Saturday, August 4, 2007

ESPN's Montreal Mess

Allen Bestwick led the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show and then called the race in Montreal with the hilarious Randy LaJoie alongside in the announce booth. On pit road, NASCAR Now reporter Marty Smith strapped-on the headphones and worked next to racing veterans Gary Gerould and Vince Welch. Clearly the "B team" for ESPN, this group was about to have a very interesting Busch Series TV experience.

The pre-race show set the table for what was to come in no uncertain terms. Three elements were about to collide with very dynamic results. First, there was a group of road course specialists normally seen as "ringers" in the NEXTEL Cup Series. With the Cup Series at Pocono, the "ringers" brought their "win or nothing" philosophy to Montreal with an eye on the record book.

Alongside the "ringers," there was a group of NEXTEL Cup drivers who made the one hour flight to Montreal simply to satisfy sponsor obligations. Usually the "big boys" in town, they suddenly found themselves staring at the "ringers" who were clearly not intimidated. One had the feeling things were about to get interesting.

Finally, the full-time Busch Series drivers were not very happy. Several of their colleagues had lost their rides this week to the "ringers." Several more of them had to suffer the indignity of practicing and even qualifying "their" cars until the "big boys" showed up on their private helicopters. Then, the Busch boys had to watch "their" cars run by the NEXTEL Cup "commuters."

Right off the bat, Bestwick asked LaJoie if the key to the race was starting up front. To his credit, LaJoie nailed the answer. He said the NEXTEL Cup veterans starting at the rear of the field had the knowledge and experience to deal with the different scenarios that a road course brings, and he believed they would be up-front and in the mix by the end of the race.

ESPN's pictures, scenery, and audio was outstanding, which is the "norm" that fans have come to expect with the Busch Series this season. With Bestwick "driving the bus" and directing traffic, the race began smoothly and then gained speed. As usual with ESPN, the only speed-bump in the road was the three minutes of Rock antique Aerosmith when the network played back the second worst music video in history. Yes, the answer to the question you are asking yourself is..."Flock of Seagulls."

The Montreal track is undersized for NASCAR vehicles, and even the Busch Series quickly found-out the event would be a matter of simple survival. Luckily, the pictures helped the viewers to deal with the single file "racing" and the long caution periods for several blown engines.

Unfortunately, ESPN chose a road course "ringer" to be their "in-race reporter." This would have been a good opportunity to use a NASCAR Busch Series regular, but the network wanted to guarantee itself the opportunity to talk with a contender. Scott Pruett is a nice guy, but he is hardly sparks the interest of NASCAR fans.

TV viewers saw immediately that slowly bumping a big Busch Series car in the hairpin turn and causing it to spin was the preferred method for passing in Montreal. Even smoking tires and Allen Bestwick's best announcing could not make-up for the fact that the race resembled taxi cabs driving on a golf course cart path.

The saving grace of this telecast was great Directing. The ESPN Director was always "ahead" of the action and showing cars "coming at" the viewer. The old ESPN TV production motto was "headlights and not tailpipes."

Simply put, being ahead of the action and constantly having the cars "coming at you" keeps the viewer "looking ahead" to the next corner. Think about this simple concept next time you watch a race. It really does make a difference.

LaJoie has been a blast for ESPN in his relief role. Many fans know his company makes most of the NASCAR custom-made racing seats, and it does not seem that he is too far removed from his driving days. He continues to be enthusiastic and positive in his comments for both NASCAR and the Busch Series. What a nice find for ESPN.

About halfway through the race, the bumping-and-grinding began as patience wore thin. There was no doubt things would get ugly, and they certainly did. Several "oil downs" caused lengthy delays, and NASCAR kept the cars going slowly under yellow. This just served to build the tension and frustration as the laps clicked away.

ESPN had a golden opportunity to create a good story with Busch Series regular Marcos Ambrose leading the event with just a handful of laps to go. Unfortunately, the network missed getting the crucial re-start with five laps to go on-camera because they were showing the crowd. Then, during the final big accident of the event, an in-car camera shot appeared that blocked the view of what was happening.

This was strange, because the directing had been so crisp to this point. Viewers then saw the fights begin at the front of the pack, as Robby Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Kevin Harvick, and Scott Pruett engaged in a little "short track payback" racing which gave the event a black eye. ESPN had all the replays, but it was embarrassing to see the behavior of these drivers on national TV.

In the end, NASCAR eliminated their "bad boy" Robby Gordon and brought Kevin Harvick to the Winner's Circle. ESPN gets a lot of credit for delaying their transition to the X-Games until they interviewed Gordon, Harvick, and Ambrose. Bestwick made certain to say on-the-air they were going to interview all three.

In "TV land," you have to make soup from the ingredients that you are given. The Busch Series in Montreal overpowered a narrow track and wound-up in a "punting" festival that would have been great had this been the "A Main" at Islip Speedway.

ESPN did the best they could, and as a true team player they took it on the chin and stayed in the game. Racing these big cars at Montreal in the future is going to require changes to the track, or single file racing and the "chrome horn" approach to passing is going to continue to be the only game in town.

Kudos to ESPN for making something out of nothing, and for Allen Bestwick for showing us once again he deserves to get off pit road permanently.

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, and leave your opinion.


Anonymous said...

I felt bad for Randy and Alan because they clearly didn't know what to say after Gordon's punting of Ambrose. Eitehr way, nice coverage today that I'm sure will outshine Sunday's Cup coverage.

Kevin in Indy said...

Bestwick was superb as always but I was dismayed by some of the calls made by the broadcast director. My biggest gripe would be...crud, I can't place the exact lap, but you could see 2 cars getting together and tehy'd cut away to show another part of the track. They would then cut back to where the original incident was happening. I also had a beef with the camera placement. There were some areas that did not have camera coverage, example - at the end of the race where Robby and Marcos were tangling. We could not see the whole melee, just sections. Overall, I would give the 4 letter network an 8 for their work. I, along with my fellow Daly Planet brethren, are thankful that Erik (with a k) Kuselias had no part in this broadcast.
P.S. I love Randy LaJoie, not in a sissy way, but in a platonic, love of NASCAR way. He brings a ton of, dare I say, gravitas, to the broadcast. He and Allen are stupendous together. The 4 letter network did their homework bringing him into the fold, so my hat's off to the dude who made that call. By the way, Sophia, you rock! John, keep doing what you're doing. I think I will make like Tony Stewart and have another beer.
Goodnight, America!!!!

SophiaZ123 said...

Well, I must say I thought the camera coverage on the last few laps TRULY STUNK UP THE JOINT. I don't know if the guy you thought was doing such a good job went out for a smoke and never came back but where does one begin with this race.

First, let me say, AB and Randy were fun..and when things got confusing and complicated after Robbie "the Real Loose Cannon" Gordon did what he did...there was a sound on my tv I noticed...NO TALKING!! Rather than blather on endlessly and pontificate "what mighta, coulda, woulda" they just let the TV SCREEN speak for itself. Bestwick knows that sometimes silence is golden and speaks louder than words.

Say what you will about the coverage, I seem to be one of the few LIVID at NASCAR.

What the hell were they thinking ALLOWING GORDON to stay up there with Ambrose? The cameras never DID show what happened with those two ...Maybe Ambrose shouldn't have spun Gordon out of the way but LAPS earlier we heard Robbie say he was going to take out the 59 or however he worded it.

Then, he was to start second..then after many minutes, start 12th and he REFUSED TO GO TO THE BACK??? WHAT? Since when does one IGNORE NASCAR. At this point I got IRRITATED with Bestwick as he YAKKED over Gordon's radio where he CLEARLY said something about not doing what NASCAR told him as there was some precedence..and he held his ground.

Now, if everybody was low on fuel, WHY didn't NASCAR RED FLAG the track and physically remove Gordon?? Woulda saved fuel that many were worried about and gotten rid of the spoiled brat who was throwing a volatile temper tantrum and YOU KNEW what was coming next?

Sure it might have cooled down the tires a bit but so WHAT? Everybody would've been in the same boat so be it. But when NASCAR MADE THE DECISION to throw the green flag with Gordon at the front, I almost shot my tv (well, i don't own a gun but it was a real Elvis moment)

Since when has NASCAR, LORD AND KING of their sandbox, EVER let some punk act like this ON the track? RG behavior TOTALLY RUINED the end of the race. Ambrose clearly should've been given his place back. WHO CARES NASCAR was no longer scoring on Robbie..he did not know that nor did I while ESPN was on the air. ONly when I read online at different sites did I FINALLY FIND OUT Robby had basically been disqualified.

So frankly, I think the mess was HUGE and either AB did was not told this or was TOLD not to mention this to those of us in TV LAND.

Yes, I was glad ESPN went over time to interview Harvick, Gordon and Ambrose( Marcos a TRUE ACT OF CLASS! but frankly, I thought we coulda been filled in better than we were.

I was livid. When my room mate got home from dinner he watched the last 5 laps with me and screamed at the camera guys SHOW THE RACE when the scanned the crowds instead..and my friend is a passive, nice person...not a screamer.

So, maybe I was not so please with ESPN only because I feel NASCAR dropped the ball and we were told NOTHING.

If it was SPOKEN ON ROBBIES RADIO, somebody in production wanted us to miss it...WHY?

Now it's been all over THAT'Racing and jayski that there are rumors Gordon will not drive at POCONO.

Last I heard he walked out of the Principals office with a rule book still seething. Helton and what's his face said nothing as they headed towards their planes allegedly.

So, while the first part of the race was ok, the ending was a disgrace. THAT is not ESPN's fault but honestly, has anything like this happened before?

And folks think Tony Stewart is a loose cannon? Even as I type this, I cannot believe NASCAR THREW the green flag with GORDON still at the front.

I can NOT WAIT to see RACE DAY and hear what Jimmy the bigmouth Spencer has to say about this one!!

Sorry if I am drifting off the topic of this column but I am still HONKED OFF.

(gee, not that anybody could tell!!)


P.S. Aside from speaking over the in car radio of Robbie, of COURSE AB did an EXCELLENT JOB and his voice and humor are great. I thought his side kicked seemed a bit ignorant of the rules when said person thought "they scored Robby to first place" and Alan had to correct him..unless they were kidding.

See, I have even lost my sense of humor.!@#$%

It was a Montreal Mess so your title was great as always, John!

Steve L. said...

After all the talk the last few races about NOT showing the other cars cross the finish line, didn't you notice they did it again? We saw Harvick get the flag, crew jumpping up and down, short shot of the crowd clapping, and then the slow down lap. All the while cars beating and banging to the finish line and we missed it AGAIN!!
Say what you want but I thought it was a true mess. Announcers were better but the pit reporters were the pits.
At the end of that race I had no idea what just happened. Why did NASCAR restart the race when Robbie wasn't lined up in the #12 position like he was told? If he had been in his proper restarting spot, Ambrose would have won the race. Right?
Why did they (NASCAR) let three cars do burn outs on the front stretch at the same time? It looked and felt like NASCAR lost control in the second half of the race. Looked like a darn three ring circus! I'm embarrassed as an American at the way our drivers conducted themselves.

SophiaZ123 said...

P.S. Kevin, I just now saw your post. THANK YOU for your kind words!!

but I wanted to second your camera placement issue. But honestly, I think this of many races this year on ESPN but it was CRITICAL on today's road course.

And you are also on the money that they sometimes CHANGE CAMERAS TOO FREQUENTLY. *sigh* I have so noticed this and only one other person (maybe you) have mentioned this.

I know the media thinks we all have the attention span of gnats but to watch 4 hours of commercials with some racing thrown in, we can be transfixed to our tv's for the love of our drivers. Wide shots are good but please ESPN camera men, LINGER on the cars a bit longer. REMEMBER you all missed JJ's tired blowing last week when I and many others saw it from our couches!!

So, I shall hold off on my grading this race until my mood improves.


p.s. For the love of god will the webmaster of this site DISPENSE with the word veri thing. Is it my MOZILLA browser causing me hassles? Can we have it removed or SHORTEN the "words"? Does it really protect the brats whose posts get deleted? I have been having problems for days and am starting to get paranoid.

If these things get any longer, it will be it's own alphabet.

cwebs said...

I must disagree with the general assessment of ESPN's performance here. I thought LaJoie was noticeably off kilter for most of the race. Bestwick was forced to wage a continuous effort to correct Lajoie's constant misstatements. This resulted in many uncomfortably awkward moments. Additionally, Marty Smith was clearly out of his element as a pit reporter. He certainly has talent, so I'm sure he'd do well after gaining some experience in the role, but he wasn't ready for primetime at Montreal.

I do agree with you that they blew the penultimate restart by having the camera unexplainably focused on the crowd instead of the cars. While the camera work to this point was pretty good, they threw away all their well-earned credibility in an instant. Then, on the last caution, they were never able to show a replay that illustrated the sequence of events as Gordon passed Ambrose, the caution came out, and Gordon got spun.

Without knowing the exact timing and circumstances of these three events, the fans were left in the dark. In fact, we never even got to see a clear and complete view of Gordon passing Ambrose. NASCAR's decision to black flag Gordon might have been easier for fans to accept if we had been able to see for ourselves what had happened. Unfortunately, ESPN only managed to add to the confusion instead of providing answers.

SophiaZ123 said...


So glad you posted before I left here! I thought I was just being a cranky witch as I had many issues with the race today, too.

The reason there was three burnouts is nutcase Gordon (in his alleged mind) won!! Harvick won, and the I think AB said Carpentier did burn outs to honor his hometown fans.

But yes, it was chaos and you are correct about the lack of coverage at the end of the finish line.

Thanks for making me feel better about my rants. ESPN still hacks me off.

SophiaZ123 said...


I just checked Jayski before logging off and hope I can post this Gordon update here since many of us were clueless when the race was on TV.

UPDATE 2: NASCAR issued a statement Saturday evening about the incident during the Busch race from Ramsey Poston, NASCAR Managing Director of Corporate Communications: "Once the caution came out on Lap 72 the field was frozen.

Once the field is frozen, all cars must maintain cautious pace in order to be scored. At the time that the field was frozen, the #59 was in the lead.

The #55 did not maintain cautious pace and by NASCAR rule, cars not maintaining cautious pace are scored only when they blend back into the continuous line.

The 55 based on our scoring was ordered to blend back in behind the #33 in front of the #7. The tower ordered the #55 multiple times to get in to position. The directive was acknowledged by the crew chief of the #55 and the crew chief also communicated the order to the driver of the #55.

The driver ignored NASCAR’s directive. He was warned that he would be black flagged if he did not comply. Once the #55 crossed the start-finish line he was posted per the NASCAR rule book and at that time the directive to display the black flag was given.

After contact with the 59 on Lap 73, NASCAR took emergency action per the rule book Section12-2 thus parking the #55, which was also ignored.

The black flag with the white cross was displayed to the #55 when it crossed the start-finish line on lap 74. The #55 finished the race in the 18th position.”(NASCAR PR)(8-4-2007)

Well, after reading this at Jayski I STILL say the LUNATIC would not have taken over the asylum if NASCAR would've HELD their ground before restarting the race.

Then all our gripes about the camera would be moot.

The race should've NEVER been restarted with Gordon "running the race his way"



bevo said...

Bestwick and LaJoie did a fine job. Camera work was good too. But once again we didn't get to see the end of the race. What is so damn difficult about having a camera showing the area of the finish line for a few seconds to show the cars??? Heck if they don't want to have a cameraman do it just put a stationary camera there with a wide lens. Imagine the uproar if at the end of an NFL game the QB drops back to throw a deep fade to the end zone to win the game and the camera stays on him. You see him jump up and down pumping his fist and hugging his linemen. You know they scored but you never saw the end of the play, it could have been an amazing tight rope catch on the end line or it could have been a wide open pass to the bread basket. It's inconceivable that a director would not switch to the camera on the receiver for the end of the play. Yet we have to put up with this week in and week out with racing.

Tripp said...

The "Mess" was in the last 5 laps.

NASCAR fans have a love/hate affair with road courses, and this one was fairly lovable until Robby Gordon clobbered Marcos Ambrose in the next to last lap. Good race, bad race? That's a discussion for another place in cyberspace.

Covering a NASCAR road race is always a challenge because the cars turn both left and right, but ESPN's coverage was well up to the task. Technically, the production was first rate with cameras on the headlights down every straight and on every corner.

Without being in the TV business it's hard to know whether it was the ambiance of a road course in a park or the expertise of the crew in the truck, but images were stunning in HD. One might have almost smelled the newly mown grass when Carl Edwards ran over the lawn short cutting a corner. Major props to the video crew.

The sound gang were on pace with their picture counterparts delivering lush 5.1 sound that really did surround. You can "Crank-It-Up", but nothing sounded more real than this race. One quibble though. At times the "wall of sound" race noises drowned out the folks in the booth. Perhaps the gang in the truck have been listening to too much Todd Rundgren and Phil Spector.


When the action hit the pits, things got a little spiky. Reporters Smith, Welch and Gerould were good but not great. Within the context of this visual and aural feast, the flow of information from pit lane was not to the same level. The facts were there and good information was proffered. It was just not at the level of the sights and sounds. All it lacked was "flair".

Up in the booth, all was as it should be. Alan Bestwick is the definition of "smooth" when announcing a race. No one gives more useful information when things get crazy on the track than AB. He's like Bob Jenkins without the adrenalin induced falsetto. Always in command, and in good humor. It worked well with Randy LaJoie.

LaJoie is the diamond in the rough when it comes to color announcers. He went for seconds at the personality buffet, and has been showing that ever since his days on Speed's "Inside NASCAR Busch Series" spinoff of "INC". Never too serious, he knew how to pass along what was going on between the Armco, especially when talking about the non-ringers. His running commentary on Ron Hornaday's ongoing quest for payback was a real peek from the driver's perspective. If ESPN doesn't put him on the Busch broadcasts full time, Speed would be foolish not to for the Craftsman Truck Series.

Side note to Speed: Pay the money for Randy. Keep Mikey out of the booth and hopefully on the track.

As normal, ESPN missed some of the "non-marquis" stories. Marcos Ambrose was the hot ticket for Busch regulars on a road course, but there wasn't a peep about him until he popped up challenging for the lead. One cannot help but love Boris Said as a guy who will race anything, anywhere. He's a fan favorite and a consummate nice guy. But in the race after Watkins Glen, he won't matter a fig to the NBS fans until next year. The international flavor of the race was missed.

As usual, ESPN focussed on the winner at the finish. It's a personal preference rather like having ketchup on your fries. Did you feel cheated?

Holding on to an overtime broadcast to get words from Ambrose had to score points with the viewers. Did he mean what he said? Doesn't matter. The folks on the far side of the haunted fish tank got to hear it. That's worth a gold star.

In the final analysis, ESPN didn't miss much in the broadcast from Montreal. AB put the cherry on top when he pointed out that a Quebec racing legend was waving the starting green flag, and recounted the racing history of Gilles Villeneuve during a late race caution. Classy touches.

Nicely done ESPN.

Matt said...

I think with all the Chaos on the last lap, no one was thinking about showing the field cross the finish line. Plus, Carpentier went spinning through turn one right after the finish. When things get wild like that, I dont think there is much a network can do.

Tripp said...

Point about the mess.

It's not any networks job to say what's right or wrong. What Robby Gordon did at the finish of the race was covered by ESPN. AB and RL were both scratching their heads when Gordon refused to give up P2. That was all that they could do, given time constraints.

It's up to NASCAR to sort out the situation after taking in all of the information available to them.

Neither AB nor RL had the right to vent outrage on air over the situation. Their job is to report it. They didn't vent. They didn't speculate. Until ESPN learns how to transcend time, they did right.

More to come... ThatsRacin, RacingOne, etc.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above post that NASCAR should have thrown the RED FLAG and physically removed R Gordon before the restart.

It was obvious to all that R Gordon was going to wreck Ambrose no matter what.Maybe Ambrose had some fault, but because of poor camera coverage, we do not know for sure what led to the Ambrose/Gordon incident.

If I had driven my passenger car onto the track and begun banging on the leader, would NASCAR have shrugged their shoulders and waved the green? I think not, but that is essentially what NASCAR did when they restarted the race with R Gordon illegally out of place behind and banging on the leader.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that Ambrose "bumped" or "nudged" Gordon, but that Gordon "punted" or "crashed" Ambrose.

To me, both actions and results seemed to be very much identical. Ambrose intentionally spun Gordon out on a YELLOW. The yellow flag was very obvious on my TV. I thought that was wrong...must be ok when the "victim" is Gordon, but not ok when the "victim" is Ambrose...

Oh well...

Busch Fan! said...

I thought ESPN's coverage was great I think AB & Randy worked well together. Marty Smith looked lost in the pits but his questions were reasonable. What a crazy finish I also think Nascar should not have thrown the green with Gordon right behind Ambrose what did they would happen????? Just because he's blackflagged he still managed to ruin the race for Ambrose. Anyway the telecast will definitely be better than Ponoco's today.

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of quick comments. Gordon should have won. It's just that simple. I'm not a big Robbie Gordon fan, but he just keeps getting screwed. I'm sick of Harvick whining - he caused the big wreck at the end. And on point, I thought ESPN did fine. They missed a good opportunity neare the end by talking over Robbie's radio. It's just ignorance. At least Brad wasn't on.

On to Sunday.

snowfaller said...

No mention of the clear F-bomb dropped by Harvick's crew chief?

I thought he was just stumbling when trying to say "up to the front" but he clearly said "up to the f**kin' front". Strange this wasn't mentioned in the wake of all of the uproar over Tony Stewart's BS-bomb last week.

I was screaming at the TV for NASCAR to black flag Gordon as soon as he came up and bumped Ambrose during the impending yellow. Then when he started pulling up beside Ambrose during the yellow laps it was obvious what was going to happen. NASCAR should know better with him by now.

It's a shame Ambrose was screwed out of his first Busch win.

Anonymous said...

No one has mentioned what was up with that Countdown show before the Busch race. AB began the show, but then it was moved to Pocono and the hour was focused on Cup (and the X Games ..... ugh). I guess I mistakingly thought it was a pre-show for the race in Canada. Oh, well...

Did I miss it or did they never update anyone on Steve Wallace and the attempted mugging??? It was pretty obvious he had black eye when he was interviewed, but I never heard a reference as to what happened to him and how he was doing. I bet it would have been a great story, as it sounds like he may have gotten the better of the muggers because they were never able to get his watch and were ultimately apprehended.

It was great that they stayed on air for the interviews, but they left out local fav Patrick Carpentier! He was so excited on his 2nd place position, judging from his burnouts, and it would have been a great interview!

I definitely agree the race should have been red-flagged to sort out the mess. It sounds like (from other articles I have read - See Lee Spencer on Fox) that Robby passed Marcos after that corner where Harvick wrecked with Pruett, etc... Robby's spotter yelled caution and Robby slowed, but Marcos may not have been told about the caution as quick because he got into Robby when Robby slowed for the caution. Maybe that is what we missed on Robby's scanner?? At any rate, if that is the correct sequence of events and Robby was inadvertently spun when slowing for the caution, then shouldn't he have been put back to one of the top two positions or should he have been put further back for not maintaining caution speed? I don't know the answer and Nascar obviously chose the latter. I understand it was confusing at the time, but this explanation was not offered as an alternative on the broadcast. It would have been interesting to hear AB and Randy's thoughts on this scenario. Regardless, Robby should not have ended the race as he did. I can't wait to hear what Jimmy and Kenny have to say this morning!!

Just as a side note - since many of us compain about the coverage - has anyone ever wached the F1 coverage on Speed? It is absolutely hilarious!!!! Based on it, we really shouldn't be complaining about anything! Peter Windsor's pre-race interviews on pit road are classic. They obviously don't have the same access - and the drivers could care less about being interviewed for US TV. Poor Peter tries his best, but usually with no luck, and I get a really good laugh out of it all!!! I just want to give him a hug and say good luck in his continued efforts to get pre-race interviews. As for the race coverage, the commentators are at the mercy of local TV coverage for the pictures. They have no control of replays or what is shown. As a result, they have to go with the flow and do their best in explaining things we may or may not be able to see. I do enjoy their coverage and the commentators because they do the best they can with what they have!! Not only are they good sports about it, but they never try to pretend that their access is top notch and always tell it like it is.

Anonymous said...

I saw the original race and taped the replay on ESPN2 on TV early this morning. On the replay they cut out everything after Harvick crossed the line. Meaning they cut ALL the interviews at the end -no Victory Lane interview from Harvick, no Gordon, no Ambrose. They also cut the shots of Gordon trailing Harvick after the finish and doing the burnouts near Harvick.

Those shots and interviews were on ESPN News and Sportcenter last night. Why would ESPN2 cut all of that on the replay knowing that fans who heard about the race and saw Sportscenter would want to see the post-race for themselves, in its entirety, on the replay?

I've taped the condensed race replay for other Busch races and they always make time for post-race interviews and celebration (cutting some of the more uninteresting race footage out to make the time). Obviously the decision came from NASCAR that they'll do their best to erase what happened.

Other than that, coverage was very good except Marty Smith did not do a good job in the pits.

Anonymous said...

Good Camera Work??? Apparently I have had on the wrong channel all seaon becasue I think ESPN's strategy of a new high speed shot every 2 seconds is awful.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for your great comments, let's address a couple of issues:

We are still working on determining if the ESPN finish line coverage of only the winner is something they have been told to do by their Coord. Prod. It may well be something mandatory. We will see after Pocono.

No one at ESPN will discuss the NASCAR Countdown show that was less about Montreal and more about Pocono and the X-Games. At least AB and Randy were good in their part of the show.

You guys raise some great points about interviews and scanners in hindsight, but I think things got a litte bit chaotic after the five laps to go restart. I am sure if they had to do it all over again, they would do it differently.

Sophia, the "verification" thing you have to type to post keeps the automated spammers from posting ads on blog sites like this. When we first started, they would sometimes post fifty ads a day, so we had to add the verification.

We are working hard to move to a stand-along website, and add a fulltime user forum and online live chat functions. We are also working on a podcast and online video access. As you can imagine, there are some rights issues and some cost issues associated with these, but you should see them soon.

Thanks again for your great comments!

bevo said...

Good Lord! Cowlishaw and The Silly One have no idea what they're talking about on NASCAR Now about the Gordon situation. This is painful...

patrick said...

Who is in charge of the race, the sanctioning body or the driver? Apparently with NASCAR they have NO real time control of the drivers and can only take remedial actions the following day.
Robbie Gordon should be banned from NASCAR for LIFE. said...

Yet another week where we only got to see the winner cross the finish line.

Also, it would have been nice to hear Marcos Ambrose explain his side of the wreck. Unfortunately ESPN was already 15 minutes late getting to the ultra-important X-Games, so Gary Gerould had "less than a minute" to talk to Ambrose as they were being rushed off the air, which gave us just enough to hear Ambrose say he's wasn't mad, because he promised himself even on his lowest day in NASCAR he would leave with a smile on his face. There was no time for a follow-up question that might have given us some clue as to why he wrecked Robby Gordon under yellow.

At least we did get to hear from Harvick and Gordon, I was concerned that we would see another Bristol where ABC went off the air as Carl Edwards was getting out of his car to do his backflip.

Anonymous said...

I think that ESPN did a very good job with the tools at hand. AB and RL were informative and entertaining. Multiple angle camera coverage of the entire 14 corner road course would have required a budget for an Olympic event, not a Busch race. There were a couple of missed calls in the truck, but overall I give ESPN a B+.

Watching the end was painful. I like Robby, but watching him jump off a bridge re: his career was not pretty. ESPN did the right thing by delaying the X Games until they got the interviews.

I personally dislike the ESPN studio shows, but there are people on the staff who remember how to present an actual race. Good job.

Anonymous said...

I love Alan, hes the best NASCAR has for people in the booth. bill webber took over after alan broke his leg. I think its simply that Alan is soo good that he makes everyone else look so bad for not being at his level, in other words.. he blows the curve for everyone else.. ALSO please please espn.. get rid of that model turned pit reporter... she always has to get in the screen when shes interviewing someone... she is so bad its not even fully

Jo said...

John, interesting comments. I agree with the poster who said that ESPN was rushing to get to the Potential Paralysis Games and didn't give time for full post-race interviews. Again, that's a matter of demographics and the director in Montreal may not have had any control there--at least we got three sound bites.

But where I fault ESPN is in its analysis of where Ambrose & Gordon were when the yellow came out. You have to figure there is a scoring loop there in the hairpin because there are so many wrecks there and it would be a place where they need to ascertain positions. At the time of the Pruett/Harvick wreck, you could see two things on the ESPN replay: 1) Ambrose was still ahead of Gordon and 2) his right rear bumper corner and quarterpanel were intact. That's the point where the tower called the caution--though we don't know how long it took that message to be relayed to the track flagmen or to the drivers via radio.

When the cameras picked them up 200 yds later coming out from behind the trees, Gordon was completing a pass on Ambrose's outside. Ambrose immediately got his nose under Gordon's left rear quarter panel. At that point, you could see that Ambrose's right rear bumper was damaged and sheet metal was torn on his right rear, which had to have happened in that 200 yds we couldn't see from contact w/ Gordon. Both cars ARE under caution here as Ambrose made contact with Gordon and reassumed the lead he'd held as the yellow came out. That's where Gordon spun, under yellow, and lost position. If ESPN had focused on that lead change and RECIPROCAL contact after the yellow flew, the discussion would have been a lot clearer. Still, Bestwick and LaJoie did a good job with what they had--they didn't act like a B team.

Steven said...

Was I the only one who saw Robby hit Ambrose??? On at least 2 replays showed by ESPN of Harvick spinning Pruett, you could see Gordon give Ambrose a shot to get by. Ambrose then punted Robby to get back by in the next corner. No mention of this by the guys in the booth. You would think that with all the people reviewing replays in the truck for ESPN they would have seen this.

Anonymous said...

Another ESPN weirdness: The Canadian race feed (rebroadcast by TSN here in Canada) and the American feed were FOUR FREAKIN' MINUTES apart!

My husband lives in the Midwest and I live in British Columbia. We make it a point to watch every Busch race together, using audio chat to talk on our computers while watching the race live on TV. Usually the feeds are only seconds apart, something we attribute to the fact that I watch on cable while he watches on satellite.

Near the start Saturday's race, I mentioned something that happened on the ESPN feed on my TV. We waited, and waited, and waited, and finally, it was broadcast on my husband's feed. And the feeds never did sync, continuing with the same four minute delay the entire race.

It ruined the race for us, because I'd groan or curse or cheer and we'd have to wait four minutes before we could talk about what happened. Of course, very few people would notice that their feed was seriously delayed. I mean, how many people are trying to watch the race cross-border while chatting about it via computers? Not too many, I'd guess. :-)

I can't think of any reason ESPN would do this. It was exactly the same feed, with commercial breaks at exactly the same times, but delayed four minutes for American viewers. Why?

Anonymous said...

Alan Bestwick is the best there is hands down........Not since Bob Jenkins, Dr. Jerry Punch Benny Parsons from the old ESPN days has there been such talent........Bill Weber should be carrying AB's jock........

SophiaZ123 said...

Thanks John for explaining the word Verification thing..I figured it was there for good reason..but when logged in, I have to RE-TYPE it (even though it's correct the first time) up to three times, and each time, the secret word is more convoluted.

But, if I log in as anonymous, the WV is lots "friendlier" thus my paranoia. Ha. I do not know why I come here and sometimes my name is here and other times anon.

Also that is great you are getting a stand alone site but wanted to add, I hope it is a good looking as this site. I love the text you use, the layout, the colors. It's very EASY to read on middle aged eyes! :-)

I enjoy your articles so much, I have made it my home page as I just can't stomach the HORRIBLE NEWS du jour first thing when I log on and try to stick with racing. Jayski has become too cluttered so am using your site. Thanks for making it so EASY to read and to visit. It's much appreciated when a writer invites comments whether we agree or disagree with you.

I think I still have the race on tape and when I rewatched the last 5 laps of the race with my room mate, HE CAUGHT RObby bumping AMBROSE under caution...we reran the tape and it was obvious....Now again on SPEED or FOX, DW and LM would've CAUGHT THAT.

Do the stooges in the booth watch ANY tv monitors? Does a producer? They miss so much.

In comparison, I watch the ARCA Pocono crashfest, I mean race last night. Many scarey crashes and one was a cluster crash of 5 drivers that blocked the track and IMMEDIATELY brought out the red flag. It was scary but guess what? SPeed had NUMEROUS CAMERA angles and replays to show us the race.

That said, they waited a long time before showing the replay as a stretcher was brought out and about 10 emergency vehicles. It was clear many drives did NOT hit the breaks fast enough.

But if that had been ESPN we woulda either had no camera angles or only one.

I saw the wreck as it happened and the camera work was SUPERB!!!

ESPN crew could learn from SPEED's camera crew.

batchief said...

Jo, thank you for your post. To me what you addressed was the big question that never was answered on any tv show. I just watched Nascar Raceday and they showed footage of the last wreck that caused the yellow in question. When the wreck began their overhead shot clearly showed Ambrose in the lead. Did Gordon pass him when the yellow was out? I do know that after Ambrose repassed Gordon he did have right rear damage that wasn't there before the wreck began. Also I did hear on ESPN, prior to the green before the wreck, the 55 was talking about "roughing up" the 59.

dave said...

Was ANYONE working this race for ESPN even watching ?

The crowd shot during the - 5 laps to go - restart was excellent. I can't think of anything I'd have rather seen.

ESPN replayed Gordon being spun by Ambrose 3 times. Unless I was watching a different race, the replay CLEARLY shows Gordon out front AND the yellow flag out PRIOR to the spin. ( which would keep him in front for the restart ). But in typical fashon NO ONE said anything. Were they seeing the same replay ? Was ANYONE in the production truck attentive enough to suggest a slo-mo replay ? Unbelievable.

I'm no Gordon fan, but I am a race fan. The fact that nothing was said ( in addition to the routine MESS ESPN dished out each week ) indicates that they weren't interested in this "thing" dragging out any longer than it had to. X-Games were waiting.

Anonymous said...

NA$CAR should've red-flagged Robby (Brat 2, since Brat 1 "won")until he went back to proper position or parked him. Ambrose should be the winner; he was clearly the leader at the yellow (notice Brat 2's work on the right side of Ambrose's car). The reason Ambrose got no face time: he drives for the wrong team.

Anonymous said...

I TIVO'd the race but the race ended after it quit taping. There was a repeat at 3:00 AM so I tried again. However, they didn't show any of the ending drama or even the laps prior to the last 24. They have a gift from Robby Gordon and they don't go with it and show it again. It started out with the X Games and then a brief version of the last 24 laps and then to horse racing. ESPN just doesn't get the job done.

PaulT said...

SophiaZ123 almost completed a very good suggestion concerning R. Gordon's behavior. That is, NASCAR should have red flagged the race, stopped the cars in front of the largest grandstands in the place and hooked a tow truck up to the front AND rear of his car and carried him to the garage area before resuming the race. R. Gordon and the audience there and on television would have been well served.

pault said...

Oh, yeah. ESPN. I maintain that ESPN is still miffed over the end of the last contract they had with NASCAR that they have budgeted enough money to take NASCAR down a rung or two, in their estimation.

SophiaZ123 said...


POCONO is a long race so excuse the comment here but it do apply to ESPN. Ok, while showing us that ******* STUPID Draft tracker???? Ku Bush passed Jr.

We had to see the pass on a replay.


sorry, couldn't wait for the next column and had to bitch about this.


Have we even addressed the bad production with the shoddy camera work????

Meow Hiss.

Bobby said...

Bristol broke out. That's all you need to say!

But as for the poster noted how DW and LM would have caught the 55/59 incident, one thing to note is that the announcers' position is a place where both of them wouldn't be able to catch it on the fly. Mike Joy is huge on preferring the binoculars and watching the race proceed and is less trustworthy on monitors, and he has passed that trait to his duo.

The camera placements at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve are probably the same as FOCA TV establishes for the Grand Prix du Canada except for the lengthened pit lane (NASCAR lengthened it for 43 cars).

Oh do the Watkins Glen, Bristol, and Richmond people have plenty of ways to promote their Busch races. The ringers don't race this way -- we had hardcore body checks all the way to the line, and these road courses always seem to turn into pure short-track slamfests, and at times into your local 300-lap enduro.

And that's good for short track racing.

Anonymous said...

Bestwick was his usual terrific self and Lajoie was a riot to listen to. I'd never heard randy comment on a race before. The whole Gordon/Ambrose thing was stupid on Nascar's part but what drives me nuts is ESPN cutting away from a pass for the lead, which you knew was coming, to show a crash. Typical poor race coverage.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with you on your comment about Randy LaJoie.

He never answered any fuel mileage questions prompted by Alan Bestwick.
Plus, I cannot stand his voice.

He needs to find another Busch Series ride.