Friday, September 18, 2009

One Eye On Qualifying And The Other On Danica

It should be a very interesting motorsports Friday on TV for several reasons. One involves a track fans either love or hate. The second involves a driver that fans either love or hate. New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Danica Patrick take center stage.

While SPEED will start the day off at 12PM ET with Sprint Cup Series practice, the big moments will happen when ESPN2 hosts qualifying at 3PM. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will be calling the action for this very important session.

Passing has been tough with the new Sprint Cup cars at NHMS. Two key ingredients that have played important roles in the outcome of the race are qualifying and pit stops. Now that the Chase is underway, there will be the drivers with everything to gain and those with nothing to lose both seeking to start at the front of the grid.

After qualifying, Mike Massaro comes along with a thirty minute edition of NASCAR Now scheduled for 5PM. SPEED is next as Mike Skinner and Denny Hamlin guest on Trackside at 7PM. That show has Steve Byrnes hosting with Jeff Hammond, Elliott Sadler and Larry McReynolds on the panel. This weekend, McReynolds will stick around and substitute for Kenny Wallace on Sunday's Victory Lane. Wallace returns to the program next week.

The other big Friday attraction is the IRL race from Motegi, Japan on the Versus TV Network live at 10:30PM ET. Stories are now beginning to creep into the mainstream NASCAR media that fans may well see Patrick in NASCAR next season. Could that start in Daytona next February with Patrick running both the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series races?

With the IRL not opening their 2010 season until March 14 in Brazil, there is an opportunity for her to attempt three Nationwide and two Camping World Truck Series races before that weekend. Click here for a recent article quoting Tony Stewart as confirming that Patrick is determined to make the transition to NASCAR.

Motegi was the scene of a hotly debated win for Patrick last season. It has been her only win on the IRL trail since she joined the sport in 2005. She has 79 IRL starts in her career and has finished 67 of those races. While not at the top of the heap, she continues to just hang-in there this season, currently 5th in points.

It will be the familiar voice of Bob Jenkins that welcomes curious NASCAR fans to Versus. Jenkins anchors the coverage with Jon Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl as the analysts. On pit road will be the veteran Jack Arute along with reporters Lindy Thackston and Robbie Floyd.

Ironically, the IRL coverage on Versus is produced by Lingner Group Productions based in Indianapolis, IN. The head of that company is Terry Lingner, the original producer of NASCAR on ESPN back in the 1980's. His director back then was Mike Wells, who many of you enjoyed as he directed the TNT NASCAR coverage this season. It's a small world in motorsports TV land.

Believe it or not, the IRL only has one other race remaining. The series comes to Homestead and races on October 10 with that telecast also on Versus. Should Danica give a good accounting of herself in these two final events, it may go a long way toward helping current NASCAR fans figure out if she is the real deal or just another open-wheeler with big dreams.

So, Friday will answer two questions. Number one, will a racer or a Chaser get the pole in New Hampshire? The second is can Patrick can turn up the wick and get back-to-back wins in Japan? That would launch her part-time NASCAR career in style. Both programs should be interesting to watch for very different reasons. Will you be watching one, none or both?

TDP welcomes your comments on these topics. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Anonymous said...

I dont get it - no new info in this column at all.

And why is Danica's win a "hotly debated win"? She won on fuel mileage. Just like has happened in the Cup series nearly a half-dozen times this year.

Karen said...

I'll be watching both. I think it would be very exciting for Danica to come to NASCAR. Sure would help the ratings.

Sophia said...

WOW! TOTALLY Forgot Japan is Friday night!?

Folks with no Versus and broadband, recommend website for free streaming.

Great radio voices too when I listend from IMS guys. :)

Haus14 said...

Well, for the first time I can remember, I will not be able to watch the IRL race because I do not have versus. When is the last time you heard of a DirecTv customer not having a channel. Unheard of! Fortunately, the IRL has a REAL web site with REAL race coverage for free. Are you listening Nascar and Turner???

NorCalFan said...

I'm in the same boat as Haus--a DirectTV customer missing a channel so I'll try for the first time.

As for qualifying, being on the West Coast I'll need to DVR it and watch it at dinnertime.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:16PM,

What new info are you talking about? Pie fight play-by-play? Go to YouTube.

The highlights of Friday are the quals in New Hampshire and Danica on late night in Japan.

It's hotly debated whether her teammate who pulled over knew he was being passed for the win. He'll never tell. Try some IRL boards for more info.

Always nice to hear from you and your positive attitude.


RobFromToronto said...

I personally have always enjoyed the NH track..the racing isnt as boring as some make out..sure it isnt award winning seat of your pants..but there are for the IRL..a couple times i've tried to get into it..but nothing in it really compells me ..the racing isnt of very high quality as the field is way too strung out among the top 3-4 cars that could win..and the 15 that dont stand a chance....but..if nascar fans need to see how good race coverage is..versus has it over espn/fox/tnt in spades..its very polished and professional..and they use the sidebyside to good effect..versus coverage of nascar would be heaven to me..i can only wish :P

Anonymous said...

Check out Robin Miller's story about IRL ratings....nobody is watching....this reason would be the biggest for Danica's switch to need somebody to be watching to get paying sponsors and not rely on the league coffers to keep the talent

DL said...

NH is one of my fave tracks in person because of the location, TV not so much. But I'll be watching. I'm only interested in Danica because most open wheelers think they are the big stuff (to say it politely) and I enjoy the hefty dose of humility they get when they come to NASCAR, or any stock car league, and try to drive the same way. If she can take the taste of humble pie, and seriously adapt her driving style, she will have a chance. Wins? no. Watch the Japan race? if I have time. The biggest credit I'll give to Danica right now is that she has had lengthy talks with Tony Stewart, who was able to give her good advice and she may have actually listened. But can't do anything about talent... Tony has much more than she does, which played a huge part in his successful conversion. I hope she'll talk to Montoya and Hornish Jr, too.

Anonymous said...

>It's hotly debated whether her
> teammate who pulled over knew he
>was being passed for the win.

Unsubstantiated rumors from Danica-haters who don't believe a woman can win. Simply ridiculous. For you to even mention that stuff as if it is true is beneath you.

Anonymous said...

The racing at NHI is typical of the F1 get out in front stay out in front style too many tracks now have. The big winner in NH, the Bahre family who unloaded this turkey on Bruton Smith. For huge money that likely was more ego driven than anything else. Its a tape and watch when there aren't any CSI reruns on.

Danica is 5th in the IRL points and leads her male teammates. So that is good I guess. I think she will be great for NW and CWT's. What racing fan won't watch her. What sponsor won't want her. One poster says she only won once and that a fuel mileage deal. Recall, Robby Gordon only won once in Indy Cars on fuel mileage in Phoenix 1994. I get Versus so I'll tape it just in case I don't have any Cash Cab's in inventory.

What I don't get is why the best play by play guy in auto racing is doing the IRL on Versus at 10:30 pm? My all time favorite crew was Jenkins/Jarrett/Parsons. Obviously there is a problem with that renunion but why Dr. Punch when you could have Bob Jenkins. Must have done something to chap somebody's can at ESPN.

OSBORNK said...

I'll doubt I will watch either one. The top 35 rule has made qualifying meaningless except for pit selection and for the backmarkers who might miss the race. Danica is simply a media made celebrity that is famous for her looks and her moderate success in racing. If she were male or ordinary looking, we would have never heard of her. She should be able to race NA$CAR Nationwide and Truck series about mid-pack because she will race only with the best equipment and team (who can blame her?).

Damon said...


Helio Castroneves is not an AGR driver, he's a Penske driver, so there were no team orders in play last year, she simply drove smarter than he did that final stint a la Mark Martin at Michigan this year when Biffle/JJ raced each other, Mark sat back, saved enough fuel and capitalized at the end.

Kenn Fong said...


Speaking of Danica, Mark Martin extended his contract with Hendrick through 2011, and added GoDaddy as a sponsor. Wonder how this affects Danica coming to NASCAR.

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California

Daly Planet Editor said...

I am still trying to figure out how the Go Daddy thing is working out for Martin.

Just don't see him associating himself with that kind of commercial.

Should be interesting to say the least. Keep an eye on SPEED to see if this topic is discussed.

Hey Anon, no Danica hating on this board. Just putting that topic in play and you should get used to it.

Trucks and Nationwide schedules for Danica should be coming soon.

That is why I am amazed that Go Daddy used their money to go with Martin.


Bobby said...

The big reason the IRL has problems is the number of homes with Comcast's Versus, especially with DirecTV's move on Comcast (Comcast has feuded with DTV in the past over many issues). The PBR just moved the broadcast of the Invitational presented by Cooper Tires final round (Portland,OR) from VS to CBS because of this problem.

The IRL noted that next year's Japan 300 on the track Honda admitted was designed like our Florentine egg will move to Sunday (Saturday night US time) because of a national holiday.

Bob Jenkins was very loyal to his open-wheel roots, as I can see.

Kenn Fong said...


Remember the commercials that Jr. did with GoDaddy?They were fairly conventional celebrity athlete straight endorsements. I wonder why they were dropped.


David said...



Maybe Mark doesn't do any commercial spots for them.

Perhaps IndyCar ratings are down because of the network they are on. Just a thought. Id catch a few more if it was more available to me than trying to track down a stream online.

Loudon gets a bad rap, its a pretty competitive track now and remember folks 2000 with the restrictor plates? Burton leading every lap...that was tough to watch.

Just not looking forward to "CHASE CHASE CHASE CHASEEEEEEE!!!!" the next 3 months.

Sure, its compelling stuff but its not the only race on the track.

Not one bit concerned with Danica-mania part II. =)

Anonymous said...

I'd wager my first born son (if I had one) that Go Daddy has an out in the Hendrick deal if Danica comes to NASCAR. They won't be a full time primary on the 5 anyway. Kesselowski/JRM has run their logo in the NW. Count on Go Daddy and Boost to join the petticoat parade. If I was a sponsor with some racing cash to spend, I'd have her agent on my speed dial. Number 1 and his fax on number 2. Be a Facebook buddy and a twitter friend.

David said...

Go Daddy = primary for 20 races in 2010.

Random tidbit. Listening to PRN today, Mark Garrow stated he did an experiment on his facebook page and asked fans how much they wanted to hear about the race, and get this!

They said they want to hear a bit about it, but FIRST and FOREMOST hear about the story of the RACE and how the race unfolds!

Imagine that...

dsorter said...

"...Mark Martin extended his contract with Hendrick through 2011, and added GoDaddy as a sponsor. Wonder how this affects Danica coming to NASCAR."

This sets it up very well, actually...GoDaddy strengthens ties with Hendrick; Danica has 2010 and 2011 as apprentice with Stewart-Haas; goes into GoDaddy #5 in 2012.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Danica is coming to Trucks and Nationwide next season. Tony's team does not run in either of those series.

The scoop was that JR Motorsports was in play for N'wide and KHI was in play because the run both trucks and N'wide.

I honestly thought she would come to KHI and run with Go Daddy as a sponsor in 2010 and then see if she could move up.

Not so sure we have seen all the cards in this scenario. Hope they talk about it on Trackside tonight.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David said...

dsorter, she could wind up in the #5 partially in 2011. Mark has only stated full time next year I believe, 2011 may be a partial schedule.

Man, I hope Bobby Labonte can get a sponsor.

Martin Vincent said...

@David - Per a Hendrick Motorsports press release.

Driving the #5 Chevys will be current Sprint Cup Series championship points leader Mark Martin, who has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him with Hendrick Motorsports fulltime through the 2011 NASCAR season.

David said...

Thanks MV.

IMO, mistake by Mark to commit this early but who knows, a championship or two and I could look dumb lol.

Dennis said...

What I don't get is why the best play by play guy in auto racing is doing the IRL on Versus at 10:30 pm? My all time favorite crew was Jenkins/Jarrett/Parsons. Obviously there is a problem with that renunion but why Dr. Punch when you could have Bob Jenkins.

Amen brother. I'd place Alan Bestwick as a close second.

Regarding Danica, it will be very interesting to see if she can adjust to stock cars. I think it will give the Truck racing a ratings boost. I think the Nationwide ratings are already ok.

I watch a few of the Indy races. The best race I ever saw was several years ago at Michigan where they were using the Handford Device, I believe it was called. Basically, it was a big spoiler that punched a huge hole in the air and the drafting passes were awesome. Multiple passes PER lap. Paul Tracy was passing and getting passed for the lead lap after lap.

Bobby said...

Boost Mobile bought co-branding with Motorola starting at Indy. Remember that is a pre-paid wireless service of Sprint's Nextel Network, which is Motorola-only.

Anonymous said...

GoDaddy and the 5-car don't matter. When Danica comes to NASCAR she comes with a free slate marketing-wise, as all her current deals are tied to IRL. Frankly, she can pull any sponsor she wants, including some that pay more than GoDaddy might. The sponsors will be lining up and outbidding each other to get on her car if she races Cup.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:39PM,

I would disagree. Next year, she is still tied to her IRL sponsors and must find NASCAR sponsors that fit those brands without conflict.

That is why we thought Go Daddy would step up with her into the Nationwide Series, where they already had a nice relationship with Dale Junior and Brad K over at JR Motorsports.

It certainly should be interesting to see what kind of deals "her people" work out because she is going to either be paying KHI or JR Motorsports for a part time ride.


wickedj said...

Re: Danica. shes just another Casey Mears, David Stremme, etc etc. *MIGHT* win if its fuel mileage or a plate track where the wreck takes out the good cars but she wont come in and run any better than 20th at any given time. besides...people tune in now to see Kyle Busch's epic meltdowns...whew the fun will begin when Danica gets the bump and run at a short track

Re: NHMS..TEAR IT DOWN...Irwindale anybody? Iowa perhaps? boring track needs some banking. im sure the mods put on a GREAT show there (BTW, JD you forgot to mention the mods will be on SPEED tommorow at 1pm..that or i missed it in your article)

Oh and re: Mark and GoDaddy. i think it might be a two sided thing #1 maybe having an older guy associated with them he can bring in some of our(im 28 so i say our..) parents who are looking to do a website maybe they see ole Mark saying "Hey, i can do this and im old like you" and they call up Godaddy and say "Yeah. i want" and the second side could be setting the stage for Danica next year/2011. she runs a few races in the 25 or for SHR w/ then full time in '11 with

Atleast it makes sense to me..but then again its neigh 3am