Saturday, June 16, 2007

ESPN2 Shows Only One Car Finish At Kentucky

Kentucky Speedway can turn-out a crowd like the Busch Series rarely gets to enjoy on its normal Saturday events. Often times treated like just an "after thought," viewers this season have seen the Busch guys put on a show for almost empty stands on several occasions. Phoenix in April was a good example.

After a strong pre-race show, the Busch drivers took to the track Saturday for a stand-alone weekend race televised on ESPN2. Only a couple of NEXTEL Cup drivers made the trip from Michigan to Kentucky to compete, allowing the Busch regulars to finally shine. As usual, Carl Edwards was the man to beat, but the race was any one's to win.

Marty Reid and Rusty Wallace provided the commentary, with a solid team of pit road reporters who cover this series like a glove. The chemistry between the pit road gang and the teams is one of the most outstanding elements of the ESPN telecasts.

On a hot night in Kentucky, NASCAR was smiling as finally some side-by-side racing was being show on national television. In primetime, the Busch Series put on some of the best racing of the year, and kept things clean and professional most of the time. It was clear that these guys like this track, and the fans were eating it up.

ESPN2 viewers of the Busch Series have a running joke about how many times Rusty will mention his son Steven, and how many times Steven will be mentioned because he hit something or someone during the race. Normally, they almost even out because Steven is definitely working on his car control and temper about as much as Rusty is working on promoting his race team. Saturday night at Kentucky was no exception.

The Busch Series has great human interest stories with its young drivers, and this Father's Day weekend proved to be a perfect scenario for this race. Young Brad Coleman is going to be huge in NASCAR in a couple of years, and ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little talked to Brad's father as Brad was leading the pack late in the race. One could see where Brad gets his patience and balance, as Mr. Coleman was a calm and supportive father to this young man.

As things strung-out, it became clear that the ESPN technical crew had again put on another sparkling race. The driver and crew chief interview by radio at the beginning is a great touch, and having the driver continue as the "in-race reporter" is a lot of fun. This week with Stephen Leicht was even better as he won the race.

Unfortunately, the ESPN production crew became caught-up in the excitement of having their "reporter" win the race. As Leicht came across the finish line, he was alone and unchallenged. The problem is that viewers only saw Leicht, and no one else finish the race.

Young Brad Coleman was not shown finishing second. Former Cup driver Scott Wimmer was not shown finishing third. It was amazing that ESPN would not show Aric Almirola or Marcos Ambrose, two high profile Busch drivers, finish the race in 6th and 11th respectively. This was a really big mistake, and it needs to be corrected.

Earlier this year, Fox Sports decided that after four hours of hard racing, the fans at home only deserved to see the winner cross the finish line in NEXTEL Cup races. It was suddenly more important to see one car slowing down and a pit crew jumping up-and-down than it was to see the remainder of the field screaming toward the checkered flag. Saturday, ESPN joined that club. No one other than the winner finished the race unless you were seated at the track and watching live. How fair is that to the viewers?

There was no graphic display of the cars as they came across the line, no "wideshot" on-camera to watch the beating-and-banging, and no thought given to the stories on the track that were still in-progress. As I type this late Saturday night, I feel as though I was cheated out of the end of a good book, or the last inning of a baseball game. I have no idea who was racing to the line, what happened in the last lap, or why my driver finished where he did. If you were pulling for someone other than the winner, you were just flat out of luck.

For a series chasing fans at half-empty racetracks on Saturday afternoons, this ESPN snub is a tough one to take. The Busch series was finally alone, in primetime, on the regular TV network home of the sport. The stands were packed, the cheering crowd was awesome, and the storylines were fantastic. One can only imagine the battling to the finish on this fun track under the lights. ESPN made that decision for us, and told us very clearly. If you wanted to see the finish of this race, you should have bought a ticket. Tough end to a great race on a good track for NASCAR.

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.


SophiaZ123 said...

Ok, I just read the Massaro post and wrote on it and though the race was full of action, I somehow forgot the LACK OF CAMERA work at the end of the race.

But HONESTLY, I am beginning to think ESPN only has one camera at the finish line.

MY MAIN GRIPE is lack of wide angle shots. This has happened REPEATEDLY.

IS THIS what we are going to get EVERYWEEK with ESPN with Busch and CUP races?

This is getting old but somehow, ACCEPTED by NASCAR.

They are REALLY LOSING FOCUS of what the race is about. THE CARS.

Do the HUMAN INTEREST stories later. Or, how about this, HOW ABOUT SHOWING THE END OF THE RACE LIVE, and showing the crew and family members on delay as they watched their guy WIN?

Somebody is not thinking at ESPN.

I get an ache in my stomach thinking of them covering things full time.


Keep up the great work and let's see if ESPN hears us.

They DID tame down that INSIPID FULL THROTTLE crap tonight.

One small baby step.

p.s. John, is there ANY way to turn off this word verification thingie? sometimes there are SO MANY LETTERS distorted I can hardly read, and I spend more time RETYPING this thing than I do my posts, LOL.


Anonymous said...

I was happy to see a young driver (S. Leicht) win, but I immediately noticed that Brad Coleman, the topic of heated conversation a few laps earlier, essentially disappeared from the ESPN screen.

I hate that Brad and the other Busch regulars will not have video of their fine finishes and that we viewers also missed it.

ESPN has joined the FOX gang with this "show only the winner" goof.

For the love of Harry Gant, who thinks that is a good idea??

Anonymous said...

Once again ESPN's camera work was awful. EVERY, SINGLE RESTART was the same. Show a s/f line shot, show a speed shot entering turn one.

Because of this we missed 3-wide racing for the lead (twice) and the leaders wrecking with 40 laps to go! We were left to wonder... what happened until they showed the replays!

Any producer that was paying attention at all had to know that Steven Wallace would be extremely aggressive on that restart... so wouldn't you think you would stay with him and Carl Edwards to see what happens?

No... ESPN just goes to their same routine of high speed shots.

Why can't ESPN figure out that WIDE ANGLE SHOTS are the best way to show the race? I see someone earlier has noticed the same thing. PLEASE SHOW US CAMERA SHOTS THAT LET US SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE RACE!


KE said...

I too was disappointed in ESPN not showing the ENTIRE finish of the race. I am an AMBROSE and ALMIROLA fan. HOW did Biffle get past MARCOSE. It would have been nice for the fans of the other 42 drivers/teams to see them finish also. Poor production & lack of repect for the fans.

I would also like to send a message to Rusty:

"Give it a rest already! Your job in the booth is to call the race, not promote your team & go on & on about Steven. I may have been a Steven fan, but the constant commentary about him has made me hope for his early 'OUT'/DNF so I don't have to listen to Rusty for the entire race."

SophiaZ123 said...

this whole HORRIBLE camera work has been mentioned NUMEROUS times..while some think fox is bad (and they CAN BE by focusing on the leaders too badly) I can't remember MISSING the cars going across the finish line.

Can you IMAGINE if ESPN had been at Daytona??? we woulda ONLY have seen Harvick and Martin finish and not even KNOWN of the crash going on behind.

And these ZOOM ZOOM cams are a TOTAL WASTE OF TIME! I have voice this for years...where the cam is low on the ground to show a split second of the cars as they go "zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom." WTH??

Somebody must have fancy modern camera MTV-itis with this rubbish. It's the same when you watched taped interviews and they add grainy soft focus or make the picture jump, but I digress.

I have said it once and I will say it for the 40th time, ESPN WATCH THE CLASSIC RACES!! from the old days.

COUNT how many cars are on the TV SCREEN.

If you keep this shoddy camera work up, I WILL STRICTLY be listening on MRN.

Those guys at least paint a mental picture and details of what is going on in the race.

That is better than sitting in front of my tv for 4 to 5 hours of a PLETHORA of commercials and cautions just to see THE LEADER RACE and the wife/pit crew jump up and down like boyscouts who just all earned some merit badges.

GOOD GRIEF. How OLD are the producers in the ESPN booth. Twelve?&^%$#@!

I have to go get my radio for today's race.

If ESPN pulls this NO FINISH of cars again at the end of a race, SOMEBODY get us a REAL EMAIL and phone number of SOMEBODY to call at ESPN to complain.

And not just some poor receptionist who has no control of the camera work.

Ok...I am getting a really bad attitude and the race has not started yet. But if NASCAR ratings continue to drop, ESPN IS TO BLAME!!

Again, IS NASCAR NOT WATCHING the end of the races on tape TO SEE WHAT THE HOME FANS ARE SEEING????

or MORE importantly, NOT SEEING???

Vince said...

I have to agree, ESPN's camera shots were terrible all night. On the restarts I don't want to see a shot of the whole field crossing the start/finish line. I want to see the leaders on the restart all barreling 3 wide into turn one. I saw a lot of dumb camera shots in this race and can only say that ESPN needs a director that is a race fan. Unless I'm wrong, the director picks which cameras to shots to show during the broadcast. And what was with the tight shot from the infield towards the flag stand that they kept showing? All it showed us was a blur as the cars wizzed by.

As for Rusty, I think he is about the worst race analyst there is. I'd like about anybody but him. He was arrogant as a driver and he still is as an announcer.

I was really glad to see Mike M. as the pre-race host. He was great. Hope he gets a chance to do more.

JHD said...

I don't have that big a problem only showing the winner across the certain circumstances.
This is one of them. Leicht just won his first race, he DESERVES to have the attention focused on him. Just as Coleman would have had he managed to hang on and win.

If Carl Edwards had won, or someone else who had been in VL many times before, then yes, I'd be more irritated.

But Leicht winning is just an important story as how the race ended, and I think the focus was proper here.

Anonymous said...

I was at the Busch race at Kentucky Speedway. I go every year for Busch and the Trucks. This was the first Busch race of the season I have enjoyed watching.
First reason is not having to listen to Rusty Wallace. He adds little or nothing to the broadcasts but annoying, repetitive dribble. Its almost as awkward as his IRL broadcasts.
Secondly, There were much fewer Cup drivers which lets the Busch regulars compete for a win. I don't ever wish bad luck on anyone, but once Carl wrecked, we got to see some great racing for the lead continue past the first few laps of a restart. Kentucky's racing gets better each year as the track ages. Its a shame TV viewers weren't given coverage of all the racing. There were several different story lines playing out all through the field. After Regan Smith's trouble, we watched with great anticipation as he earned one lap back, and then got the lucky dog and was cruising back toward the front before getting caught in another car's spin. Being at the track meant that we could watch ALL the racing and weren't limited by ESPN's limited coverage.
Third reason is that the stands at Kentucky are always full and the fans are always excited! It is very disapointing to see empty seats at a race. Kentucky is a great track all around and it deserves a Cup race.