Race Review: NASCAR Auto Club 500

2009 Auto Club 500
California Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California, USA
22 Feb 2009
Round 2 of 36

I watched the 1 hr highlights edition and will note edits with “[jump]”. There are a lot of edits.

I’ve decided to post this just for the hell of it – since I’m watching these short shows anyway in order to learn NASCAR for the 2010 season I may as well blog about them!

Green Flag

This is a fast 2 mile superspeedway, Jamie McMurray started on pole but fellow front-row man Jimmie Johnson takes the lead from the start. The guest starter is getting very animated on the stand!

After only two laps we jump to Lap 72.

[jump]
L72 – Johnson leads with Jeff Gordon in 2nd after Jeff passes Kurt Busch who was running a very high line.

L73 – Pit report saying Tony Stewart’s car is a little ‘loose’ but the commentary guys say it should get better as the track will come towards them later. He’s 6th.

Another pit report mentions the word ‘carburettor’. I chuckle.

L76 – Ex-F1 driver Scott Speed is in this race and he has been lapped, yet we’ve just been told 38 cars are on the lead lap. Oh dear.

L78 – Jeff Gordon takes the lead from his teammate, on-track pass.

[jump]
L119 – 21 of the 43 starters are on the lead lap, 41 cars are running. Replay of someone sliding the back end to avoid the wall!

Talk of the Chevrolets and Fords getting the best fuel mileage, and the Dodges and Toyotas not being as good. Interesting. This is what I like about multi-manufacturer competition, even if they are tightly controlled. I wonder which develops more power?

[jump]
L177 – Restart after a mystery yellow (we are not shown or told why). 73 laps to go, Matt Kenseth leads. Mark Martin’s car slides and his tyre smokes, he has to pit.

Johnson and Gordon are still in contention changing position between themselves.

Apparently they are using the brakes here more with the new car than they did with the old regulations. I’m surprised at this, I wouldn’t expect them to even touch the brakes here.

Even though these are heavily-edited highlights I can tell this race was pretty boring.

60 to go – Nice to see Montoya working his way up to 9th.

[jump]
L215 – Kenseth takes another restart. Again we do not see the reason for it. 35 to go. Now we talk to Dale Earnhardt Jr who is talking about something breaking with the engine, he’s very disappointed…

Kenseth builds a lead on the restart, then Gordon reels him in again when his tyres are up and working properly.

26 to go. Some good advice from the commentary for the rookies, stop trying to imitate the established stars and just drive the car the way you want to.

[jump]
15 to go – Nothing has changed except the gaps are growing. This is like an F1 race! We are told Gordon is cooling his tyres ready for another push at the end.

8 to go – Hamlin takes 4th from Kurt Busch.

We are told about a ‘Monster Moment’ and hear swooshy noises for graphics, no graphics appear on screen. This happens often on these highlights packages.

7 to go – The rookie Eric Almirola slows down with an apparent engine problem.
5 to go – Gordon is now pushing hard and catching Kenseth.
4 to go – ..and they are among lapped traffic.
2 to go – Kenseth has used the traffic to build a bigger gap, nicely played!

Final Lap

Matt Kenseth wins!! 2nd race win in a row after winning the Daytona 500, only the 4th driver to achieve feat of winning both Daytona and the race that followed it, the last time was in 1997.

Result (top 10):

1. Kenseth (Roush Fenway)
2. J.Gordon (Hendrick)
3. Ky.Busch (Gibbs)
4. Biffle (Roush Fenway)
5. Ku.Busch (Penske)
6. Hamlin (Gibbs)
7. Edwards (Roush Fenway)
8. Stewart (Stewart-Haas)
9. Johnson (Hendrick)
10. Vickers (Red Bull)

I’ve decided to include the teams rather than the manufacturers as NASCAR does it as I think it is more telling, and in any case that’s what I’m used to in other series.

Points (top 12):

1. Kenseth 385
2. J.Gordon -81
3. Ku.Busch -91
4. Stewart -91
5. Biffle -117
6. Bowyer -119
7. Waltrip -121
8. Ragan -123
9. Edwards -125
10. Montoya -129
11. Sadler -137
12. Reutimann -137

Still early days at this stage of course.

The next races were at Las Vegas and Atlanta but I don’t have those, so the next race I’ll see is the first visit of the year to Bristol.

Race Review: NASCAR Daytona 500

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Daytona 500

Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, Florida, USA
(1/36)
Held: 15 Feb 09
Watched: 1 Nov 09
Coverage: FOX 1hr edit*, aired on Five

* I watched the 1-hour highlights edition which is obviously heavily edited from the original race coverage. I’m not sure who does the editing, if it is from NASCAR, FOX or Five.

200 laps scheduled

Green flag. These cars may not be impressive but their speeds and car control required are, look how much they move around! Takes some doing to keep them off the wall, I should think.

Kyle Busch leads the early running, Harvick is also quick but some way back.

Spin on lap 8. Almirola. Replay: He had to lift in traffic and the car behind tagged him gently. Yellow flag.
L11 – Restart.

[jump]
L40 – Kyle Busch and Dale Jr side by side for the lead. Busch pulls ahead. Two lines of traffic all the way back, typical restrictor plate stuff, exciting for a while if you are new to it like I am… but then very boring when nothing changes.

[jump]
L60 – Restart, my highlights don’t show why it was yellow in the first place. Man in the pits shows us a tyre, VERY worn right down to the cords. Dangerous stuff.

L65 – All the cars are bunched up still. Commentary saying 33 cars covered by 3 seconds… while that is quite impressive, it really is just an accident looking for somewhere to happen. You’re watching through your fingers because a big crash is inevitible, that’s not what this should be about.

[jump]
L86 – Something of a bad edit and we’re on another restart, not told why, not our business. This is a need-to-know operation and we don’t need to know.

Chat with Joey Logano, apparently he was in an accident.

L90 – The weather has changed, teams are racing to halfway in case of rain. If rain arrives any time after half distance (lap 100) the race will be declared as finished with full points awarded. Rain is due soon so no more waiting until lap 180 to then race to the end, got to go now..

L93 – Earnhardt Jr missed his pit stall last time, had to go around and came out last but he’s working his way up the order again, he’s into the top 15.

[jump]
L111 (89 to go) – Single file most of the way back, four car break up front: Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Edwards, McMurray. Finally someone breaks away!

86 to go – Jeff Gordon pits after a long green flag run, commentary says people will now follow him in. Jeff goes a lap down with a green flag stop.
Indeed they do start pitting.. most of the leaders stay out.
During the pit sequence a tyre blows on the track, yellow for debris.

[jump]
L124 (77 to go) – Restart but no, here’s the big one straight away.
Earnhardt Jr turns someone into the field who try to avoid the car, but many fail.. Kyle Busch, dominant all day, is taken out of the race along with about ten other cars.

Dale was pushed to the inside below the line, coming back in he caught the back end of Vickers’ car when he ought to have lifted slightly to get more space. Okay so he shouldn’t have been blocked, but once he was he shouldn’t have moved up until he was clear.

[jump]
L163 RED FLAG
The rain has arrived. Replay of Kenseth taking the lead from Sadler.

Official – the race is over due to rain.

Result (top 10):
1. Kenseth (Ford)
2. Harvick (Chevy)
3. Allmendinger (Dodge)
4. Bowyer (C)
5. E.Sadler (D)
6. Ragan (F)
7. Waltrip (Toyota)
8. Stewart (C)
9. Sorenson (D)
10. Ku.Busch (D)

Not necessarily representative of the pace of the race. Harvick did pull himself to the front but Kyle Busch ought to have been up there. That’s just how this style of racing goes.

Points (top 12):
1. Kenseth 190
2. Harvick -20
3. Allmendinger -25
4. Bowyer -30
5. E.Sadler -30
6. Ragan -40
7. Stewart -43
8. Waltrip -44
9. Sorenson -52
10. Truex Jr -55
11. Ku.Busch -56
12. J.Gordon -61

I do not understand this points system, I assume points were accrued through bonuses.

Summary:
Interesting stuff from my perspective, the style of racing is completely different to anything I’m used to. I couldn’t watch it for three hours or more although I did try to do so live at the time, but this highlights form really works for me. The editing could be better – we need to know why things like restarts are happening, not just that they are.

I’ll continue this series of race reviews over the off-season, although I’ll only promise to cover IRL, GP2 and MotoGP races, there will be a lot more but the coverage will be patchy.

Weekend Preview : 1-2 August 2009

Feature Events


IRL IndyCar Series

– Meijer Indy 300
– Kentucky Speedway
– Sparta, Kentucky, United States
– (12/17)
www.indycar.com

Changes to the aero rules for this race (see previous post) should mean an improvement in the racing on this 1.5 mile oval, as it has been fairly bad on ovals earlier this season. Since side by side open-wheel racing on ovals is the hallmark and unique selling point of this series, let’s hope they work.

Note this is a Saturday night race under the lights.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 1 at 2am Sunday
(repeated 11.30am and 4.30pm on SS Xtra)
USA – LIVE on VERSUS at 8pm ET Saturday

Other Events


Le Mans Series

– 1000KM do Algarve
– Portimao
– Algarve, Portugal
– (3/5)
www.lemans-series.com

The is the first evening/night race for the Le Mans Series in Europe, and also the first visit of the series to this new circuit. The race will begin at 7.15pm local (and UK) time and run for the usual LMS distance of 1000km or six hours.

TV Guide:
UK – Eurosport at 7pm for 1h30m.


Formula Renault 3.5

Portimao
– Algarve, Portugal

Supporting the LMS, both races are on Saturday afternoon.

TV Guide:

Race 1 on Eurosport at 12pm Saturday.
Race 2 doesn’t appear to be covered.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Pennsylvania 500
– Pocono, Pennsylvania, United States
www.nascar.com

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 3 at 7pm Sunday
US – LIVE on ESPN at 1pm Sunday


NASCAR Nationwide Series

– Iowa Speedway
– Iowa, United States
www.nascar.com

NASCAR Camping World Trucks

– Nashville Speedway
– Tennessee, United States
www.nascar.com


DTM

– Oschersleben
– Germany
www.dtm.tv / www.dtm.com

dtm.tv should have live coverage from 1pm UK time.

V8 Supercars

– Norton 360 Sandown Challenge
– Sandown, Australia
www.v8supercar.com.au


Indy Lights

– Oschersleben
– Germany


F3 Euroseries

– Kentucky Speedway
– Kentucky, USA

Superleague Formula

– Donington Park
– Leics., England, UK

World Rally Championship

– Rally Finland
www.wrc.com

Kimi Raikkonen has entered his home round of the WRC in a Super 2000 spec Abarth. After the first day’s stages he’s performing among the top runners in his class and in the top 20 overall!


Intercontinental Rally Challenge

– Rally Vinho Madeira
– Madeira, Portugal
www.ircseries.com


British Touring Car Championship

– Snetterton
– Norfolk, England, UK

TV Guide:

UK – The usual six hours (3 x BTCC plus lots of support races) on ITV4 from 11.30am!

* * * *

Sources:
Live Sport on TV
RadioTimes.com
and several of the series sites mentioned above

Weekend Preview: 25-26 July 2009

Feature Events

FIA Formula 1 World Championship

– Formula 1 ING Magyar Nagydig
– (ING Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix)
– Hungaroring, nr.Budapest, Hungary
– (10/17)
www.f1.com

F1 returns to the dustbowl of the Hungaroring, where as usual the forecast is for high temperatures. The dust of the surrounding area has a tendency to get all over the track and make grip very hard to come by, it is this in combination with the circuit layout itself that tends to prevent good racing at this notoriously boring race track – though the changes to turn one a few years ago have created a divebomb-braking opportunity for the brave/crazy (if not in the F1 race, definitely in the GP2 support races!).

I am not a fan of this event although it did bring F1 to Eastern Europe as long ago as the mid-1980s, and track improvements over the last two decades have improved racing.. a bit..

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on BBC One at 12.10pm Sunday, race starts at 1pm
(qualifying on BBC Two at 12.10pm Sat)
USA – HEAVILY DELAYED on FOX at 3pm ET.


IRL IndyCar Series

– Rexall Edmonton Indy
– City Centre Airport, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
– (11/17)
www.indycar.com

This is the second visit to Edmonton for the IndyCars but the 5th (I think?) running of the event, with this being a former Champ Car venue – but any advantage the CC guys had has now been erased and there should be a nice level playing field, apart from the actual track surface of this bumpy airport circuit!

Of note this year is the first visit to the circuit of the supporting Indy Lights series.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 2 at 10.45pm Sunday (directly after NASCAR)

USA – LIVE on VERSUS at 5pm ET Sunday


FIM MotoGP

– British Grand Prix
– Donington Park, Castle Donington, England
– (11/17)
www.motogp.com

The final visit to Donington for the premier motorbike series, for now at least, as it moves in the opposite direction to F1 and will pitch up at Silverstone in 2010, with apparent mixed feelings from the riders. Some love Donny, some can’t wait to leave. I think it makes a great motorbike track with the sweeping curves.

Living in the UK I know the forecast for the weekend. Saturday is due to be warm and sunny so qualifying should be representative – but rain is due to appear for the race on Sunday.

(I can never remember if DP is in Northants or Lincs)

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on BBC ONE at 3pm Sunday (directly after F1), race start 3.30pm

USA – SPEED claims 6pm ET, which is not possible because the race starts at 8.30pm ET.


Other Events


GP2 Series

– Hungaroring
– Budapest, Hungary
– (6/10)
www.gp2series.com
– (F1 support with F.Master, FBMW Europe and Porsche Supercup)

TV Guide:
UK – Eurosport 2
– Race 1 @ 4.45pm Saturday (this may be slightly delayed due to MotoGP coverage)
– Race 2 @ 7pm Sunday (very delayed – I can’t see any live coverage)


World Superbikes

– Brno
– Brno, Czech Republic
www.worldsbk.com
– (with Supersport, etc.)

TV Guide:

UK – Eurosport
– Race 1 LIVE @ 11am Sunday
– Race 2 DELAYED @ either at 3.40pm or 6pm (Eurosport’s website sucks)

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
– Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana, United States
www.nascar.com

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 2 at 7pm Sunday
US – LIVE on ESPN at 2pm Sunday


NASCAR Nationwide Series

& NASCAR Camping World Trucks

– O’Reilly Raceway Park
– Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
www.nascar.com

Firestone Indy Lights

– Edmonton
– Alberta, Canada
– (IndyCar support)

IMSA Atlantics

– Autobahn Country Club
– Joliet, Illinois, United States
(with Star Mazda)


FIA GT

– Total 24 Hours of Spa
– Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
(with European GT4 and British F3)
www.fiagt.com


Super GT

– Sugo
– Sugo, Japan


Silverstone Classic

– Silverstone Circuit
– Silverstone, Northants, England, UK

A multitude of historic racing series at what used to be known as the Coys Historic Festival.
Featuring: GP Masters, Pre-66 F1, the David Leslie Memorial Trophy for 90s Tourers, BRDC Historic Sportscars, Classic Group C and a lot more.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE all weekend on MotorsTV

* * * *

Sources:
Live Sport On TV
RaceFanTV
SkySports.com
Eurosport.co.uk
BBC.co.uk
SpeedTV.com