Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fox Sports: NEXTEL Cup - Fontana

In the past, this publication has taken issue with the Fox philosophy of following the leader, and leaving the racing and the incidents to the fine art of the replay. At Fontana, the "NASCAR on Fox" production team used the two mile track to allow a larger amount of racing to be covered, and stories to emerge.

Despite the highly-touted debut of the new Hollywood Hotel, there were no guests on the set, which was curious at a location like Fontana, where celebrities usually abound. Considering years past, things were very different this time.

Mike, Larry, and DW continue to have an easy manner about them, and seem to be invigorated by the great finish at Daytona. Mike Joy and Krista Voda still struggle to mesh, but as the new member of the team, these small issues are to be expected. Voda is a better host than reporter, and her presence in the Hollywood Hotel might be a very interesting twist later in the season.

Unfortunately, an old issue arose for the Fox team that had fans nationwide standing and shaking their fists at the screen. After a long pre-race, an even longer race, and then a final red flag, one thing should have been written in cement. All drivers are to be shown crossing the finish line with the live scoring on the screen. Fox chose to leave the track the moment the winner crossed the line, showing absolutely no one else finish. What an amazingly poor production choice. And this after several years of solid TV experience for the Fox crew.

This issue was raised in the first year of Fox's coverage, and was soon put to bed with a wideshot and scoring monitor inserted at the end of events. Certainly, Daytona was different with the accident at the end, but this was a big mistake. Just imagine, only one car was shown ending the race after hours of TV viewing by die hard loyal fans. This needs to be fixed, and fixed fast.
Finally, the decision to show an unconscious David Reutimann in his wrecked race car might be discussed more than the Daytona late caution. It quieted the veteran announcers immediately, and certainly stunned viewers. If it was a production mistake, there should have been an apology. If not, then Fox is going to have some explaining to do. This is not DirecTV, pay-per-view, or cable television. Fox is an FCC regulated broadcast network, this was a live telecast of a family sport, and NASCAR officially sanctioned this telecast. If Reutimann had not awakened and had been seriously injured, what would Fox have to say for itself? I certainly hope SPEED addresses this issue on Inside NEXTEL Cup Racing Monday night.

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