Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: NBC Does Not Do Cutoff Races Well

The ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway always brings in some shenanigans and Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400k was no exception to the rule.

Since the Bank of America ROVAL 400k was only six days after the YellaWood 500 at Talladega, Bubba Wallace’s victory was still fresh on everyone’s mind.  To that end, there were two segments that covered it.

First, Wallace appeared on the Peacock Pit Box during Countdown to Green to describe how the previous week had been.  Brad Daugherty joined in from home to chime in here as well.  Here, Wallace explained how the emotions come back to the surface every time he thinks about it.

What I took away is something that was touched on later in the show.  Wallace is a very emotional person that can be very hard on himself.  Think back to his Cup debut at Pocono in 2017.  He qualified 15th (not bad), but got busted for speeding five dang times during the race.  He was so angry with himself that he actually fainted briefly on pit road afterwards.

I was right there when that happened.  He was talking about his day and then his eyes rolled back into his head and he stopped talking.  He didn’t fall to the ground that day, but he was helped to the ground, where he drank some water.  A few minutes later, he went to Victory Lane to congratulate his broseph Ryan Blaney (who earned his first Cup win that day) before going to the Infield Care Center, followed by a press conference.  In the press conference, he admitted that this type of “anger faint” had happened before.

He had basically convinced himself that he wasn’t capable of winning.  Not a good mindset to have.  Then, he achieved paydirt on Oct. 4.  That accomplishment proved that he could actually do it.  He hadn’t won anything in over five years.

The second of which was an interview that Today’s Craig Melvin conducted over Zoom with 23XI Racing co-owners Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.  The topics of discussion here were varied.  They included Hamlin convincing his friend Jordan to tamper down his legendary competitiveness in NASCAR.  The desire to win that bordered on insanity during his NBA career really doesn’t work in NASCAR when you’re starting a team from scratch.  You’re more like to end up how Ted Stepien, the former owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, did in the NBA with that strategy than what Jordan did.

For Hamlin, one of his biggest takeaways from Talladega was the rediscovery of the sweetness of winning.  Hamlin’s been in Cup since 2006 and has won races in all but one of those years.  It actually gets to be somewhat normal after a while.  Just take Kyle Larson’s reaction to winning Sunday.  After the race on the radio, Larson said something to the degree of “Wow, I wasn’t expecting to do that.”  I have no doubt that Larson was quite pleased with his accomplishment, but it was his seventh win of year.  Winning with Hendrick Motorsports isn’t the rarity that it once was for him.

Jordan came to NASCAR with previous experience in motorsports, albeit in what is now known as MotoAmerica.  He wasn’t blind to the sport, but he had to temper expectations.  He knew going in what NASCAR’s reputation has been in the past.  Growing up in North Carolina, he was always quite familiar in the sport.  He considers someone like Daugherty to be a guide for his involvement in NASCAR.  Admittedly, their entrances into the sport are similar, but occurred at different levels.  Daugherty was a longtime friend of Robert Pressley (both grew up in Asheville, N.C.) and helped Pressley get into the then-Busch Grand National Series in the late 1980s.

Sunday’s race will likely be best remembered for the rekindling of the Chase ElliottKevin Harvick rivalry.  Harvick was angry with Elliott after Elliott blocked him at Bristol and Elliott was angry because contact between the two of them cut his tire.

On Sunday, Harvick got his revenge by intentionally spinning Elliott into the wall in turn 7.  Elliott then spun exiting turn 8 and got hit by Cole Custer.  Despite Elliott’s NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet being a complete mess, he would come back to finish 12th, commendable given how bad his car was.

There was also the possibility that Elliott could have paid Harvick back once again.  That didn’t come to pass because Harvick made an unenforced error and crashed himself out of the race.

Needless to say, NBC was all over this with plenty of replays.  I think they were a little slow to realize at first that this was in fact a payback for Bristol, only considering it after they saw the replay from Harvick’s roof cam.

After the race, viewers heard from both sides.  While he didn’t outright say “I wrecked him,” Harvick wasn’t exactly beating around the bush during his post-race interview.

Meanwhile, Elliott didn’t really want to talk about the situation after the race, especially with the non-live media.  However, he did drop this gem.

I was in the Media Center at VIR when Elliott said this.  It elicited a chortle from me.  Couldn’t have done much more than that since I was working on a race recap and other people around me were working.

Outside of the wreck, Sunday’s race saw a lot of points coverage.  Harvick entered the race in ninth and was in position to race into the Round of 8 until he crashed out in TUMS Heartburn Turn.  Apparently, Elliott psyched him out, as if this were the movie BASEketball.

William Byron was having a great race, leading 30 laps.  He ended up falling down the order late, then crashed with a couple of laps to go and ended up 11th.

Larson got all the coverage for his alternator belt/battery issues, but teammate Alex Bowman had similar issues.  I’d actually want to know how those issues started.  I do realize that it would be rather difficult to tell how something like that could happen during the race.

Post-race coverage was rather substantial.  Viewers saw interviews with essentially all of the playoff contenders, including those that were eliminated.  The only non-playoff contenders that got airtime were Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher, who put themselves in the hunt to potentially win.

The heavy playoff focus was a turnoff for me to an extent.  It becomes very difficult to even follow the race when it’s always “______ is below the cut line” and so on and so forth.  I really don’t give a hoot about the cut line.  I just want the race itself to be covered.

The constant point updates make it even more difficult to follow the race since the vast majority of the scoring pylon is taken up by the point checks.  I don’t want to see that for the entire race.  I want to see who is running where and I want the whole field to be covered.  Can’t imagine how I’d feel if my favorite driver fell out of the playoffs in the Round of 16 or didn’t make it at all.

That’s all for this week.  Next weekend, the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series teams return to Texas Motor Speedway for a doubleheader to open up the Round of 8 for both series.  TV listings can be found in the Television drop down.

Next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday will cover both the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 and the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 from Texas.  The Critic’s Annex will cover Saturday’s Drive For The Cure 250k from the ROVAL, now that I am back home in New York.

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.

FOX Sports
NBC Sports

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

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via