Thursday, May 17, 2007

Only Two Races Left For The "NASCAR On Fox" Gang

On Thursday afternoon, I was chatting with Dave Moody on his Sirius Speedway show on the Sirius Satellite Radio Network. We got onto the subject of Darrell Waltrip, and how he has been changed this season by the circumstances surrounding his brother. This includes Michael almost losing his life in a single car roll-over accident. We also talked about Larry McReynolds unique interpretation of the English language, and even Mike Joy's all-star performance this year. This all led up to one fact. The NASCAR on Fox gang has two NEXTEL Cup races left, and then they are done for 2007.

After Charlotte and Dover, the TV package switches over to TNT for their version of a summertime TV "replacement" series, as they only carry six races and then they are done. After that, we all wade into the unknown waters of the new ESPN TV package.

It seems that all too soon, we will be lamenting the fact that the Fox gang is gone. This year, it seems that almost all of the parts of the telecast fit together quite well. We objected to the finish line strategy of only showing the winning car or two, but that is their right as the TV network. They never explained why, but we dealt with it. Perhaps, that is something that they might consider changing for next season.

This crew has done all-star work in many ways because of their cable connection with SPEED Channel. People have come to think of Fox and SPEED as interchangeable. When the Fox Network TV package ends, things will change yet again. Even though Larry Mac and DW appear on some SPEED shows, the level of integration and cooperation across the board in the TV world changes after Fox leaves. Without any additional NASCAR programming actually on TNT, we should see the TNT guys on SPEED in the same manner, but we will not. TNT will not share, even if its just for six races. This is the time of the season when the TV package really splits apart. This year, more than ever.

TNT comes to NEXTEL Cup, ESPN hangs-in with the Busch Series, and SPEED continues with the Craftsman Trucks. The fun comes with qualifying, practice, and preview shows. The word "hodge-podge" comes to mind. ESPN does a Saturday Busch pre-race show and a Sunday one hour NASCAR Now. TNT is only doing a pre-race show and nothing else. They are basically letting SPEED's RaceDay offer the Sunday morning two hour live preview "extravaganza." If you have not seen RaceDay, tune in...its worth it.

Very quietly Krista Voda has established herself as solid host when she does the duty for the Craftsman Trucks on SPEED. Unfortunately, SPEED does not originate any other programming in support of this series, and that is a shame. In the same manner ESPN has treated the Busch Series as a minor distraction on the NASCAR Now show, and often times does not even run the highlights on the Monday one hour show. Even last week that practice continued. How very strange.

But, back to the Fox gang and a brief look back at the season. Who knew what would befall Michale Waltrip? Even at Daytona, the drama was beginning. Now, in May, one can argue that he is in deep trouble. At first, Darrell was wrapped-up in his brother's troubles and it affected his performance. He was distracted, off-balance, and said things that we all knew were Toyota related for all the wrong reasons. Now, it seems that his focus has come back to racing, and with Michael making his own problems, DW was great last week. It was nice to have him back, let's hope he keeps this singular focus for two more events.

I mentioned to Dave Moody at Sirius Speedway that I thought Mike Joy was like a good basketball referee. When the game is over, and you never really noticed him, it was the ultimate compliment on his skills. Mike has worked to become a seamless voice on the broadcasts, whether calling the action or directing traffic between the booth announcers and the pit road gang. This year, it has been outstanding. That is truly a voice that will be missed.

Between Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond, and the entire crew of pit reporters, Fox has been blessed with some people who really know their business, and it shows. The ability of any announcer to chime-in anytime on the races has been tremendous, and this wonderful style has set-up a stiff challenge for both TNT and ESPN.

Chris Myers has had a tough year. This is only a part-time job for him, and he finds himself surrounded by people who eat, breathe, and sleep NASCAR. He is an "office temp" surrounded by "lifers." This year, that has caused him to be out-of-step with the rest of the group. It did not help that he was stuffed into a window-less tractor trailer in a corner of the garage. That would be the "new" Hollywood Hotel. With all due respect, someone needs to cut a hole in that thing and tell Myers that there is life out here. The man needs a window.

So, for the first time we head off to TNT as ESPN's crew is still getting ready for their ABC Sports telecasts. Suzy Kolber has just been brought in as the pre-race host for both the Busch and NEXTEL Cup series for the stretch run, and that has certainly raised some eyebrows. After the crisis in confidence that has caused NASCAR Now to be a complete disaster, hiring another existing ESPN announcer instead of hiring a NASCAR experienced announcer is a very interesting decision.

Needless to say, part of the Kolber move is that Alan Bestwick is going back to pit road for ESPN on the Busch Series, with no word on his role in NEXTEL Cup. Something is just fundamentally wrong with Mike Massaro and Alan Bestwick on pit road, while the high-profile pre-race show is hosted by the Monday Night Football sideline reporter. But, at least Kolber is an experienced TV pro, and she will be fired-up to give it her best effort.

Finally, good luck to SPEED as they gear-up to handle the All-Star weekend from Charlotte. They finally get their teeth into the NEXTEL Cup series on the track, after making their name dealing with the drivers off the racing surface. We are saving a column for Tony Stewart's pit reporter debut, because we know how much he likes to be told where to stand, what to say, and exactly how much time he has to do all that. Just remember one thing, thank God its cable...

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


Anonymous said...

YEA - only 2 races left - now maybe we can hear more about the other cars in the field instead of just Fox's favorite sons (& brothers). Fox is the most bias broadcasting I have ever seen - I mute the TV & listen on the radio & I was surprised to learn there are actually 43 cars on the track.

Anonymous said...

YEA - thanks heaven only 2 more races. Now maybe we can move on to someone who actually cares about all 43 drivers in the race instead of just Fox's favorite son's & brother's. I don't know what they get awards for because it sure isn't TOTAL race coverage.

Anonymous said...

Wow! How accurate can one article be? How many correct observations can one man have? I am also thrilled with the Fox coverage and lament their leaving at all, much less this soon. In a Nascar era where things continue to vacate from it's roots, so to goes the announcing. The likes of a Ned Jarret, BP, and scores of other Nascar experts in broadcasting, are being replaced by 'pasted tv hair' and unknowledgeable 'talking heads'. I know the new networks will try to do a good job, but..., I'm not holding my breath. Here's to Classic Nascar Daytona 500s currently running on cable in Central Florida! Bill Ferguson, Orlando, FL

Tim Robinson said...

You bring up some interesting points.It was great for sure to have DW back to his old self.Your comments on Mike Joy are dead on,he has become a great asset to the Fox gang.Larry Mac is just an all around good guy who knows his stuff.His Larry Mac yourisms with the english language makes him believeable and proves that he his human,he talks the race fans language.He delivers his knowledge and insight to the race fan in a way that makes them feel that they are sitting in the grandstands talking racing.I had the opportunity to spend 6 hours driving him between airports back in February.He is a down to earth person who loves the sport and makes you feel like he's your next door neighbor.The Nascar On Fox Gang is a team that can never be beat as long as ESPN'S brass continues to place people in the booth who have no knowledge of Nascar.


Anonymous said...

........way past the time for Fox to just go away. Someone PLEASE tell DW that the "Boogidy, Boogidy, Boogidy" crap is beyond painful. Throw in Larry Mac with his English is his second language, Hairdo Hamlin with his cut away car mechanics classes along with nifty reports about who is expecting a baby and you have more than enough reasons for a Pay-per-view option.

Anonymous said...

I love this article. The only thing I would change about the Fox coverage is to get rid of the Hollywood Hotel. I would not miss Hammond and Myers.

I do think DW needed to be knocked down a notch or two. He is no Ned Jarrett or BP but could be a lot better if he would calm down a little and talk more about all the race teams and not just JR and Mikey. I think the fact that Mikey fell flat on his fat head was good for Fox in that it made DW a more balenced reporter.

Anonymous said...

Thank Goodness I won't have to hear the "Boogity Boogity" stuuf after two more races or Larry Mac torturing the English language. Have you not been a racing fan for very long? You don't remember that without ESPN and their coverage that NASCAR wouldn't even be close to the popularity it enjoys today? It will be great to get back to watching the race instead of watching fox's commercials of drivers that don't even make the race!

Glen Harness said...

Someone, anyone, please bring back Buddy Baker. And Eli Gold is probably available; he was here in Nashville calling hockey games on the radio last season.

wickedj said...

First poster...

you might want to actually TUNE into the coverage

Mike Joy ALWAYS gives love to guys like Schrader and LePage

granted DW couldnt get enough Jeff Gordon if there were 43 of him out there

but dont let DW ruin an otherwise AWESOME broadcast

as someone who wasnt old enough to see DW race in his prime i really enjoy his stories with Hammond about back in the day

please ESPN, dont screw this up..give Allen the booth job alongside Tim and DJ

Anonymous said...

What TNT needs is Eli Gold and Buddy Baker. They are similar to Mike Joy and Larry Mac. They are so entertaining there would be no need for a Dw type.

Anonymous said...

Happy days are here again anybody but fox will be breathe of fresh air. Just to know I won't have to have the mute button ready for the start of the race is reason for tuning in to who ever does the race. I just hope we can get more than 5 laps of green flag racing before the napa and ups spots that fox finds time for 25 times a race.

Richard in NC said...

It is absolutely clear that the decline in NASCAR TV ratings can be traced right back to that obnoxious jerk Bill Weber TAKING Alan Bestwick's place as the lead announcer for NBC. FOX and ESPN both will look SUPER after the upcoming dark days of Bull Weber. NASCAR needs to pay attention to what its TV partners are doing.

Ag said...

wait im a little confused so the Fox gang is not coming back next season at all?