Fox ends NASCAR coverage for 2002

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   This past weekend's Pepsi 400 marked the end of the FOX/FX television coverage of NASCAR racing for the 2002 season. It now shifts to NBC/TNT for the rest of the season, starting with this weekend's Tropicana 400 at Chicago.
   I personally enjoy the more straight-laced NBC coverage, but most fans seem to like FOX's more personality-driven coverage, with innovative animation, better.
   What do the drivers think? We know veteran Ricky Rudd was critical earlier in the season of what he perceived as the snubbing of older drivers by FOX. The drivers of the Roush Racing teams weighed in on their thoughts of the television coverage thus far in 2002.
   Kurt Busch, No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus:
   "I must say that the first half of the season with DW, Jeff Hammond and Chris Myers has been great. I have enjoyed chatting with them in the booth on a couple of occasions throughout the season. They can be quite funny, while very knowledgeable at the same time."
   Jeff Burton, No. 99 CITGO Taurus:
   "Once again it was great working with all the people at FOX and FX. They did an excellent job covering the races and covering all the rain delays. We look forward to seeing them back next year and we are looking forward to working with NBC during the second half of the 2002 season."
   Matt Kenseth, No. 17 DEWALT Taurus:
   "The folks with FOX and FX are great to work with. They are able to bring the excitement of our sport into the homes of millions of fans week after week.  
   "It's not an easy task, but they manage to pull it off. The NBC/TNT coverage is great as well, and I look forward to seeing those guys at the track the remainder of the season."
   Mark Martin, No. 6 Viagra Taurus:
   "FOX does a good job with their coverage, as does NBC. It's interesting to see the different styles that two separate networks use to cover our sport. I enjoyed FOX's coverage during the first half of the year, and I'm looking forward to see the type of coverage that NBC plans to provide during the second half."
   Greg Biffle, No. 60 Grainger Ford Taurus:
   "Fox and FX did an excellent job with their coverage during the first half of the season. I thought it would be tough for them to top what they did last year, but that did."
   DAYTONA 500 CHAMP READY FOR CHI-TOWN
   Ward Burton finally got his season back on track in Saturday's Pepsi 400 with another strong Daytona run, finishing ninth. That good performance has this year's Daytona 500 champ ready for the this upcoming weekend at Chicago.
   "We are going to Chicago with a new motor package that we initially ran at Michigan," said Burton. "It should be great for us this weekend because we were running competitive at Michigan until we suffered a mechanical failure. We're also taking the same car we ran at Michigan to Chicago this weekend, so I feel we'll have a great set-up for this weekend."
   Burton feels a year of the speedway aging will make this year's Chicago race even better than last year's affair where Kevin Harvick nipped Robert Pressley for the win. "Let's hope the groove will move up a little bit this time at Chicago," said Burton. "Normally, after a new track has worn off its initial greenness, we will start moving up a little bit. I don't know if you'll ever see the preferred groove being other than the bottom, but let's hope we'll run a little more side-by-side this time." 
   With so much time away from home, Burton is like most other drivers, who enjoy when the Winston Cup Series races on Saturday nights.
   "It was great to have a Sunday off," commented Burton. "My family and I went to the lake to spend the day together. My brother, Brian, and I have a place in Bug's Island, Virginia. It was nice to have that quality time together on a weekend."