It began shortly after the race was over. The "email train" pulled into The Daly Planet loaded with an angry swirling group of NASCAR fans, many wearing red, some in orange, and lots from Fenton, Missouri. Once again, the NASCAR on Fox gang had decided to show only the top one or two cars finish a NEXTEL Cup race. Let me say that one more time. Fox Sports decided to show only the top two cars finishing at Martinsville. When the same thing happened at Bristol, I said the mistake was big...but this week...its hard to even comprehend. What has happened to our friends at Fox?
Fans of many teams expressed to The Daly Planet the frustration of watching a NEXTEL Cup race and knowing that their driver was battling for a top ten finish with only two laps to go. Then, as is now the case with Fox Sports, the production team shows only the top one or two cars cross the finish line. Fans who watched NASCAR on Fox for over three hours did not see their driver, top ten or not, finish the race. As was mentioned in a previous post, the race to the checkers is critical for positions throughout the entire field.
Viewers saw a "quad-split" in the final laps, that is the four "boxes" that each contain a different live picture. Fox Sports was trying to convince us that the crew chiefs of the teammates battling for the win were somehow about to do something "mystical" in the last lap. Neither one did anything, Jeff got alongside the car he co-owns, and lost the race by a fender. Great finish.
The problem was...then the entire field came racing to the line. The race is not over when the winner takes the checkered flag....how is this suddenly a concept that is lost on a TV crew that has been producing these races for years? What happened? Did we miss a memo? The questions and comments in The Daly Planet email were a bit more to the point about the competency level of the NASCAR on Fox production team.
At Bristol, Fox missed Dale Jr. finish in the top ten, and Kyle Petty finish in the top twenty...both good stories. This week, Junior finished fifth, and the rest of the top ten was a "who's who" of the top drivers. Ricky Rudd, Juan Montoya, and Kenny Schrader all grabbed top twenty finishes. But, no one saw any of it.
What a shame that something as simple as showing the cars finishing the race is the issue that trips up a good solid broadcast from the Fox Team. For the sake of the sport, let's hope that Fox takes this "off-week" to calm down and agree on a plan to allow fans of all the drivers to see their man race to the checkered flag as a reward for several hours of loyal viewing. Both ESPN and SPEED do not have these problems in the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series. It certainly makes us wonder...what were these guys thinking?