Well The Amp Energy Juice 500 is over. Hallowdega has given way to All Saints Day and the commercial rate on ESPN has gone back to normal.
The Amp Energy Juice 500 appeared to be an exciting race of side by side balls to the wall racing. With the top contenders not necessarily being chase drivers. Note that I said appeared to be. The reason for that is that there were no fewer than 29 sets of 6 – 8 commercials in the broadcast. Approximately every 3 minutes we went to commercial. We missed 2 restarts and 2 caution flags none of which did we get on replay. I think it’s just a shame they had to interrupt the parade of commercials to show us any of the race at all. Please note the sarcasm here.
ESPN and ABC are the absolute worst when it comes to broadcasting NASCAR. You either wait for the football game. You wait for the baseball game. You wait for tennis, yeah tennis. Or you watch commercials more than you watch the race.
The camera work for Talladega was horrible. Obviously most of the camera work was done from the blimp. Long range shots that made it difficult to identify cars made the race frustrating to watch. For instance, it was incredibly frustrating to try and figure out where your driver was in the line of hot wheels appearing Sprint Cup cars if he was driving a black car. The only easily identifiable black car in the field was the M&M’s Toyota and it was because from the normal camera angle that was used, it had orange polka dots on the hood.
Come on ESPN you are suppose to be the leader in sports coverage and this is the second time that you were obviously unprepared and ill equipped to deliver a suitable broadcast that was way over funded by the amount of commercials. You didn’t have Elliott Sadler’s wreck at Pocono and the entire Talladega race was horrible. There to date has not been a replay to show what actually triggered or happened to the 43 car of A. J. Allmendinger. Other than we watched him flip wildly and the slam the wall.
NASCAR for the last couple of years has been concerned about the drop in TV ratings and the drop in the number of tickets sold. They don’t seem to be able to come up with the reason. If I may be so bold as to suggest to them that they watch the same TV broadcast that their fans at home watch I think they might find the reason. The interruption of the broadcast of commericals for the race is minimal. No one wants to sit and watch the same commercials over and over and over. The third or fourth set people change the station. They turn to NFL coverage where there are 1/4 as many commercials.
People are not going to buy a ticket to come and see the type of racing that they see on TV. The race itself maybe excellent if you are there in person, but what is shown on TV is so broken up and follow the leader in appearance that it’s boring. Perception is reality. And the perception is that NASCAR has become a choppy half hearted manipulated show and not a race at all. The penalties to Bowyer after Richmond only served to solidify that. Without the penalties Bowyer would be 5th in the points and still mathematically in the hunt. With the penalty it’s all Harvick, Hamlin and Jimmie.
The appearance is that they manipulated the championship with the penalty. Especially since they claim they had warned the team numerous times. If that is the case why did you wait until the first chase race to penalize the team and take them out of contention for the championship? There was either someone you didn’t want in so you let it go so that Bowyer would get the last spot or you didn’t take him seriously until he won and you realized oops this messes up our plans. Note that I said it is the appearance. But again Perception is Reality. That reality hurts TV ratings and ticket sales. It hurts fan loyalty.
The race itself what we saw of it was exciting. There were many stand out performances. For instance, Jeff Burton in his 31 CAT Financial Chevrolet, Burton was lightening fast and would have no doubt been a contender for the win had he not got caught up in the accident with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr was well Dale Jr again. He was burning up the track and his competition. He was smooth. He was in control. He was calm and he was calculating. Then he misjudged Jeff Burton’s drop to the middle and caught him with a bump draft too far to the right. Taking them both out of contention for the win. But Dale Jr led 24 laps, more than any other driver. And he showed a lot of class when he exited his car and immediately went to the Infield Care Center to apologize to Jeff Burton.
Kevin Harvick’s dramatic run for the win in a badly damaged Realtree Chevrolet was inspiring. It certainly shows he has the never say die attitude of a champion. It also shows that his pit crew and team also have that same attitude.
Clint Bowyer has never given up. Not with the penalty. Not with the micro scrutiny. He has come to the front when he had the car and made every effort to win. His fight to the checkers attitude won him the Amp Energy Juice 500. He won by a bumper. He won in literally a photo finish.
Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon stroked their way to strong finishes. They waited around the back markers and played it safe all day long until Chad Knaus made the announcement it was time to go. Then they went to the front with Johnson pushing Gordon. When Gordon thought his engine was failing he quickly ducked out of the draft line so as not to take Jimmie with him when the engine let go. But it didn’t let go. The misinterpertation of the problem did however, end the shot at the win for both drivers.
The Sprint Cup drivers avoided the big one for the most part. Although the wreck on the last lap came close how close we really don’t know because we didn’t actually get to see it. But at least, this time Talladega didn’t become a million dollar junkyard despite speeds in excess of 200 mph. Perhaps this should be a point of reference for Robin Pemberton and NASCAR. The drivers are capable of more than you give them credit for. And when you let go, they take off and low and behold all is well.
Congratulations to Clint Bowyer on an exciting victory and to RCR for having the class of the field once again at the super speedways. Congratulations to Kyle Busch on his Camping World Truck Series win. And most of all congratulations to Dale Earnhardt Jr on showing he is every bit as talented and classy as his Jr. Nation thinks him to be.
That said, to all the competitors in all the series thanks for giving us everything you have to give, you are our heroes. Most importantly, thanks to all the families who shared their loved ones with us so we could cheer our favorite driver and favorite teams. You are the true heroes of the sport and we are forever in your debt.