was almost monotone-esque in his commentary at times.  It did seem to take away a bit from the race.  Maybe that wouldn't have been that much of an issue if you were watching the race live.  Had you been watching one of the repeats late at night, it would have dragged on you.  Welch's commentary here could put people to sleep.  I have no doubt that he was interested in what was going on Saturday, but it just didn't seem like it.

I also felt that the coverage was too centered upon the front of the field.  Yes, there was action for the lead for a good chunk of the race, but it wasn't the only stuff out there.  A fair amount of Saturday's race was centered upon the four to six drivers at the front with almost no drop backs to check on anyone else.  It might have been the most exclusive broadcast of the year.  That will not work, dudes.

Unlike Sunday's race, Saturday's action saw a fair amount of tire blistering.  FOX Sports did a good job at showing viewers just how bad the tire situation was.  Kaitlyn Vincie tried to get a comment from Goodyear on the tire situation, but they didn't have anything to add at the time.

Given that the race ended more than 2.5 hours late, there wasn't all that much post-race coverage.  Viewers got interviews with the top two finishers (Brett Moffitt and Timothy Peters) along with checks of the points and results.  That was about it.

Overall, the race broadcast was far too intensely focused on the front of the field for my liking.  When I say that a race needs to be more inclusive, I'm not just saying to throw up a battle for 37th that's dozens of laps behind the race.  FOX did that once during the 2009 Aaron's 499.  That was rather weak.  I'm saying for the broadcast to show action from throughout the field, to cover as many stories as they possibly can.  We didn't get that Saturday and we lost out as a result.

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: Juan Pablo Montoya Has Eyes Set on Future Despite Colorful Past

"Before the repave it was a lot of fun. It was really bumpy, you used to bottom-out really hard and it made the car really skid around a lot. It just made it fun. After they repaved it, it just became, like, not even a corner." - Juan Pablo Montoya on Eau Rouge.


by Aaron Bearden and Sean Fesko

by Huston Ladner

by Joseph Wolkin

by Bryan Gable

by Toni Montgomery


Q: While it is rarely used, NASCAR does have the power to park drivers whenever they feel like and for whatever reason they like.  In practice, it's usually because of intentional crashing or failing to meet the minimum speed.  In the 1991 TranSouth Financial 500, Bill Meacham was parked for a slightly different reason.  What was it?

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

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  The 1997 Mountain Dew Southern 500 is best known for Jeff Gordon winning the Winston Million and Dale Earnhardt's mystery ailment.  The day was also pretty miserable for Rusty Wallace, who was done almost as soon as the race started.  What happened?

A: Just a few laps into the race, Todd Bodine (driving in relief of David Green) put down fluid entering turn 1.  The fluid made the track an all-skate, resulting in Todd Bodine, Wallace and Kyle Petty smacking the wall, while Robby Gordon spun to the apron.  The crash can be seen here.

Both Todd Bodine and Wallace were out on the spot.  Petty continued, but later blew an engine and finished 32nd.  Gordon ended up four laps down in 22nd.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview the Sprint Cup Series' Bojangles' Southern 500 from Darlington Raceway, while also providing news from Thursday.

We'll have Four Burning Questions for you to think about heading into this weekend's action in Darlington.
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