As the leaders dashed to pit road before the green-white-checker finish Saturday night, it was obvious that tire strategy was going to come into play.
Jef Gordon and Ryan Newman exited the pits first and second, while Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson, who were running first and second before the caution flag flew, exited eighth and seventh, respectively. Yes, Johnson beat Busch off of pit road.
Yet for some reason, the Fox crew was hung up on the fact that Kyle was the first car with four fresh tires, and automatically assumed that Johnson took two despite getting beat out of the pits by six other cars. Please... the 48 isn't going to drop six spots without some sort of strategy play or bad pit stops.
Maybe the crew was wanting Busch to replicate his charge to the front from the night before? Either way, it's unacceptable to not know the facts about a key strategy call by the sport's four time champion. The first time that Fox mentioned that Johnson took four tires was in Krista Voda's post-race interview with Double J.
The Good: Digger pulled a John Wes Townley and basically took the night off. Fox also didn't use the Digger cam much after it was obvious that the location of the camera (turns 3 and 4) and the speed of the cars didn't make for a great camera shot. And while it can be debated that the gnats at Phoenix needed to be covered, it was a quick and informative way to talk about the subject.
The Bad: I'm getting sick of the flip flopping by Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds about two-tire pit stops. They like the gamble of a two-tire stop immmediately after it happens, but once the four-tire cars start to pass the two tire cars, it's a bad move. Just take a position and stick to it. We're all wrong once in a while. Mike Joy had a horrible time of tracking pit windows. On more than one occasion he was caught off guard by a car starting a cycle of green-flag stops.
Overall Grade: C-. The guys seemed really caught off guard by the pit strategy calls at the end of the race and while very few people saw Ryan Newman winning, they seemed more surprised than most that six cars took two tires. Fox is going to string together a great broadcast, but there's still too many head scratching moments from the booth. (Fox also was in a bit of a pickle after the race given that it had gone over the time slot, but an attempt at a Kyle Busch interview would have been fantastic. However, I'm not factoring that into the broadcast because of the circumstances)