Monday, December 19, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Sprint Cup is Now The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Dec. 19, 2016
Volume X, Edition CCXV


What to Watch: December 19-25

- The Driver Rewind series continues today at Frontstretch.  Here is the schedule:


TUESDAY, Dec. 13:

THURSDAY, Dec. 15:

FRIDAY, Dec. 16:

MONDAY, Dec. 19:

TUESDAY, Dec. 20:
Austin Dillon
Jamie McMurray

Brad Keselowski
Martin Truex, Jr.

THURSDAY, Dec. 22:
Chase Elliott
Kyle Larson

FRIDAY, Dec. 23:
Kevin Harvick
Kurt Busch

TUESDAY, Dec. 27:
Denny Hamlin
Matt Kenseth

Carl Edwards
Kyle Busch

THURSDAY, Dec. 29:
Joey Logano
Jimmie Johnson

We'll have more driver reviews and any news that breaks this week at Frontstretch.

This week's TV Schedule can be found here.

Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

NASCAR's Premier Series Named Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

On Monday afternoon, NASCAR revealed that the former Sprint Cup Series will now be known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.  In addition, a revised NASCAR logo was also revealed.  Read more

Matt DiBenedetto Signs with Go FAS Racing for 2017

Go FAS Racing announced on Thursday that Matt DiBenedetto, formerly of BK Racing, has signed with the team to drive the No. 32 Ford full-time in 2017.  Read more

Cadillac Assert Themselves at Daytona Test, Ricky Taylor Goes 200

In last week's two-day open test at Daytona International Speedway, it was the Cadillacs that showed their strength, topping the charts in every session.  Dane Cameron was fastest with a lap of 97.797 seconds (131.047 mph).  Read more

Tequila Patron ESM Unveils 2017 Driver Lineup

Last Monday, Tequila Patron ESM unveiled their 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver lineup.  Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel will share the No. 2 full-time while Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek will share the No. 22.  Read more

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's US and European Arms Unite for Rolex 24

On Tuesday, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing announced a dual-team assault on January's Rolex 24 at Daytona.  The American division and the UK division will join together and race as a four-car team.  Read more

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Quietly Announces 2017 Lineup

On Friday, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports announced that Tom Kimber-Smith will return to the team full-time in 2017.  He'll be joined by Jose Gutierrez, while Mike Guasch returns for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.  Read more

IMSA Unveils New Drive Time Rules

On Friday, IMSA announced new minimum drive time rules that reduce the amount of time that each driver can race in each event.  In addition, the amount of time that amateur drivers (Bronze or Silver-rated) must drive has decreased slightly.  Read more

Shane van Gisbergen, Thomas Jäger Join WeatherTech Racing

On Tuesday, WeatherTech Racing announced that V8 Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen and Mercedes-AMG factory racer Thomas Jäger will join regular racers Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette in the No. 50 Mercedes in the Rolex 24.  Read more

TRG Brings Wolf Henzler Back to IMSA, Fills Daytona Lineup

The Racers Group (TRG) announced on Tuesday that Wolf Henzler will return to the team on a full-time basis in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.  It is currently unclear who will join him for the full season.  Santiago Creel, Derek DeBoer, Pablo Sanchez and Jan Heylen will co-drive in Daytona.  Read more

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

The Critic's Annex: 2002 Channellock 250
by Phil Allaway

Note: The entire race broadcast can be seen on YouTube here.

Now that we're ensconced in the offseason, I thought that it would be a good time to go back and take a look at some older races.  One of the more ridiculous races from FOX's early years covering NASCAR was the 2002 Channellock 250, the first Busch Series race at Bristol that year.

It was a ridiculous race, filled with wrecking and some surprising runs.  We're going to look back at this rather expensive race and the broadcast of the race that aired live on FX.

Coverage started with a half-hour worth of prerace coverage.  That's commonplace today, but not necessarily back in 2002.  Viewers got a couple of pre-race interviews and some shenanigans.

Any of you who have watched FOX broadcasts over the past 15 years or so knows that Larry McReynolds is addicted to weather.  I'm roughly the same (Note: At one point, I actually considered becoming a meteorologist).  Here, McReynolds was cast at what I would describe as a cross between a TV weatherman and a wrestling heel manager.  It got ridiculous.  Instead of that silliness, McReynolds could have talked about the actual weather conditions (38 degrees at the start) and how that might affect the race.  Despite the silliness, I felt that I was more informed going into the race than what we usually get today.

Once the race started, it didn't take long for the ridiculousness to start.  Kasey Kahne smacked the wall exiting turn 2 on the second lap of the race.  Less than a minute for heck to go down?  Sounds about right.

One of the ongoing themes in the race was the complete lack of success for Ken Alexander, who was driving the No. 63 Chevrolet.  On this day, Alexander was involved in no less than five different wrecks and was significantly off the pace the rest of the time.  Very rarely do you get the broadcast booth basically saying that a driver is a danger to others, but that's what you had here.  Eventually, his day ended with 11 laps to go when he piled into the back of Stacy Compton in the aftermath of Kevin Harvick's crash.  At the time, Alexander was approximately 19 laps down, having lost a number of laps in the pits.

Also of note, Alexander had an in-car camera in the race.  In retrospect, the decision to put a camera in Alexander's car must have been quite the headscratcher at the time, but it was a perfect move since you got so much action.

For Alexander, this race turned out to be his swan song.  He never started another race in the Busch Series after this cold day at Bristol.  Did NASCAR strip him of his license after this disastrous performance?  Doubtful, but if they did, NASCAR wouldn't have announced it.  They have done it before, though.

The wrecks were coming in such succession that it was difficult to explain what happened before another wreck occurred.  For the most part, they did a good job explaining what happened to cause the shenanigans.

As compared to today, I felt that Darrell Waltrip was a bit more restrained than what we see today.  In 2002, he was a much more informative analyst.  That makes him beyond simply tolerable; he was actually good.  That said, he would use a couple of strange terms every now and then.  At the time, things like that endeared him to the viewing audience.

I don't know if Waltrip's many years out of the seat at this point have rendered him out of touch and he's compensating for that, or if he's actively trying to be annoying on-air, but I would much rather have the 2002 Waltrip back.  Granted, he was still racing part-time in the trucks back then, so he would still get some reps a couple of times a year.  Today, he's been out of a race vehicle for the better part of 15 years.  Of course, a lack of reps in the drivers' seat doesn't explain a Toyota bias (which didn't exist back then because Toyota was only in the Goody's Dash Series).

In between the wrecks (15 yellows were thrown, including one at the very end of the race, and three more spins didn't draw yellows), there was some racing for position.  FOX did ok in showing that action, but they really didn't have the time because they had to explain so many shenanigans.

The lack of time to explain things did hurt some aspects of the broadcast.  For much of the early part of the race, Jeff Purvis was trying to get laps back from the leaders.  I have no clue how he got multiple laps down. It was never really explained.  There wasn't all that much lapping on-track (with the exception of drivers way off the pace like Alexander or Brian Weber) since the longest green-flag run was 29 laps (or, about eight minutes).

Post-race coverage was rather tense.  First, you had Jack Sprague ticked off with Jimmy Spencer after Spencer dumped him coming to the finish (Sprague finished 19th, five laps down).  Spencer later complained about the lapped traffic.  I think that might have been in relation to him nearly running into the back of Alexander at one point, but it could have been taken as Spencer ranting about Sprague even though Spencer was clearly to blame for the last lap wreck.

Then, you had the mess involving Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle.  FOX made the decision to keep a camera on Harvick after he wrecked because they had an inkling that heck was going to go down.  Sure enough, it did.  Of note, FOX had Harvick on-air all but stating that he was going to come after Biffle after the race, yet NASCAR couldn't keep Harvick from going after him.  Were they all napping that day?  Harvick ended up being fined $15,000 and was placed on probation through the Sharpie 500 in August.  The suspension at Martinsville was as a result of a probation violation.

In addition to that lunacy, you had a big wreck with two laps to go involving Mark Green getting T-Boned by Larry Foyt.  There was a fair amount of time between the end of the race and the end of the broadcast.  Mark Green was kept in the car for quite a while due to being pinned in the car.  However, he wasn't seriously injured.  He did miss the next five races, but that was because he was already driving in place of regular driver Christian Elder.  The booth did show legitimate concern since this was a hit directly to the driver's side.

No yellow was thrown for that wreck and both Spencer and winner Jeff Green took to the apron on the final lap.  Insane.  Had this happened this year, there would have been a GWC and likely a red flag.

Overall, this was a rather ridiculous race to watch, but that was no fault of FOX.  The action was crazy, masking a race that really wasn't all that competitive.  Jeff Green had the best car all day and took advantage of it.

I would have liked to see Kevin Grubb be able to keep himself in the hunt late.  He was running second and able to put heat on Jeff Green when he spun out completely on his own with 46 laps to go.  That could have been a career day for him.  He eventually finished 12th.  As noted on the broadcast, the No. 54 Chevrolet that Grubb was driving had Ed Whitaker helping out.  Waltrip jumped on that since he knew all about Whitaker's successes with drivers such as Harry Gant in the past.  Yes, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. did drive for Whitaker at Bristol in 1997.  No, he did not start on the pole (he was second on the grid, though).

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at



by Joseph Wolkin

by Dustin Albino


Q: The turbocharged pre-split challengers of the PPG IndyCar World Series were often complete handfuls on cold tires.  The 1994 Slick 50 200 at then-New Hampshire International Speedway was no exception.  What happened at the very beginning of the race?

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

Friday's Answer:

Q:  The 1996 Rolex 24 at Daytona is best known for Max Papis' charge to within 65 seconds of the overall win in the final hour of the race. In the GTS-1 class, a number of teams were in the hunt early.  Champion Racing's Porsche 911 GT2 Evo shared by Hans Stuck, Thierry Boutsen and Bill Adam was one of those teams.  However, in the dark of night, disaster struck.  What happened?

A: Bill Adam was driving the No. 74 when he was hit by another Porsche 911 GT2 Evo driven by John O'Steen in the right rear while racing for position.  The result was that Adam's car rolled over multiple times, ending his race.

Ultimately, this wreck was the beginning of the end of Adam's career.  A year later, Adam had a big crash at Sebring.  After that wreck, Adam moved into more of a management role.  Adam's daughter, current IMSA Radio personality Shea Adam, describes that circumstance in an episode of the Dinner With Racers podcast.

We will continue with our driver rewind pieces.  In addition, we'll have breaking news from inside the world of motorsports.
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