NBC Sports and Steve Letarte Brought Their A Game to NASCAR

NBC Sports paid what some might consider a fortune to take over the second half of the NASCAR season from ESPN and TNT. Looking at the declining ratings one cannot disagree with that thought. A bunch of races in and it is apparent that NBC intends to make their half of the season a success.

Each and every week Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton have provided great and accurate analysis of what is happening on the track and off. This week it was apparent that it goes much deeper than that. NBC Sports is reporting on the entire NASCAR viewing experience.

At the end of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Steve Letarte and the NBC crew went back and covered the side skirt on the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota driven by Matt Kenseth; the race winner.

It might have been shown on TV but it wasn’t noted by the announcers but during a pit stop Matt Kenseth’s team had trouble with a jack and it pulled out the side skirt behind the right front wheel. NASCAR made a big deal about pulling out the side skirts in front of the right rear tire and needless to say comments on Twitter about this was big for quite a while during the race.

NBC came up with the footage and Steve Letarte explained it and why it didn’t matter after the race; more importantly after the interviews of the leading drivers including Matt Kenseth. They even tracked down the crew chief for his explanation.

Steve Letarte said, “The competitor in me saw it in the closing laps and I wanted to know how that side skirt got to where it was. There are some distinct rules that say you cannot flare out these side skirts on purpose but what we’re going to see here on lap 100 pit stop of the 20 of matt Kenseth if you watch tge jack man he attempting to put the jack under the jack post he misses it peals the side skit up he slides it back underneath and catches the post. That is without a doubt not on purpose. If you were going to flare the side skirt out for advantage you would want to do it way closer to the rear tire out underneath the tail pipe that would have been an advantage. That right there is really lucky that the jack man did a good job of not tearing off the entire door off the car he recovered so well that I didn’t even see it on that pit stop but the competitor in me never goes away as I saw him making those laps I wanted to know how that skirt got there and it was definitely a mistake there.

We have reached a new point when NASCAR fans on social media, Twitter that is, are being paid attention to by the TV commentators and/or producers to make sure what is happening is properly covered. What we are talking about is covered and no stone is unturned. The collective eyes on NASCAR are being listened too. It is refreshing. NBC has certainly raised the bar.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 311524 Sean Gardner/Getty Images

NASCAR – Why Have the “attempted to qualify for every race” Rule Anyway?

Kurt Busch missed the first three races of the season due to being suspended from competition by NASCAR. Busch received a waiver from NASCAR from having to attempt to qualify for every race and is eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He currently is 8th in points with two wins, and is a serious contender for the championship.

Kyle Busch missed the first eleven races of the season due to injury. Like his brother, NASCAR gave him the same waiver. Kyle Bush has won four races and is 23 points from being in the top 30 in points which would make him eligible for the championship. He will certainly do that and if successful, will be one of the top seeds for the Chase.

The Busch brothers are each in different ways bringing up the question by their performance on the track in the races they have entered; why have the attempted to qualify for every race rule?

If you are a driver who is so talented that you don’t need to race all the races why not skip those that for whatever reason you don’t really want to compete in? Why not, perhaps, skip some of those races that are not in the Chase and that are not as prestigious?

A few weeks ago the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made it’s one and only visit to the Kentucky Speedway. Imagine if some of the stars of our sport (Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, etc) decided to have a weekend off to prepare for a future race or just have a vacation. The NASCAR product, the Kentucky Race would be worth less without them. There would be less of a reason to watch either at the track or on TV.

Imagine if a fan saved their money, bought tickets, scheduled camping and looked forward to the race; only to show up and find out the stars won’t be there. That is why NASCAR has the rule that drivers have to attempt to qualify for every race. They need to protect the product they deliver each and every week.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 310890 Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images