Originally created 08/07/03

NASCAR notebook



WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - A recent study shows there aren't more commercials during a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race since the $2.8 billion contract was signed with NBC, FOX, FX and TNT in 2001.

According the MotorsportsTV.com, the amount of time spent on commercials has increased only by eight seconds for each hour of coverage since the sport moved away from its base on cable television.

"Commercials have historically been one of the primary targets of criticism from NASCAR fans," said Mike McCarthy, editor at MotorsportsTV.com. "Simply, NASCAR fans hate commercials. The blockbuster TV contract in 2001 further raised fears and suspicions among race fans. But the evidence shows that the TV networks have not increased commercial time in order to pay for their significantly increased rights fees."

MotorsportsTV.com studied every televised race from the 2000 season through last week's Brickyard 400. It found the amount of commercial time in 2000 averaged 14 minutes, 39 seconds for each hour of broadcast. This year, the amount of time is 14 minutes, 47 seconds.

McCarthy said FOX and FX loaded many of their spots during its pre-race show. NBC and TNT, which essentially broadcast the second half of the season, have 1 minute, 10 seconds more commercial time an hour during the actual race.

The most commercial time used during a race was on FOX at Michigan this year. According the MotorsportsTV.com, the average was 18 minutes, 16 seconds an hour.

AT&T TO STAY: AT&T apparently won't keep its telecommunications off the circuit next year despite restrictions set forth by new sponsor Nextel.

With Nextel set to replace Winston as the title sponsor the NASCAR's top level of stock car racing in 2004, the only telecommunications companies allowed to sponsor cars will be companies already on the circuit.

BAM Racing has a part-time sponsorship from 1-800-CALL-ATT, but Nextel decided to add so many restrictions on AT&T, including the banishment of AT&T's famed global emblem from the car and all of its marketing, everyone thought the deal was dead.

"It looks like AT&T will be with us in some form in 2004, and this offers another tremendous opportunity for a sponsor," said BAM owner Beth Ann Morgenthau. "They appear to be very willing to work with our 2004 sponsors, develop cross-promotions and marketing opportunities, and help whoever comes in with BAM Racing."

One way Morgenthau can make the AT&T deal work around Nextel's restrictions is to promote the company's 800-calling plan, not its telephone service.

BRADSHAW SPEAKS: Car owner Terry Bradshaw last week said he was so unhappy with the way his NASCAR Busch Series team was headed with driver Kerry Earnhardt, he considered pulling his ownership away from the team if changes weren't made.

"I wanted to make the move (to fire Earnhardt) a long time ago," Bradshaw said. "This is about performance, not a last name. I wanted something to be done, but it was hard with all the sponsorship deals. And my partner (Armando Fitz) was more worried about being politically correct.

"I finally said we got to do something different or you can do this without me."

Since Earnhardt, the eldest son of racing legend Dale Earnhardt, was fired, Tim Fedewa has posted finishes of 12th, 13th and 13th - the three best efforts for the team this year.

"Hello?" Bradshaw said. "Does that tell you something?"

ROAD COURSE WARRIORS: There will be eight ringers in this Sunday's Sirius Satellite at the Glen.

Ron Fellows, Boris Said, Johnny Miller, P.J. Jones, Scott Maxwell, Scott Pruett, Paul Menard and Joe Varde will attempt to become the first road-course specialist to win a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race since Mark Donohue won the 1973 race at Riverside, Calif., for Roger Penske.

Teams not competing for the Winston Cup Series championship often substitute a road course specialist for the two road course races on the schedule.

Fellows, whose won three road course races on the NASCAR Busch Series, will drive in place of Jeff Green in the No. 1 Chevrolet from Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Said, who won the pole two months ago on the road course at Sonoma, Calif., will drive the No. 01 Pontiac for MB2 Motorsports. Miller and Jones will drive the No. 04 and No. 4 Chevrolets for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

Maxwell will drive the famed No. 43 Dodge from Petty Enterprises, and Christian Fittipaldi will move over to a new car - No. 44 - built just for this Sunday's race.

Pruett will drive the No. 39 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing; Menard will be in the No. 33 Chevrolet for Andy Petree Motorsports; and Varde will be in his own No. 35 Chevrolet.

PIT STOPS: Crew chief Jeff Buckner was fined $1,000 for using unapproved axles in Hermie Sadler's car last week at Indianapolis. ... Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns and operates speedways in Atlanta; Charlotte; Las Vegas; Fort Worth; Bristol, Tenn.; and Sonoma, Calif.; reported a 23-percent drop in second-quarter net earnings. The company claimed poor weather and debt refinancing was the cause. . The IRL IndyCar Series will race next year at the Milwaukee Mile. That racetrack had been a CART Champ Car World Series stronghold for the past 25 years.

Reach Don Coble at doncoble@bellsouth.net.