Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: FOX Makes Texas Look Good … Early On

Prior to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tackled the revamped Texas Motor Speedway.  The race itself turned out to be a little better than everyone thought it would be.

Prior to the race starting, Jamie Little conducted a one-on-one interview in the coach lot with Jimmie Johnson.   I’m not sure why they did it so close to the race, but viewers got to see Johnson’s thoughts on the new track surface and what he thought the race was going to be like. It was a nice look at the thought process going into the race, and I personally thought it was interesting. Johnson’s thoughts pretty much mirrored everyone else there. Basically, ‘what are we getting ourselves into?’

I still don’t think that FOX is really talking to enough drivers on its pre-race show. Sure, plenty are covered on NASCAR RaceDay on FOX Sports 1, but that’s the pre-pre-race show. Michael Waltrip shouldn’t be left to do it himself. I have no doubt that FOX’s pit reporters are pretty busy immediately prior to the race doing their leg work for their in-race reports, but I feel like we should have more interviews. Those interviews don’t necessarily have to be of the sit-down variety like what Little did Sunday, but at least something with some good information.

During the race itself, I found that FOX did a good job early on of showing as much racing for position as it possibly could.  I don’t know if this was a concerted effort to make the new surface look as good as possible, or if it was just a spur of the moment, but it was enjoyable to watch.

The booth was convinced that we were going to see a tough race. Jeff Gordon even stated that “this really is going to be a race of survival today” on lap 27. While the race was run in a start-and-stop fashion at the beginning, it actually opened up later in the event.  I think it legitimately surprised the booth, and they were happy to be able to call side-by-side action and drivers using the second lane late in the race.

Later in the race, there was a near wreck when Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski nearly collided. What actually happened was that Corey LaJoie got loose on his own and had to correct. Blaney nearly ran in the back of LaJoie and lost all his momentum.

While it looked in the replay like LaJoie may have clipped the apron, there was another side to the story. Turns out, LaJoie was leaking fluid for darn near the entire second half of the race.

Obviously, given how fast Texas Motor Speedway is, having to deal with that situation for much of the race bites. LaJoie was actually pretty fast early on, racing into the top 20 at one point.

The rear of LaJoie’s No. 83 was not as bad as depicted above at the time of his near contact with Blaney, but it was definitely discolored. Had LaJoie slipped on his own oil, that’s a perfectly legit reason to get loose.

Blaney appeared angry at LaJoie and gave him a bump exiting Turn 4 a couple of laps later. That earned a rebuke from Darrell Waltrip, who thought that it wasn’t necessary. That’s completely fair. It was one of those classic instances in which Blaney overreacted without knowing the facts. Waltrip seemed to think that Blaney was going to ruin his own race trying to get even with LaJoie.

Post-race coverage was very brief on account of the race running long. Viewers only got interviews of the top-two finishers (Johnson and Kyle Larson) and a check of the points before FOX left the air.

Overall, I thought that FOX did a good job showing the on-track action on Sunday. The viewers were not restricted to the very front of the field, either. FOX filled the quota with as much action as they could early on.

The middle portion of the race, however, got away from that. Yes, there were long green-flag runs, but FOX should still take pains to show the good stuff.

I found that Darrell Waltrip still cuts off Gordon a fair amount. The most notable instance of this was Johnson’s pass for the win on Joey Logano on lap 318. I don’t like that. With the amount of time he has spent in the booth, Gordon has an idea of what he’s doing now. Last week, we talked about courtesy, and cutting someone off like Waltrip does is not courteous.

Finally, I had some issues pertaining to the coverage of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s move up through the field. He started 37th and we saw footage of him fighting for position way down the field early on. Then, you got bupkis. All of a sudden, he’s up to sixth. I was watching the race and wondered how that happened without even a small mention. You cannot simply use the FOX Box as a crutch. You have to use everything at your disposal.

That’s all for this week. This upcoming weekend is Easter weekend, and it’s just about the leanest race weekend of the entire season as far as racing goes. All three of NASCAR’s National Series are off.  The Verizon IndyCar Series, Pirelli World Challenge and all of IMSA are off.

However, there is one major series starting up. That is the FIA World Endurance Championship, which starts Sunday with the 6 Hours of Silverstone. The European Le Mans Series serves as primary support. TV listings can be found in the TV Schedule.

In the Critic’s Annex later this week, I will cover the XFINITY Series My Bariatric Solutions 300. The race may be named for a local outfit that provides procedures to help the obese lose weight, but was the broadcast obese with issues? Find out Thursday in the Frontstretch newsletter.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below. Even though I can’t always respond, I do read your comments. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons. If you would like to contact either of NASCAR’s media partners, click on either of the links below.

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As always, if you choose to contact a network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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Good analysis even thought I did not watch the race…you surmise what I expect. I gotta say however I am shocked that Juniors charge to the front was not the focal point. Too funny. Obviously..let us say..the top 10 drivers do it with ease, it is a no brainier, HOWEVER when Kylie Busch does it, well it is the likes of something the NASCAR media has never, ever seen. He is the only one apparently and they are on auto pilot writing the same lazy BS. They ignore so many other drivers who do the exact same thing and never a word! How embarrassing for them!

A family member who when they are running in and out of the house if they are home, is thrilled after all these years THEY (this year is their breaking point listening to the bs in the booth) FINALLY DECIDE TO MUTE THE TV…well better late then never!


I noticed during Brian’s Barbaric Solutions race that the field gets better coverage when Kyle isn’t in the race (or leading). Sounds like it carries over to Brian’s product on Sundays. And I watch the Busch race with the sound muted too.

Bill B

Someone needs to create an app that will synch up a radio broadcast to the tv broadcast so that there is no time delay. Radio broadcasts are always better in all sports because they have to paint the picture for you and don’t have time to bloviate about BS topics or themselves.


Agree – would be awesome


Look up the SportSync Radio sold by Scanner Master. I’ve also had luck with using the MRN or PRN app on my smart phone. The app audio usually lags behind what I am seeing on my Dish Network broadcast so, if you have a DVR, a few pauses to hold the TV broadcast up a few seconds will usually get you in sync. I’d much rather listen to the guys on MRN or PRN than the gasbags in the FOX booth. Hope that helps.

Tom B

Not to give credit to the TV analysts, but radio broadcasters have been known to greatly exaggerate and even making stuff up.


Fernando Alonso is going to race in the Indy 500 instead of the Monaco GP in an Andretti car for McLaren, the first time in 38 years.


With the 83 car situation if that car was leaking fluid and was noticeable NASCAR missed it. At that point in the race however that car was at least 2 laps down with little chance of getting any free pass. The spotter needed to be more situationally aware and either have LaJoie slowdown the backstretch (GET OUT OF THE WAY) or get slowed enough to get up into the third lane going into the turn and again GET OUT OF THE WAY. There was a significant battle for position amongst four lead lap cars with none of the drivers the 83 would have been dealing with for position. Blaney likely gets by at least two of the four, I believe the 42 car was already past or passing the 83 but him being in the main racing lanes with being slow and having issues is not a good impression to have with the other drivers. Again this is more on the spotter than the driver. IMO.
Nice thing was Blaney did the smart thing and hit the brakes instead of potentially wrecking off the 2 cars bumper if he went high. Man that was tight. I just wish that Gordon or someone in the booth would have called the spotter out on that instance.

I am all for rookies and inexperienced drivers racing and not laying over if and when they are trying to stay on the lead lap, racing for the free pass, racing for an actual position, etc. It’s a problem when they are just in the way such as this instance.

Biff Baynehouse

Lets break it down, shall we. To legitimize calling it “TV coverage”, two things are prerequisite. One – a TV. Two – COVERAGE! To legitimize calling it a “broad-cast” two things are prerequisite. One – it must be BROAD in scope. Two it must contain a CAST. A cast is the development two or more characters, otherwise it would be called “a character”. Their direction is more like asserting corporate control over the spoon-feeding of NARROWED-CHARACTERS, as deemed worthy by corporate advertisers. As they most certainly go out of their way to AVOID the majority of the drivers & teams at the track. No doubt, they misappropriate advertisers as their customers, as apposed to the real customers, who are the home viewing race fans. That is the err of their ways & that is referred to as exploitation! Unfortunately for Focks, the majority of home-viewing customers, like I, are compelled by broad-casts & uninspired by narrowing of event characters. Unfortunately this scenario of broadcast production is nothing new & has been a motif since the motorsports brand swelled in popularity, in the early 90’s. The quality of their motorsport broadcasts (& ALL of their broadcast, in general) has progressively & continually been diminished & devalue. The unfortunate thing is that Nascar’s directors have manipulated & implemented contrivances in their brand to compensate for the broadcasters exploitation, inadequacies & ethical bankruptcy, hence abandoning the formula that spawned the immense popularity they once had. To my utter dismay, in implementing things like “chases” & “pee-break stages”, Nascar displays that they themselves place little-to-no value on the (formerly hugely successful) sports integrity of their brand. Race & Championship integrity has been summarily sold down the river in the exploitation of ad revenue. This display of their ethical bankruptcy is part-in-parcel to that of the broadcaster’s character narrowing motifs. Motifs, such as…
April 10 2017 Texas Commercials
Total laps: 334
Total commercials: 280
– Total traditional: 111
– Total split-screen: 27
– Total graphics & scripted: 142
March 26 2017 Los Angeles Commercials
Total laps: 202
Total commercials: 216
– Total traditional: 92
– Total split-screen: 25
– Total graphics & scripted: 102
The best & most compelling races of the weekend were in Tasmania, Australia. Saturdays AV8SC & Dunlop Series races were, essentially, canceled. Long story short, due to rooster-tail poor visibility & a very narrow track segment, very similar pile-ups occurred in both races. Over a dozen cars in each race were caught in the car grinding melees. Sunday’s races faired much better. DJRTP (Dick Jonson Racing/Team Penske) drivers, Fabian Coulthard & Scott McLaughlin, finished 1 – 2 on Sunday for the first points paying victory since motorsports icons Dick & Roger joined forces. To bad you guys [Frontstretch] don’t even acknowledge the category exists.
For my motorsports dollar, it is the best series on the Planet! Fun part is, like F1, I can stream all of their events LIVE & 100% COMMERCIAL FREE! One way or another, Nascar’s/Fock’s antiquated broadcast format …ONE lap – ONE commercial …will go the way of the dinosaur. The only question is: will Nascar go down with the ship or detach the Focks boat anchor before dipping below the waterline? In my opinion, due to “chases”, “pee break” & many other dog & pony show contrivances that have diminished their brand well beyond all recognition of it’s former glory & were brought on of Nascar’s own accord, their bridge has already sunk & they are surviving in the remaining pockets of oxygen of the legacies Big Bill created & Bill Jrs’ sustained. In fact, I have been awaiting the presser announcing the dissolution of the Truck series for a while now. I am not sure what is sustaining it, but I am sure it is not butts in seats. It is inevitable & looming.

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