Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: Homestead Sees Improvement in NBC’s Inclusivity

Homestead-Miami Speedway was the site of the final race weekend of the NASCAR season from 2002-2019. In those years, race fans saw a lot of interesting sights and good racing. In 2020, NASCAR chose to move Championship 4 race weekend to Phoenix Raceway. Generally speaking, this hasn’t been the best decision, as our own Chase Folsom talked about Monday.

See also
Thinkin' Out Loud: It's Time for the Title Race to Go Back to Homestead

Sunday’s (Oct. 23) race will likely be best remembered for Kyle Larson having a momentary lapse in judgment in the final stage. That led him to first run into the back of Ryan Blaney under braking for pit road. He then locked up and hit the Fitch barriers at the beginning of pit road (Note: The Fitch barrier directly refers to the sand barrels, as they were invented by sports car racer John Fitch in the 1950s).

Now, it seemed like Rick Allen was more or less in shock here. I’ve never seen anyone slide into the barrels like that before and I don’t think Allen has either. Usually, if someone’s wiping out the barrels, they would have already wiped out beforehand. That wasn’t the case here.

NBC was able to get audio from Larson’s radio that indicated that he had misjudged how much Blaney had slowed. Yes, Blaney was going slower than Larson, but the replay with the speed overlay two minutes into the clip above likely illustrates the situation best. Larson was going fast enough that even if Blaney weren’t there, I don’t see a way that Larson slows down enough to make pit road speed. Remember that where Larson hit the barrels was right where pit road speed begins.

Just last week, I thought Larson had more or less cleaned up his act in regards to desperation moves and then he pulled this move. Usually, his desperation moves in the past have resulted in hitting the outside wall trying too hard.

As compared to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Homestead saw the non-playoff drivers be able to put up much more of a fight. Brad Keselowski was right up in the hunt until he got in the wall on the restart immediately after Larson’s meeting with the barrels. Then, he dropped back and finished five laps down in 28th.

You also had a non-playoff driver Through the Field segment during stage two, which is good to see. Here, drivers like AJ Allmendinger, Corey LaJoie and Aric Almirola got some dap.

That was good to see. Let’s face it. There are more than eight drivers in this race. There are plenty of stories in a 400-mile race at Homestead and Sunday’s race was no exception. The Las Vegas broadcast really didn’t look like that for most of the going, as I noted in last week’s critique.

See also
The Underdog House: AJ Allmendinger Finding Late Season Success

The race itself Sunday saw a decent amount of passing. NASCAR’s Loop Data indicates 474 more passes in the race despite five fewer laps under green. There were also a lot more lead changes this year (25, as compared to 11 last year). That was primarily due to Larson getting eliminated early.

As you’re likely aware, Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced in Saturday’s Contender Boats 300, earning himself a top-five finish. By all indications, Earnhardt had a lot of fun during the race, outside of the instance where he got into Josh Berry.

What did that mean for Sunday’s broadcast? It meant that Earnhardt had first-hand knowledge of the racetrack. The conditions Saturday were nearly identical to what the NASCAR Cup Series drivers dealt with. The NASCAR Xfinity Series race started 45 minutes earlier than the Cup race, but the extra 100 miles and the red flag effectively meant that they finished at the same time.

Earnhardt reportedly chose to race at Homestead because he wanted to race up against the wall. He did plenty of that and brought knowledge to the broadcast in regards to what it’s like to race up there. Unfortunately, the differences between Xfinity cars and the Next Gen car these days are substantial enough that quite a bit of it isn’t applicable.

The end of Sunday’s race saw some strange things happen. Due to the red flag that came out due to Larson sliding into the barrels, the broadcast ran long.

NBC chose to go to a commercial break during the cool down lap, which is very rare. In doing that, viewers missed Christopher Bell’s post-race celebration. While I think burnouts are rather passe these days, it strikes me as a really bad choice. The only explanation I can give for it that doesn’t castigate the network is the possibility of a required commercial break on NBC after the race. This is possible since it jetted off the network as soon as it finished talking to Bell.

Otherwise, this was a mess. It was completely preventable, but it wasn’t willing to give the broadcast an extra three or four minutes.

The Bell interview was the only bit of post-race coverage that aired on NBC. On Peacock, viewers got a few more interviews, all of whom were with playoff drivers, or team owners (Joe Gibbs). The Peacock coverage often starts before the race is over, but it did not start until after Bell’s burnout was complete.

See also
The Big 6: Questions Answered After Christopher Bell Punches His Title Ticket in Miami

As compared to Las Vegas, this was a more competitive race that was just nicer to watch. It was competitive and NBC did a better job of being more inclusive in its coverage. It wasn’t all playoff drivers, all the time.

However, the post-race coverage was a mess. The seemingly random commercial that cut the celebration out of the broadcast was not random. I know that some fans were unhappy about that. NBC needed to plan that out a little better so it wasn’t so abrupt. I understand its desire to get to the local news (at least in the eastern part of the country), but that plan was bad. Thankfully, there was some extra post-race coverage on Peacock.

Tires were a big topic during the race, but unlike the Xfinity race on Saturday, you never really saw what good wear and bad wear looked like on the broadcast. Are the teams and/or Goodyear being more guarded with the bigger tires on the Next Gen car, or is it just that NBC never really got a good view of them? Regardless, with the track apparently exhibiting Darlington Raceway’s levels of wear these days, they should get that to the viewers.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Cup Series and Xfinity Series Championship 4 lineups will be set at Martinsville Speedway. Thursday night will also see the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season conclude at The Paperclip. Formula 1 teams will also make the approximately 910-mile drive to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City for the Grand Prix of Mexico. TV listings can be found here.

We will have a critique of the Xfinity 500 broadcast from Martinsville, at the bare minimum, in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. The Critic’s Annex will cover Saturday’s Contender Boats 300.

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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Old School

Those are not “desperation” moves by Larson as stated. They are real race-car driver’s pedal to the metal moves.

An interesting point to research is why the scoring placements are darkened after the first ten. They are miserable to read. Do they think we can’t read the position numbers on the left if they were brightened?

janice

they just want to focus on the playoff drivers. i usually check nascar.com for position rundown during the race at this time in the season cause the world is only interested in the playoff drivers, so they say.

gbvette

While it was nice that NBC gave some non championship drivers some minimal coverage, the coverage was still way to focused on just eight drivers.

As far as the tire situation, NBC does a terrible job of covering what happens on pit road. They don’t do near enough in race interviews with crew chiefs, tire wear and issue updates, damage repair reports, coverage of mechanical repairs/issues, etc. What’s happening in the garage or on pit road is often more important, or more interesting then what’s happening on track. Even their video of pit stops is weak compared to Indycar and IMSA races. NBC (and Fox) need to sit down with the producers of Sky Sports F1 races to learn about covering all of the on and off track action, and not just the top 2 or 3 cars.

Personally, I was glad we didn’t see the burnout. When Alex Zanardi did the first burnout 25 years ago after his first win, it was fun and fit his personality. Now it’s just stupid. I don’t need drivers doing burnouts, somersaults, climbing fences, etc, have some class, do a victory lap and come to victory lane.

Last edited 7 months ago by gbvette
Mugrad

Amen! Like Emmitt Smith once said about the shenanigans after scoring a touchdown, “act like you’ve been there before.”

WJW Motorsports

NBC (and Fox) need to sit down with the producers of Sky Sports F1 races to learn about covering all of the on and off track action, and not just the top 2 or 3 cars.
In NBC’s defense, it’s not all that hard to accomplish when there really isn’t any on track action. After all, this is a racing series that on lap 3 or 4 can confidently go to a full screen replay of the start and first lap, without fear of missing anything.

gbvette

Yes, but unlike NBC and Fox, when the leader has a comfortable lead, they don’t continue to focus just on the leader. Sky will spend laps covering two or three cars racing for position even if it’s only for tenth, instead of continuing to show the leader lapping by himself. With 36 cars on track in a Cup race, there’s sure to be action going on someplace, why not show it. Not everybody routes for Elliott, Larson or Busch, it would be nice if some of the guys running mid pack got some exposure for themselves and their sponsors once in a while.

Sky also shows every cars pit stops, not just the front runners and shows them close up at track level (as doe IMSA and Indycar). Not with a long lens from across the track. When a driver’s struggling in an F1 race Sky finds out why and reports it, when a car breaks they find out why, and they do it for all 20 cars in the field, not just the top 2 or 3. Have you ever seen a NASCAR reporter standing track side comparing different cars entrance and exit points to a turn, or where they’re braking at? There is so much more that goes on during a race the networks could, but chose not to use, that would educate and inform the TV audience.

Last edited 7 months ago by gbvette
WJW Motorsports

Agreed – good comments. I should have prefaced my comment by saying that I do actually agree – Sky does much better in general. And NBC does much better with Indy (and in my opinion – with Xfinity) so they do have people there that know how to broadcast racing. Open wheel is just much easier to cover I’d say – lots of spacing in what is usually an extended time trial. I mean c’mon with the pit stops – not hard to show 2 seconds where nothing ever happens.

CCcolorado

Hey , you can talk all day about the Sky covering the BORING F1 races. Yes they do a great job, but what they show the audiences is a total crappy product itself. NASCAR has more actual passes for The Lead in one race than F1 does All Year. You call that racing.? You insult our intelligence!
When you have no passes you Have to talk about the rest of the field. Duh!

John

I’m asking out of ignorance here…what does this article have to do with ‘inclusivity?’

wildcats2016

I’m wondering if it was because the coverage included non playoff eligible drivers. That’s my best guess.

wildcats2016

I’ve seen this before. Kenseth ran into the barrels at the end of pit road at Dover. Not a fun thing at all but better than hitting the jersey barrier head on.

Steve

My feeling is that he hit the barrels because he didn’t want to run into Blaney’s car and ruin his playoff chances. He’s already locked in so I’m sure it was easier to stomach his own cars damage at that point, so I commend him for that. He could have easily ruined one of his competitor’s playoff chances but he didn’t. The author calling this a desperation move is a bit of a head scratcher.

booggityboogityboogity

doesnt nascar make more money than the local news anyway.

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