Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: NBC Returns To NASCAR at Nashville, Brings Different Feel

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).

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.

See also
Couch Potato Tuesday: Rick Allen on Booth Dynamics, Preparation

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.

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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Tom B

I really appreciated NBC showing a breakdown of this Next Gen Car. It answered a lot of questions about the car. Now I get the stiff penalty for a loose wheel. Shame on Fox/Larry Mac for never doing this, Put It Out!
I could not believe NA$CAR did not throw a late race caution flag in this race, but I glad they didn’t.

Sue

Of course they won’t throw a caution when the favored one is leading. Not only did they not throw a caution but none of the TV shows I have seen afterwards have even mentioned it. Watched Race Hub last night and they all just skirted around it.

Sally Baker

Too bad NBC didn’t run a streamer during AGT to warn people that the race might continue on USA. I just gave up on it after too many delays.

Iceman202290

That red locker is cool and all but if the wheel is 180 the other way, you won’t see it. A locking ring may be a better approach as itll be visible no matter what.
Enjoyed the NBC broadcast, cut cable so couldn’t catch the end of the race.

johndawgchapman

Unfortunately, W/O cable, you’re going to miss a lot more racing this year. Particularly with Faux, I sometimes mute the booth, & listen to MRN. But it’s nice to have both.

Bill B

Actually it’s very close between the two networks. Fox had 10 races air on the main network. NBC has 9 races scheduled to air on the main network.

DoninAjax

Can you get TSN? They always show the event in its entirety. I picked up the telecast when I saw on the NA$CAR website that the event had resumed. They cover all the Busch series too but not the trucks.

Bill B

No, it doesn’t look like I can get TSN. Sounds wonderful though.

wildcats2016

interesting info about the lug nuts. I haven’t watched any pre-race shows in years so if they covered it there on Fox, I didn’t see it. Boy that was certainly a long race. I didn’t stay up for the finish as I needed to be up for work. I thought the booth did a good job. I completely tune out Wood for all things. I saw they were in rain delay and found something else to watch. I suppose I miss things that way but I am not willing to be annoyed.

Bill H

The coverage is “a bit more excitable” you say? Both Dale Jr and the other guy have high pitched voices and they keep screaming with excitement even when nothing is happening, often at the same time. I find it impossible to listen to for more than a few minutes. They also spend endless minutes discussing trivia, such as the design, function and malfunction of cool suits and how much they weigh. I watched Nashville until the cool suit discussion and turned it off.

Mike

I like JR but agree that having him and Jeff aw shucks Burton in the booth together is 1 too many of the same. Keep Junior and jettison Jeff.

DoninAjax

Think of the money they would save if one was eliminated. They could put the money towards fewer commercials. Right?

Charlie

For the prerace show? You stream it, I will not watch it. If I am able to find out who advertises, I will buy stock in a couple of the companies, get on the agenda at the next shareholder meeting, and lampoon them for spending money that should increase shareholder equity on a farce.
For the coverage, it was good. Steve L was his usual Hendrick shill, Rick Allen as smooth and great as ever, can’t listen to Jeff Burton, and Dale Jr. was outstanding. He’s a fan of the sport and it is contagious.
I am so sorry they dictated the race starting so late and getting it caught up in the usual summer storms.
I bet it will be the same this week.

Kicks

The more that gets streamed, the less that gets watched.

Bill H

NBC is also no longer showing Indycar qualifying on anything other than a streaming channel that charges a monthly fee. You can watch the race itself on network television, but everything else is behind a paywall. This network is rapidly becoming an anathema.

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