Sunday was a pretty brutal day for NASCAR Cup Series teams. As you all know by now, Sunday’s Ally 400 took roughly seven hours to run due to rain and lightning. Before the rain came, you had temperatures in the 90s as well. Woof.
This was the first Cup race of the 2022 season to air on NBC. It seems like they wanted to have a fair amount of synergy between NASCAR and IMSA. Sunday also just so happened to be the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, another series that NBC Sports has rights to.
The idea appeared to be to make it so that the races could be watched back-to-back. That is likely why the start of the race in Nashville was pushed back to after 5 p.m. ET.
What many of you don’t realize is that the start of the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen was also pushed back an hour this year. It started at 10:45 a.m. ET instead of 9:45 a.m. ET. For the record, I was not a fan of the race being pushed back due to it making the task of getting back home far more arduous than it needs to be.
Countdown to Green, in a first, aired exclusively on Peacock. I’m personally not a fan of that move, but it does allow me to review everything directly on the Peacock app.
During the pre-race, Marty Snider sat down with Justin Marks, Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to talk about Trackhouse Racing Team. It’s a different way of approaching a race team as compared to what fans have been used to over the years.
There were also some new looks at the Next Gen car that helped show how the air flows through the car. It was a new way to look at it, an exploding diagram, for lack of better words.
An additional diagram showed how the new wheels are installed on the cars. I was honestly unaware that there is a telltale for the tire changer to easily be able to tell whether a wheel is tight (the little red thing that reminds me of the plungers used on game shows in the 1980s).
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) June 27, 2022
Why FOX never took the time to mention that over the past four months, I couldn’t tell you. After seeing that, I feel like either fans have been done a disservice, or I simply didn’t watch enough NASCAR RaceHub on FOX Sports 1.
Rutledge Wood is still on the broadcast, but he wasn’t really at the track Sunday. He’s hosting segments known as Rut’s City View. Basically, he goes around the host cities to check out nightlife and various cool things. I guess that’s a good thing, but it’s a little weird at times.
Obviously, weather was the big thing on Sunday. NBC did acknowledge the potential for rain being an issue, but it really wasn’t discussed much. Then, Josh Bilicki had some kind of electrical issue that brought out the yellow. Almost immediately afterwards, the first lightning strike of the day (at Nashville Superspeedway) brought the race to a stop. I feel like NBC could have informed the viewers a little bit better about this knowing that the radar that they showed on-air depicted storms more or less splitting the facility.
Since everyone has to shelter during a lightning delay, NBC was fairly limited in what it could do. It had a fair amount of discussion in the broadcast booth, in addition to some interviews in the garage. One of those interviews was with William Byron, who described the beginnings of the issue with the steering that ultimately put him behind the wall.
The second time around was a little different. There were some interviews, plus a piece where Wood interviewed Joe Nelms, the pastor who gave a rather infamous invocation prior to the final race in the then-Nationwide Series at Nashville Superspeedway before the track closed in 2011. If you’re wondering, the overalls are not something Nelms did for the heck of it. He preaches in overalls.
During the rain delay, the end of the scheduled time slot was reached. At that point, NBC switched over to America’s Got Talent and stated that the race would resume on USA (if it did). What that ultimately meant is that the broadcast went off the air for a time.
USA was airing a marathon of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at the time. The race resumed at 10 p.m. ET after over two hours down with 160 laps to go.
Toward the end of the race, Brad Keselowski and Cole Custer collided and smacked the wall in turn 4. This did not draw a caution, although it seemingly had all the necessary elements in play to do so. This somewhat surprised the booth, and likely a bunch of viewers as well.
Post-race coverage was very limited for those of you watching on USA. The race ended at 11:55 p.m. ET. Viewers on TV only got a post-race interview with Chase Elliott, a check of the points and some analysis before the broadcast ended.
There was about 14 minutes of extended post-race coverage that was exclusive to Peacock. Here, viewers got to hear from Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and Ross Chastain, along with additional analysis.
After four months of FOX Sports’ game plan for covering the NASCAR Cup Series, NBC Sports brought a completely different approach to it. Yes, the broadcasters definitely have fun with what they’re doing, but there’s also a measured approach. Also, having the same crew (more or less) every week is going to help things. While the skill of being able to work with a bunch of different people is important, it’s hard to have chemistry. On the other hand, Rick Allen believes in super chemistry, as he told Frontstretch in 2018.
I felt that NBC was more inclusive in its broadcast style than what we had been getting from FOX recently. The broadcast style is a bit more excitable than what we get from FOX, but it’s definitely in tune with the broadcasts and come off as more professional and practiced. I can’t do anything about lightning or rainstorms, but the broadcast seemed to be pretty good, glitches in on-screen graphics aside.
That’s all for this week. Next weekend is another busy time in the world of racing. The NASCAR Cup and NASCAR Xfinity Series will both be in action at Road America. Formula 1 will be at Silverstone in England, effectively a home race for the majority of the paddock. The NTT IndyCar Series will be at Mid-Ohio as well. TV listings can be found here.
We will provide critiques of the Cup and Xfinity races from Road America in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. The Critic’s Annex will look at additional racing action from Nashville.
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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.