Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Hendrick Motorsports, Kasey Kahne Add New Primary Sponsor

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 6, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXVI
What to Watch: Thursday
- The race weekend officially gets underway today at Charlotte Motor Speedway with practice for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY series, along with qualifying tonight for Sprint Cup.


Zach Catanzareti (@ZachRacing)
Amy Henderson (@Writer_Amy)
Mike Neff (@MNeffShortTrack)
Also, don't forget to follow our Twitter page@Frontstretch as well for updates!
Thursday's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Hendrick Motorsports, Furniture Row Racing Announce New Sponsors

Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne will have a new primary sponsor for later this season and next. UniFirst Uniforms will find its way onto the hood of the No. 5 Chevrolet. Furniture Row Racing took this afternoon to announce a new sponsor as well (Maaco). Read more

Josef Newgarden Moves to Team Penske for 2017

Wednesday, Team Penske officially announced that Josef Newgarden will take over the No. 2 full-time in 2017, replacing Juan Pablo Montoya.  Montoya's future plans have not been announced.  Read more

Todd Parrott Named Crew Chief for Circle-Sport Leavine Family Racing

Wednesday, Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that former Cup Series championship crew chief Todd Parrott is the new full-time head wrench for their No. 95 Chevrolet.  Parrott had previously held the crew chief post only for the races in which Ty Dillon was scheduled to be in the car.  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: Drive Sober 200
by Phil Allaway

Welcome back.  Before we get started, we must make note of yesterday's news on the death of Brock Yates.  Yates is best known as a longtime editor of Car & Driver and the creator of the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (often shortened to just the Cannonball) in 1971. Yates was also a broadcaster in his time, working as a pit reporter for CBS and for Diamond P Sports (on their American Sports Cavalcade telecasts which aired on TNN).

Yates, who was 82, had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.  It's a terrible illness that I have only limited personal experience dealing with but one that I'm sure someone reading can describe the frustration and sadness that comes with someone you know effectively wasting away mentally.  We at Frontstretch send our condolences to the Yates family.

Back to racing. Last Saturday was supposed to see the XFINITY Series teams race 200 miles.  Kyle Busch was on pole and had the race run on that day, you would have seen a very different outcome.  However, that was not the case.

Saturday's coverage consisted of rain fill where NBCSN interviewed the majority of the field.  This coverage also resulted in NBCSN bringing attention to a story that a lot of race fans likely did not know about.  It revolved around Charles Browne, a tire changer for BJ McLeod's No. 78 team.  Apparently, he was first exposed to NASCAR when the Kyle Busch Foundation came to the orphanage that Browne was living in back in 2007.  Eventually, that pizza party, plus meeting a man affiliated with a pit crew school at a Charlotte-area gym led him into NASCAR as a crewman.

Browne wanted to tell Busch he had been an inspiration for his entry into NASCAR but never had the chance.  That ultimately happened after the race was postponed (and was caught on camera).  It was an interesting story from the other side of the garage that you don't get to hear all that often.

During the rain fill coverage, there were also repeats of at least three features that ran earlier this year (one on Ryan Reed, another on Ty Dillon, and a third on Ray Black, Jr.).  While it bites not being able to see a race, I found that NBCSN did a decent job with their time.

Sunday morning saw the actual race go down.  At the beginning, the main stories were the driver changes that resulted from Chasers not wanting to do two races in one day.  Maybe that was the right move considering there were only four cautions in the entire 400-mile race later that afternoon.  600 miles would have been a lot for any driver to handle at this difficult one-mile track.

The whole setup that got Ty Dillon sent to the rear was a bit perplexing to me, in contrast and probably NBCSN as well.  It seems that they got sent to the rear on someone's hunch.  Apparently, the stuff that was applied to the shark fin was applied prior to pre-race inspection on Saturday and NASCAR OK'd it.  The next day, they thought that someone got sneaky or something.  Weird.  At least it didn't hurt his finish.

As compared to the Cup race Sunday afternoon, you could definitely follow this event more easily.  While yes, the Chase was still a big focus, it wasn't the only one.  Having said that, I do worry about how NBCSN will broadcast tomorrow night's Drive for the Cure 300 since that is a cutoff race for the next round.

There were a couple of big stories within the Chase that got a lion's share of coverage.  One was Ty Dillon's charge from the rear after the aforementioned questionable call by NASCAR.  Another was Erik Jones' issues that stemmed from the flat tire he thought he had (but didn't).  The sub drivers really didn't get much coverage.  My guess is because covering them would have gotten in the way of the Chase (two of the subs, Ryan Blaney and Regan Smith, were Cup regulars).

I also believe there should have been more coverage of non-Chasers on Sunday morning.  The removal of Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano from the field meant that the race was all but a standalone event.  Ultimately, we didn't get much outside of "here's Corey LaJoie in fourth thanks to his pit strategy.  Let's see if he can parlay this track position into a good finish."  Sure enough, LaJoie brought the No. 24 home in sixth, a great result for JGL Racing but got next to no recognition for it.  That's the third-best finish ever for the team (and LaJoie's second top 10 of the year).

Once again, we saw a competition caution come into play Sunday morning.  I ranted about it in Couch Potato Tuesday, but it deserves another push.  I don't want the first mention of a Competition Caution scheduled for lap 40 on-air to be on lap 12.  I want it to be before then.  I know that the beginning of the race broadcast was rushed due to the hard 10 a.m. start time (engines were cranked before the intro was done) but it has to be done better, chaps. 

Post-race coverage was again very brief due to the last-minute scheduling of the race.  As a result, only two people were interviewed: race winner Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, who finished 16th after a late pit stop.  For all the weight given to the points, there wasn't a post-race points check.  And for what?  Informercials?  Jeepers, CNBC must really need the money.

I always harp on the idea of inclusiveness in race broadcasts.  Like it or not, the telecast is one of the biggest ways to get publicity for your sponsors.  NASCAR's media partners, by only focusing on Chasers, can hurt the sport by creating a system where if you don't make the Chase, you're struggling to survive.  That's why you end up with pay-to-play drivers because no one wants to press their luck on anyone for a reasonable price.

Tomorrow, we'll have some more TV content for you.  Enjoy qualifying tonight.

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: A Conversation with Ex-Mechanic Josh Tucker

"[The Car of Tomorrow] created a tremendous amount of work for the teams. We probably went from working 60-hour weeks to 90-hour weeks to prepare for that big change." - Josh Tucker on the introduction of the CoT to NEXTEL/Sprint Cup and the amount of work it required.  Let's just say that the extra 30 hours of work a week didn't necessarily come with overtime pay.

by Aaron Bearden and Sean Fesko

by Huston Ladner

by Joseph Wolkin

by Bryan Gable

by Beth Lunkenheimer

by Toni Montgomery

Q: In 1994, Dale Jarrett successfully came back from a DNQ at North Wilkesboro to win the Mello Yello 500 at Charlotte.  For Bobby Labonte, he managed to qualify for North Wilkesboro and finish five laps down in 15th.  Charlotte was another story, though as he failed to make it to lap 10 before trouble struck.  What happened?

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

Wednesday's Answer:

Q:  If you look at the results of the 1989 All Pro Auto Parts 500 on Racing-Reference, you'll see David Pearson's name show in the DNQ/Withdrawn box with DC next to his name.  What happened there?

A: What happened here is that the Wood Brothers' regular driver, Neil Bonnett, broke his sternum in a crash at Dover.  This caused Bonnett to have to sit out races due to injury for the fourth year in a row.  Tommy Ellis drove the No. 21 at North Wilkesboro; however, it seemed like the Woods wanted to make some kind of a splash long-term.

At the time, Pearson had been retired for three years and was 54 years old.  He was still active in the sport because he owned the Pearson Racing No. 16 Buick at the time for his son Larry's Rookie of the Year campaign.  Pearson did practice the No. 21, but stepped out of the car due to back pain.  Ellis took the seat back, qualified 19th and finished 18th.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll preview the Sprint Cup Series' Bank of America 500 while also providing news from Thursday.

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