Monday, August 6, 2012

Race Wrap: Sprint Cup Series From Pocono (Updated: Fan Death)

Well, it's over and Jeff Gordon won. The race was delayed by rain, which put the ESPN Infield Pit Studio team on overtime. Nicole Briscoe and Ray Evernham were featured in this portion of the program. Evernham's analysis and opinions of current issues in the sport is a welcome addition to the studio team.

Junior fans were upset that ESPN was in commercial twice when he took the lead, but once again we have all seen the same commercial rotation from the three Sprint Cup TV partners for six years now. ESPN will begin the ESPN Non-Stop split-screen format for the second half of each Chase race.

Early storylines were out the window and prior to the final rain delay it was a battle of pit and fuel strategies. Pocono has again proved to be a track that has racing for a few laps after restarts and then settles into strategy. Mother Nature is the only thing that can change it, apparently.

Funny moments included the pit studio leaking from the rain and Marty Smith just getting soaked on pit road while standing in the downpour. During the post-race, the Pocono site went off the air due to lightning, but returned after a commercial break. Bestwick and Briscoe cannot be rattled and both dealt with a wide variety of situations in this telecast.

Post-race update: Here is the story from Brian De Los Santos of on the lightning stike.

A lightning strike in the parking lot at Pocono Raceway after a NASCAR race Sunday killed one person and injured nine others, racetrack officials said. It wasn't immediately clear if all 10 people were actually struck by lightning in the parking lot behind the grandstand, nor was it known whether one or multiple strikes occurred.

Two people were taken to the hospital in critical condition after the strike, racetrack officials said. President Brandon Igdalsky said one of them later died at Pocono Medical Center, but he provided no further details.

"Unfortunately, a member of our raceway family here, a fan, has passed away," he said. One person remained hospitalized in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital Center, said Bob Pleban, a track spokesman. The other five people were taken to various hospitals with minor to moderate injuries, he said.

The race was called because of rain, with 98 of the 160 scheduled laps completed. The track posted warnings on its Twitter page near the end of the race encouraging fans to "seek shelter as severe lightning and heavy winds are in our area."

Thanks to ESPN the Magazine's Ryan McGeee for the above photo via Twitter. We invite your opinion on the telecast. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.


Buschseries61 said...

I only watched 60 laps. When I had enough, I turned it off and enjoyed the weather.

The broadcast wasn't outstanding, but it was better than Waltrip Sports and Turner Commercial Television.

Coffeeshop42 said...

Got word from David Newton on Twitter that 10 people were impacted by lightning strike at the track,2 in critical condition.Truly awful.

Sophia said...

Disgraceful to read on Twitter Thunderstorm warning for track was at 4:12pm.

NASCAR called halt/end to race at 4:55pm according to either a reporter or weatherman. Can't keep up with all the tweets.

Glad I chose baseball over NASCAR once again.

After what happened at the Indiana state Fair last year with stage collapsed, people killed/severely hurt, NA$CAR Chose a few laps over safety of fans?

It would've been halfway at 80 laps and I read they were stopped at 90 something....still at 80 that would seem AFTER a storm warning.

I turned on tv briefly after race and heard thunder BIG TIME over Bestwick and the gang. Then turned off tv.

SAD to read 10 struck and 2 critical. They could already be dead and NASCAR would hold it back in secrecy.

If we think getting horrible broadcast on tv and stop watching is pathetic.

You go to the traffic and NASCAR doesn't have the common sense to announce storm earlier so fans can leave.

Jeff Gordon said it was HORRIBLE getting out of his car after the race. Unbelievable!

Tom said...

Listened on Claire B. Lang's show on SiriusXM just a few minutes ago, and apparently there's word one of the injured has died.

Not confirmed, but I'm not hopeful.

Sophia said...


Read it a bit ago on Twitter and SPEED report AA just announced one person died.

Wow, such a preventable tragedy. Shame & disgrace race not called sooner.

Coffeeshop42 said...

Track President Brandon Igdalsky says one of the people struck by lightning died.One person on Twitter says he and some friends were in the parking lot when it struck the people 6 cars from where they parked and they saw it all.Truly tragic and avoidable.

GinaV24 said...

So sorry to hear that people were injured and that someone died after the lightning strike. Just a terrible thing to have happen.

What I could see of the storm in the background on TV made me worry. I've been to Pocono and walked back to the parking lots after a race. It's quite a distance and I can't imagine doing it during a storm.

I was so happy that Gordon won today, but this terrible news makes it hard to celebrate.

Darcie said...

NASCAR knew these storms were coming, but for whatever reason, they just had to get that last restart in. Very bad decision by NASCAR, or ESPN, whomever felt it necessary to squeeze in a few more laps. I live in Pa, and these storms were bad, and they should have cleared those stands earlier, seeing they had enough warning. Shame on NASCAR.

glenc1 said...

it isn't just NASCAR, I think some is on the track officials. I was at the Glen last year when they held opening ceremonies even though they knew a T-storm was coming. I knew they were coming companion and I had cell phones, so we hold some responsibility for not leaving when we should have. But there is always the thought, what if it misses us? Then you've walked down 37 rows to find you have to go back up again. Part of it lies on the tracks and the scheduling of activities. Wrong to place that over people's lives. I know thinking about the lightning flashing around me, I'll be honest, I was scared. It only takes one strike. My heart lies heavy for those who lost a loved one. Next time, I think I would choose differently.

Anonymous said...

I'm a frequent observer of this forum and have always found it to be quite entertaining and informative to see what die hard TV viewers of this sport have to say about the look of the race.

As a person who loves the sport and and attends a couple of races each year I really am amazed at one point that is missed by nearly every poster. The sport itself has changed over the past eight years. The introduction of the "COT" a few years back really changed the way the cars handle and basically put them on a set of rails every week.

When you complain about the lack of coverage of passing, instead of blaming the broadcast partner look at the race statistics. How many passes were there in the race?

I'm just saying that you're complaining about is merely a reflection of the sport. It is, most times, boring to watch in person, trust me. Why are you surprised that it's boring to watch on tv?

By the way comparing it to listening to the radio broadcast? My response is it's very easy to make something sound exciting because the listener isn't at the track watching what is being described. Their job is to keep you listening!

Anyhow I enjoy this forum and hope that you at least take my comments into consideration. By the way go #14!

Anonymous said...

TV partners don't dictate what happens at the track. The just show what is going on. Blame NASCAR or Pocono raceway.

Anonymous said...

why would they continue a race when a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the track. For those that dont know that means conditions like those experienced were imminent. NASCAR put fans lives at risk and one payed the price. Very sad.

This needs to be changed. When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued stop the race and get fans to safety. One death is way too many.

Anonymous said...

First it was terrible what happened to the fans at the race, but people always want to blame someone ealse. I have been to races and have seen storms and made the decision to leave the stands before race was delayed on my own and stay under the stands until storm cleared out. A person could get hit by lightening in any parking lot.

Anonymous said...

A severe thunderstorm warning was already issued. NASCAR knew the storm was coming in, but chose to endager the lives of all the fans in attendance, as well as everyone else at the track. It takes time to get everyone to take shelter.

Bruce Ciskie said...

Didn't watch, but simply disgraceful on NASCAR's part and on the part of the track. If they're going to be stupid enough to keep running the race, fans should have been made aware of the situation the SECOND that a warning was issued that included the racetrack.

I'm not a litigious guy, but this has "lawsuit" written all over it. I'm sure that will lead to some meaningful changes in how weather is handled.

Bobby said...

NASCAR isn't the only group in sport that will play until there's a lightning strike seen.

Even if there's a severe thunderstorm warning set for a county, if no lightning is seen in the area of the playing field (typically 10km radius), the warning siren does not turn on. Only if a lightning flash is visible (typically 10km radius) do we hear the siren (golf courses) or the official will bring players in and spectators will be called inside, and the match will be stopped.

Last year, while the Atlanta rain delay was happening, ESPN tried to show the conclusion of the Marshall-West Virginia football game between lightning strikes. As we remember, numerous lightning strikes occurred in the third quarter, and officials stopped the game numerous times for the mandatory 30-minute delay, but after numerous delays, the game was called 26 seconds into the start of the fourth quarter.

Anonymous said...

Very upsetting that a tragedy like that had to happen. I was reading on the Wunderground Weather page for the track when they were about to go green for the final time and the Severe Thunderstorm Warning was even out then. I mean, if they knew it was already issued and a bad storm was coming, shouldn't they have just pulled them off then? Well, hopefully all this can be resolved for future instances.

RichmondFan said...

I love how NASCAR gets blamed for everything, including someone getting hit by lightning! There are reports that the people affected (one who died and 8 others injured) were in their car when it happened. So they had taken shelter, and could just as easily been hit while driving home had the race been called earlier.

Some people are just so bitter with NASCAR that they will blame the sanctioning body for everything - including an incredibly unlikely freak of nature accident. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

For NASCAR and the track they're really between a rock and a hard place. Call the race early and get criticised. Call it too late and this freak accident happens. I wonder if the disclaimer on a ticket, the one where you're attending at your own risk, will protect them from a likely lawsuit. But I do hope NASCAR and the track will step up and help the families impacted by this tragedy. Don't be at all surprised if NASCAR acts out of an abundance of caution in the future, so try to dial back the indignace when it happens. Cuz it will.

As for the coverage of the race, I really didn't care to watch another parade. Went to lunch with my sister and got pedicures. Checked the race once on my NASCAR Sprint phone app but it didn't work right. Oh well. At least my toes look really awesome in my flip flops now!

Ancient Racer said...

I do not blame either NASCAR or Pocono for the tragedy of yesterday because in my mind's eye I can see the comments today had either authority called the race and nothing happened. The comments I see are exactly mirror images of those posted. Let me be plain why.

I am scared to death of lightening. About 30 years ago I was struck by it and when that happened I was in my residence. It hit a tree outside, jumped to an exhaust stack for the range hood fan and from the range hood to the stove and in the middle of the final arc was my paw lifting a pan. This experience changed my life.

Since then I have become acutely aware of lightening and have no illusions it will not hit me so if I perceive -- using the sense and senses god gave me as standard equipemnt -- any possibility whatsoever I go and hide until it is safe which usually, as was the case at Pocono, means only for a short while as Thunderstorms tend to move along. There is, of course, the Hurricane exception but that did not apply here.

End of Lecture.

As for the race broadcast I have the usual complaints: Ill timed commercials which scream out the need for SxS, too much in car too often (honest and true watching a driver drive is not that heart pounding) and my, and everyone's, fav too may tight shots.

But the end was wonderful. Jeff Gordon won albeit under unusual circumstances and the Yellow Flag thrown as a result of those circumstances led to the very loudest cheer of the day which tickled me. I cannot remember any race where a race being called for weather lead to an outburst of joy.

Maddie said...

And to those complaining about NA$CAR waiting to call the race, if they had, people would have been complaining that they called it too soon & should have waited. Poor NASCAR! NA$CAR is wrong no matter what they do!
NA$CAR did nothing wrong & is not to blame! The only one to blame is Mother Nature!

glenc1 said...

The man killed was leaning on his car, not inside (perhaps he was putting something in the car before he got into it, they may not know for sure.) See Pocono Record for actual story. Some others were near the grandstands, but it doesn't say exactly where, except that witnesses said they saw a destroyed tent (if true, not a safe place to be).

If you have to evacuate a large grandstand, common sense tells you that that waiting till you see a strike really IS too late. As I said, for my experience we had phones & could see the radar, but not everyone could. There were no warnings until the last note of the anthem was finished--in other words, they wanted all of that to go off on time, even though it was clear that the race would have an early rain delay (which turned into an entire day.) They (track & NASCAR) made this decision intentionally, which means they knew someone could be hurt and decided it was worth the chance. That was what angered me at the time, even though I knew I had to take some responsibility for it too. But there were probably others there who had no idea this weather was imminent--if you had spend the morning shopping at the trailers and then walked back to your seats, as many do, you might not have been 'in touch'. It came in from behind where we were sitting, so in the middle of the grandstands it would actually be hard to see it coming.

It will be interesting to see if Racehub & (though I won't see it) NASCAR Now question any of the logic of NASCAR having a severe weather policy. Planning is never a bad thing, even if I'm not a big believer in lawsuits & blame.

GinaV24 said...

So talking about the race coverage, it was pretty much the usual ESPN deal - lots of commercials and since the field was pretty spread out, the camera work was sketchy. Unfortunately that is Pocono - I was looking at the intervals on trackpass and there were 3 to 4 seconds between cars. NASCAR needs to work on the racing package as much as the TV folks need to work on their coverage.

Obviously I was thrilled that Gordon won - even with a rain shortened event. I've read some comments where people think that Johnson caused that problem on purpose to help the 24. Ha, based on radio traffic and Voldemort and Weasley's comments, I can guarantee that the LAST team the 48 would help is the 24.

I was doing my own version of a rain dance in my living room. I am sorry that people were injured in the storm. The stands at Pocono are an odd setup - I know from being there and once when we were watching at home, we were on the phone with friends at the track and told them it was raining but it hadn't gotten to where they were sitting even tho we could see it on tv.

Like Ancient, I've seen lightning flash over into the house - it actually came down the chimney and exploded in our living room - that was quite a moment. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the house didn't burn down - we were lucky.

IMO, the track and NASCAR have responsibility to warn people of approaching severe weather but people also have to take personal responsibility for their safety. Sometimes no matter what you do, bad things happen.

RichmodFan said...

Sue NASCAR because you were hit by lightning? This is the problem with our country: overly litigious and suing the closest deep pockets for anything that happens, including a rate freak accident of nature. Pathetic.

red said...

Yes, more should be done by both the track and NASCAR to stress to fans the seriousness of the weather situation. But . . .

As I read the information, the group that was struck was standing around/near the car when the lightning struck. Not "in the car" -- which would have been safest because the tires ground the car for all occupants. But outside of the car, doing what race fans do after a race: talking about the race while loading up the trunk.

Given that getting out of every track is an exercise in "hurry up and wait," I'm thinking that even if NASCAR had called the race when the first warnings were issued, that's no guarantee that all the fans would have all been in their cars and in endless lines, waiting to get out of the track.

I've been to Pocono and I can tell you that many veteran Pocono fans PLAN to hang around after the race for as long as 60-90 minutes in the parking lots rather than sit in traffic. A two lane road leads into/out of the track and even with police making it into a three lane road exiting the track, it's still a long haul to the major roads.

So, yeah, if it had been me on Sunday? I would have been watching those storm clouds approach, would likely had headed for under the grandstands until the race was called and then I very well might have been hanging out in the parking lot, killing time and BS'ing until things cleared out a bit.

(Although, full disclosure: I've sat in the grandstands and watched a major storm roll into Pocono, dump rain on the backstretch, and never moved from my seat, which was still in full sun. But with a storm like we had on Sunday? Nope. Under the grandstands for this fan, I guarantee.)

Again, NASCAR and the tracks need to use this tragedy as impetus to get a procedure set in place for each and every track on case of severe weather. As a sport, NASCAR has been extremely fortunate that incidents like this one are rare. But it would be irresponsible to not react to this.

Anonymous said...

Richmondfan...I have no idea who you are responding to, but I don't see anyone here suggesting that's what should happen. Just that it often does. Personally, I don't like it. But for those citing the Indiana state fair--that was an entirely different situation, the stage was not constructed to code; that was the negligence, not the storm.

I am getting tired of this 'freak of nature bit though. Lightning is not an act of God, it's science. They don't know *exactly* where a strike is going to hit, but if you read the columns from the meteorologists, you have a pretty darn good idea of what vicinity it will be in, and you ought to be able to plan accordingly. It isn't about lawsuits--it's about making sure you've done everything you can to make the possibility of it happening as small as humanly possible. Never hurts to discuss it; but throwing your hands up and saying we can't do anything isn't at all productive. Many deaths have been prevented because of lightning education.

Anonymous said...

red--I saw on the Weather Channel...that it's not true about the tires grounding the car. The lightning goes through the metal and deflects it from you in the car, but it's not about the tires. However you should not be touching anything metal IN the car. Also--if you're under the grandstands, stay as far away from the metal posts as you can.

Darcie said...

I just wonder, what would the response be from NASCAR and track owners if it were a driver or crew member that were struck and killed by the lightning? I suspect they'd have new standards up and running in a NY minute.