Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fox Sports Shows Five Finish at Phoenix

After several weeks of very interesting production choices among the NASCAR on Fox gang, this week's NEXTEL Cup race provided some very positive changes.

First among them was the understanding by the entire NASCAR on Fox group of the magnitude of the Virginia Tech tragedy, and its impact on NASCAR. Both in the pre-race show, and in the race itself, this topic was treated with the respect and dignity it deserved. Hopefully the folks at TNT and ESPN will continue this understanding when they take over the coverage down the road.

Fox Sports has been working the "flying boxes," as The Daly Planet readers call them, into the coverage of NASCAR this season. On the whole, this video effect has been positive in allowing for more information and pictures to be displayed on the screen. The only downside is that often it is still confusing. It often pops-up before the announcers have time to explain it.

The "four flying boxes" coverage of pit stops has been great. This works really well, and contains customized graphic information for each car contained in this "quad-split" effect. This season, the pit information, coverage, and follow-up has been outstanding. This pit road team has been solid for several years now.

The Daly Planet will get more information on the audio troubles that plagued a portion of the telecast, and bring those details to readers when they become available. Every technical crew is eventually going to have some problems, with power outages and equipment failure the leading cause.

With the Va. Tech situation keeping this a couple of notches lower in intensity, Mike Joy and the gang did a solid job from a boring track with a new car being used. Everyone could see from the outset that passing was at a premium, and that makes the TV crew work even harder to keep viewers watching when there is still one hundred and fifty laps to go.

Several "flying boxes" were used to update topical stories within the field. They included cars that were the "biggest movers" being placed alongside the leader and the best battle on the track at that time. This is a great idea that needs some additional coordination with the announce team. Perhaps, Fox will commit to following the story of a single car or team throughout an entire race, and use this effect to keep checking-in. This could be a very positive thing as the season rolls-on.

Finally, after several weeks of complaining, some changes occurred at the finish line. No "flying boxes" for the crew chiefs, girlfriends, or pit crews this week as NASCAR on Fox let the top five finishers cross the line with an electronic graphic displaying their order. This was a great move, but everyone on the lead lap deserves the right to be seen finishing on TV after three hours of racing. As with this event, the race for fifteenth might involve five cars beating-and-banging all the way to the line. Meanwhile, the top five cars might have crossed the line all alone.

The race is not over when the winner crosses the line. The winning pit crew does not matter after the winner crosses the line. His crew chief does not matter. Same with his car owner, wife or girlfriend, and relatives. What matters is the other full-time dedicated NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams still on the track. They are racing hard for every position and point in a shortened season because of the "Chase for the Cup." With this format, every lead lap position counts more than ever before.

The entire NASCAR on Fox team puts on a fantastic show that has been a selling point for this sport nationwide for sponsors and teams. Another selling point should be that if you finish the race on the lead lap, your fans and sponsors get to see you finish. When Fox makes a commitment to this concept, they will have finally embraced the "new NASCAR" and all the changes that the "Chase for the Cup" entails. Fundamentally, not showing all the point scoring cars at the finish is still pretty tough to take.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply use the COMMENTS button below, or email in confidence if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for stopping-by.


Anonymous said...

I find the 4 way slpit screen during pit stops annoying. We used to get a 3 way split on half the screen, with the entire pit road on the other half. This at least gave a perspective of where each car was pitting on pit road so we could judge how well a car was coming out of the pits. Without knowlege of where a car is pitting, the 4 way split means nothing. Like in car camera shots of 'passes', the too close perspective robs viewers of perspective of the overall race.

Anonymous said...

I really like the usage of the pointers that FOX uses to show telemetry information like MPH or time behind. I think FOX uses these much better than ESPN.