Sunday, September 16, 2007

ABC Uses A Calm Race To Get Back On Track

Nothing works better to get a sports TV crew back on track than a nice orderly event. It could be a baseball game, a tennis match, or in this case...a NASCAR race.

The ESPN production crew that produces the races on ABC deserved a break, and they got one. A beautiful day in New Hampshire let everyone calm down and focus on providing a low-key and solid race telecast.

The only real excitement came in the pre-race show, called NASCAR Countdown. Brad Daugherty has walked a fine line this season. Sometimes, he is called "the voice of the fans" and is promoted as the common man. On other days, and on other ESPN shows, he is referred to as an "expert analyst."

On this Sunday, Daugherty was placed alongside both Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett in the beautiful ESPN Infield Studio. In talking about The Chase, Daugherty put forth his views as though he was an expert. Wallace and Jarrett ate him for lunch. Its rare to see this type of emotion from these two, and it was certainly interesting to see it on-the-air live.

This Infield Studio dynamic was made a bit stranger by Brent Musburger posed like an emperor behind a podium all alone on a hill. Musburger was relaxed this time, and did not hype the race as he did earlier in the season. Once the race began, Musburger was rarely seen again. The ESPN production team did a good job to balance his presence with the action on the track.

The pre-race show continued with the pit reporters towing the load and previewing both the race and The Chase. This group has been important to the ESPN and ABC telecasts since both Suzy Kolber and Brad Daugherty are limited in the racing experience they bring to the table. It is still a bit weird to see Kolber walk out to the starting grid for a final "feature" interview, while Daugherty sits all alone in the dark.

It was a strange time for a Jeff Gordon feature, but his 500th race brought a fun and interesting piece. It finally gave new fans a perspective on who Jeff was when he broke into the sport, and how far he has come. Once again, Shannon Spake flew under the radar, and simply asked the questions viewers want to know. She has a good working relationship with NASCAR's elite, and it shows on-the-air.

Once underway, the single file racing of Loudon was exactly what ABC needed. As the race began to become a semi-orderly parade, the network used the toys available to them in a conservative manner. The Tech Center, the side-by-side video effects, and even the FedEx race recap worked well all race long.

ESPN's graphic package looked great once again in this race, although the sound effects when graphics are inserted should be reserved for the studio. The fact that ABC does not continually keep a lower third sports ticker on the screen is a blessing. The backgrounds for the Tech Center and race recaps are fantastic.

There is no way to get around the ESPN cross-promotion or the SportsCenter Minute. At least ESPN limited the promos in-race and the SportsCenter cut-ins very well for the most part. Musburger could not help but use his college football references several times, but he should be reminded he is talking to the wrong bunch.

In "stripping down" the amount of replay material that surrounds the commercials, the ESPN crew finally solved their big problem of missed restarts. They used the pit stops and the on-track action to place the commercial load in the right spots, and what a difference it made in this telecast.

An added bonus for viewers was the continued presence of Dale Jarrett. Staying in the Infield Studio and actively involved, Jarrett really added another element to the broadcast. Credit is due to the Producer for allowing Wallace and Jarrett to speak freely with each other throughout the race, where they often played off each other's comments and brought their years of experience to the action.

The best part of today's race was that someone got ESPN to put their Dale Earnhardt Jr. hysteria behind them. What a relief it was getting to watch a well-produced race without having a "Junior update" every couple of laps. Even when he spun, the announcers handled it as they would any other car, and that was a great sign for the remainder of the season.

One awkward note was the Victory Lane interview by Jamie Little. She has been working very hard to transition from the IndyCar series to NASCAR, but has no place in Victory Lane asking questions whispered in her ear. There are several more experienced reporters on pit road, and they would have asked deeper questions involving Bowyer. Not yet knowing all the players has been her drawback in these type of spontaneous situations, and it showed again in New Hampshire.

On the positive side, the network stayed on-the-air and worked hard to fill over thirty minutes with interviews of the participants. As the time wore on, the reporters had to follow the exiting drivers all the way to the helipad as they left the speedway.

This might be somewhat ironic to veteran ESPN viewers, who remember the days when ESPN was locked out of the tracks. For many years, the lone figure of Mike Massaro would stand next to the helicopters trying to get interviews before the drivers flew back to Charlotte. Now, the company has come full-circle, as the ESPN crew produces the ABC telecasts nationwide and holds the exclusive TV rights to The Chase.

With the very tough grind of Dover looming as one of the most challenging tracks for TV coverage, this nice and orderly event in New Hampshire was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Next week the network will battle bad camera angles, a huge bridge over the track, and lots of accidents that happen so fast, its hard to even find the cars involved. Hopefully, they can capitalize on this positive telecast and continue to keep TV momentum on their side.

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.


jfs-va said...

Calm describes it well. As for Brent Musberger, why why why? I assume he's inserted for the authority and gravitas and legitimacy he supposedly provides, but honestly, he's such a fish out of water at a NASCAR race. And as he has aged, so has his voice. It just doesn't have the "you are looking live..." presence anymore.

There were some flubs. I think Jamie said something about Tony late in the race and mentioned that he hadn't led any laps. At another point in the race Dr. Jerry mentioned Jimmie making his way to the front when in fact he was recently passed by a few cars. In a battle between Tony and Jeff they confused who had been in the lead spot and who was passing. I think Rusty called the start of the race the restart. But anyway, I forgive them. :D

darbar said...

This was a downright boring race, and just what ESPN/ABC needed. But, since when did Kyle Busch switch cars and start driving the 45 car? Even my sister, who's not a Nascar fan, caught that mistake when Rusty said that Kyle Busch, in the 45, scrapped another car. Hey, Rusty, it's Kyle Petty in the 45 car. Mistakes like this, especially for a man who was a driver for many years, should not happen. If you can't get the drivers right, time to leave the booth.

SophiaZ123 said...

When I clicked over from RACEDAY, I told my room mate I would wait a few minutes to get the radio from the other room. Yes, we heard Rusty say RESTART for the beginning of the race.

Well, as my room mate put it "well, they did just finish racing last week, right?" :-)

I read about camera flubs on this blog, specifically the 41 car.

I got so involved with MRN and the pictures they painted in my head, I did not 'watch' the tv much and when in the recliner, kept my eyes close alot to just LISTEN and open up for any action on the track.

WHY DOES JAMIE LITTLE HAVE A JOB? She made myself and my roomie cringe at the VL questioning..then I heard Clint on MRN and things were much better.

Also, somebody better tell Jr this is his "VICTORY TOUR"?????????? When Jamie said THAT, I was embarrassed for Jr.

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

I am glad to read there were alleged improvements worth noting.

For SOME reason, this FM channel with MRN has to be carefully tuned move the dial BARELY, it changes. I had it tuned in in one room, unplugged it and walked into another room, and a different station came on?? But still, I LOVE MY MRN.

Oh, and Harvick must have gotten 'what for' for his dissing ESPN a few weeks ago. He was nothing but a gentleman when interviewed on ESPN and I was STUNNED to see he was the in car driver duded today?? Don't know how much he spoke or anything.

Anonymous said...

I agree that they have gone way overboard on Junior lately, but it would have been nice to have had a "through the field" as to what was happening to the other 31 cars that were in the race. The chase guys were well taken care of (I know, this is all about them) but if your driver isn't in the chase, then an update on his car would be appreciated, and yes I am a Junior fan. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Just because I watch NASCAR does NOT mean I care about other sports. Stop interrupting the race with stale "updates" about unrelated events.

I noted the return of "I'll tell you what..."

And, no kidding, this is Junior's "Victory Tour"? Is he retiring? I noted that they also but forgot about him until they suddenly realized he'd worked his way up to the top 5.

Anonymous said...

OK, it was a job pretty well done. I can overlook the little verbal gaffes by the announcing team, stuff happens in the excitement of the moment. I was surprised and impressed that ABC hung in there for driver interviews. Perhaps we are over the hump on the learning curve for the production team.(Maybe they read the Daly Planet:)

I still wonder what Musberger was doing there. I kinda feel sorry for the old guy. He just sounds lost. I'll bet that he'd rather be doing something else.

Anonymous said...

Watching ABC while listening to MRN is fascinating, especially when ABC is busy shooting one car go 'round and 'round (like the 22) while all sorts of other things (we never see) are happening.

MRN tells you what's happening at the race. ABC shows you the "stories" they deem important.

And ABC has an annoying habit of taking another camera even when one is already on-air, showing you a critical move or wreck. It's as if the Director's not even wathcing what's on the air--he just forges ahead, calling the shot he's seeing in his Preview monitor, until he sees the mistake and goes back.

stricklinfan82 said...

Good ESPN:

- The extended post-race show was excellent. Plenty of interviews from not only the Chase drivers but the other drivers like Newman and Mears.

- Dale Jarrett. He adds the best insights of all of the announcers. Selfishly speaking I'd like to see him retire as a driver and go into the broadcast booth full-time.

- Coverage of battle for 35th in owner's points. They did a good job of following stories like the 22-21 battle for 35th in owner's points and even showed Kyle Petty on camera for a reason other than crashing.

- No Dale Jr. overkill. Enough said.


- Did I miss ESPN explaining why Brian Vickers lost so many laps?

- Brent Musburger AND Suzy Kolber. That is ridiculous overkill. How can it be worth 2 pennies for ESPN to pay Brent Musburger to fly overnight from Nebraska to be a useless host and add NOTHING to the broadcast.

- They missed a restart and would have probably missed more if there had been a lot of caution flags.

- Draft tracks at Loudon. I don't like seeing an imaginary color-coding of the air on any track but especially hate seeing it at a 1-mile flat oval.

- Stop with the damn Sportscenter Minutes and football and baseball promos. It is unacceptable to split screen the live race with a taped video package hyping a regular season baseball game on ESPN. And then to follow it up with a full-screen Google Earth view of the Patriots football stadium, then the Red Sox ballpark, and then NHIS during green flag racing was COMPLETELY UNCALLED FOR. Who knows how long the baseball and football hype would have continued if Harvick hadn't blown a tire and interrupted Musburger as he was about to further the baseball converstation. Can you imagine the outrage if ESPN split-screened John Miller voicing over a Yankees-Red Sox video package with a live Monday Night Football game DURING PLAY????????

SHOW US THE RACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Save the promo crap for caution flags, pre-race, and post-race.

Treat NASCAR like it matters for God's sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steve L said...

John, I think the title "ABC Uses A Calm Race To Get Back On Track" should have been "ABC Uses A COT Race To Get Back On Track".

The reason it was a calm race was because of the COT. According to the drivers, these slow tanks are hard to drive, steer, brake, set up, etc., , and have been told to keep their opinions to themselves.

I do think ESPN/ABC has been reading your articles because a lot of our complaints in the past weeks have been somewhat addressed and some partial corrections have been made. The restarts were better this week, they are showing cars crossing the finish line and other small things were better. There's still much room for improvement but I think the season will run out before they get it right.

I did hear Rusty call Brent Brett but even more funny was Suzy calling him Brett while standing on pit road after her little interview.
It was nice to have DJ there today. He is so much better than Jerry Punch. Jerrys voice, after a couple hours, sounds like nails on the black board to me. Not only has Musbergers voice aged but so has Dr. Punch's.

Only nine weeks to go...

Tripp said...

ABC's the place to go for mystery.

In a race that TV viewers might view as a yawn, ABC simply blew it. It was all about the "Chasers". The other 31 drivers might as well not have been there. Without a doubt the chase is the big story, but it's not the only one. Here's where the viewers were left in the dark.

No "through the field". Why was there no systematic update of the top 10 or 15? Ryan Newman, Casey Mears and Reed Sorenson had good runs. Why? The viewers never were told.

What happened to Brian Vickers? He was black flagged early in the race but no salient explanation was given nor was there any follow-up.

What happened to Kurt Busch? Bestwick was all over the number 12 pit but aside from that all the viewers got were stale animations from the tech center and ineffective conjecture from the booth.

What happened to Boris Said? He had a horrible day but he has a strong following and this was the first time he's run on an oval since his provisional pole was washed away.

What brought out the caution when Harvick's tire went down? ABC was in a break when it flew but all the viewers saw was Happy heading for the pits for some new shoes.

ABC needs to understand that NASCAR is racing, not just "Chase-ing". There are 43 stories in every race. While not every one is worth mentioning, they need to widen their view.

Where was the news from the pits? Bestwick was all over the Kurt Busch engine problems, but wasn't there anything interesting to talk about from the other 42 pits? Nothing?

The booth crew remains flat. The only life, and oddly enough, laughter emerged when Dale Jarrett was brought in to comment. And Rusty thinks that the only way a car can get loose is because of aero. Drivers apparently never drive in too hard and over-cook a corner.

Finally, the director needs to go back to school. Cutting away from the 41 right as it goes 90 degrees to the racing line is bush league. ABC/ESPN has been guilty of doing this all year. Switches need to be called by someone who actually watches the program monitor, not searching for the next shot.

Without alternative coverage sources like Sirius, Internet or Hot Pass, NASCAR fans will be left in the dark with coverage like this.

SophiaZ123 said...

OH@ I forgot about seeing the split screen of Yankee stadium or whatever it was DURING THE RACE...I turn MRN down and the tv volume on...I thought something HORRIBLE had happened but it was a stinking BASEBALL PROMO?!?!

And, sorry, I DO NOT CARE about other sports when watching racing and as stricklinfan said, I HARDLY think they interrupt ball and stick sports for such nonsense.

Gee, the odd thing about MRN is it's about THE RACE ALL THE TIME, the guys have a sense of humor without sounding like they are trying to be stand up comedians, AND they have enthusiasm.

And no, I do not work for MRN nor do I know anybody who does, LOL.

Maybe only 9 weeks to go....

Then 7 more YEARS of this ESPN nonsense.*big sigh*

Anonymous said...

Very interested to know why Musberger's college football comments are going to the "wrong crowd." NASCAR is mostly a southeast sport, the college football fans are some of the most passionate fans of any sport. Clearly many of these fans like NASCAR and vice-versa.

The Sportscenter minute works. I don't like a lot of the things ESPN does. But my NFL team doesn't play until tomorrow night. So if I can get NFL updates on games I'm not crazy about watching, while getting baseball scores, all while watching the NASCAR race, then I'm happy. I don't miss any of the race, and I get my scores WITHOUT the ESPN bottom line. If given the option, I'll take the minute over an entire race of a the scroll on the bottom.

Anonymous said...

If given the option, I'll take the minute over an entire race of a the scroll on the bottom.

I have a better option:

Neither one.

ABC doesn't interrupt regular prime time shows with this crap. Why do they do it with NASCAR?

And I'd bet they didn't do a two-box with racing highlights during whatever other sports they were showing on ESPN.

Daly Planet Editor said...

My comment about college football is because NASCAR is NOT primarily a southern sport, and has not been for many years.

Musburger knows nothing about NASCAR, and he must talk about what else he is doing right now, which is college football.

I am also a big college football fan, so it has nothing to do with the sport. No one on ESPN would be doing the BoSox vs. Yankees game and make a comment that it has all the atmosphere of a Clemson home game.

The SportsCenter minute used to be thirty seconds. It is only there because it got sponsored. Otherwise, we could see the ticker and then they would take it away like they did earlier this season.

It should be used during caution flags after the commercial has run, not inserted into action regardless of what is happening on the track. This is new, and is still being figured out. I am told it is going to be a company wide thing in all live events. We will see how long it lasts...check your watch.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line IMO is the announcers.

There Are Too Many Of Them!

Some have no knowledge of the history of the sport, no knowledge of the drivers, crews, the cars, the tracks, etc., etc.

They had no chemistry when they began, and haven't developed any as the weeks go by.

They aren't a Team.

It is uncomfortable to watch them because they don't appear to like one another. It feels like there is an undercurrent among them.

Most of them come across as arrogant, condesending, patronizing.

They just aren't likeable either individually or as a group.

I think some of the issues fans are complaining about would be more easily tolerated if the announcers were genuine, a team and loved racing as much as the fans do.

Anonymous said...

Eh, I disagree. NASCAR is primarily a Southeastern sport. I saw a feature on why Jeff Gordon has so many fans who dislike him earlier this year and two of the most common answers were "He's from California," and "He looks like an open wheel racer." So I think while it has garnered worldwide popularity, the most concentrated group of fans is in the southeast.

Again, I like the minute. During green flag racing, not so much. ESPN does the Sportscenter minute during all events, so it's not just NASCAR. Acutally, they do in studio wrap-arounds during every sport. If anything, the stuff they do during NASCAR is least offensive.

Musberger is referring to it being like a college game because that's how he relates to the atmosphere, which is another reason why he shouldn't be there. Bottom line is, if he's there in limited capacity, I'll deal with it. I actually wouldn't think it was the worst thing in the world if he were there at the start, and at the end to say goodbye. It'd be pointless, but that's about how much I could stand. Someone asked how it's financially worth while to fly him from his college game to wherever the race is. Reason is, he's contracted to do a specific number of events. It's cheaper for them to send him, than to contract someone else for a lot more money. So their gain is our loss.

Anonymous said...

Some of you need to get out of your NASCAR bubble. ESPN is producing the races pretty much the same way as they produce everything else - it's hard to believe one of the letters in ESPN doesn't stand for cross-promotion. It's a pain, but it's not directed at NASCAR nor does it represent some sign of disrespect. It's how they do business.

Me, I like seeing some "non-NASCAR" drivers and ads. It's good for the sport.

On the other hand, Rusty's lap 1 "restart" was the laugh of the day, cutting away from the 41 just as he started to spin was unforgivable, and I would have liked to know what happened to Vickers as well as why Schrader was trying to knock the back end off Ward Burton's car.

Anonymous said...

Um, non-NASCAR talking heads. Although we're getting plenty of non-NASCAR drivers lately too

darbar said...

Ah, the reason they interviewed the drivers after the race was because of ONE reason only---not too many yellows and they had a lot of time left from their scheduled alloted time. You can bet the farm if this race had a lot of cautions, and the race ran overtime, you might have seen the winner interviewed, but no one else.

Jamie Little is pathetic. As a woman, I'm all for equality, but I absolutely hate it when they shove a woman in front of a camera just because of her gender. I'd rather see a knowledgeable man anytime rather than any incompetent woman. A pretty face doesn't forgive a lack of knowledge in the field in which you're working.

And please, get rid of that stupid crawl at the bottom of the screen giving football and baseball scores. I can change the channel to get any scores I want. The picture is already crowded with graphics, without adding sports information that's not germane to the sport that's on the screen.

Lisa Foster said...

I didn't care for the race broadcast.

Too much other stuff. The Sportscenter minutes, the seemingly constant reference to football and baseball(and I love baseball), and the goof ups by the on air people.

Dr. Punch refering to K. Shrader as a sub for Bill Elliott

Rusty and "another restart" at the begining of the race.

Kyle Busch in the 45?

I just don't know.

It was nice that they seemed to cover more than just the top ten. It was nice that they didn't clutter the screen up with too many graphics .

I thought it was interesting that you talk about the old days when ESPN being locked out and Mike Mazarro interviewing drivers from the Helipad. That happened today. After a few drivers were interviewed after the race and Bowyer's VL interview, it was like "ooops, we forgot to interview..." and dispached the pit reporters to interview more driversbefore they flew back home. I thought Harvick's comment during his interview about "grass and dirt" flying around was funny.

ESPN, you guys have 9 more races and a looong way to go before you'll win me over!!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else read the USA Today article last Friday that referenced being in the production truck with the ESPN crew?? If you did read it, its easy to see why they are in sooooo much trouble on the air. Apparently, the ESPN executive produce (forgive me if I get these wrong) John Drake was there, and said "they put high expectations on themselves" ! Wow, what a lofty goal! How about, "we want to serve the fans who watch?" Then, there was Mr. Feenberg, another "chief", and the director who "jumped up and pointed to a monitor" because there was contact between cars....and finally Nick (?) Goldberg-the producer who seemed to be breaking his own arm patting himself on the back because they properly executed a replay sequence on a wreck.
Attention ESPN production execs..THATS YOUR JOB!!!!! If you'd just focus on the race AND FORGET ABOUT SUZY, BRENT, BRAD,BREWER, LITTLE, THE INFIELD DESK, SPORTSCENTER MINUTES AND DRAFT TRACKER, then maybe, just maybe you'd be able to realize that Punch should be in the pits, Bestwick in the booth, Rusty running his son's race team and we'd have the kernels of a decent telecast package.
"till the ESPN folks stop believeing their own hyped PR, nothing is gonna change

CHASE said...

Brent is a huge mistake and it's time he retreats and stays gone. ESPN/ABC lost me when Rusty's old chestnut graphic appeared yet again, and it's still painfully obvious that ESPN still can't get their act together at all. Suzie K. needs to add some passion to her voice and for pete's sake, keep her out of the infield with a mic in her hand! In the off season, ESPN had better stop, read fans' reactions, and start fresh completely.

It's too painful to listen to and thank God for mute buttons and MRN which is still the best there is!

Anonymous said...

From that article:
Director Richie Basile leaps from his seat and points to one of the 20 high definition plasma displays on the monitor wall. "Here's contact," he yells.
Now we see why there's such bad coverage of the race on ESPN. Richie, here's what should have happened:

Director Richie Basile leaps from his seat and points to one of the 20 high definition plasma displays on the monitor wall. "Ready 21, Take 21," he yells.

Richie, you don't get to be a fan. You're working. The time you waste yelling about contact means we MISS the "contact."

Basile claps his hands in approval as the network dissolves from the Hamlin/Bowyer mishap into a graphics package, then a break.
Yeah, but (a) you should have stayed on the "mishap," and (b) what, you're pleased when you go smoothly into a break? Let's see you get back in time for the restart...then WE will clap.

ESPN elects to cover Saturday's final 50 laps without interruption. That leads to a high-level decision to dismiss the night's final commercial break, some raised voices in the trailer and a promise to make good to the sponsor next week.

On a short track at Richmond? you should have gone into the race planning for no breaks at that point. It should have been a given.

The USA Today article gives us some good insights as to why we see what we see, and based on the quotes, we were right--ESPN/ABC doesn't know NASCAR at all.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that no one spoke about Rusty saying That "Here's a guy thats on the move-Jeff Gordon!"And not just once but twice. The first time, it's almost like the director tells him to hype up the Jeff Gordon angle. When he said "He's on the move", Jeff was in 19th position-One spot back from where he started! He did that twice!!! The next time was when Gordon was in 15th, Rusty says,"Man, Jeff Gordon is just picking 'em up and puttin 'em down." What??? How is three positions "pickin' 'em up and puttin' 'em down???? The same with Punch telling us that Jimmie Johnson is creeping up into the picture. He started third, and at the time of the comment, was in sixth place. Man, why doesn't Brian France step in and stop this madness?
And I have to offer my opinion of the Brad and Rusty cage match---- That sh.. needs to stop, and stop now. There is no room for that level of unprofessionalism from either party. It was almost unwatchable.
One has to wonder if there are two different races going on-the one on MRN, and the one on ESPN.

Desmond said...

ESPN on ABC got lucky with a quick, orderly race at Loudon. I can't wait to see what it will be like at Talladega, Martinsville, or even Dover in the coming weeks.

That "victory tour" comment by Jamie Little made me laugh! What was she thinking? Not that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going away, he's just changing teams.

In another development, the split screen - UNDER GREEN! - of the race and the Yankees vs. Red Sox promo was insulting. ESPN should be ashamed of itself! Then again, based on the USA Today article, they probably won't care. Too bad.

Also, from now on, I will call Musburger and Kolber the "ships in the night." Musburger is coming in from college football and Kolber is going to the NFL game. Unfortunately, their collective performance is a shipwreck of "Titanic" proportions, no pun intended.

todd aka blizzard said...

If you think Rusty is Bad on TV- You should have to listen to him on Radio!!

Our Local MRN station had the MN Twins game on, (Along with 20 other local AM stations) so they TAPE DELAYED the MRN broadcast. In searching desperately for another station, I found channel FM 87.1 was for some reason transmitting the local ABC television channel?? Thinking I had found the race, I listened for 15-20 minutes while I ran errands, after that short time I turned to a Music channel, I had no clue what Rusty and that bunch were talking about, but they sure liked to talk.
-blizzard West Fargo ND

Anonymous said...

I agree with all regarding: missing updates on non chasers (Vickers, Boris,etc) flubs, missed action, too many people in the booth...except DJ, etc. Hate to bring up a JR thing (as a JR fan I even get tired when it's all JR all the time). However, at the beginning of the race Jr came from 19th to 10th by "passing", but after pit stops Dr. Punch said "Jr is showing in 10th spot, picking up 9 spots in the pits". Yikes! Later he dropped way back after another pit stop....they changed shocks, then went further back because he got "punted" by Denny Hamlin. That was 3 laps before he spun out. This happens with many other drivers. They can't cover everything, but there is no reason to miss many other "stories" during the race. My biggest complaint: there is no flow to the race, it is a hodge podge of "stories" instead of calling the race.

LuckyForward said...

All in all, a good broadcast, even with many mistakes. I am in total agreement with the many who state that Brent is out of his element and there are way too many reporters. It seems apparent that the broadcast team in the booth has little, if any, chemistry.

The best part of the broadcast: DALE JARRETT! Time for Dale to park the Toyota, send Rusty packing (with some lovely parting gifts), and bring Dale on full-time. His insight and ability to communicate are strengths that the broadcast badly needs.

Anonymous said...

I think that everyone but the ESPN producers know that Musberger and Kolber must go. I thought that Dale Jarret did a good job and should replace Rusty when he is done driving (which should be this year)
I was alittle confused when Jamie said that Denny Hamlin had been blocked in by Tony Stewart in the pits when Tony was pitting in front of Jeff Gordon. I also would have liked to have known what happened to Vickers and a "through the field" of the entire 43 cars would have covered that. Did only 7 cars finish the race? Thats all I saw listed as they crossed the finish line. I will admit that the commercials were placed right. According to Caws and Jaws there were only 45 minutes of commercials and 145 minutes of racing. I think that is the proper mix.
I don't think next week will be as good.

Anonymous said...

MRN is looking better & better for listening to the race. Someone should tell Suzy Kolber she has a very irratating voice and knows nothing of NASCAR. If I were a new fan I would not understand anything about racing after listening to her.

cwebs said...

JD -

I think you're being charitable with your assessment that ABC/ESPN got "back on track" with that broadcast. I feel it was barely average, at best! Just like the snoozefest at Bristol, they got lucky with another FOLLOW-THE-LEADER race that wasn't particularly challenging to cover. To use a baseball analogy, FOX would have hit a homerun covering a race like this, but ESPN barely managed to eke out an infield hit. I think ESPN has succeeded in lowering our expectations so far down that any sign of competence can be welcomed as some sort of grand accomplishment. How very sad.

I had planned to take the advice offered by others and listen to the MRN audio for this race while watching the TV broadcast on mute. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be at home on Sunday afternoon, so I was forced to watch the race on my DVR and suffer through to the TV audio. In addition to what everyone else has mentioned, here are some things that stood out to me:

Rusty’s new favorite phrase is “RIGHT NOW”. I noticed several instances where he said RIGHT NOW at least 3 times within the space of 2 sentences! It got to the point where it was distracting. I kept gritting my teeth when he was speaking because I was just waiting for him to throw another flurry of them out there. *THIS GUY SHOULD NOT BE IN THE BOOTH*

My favorite Rusty Moment came somewhere in the middle of the race during a sequence of green-flag pitstops. In the midst of this sequence, Crusty apparently became overwhelmed when a large number of cars happened to pit all at once, so he declared that there was a caution! It took a while, but Punch eventually made a deliberate effort to quietly point out that the race was still under green.

After last week’s race, I said “Clueless Jamie Little seems to be ESPN’s lead pit reporter”. I think that was proven out this week. Whether she officially holds that title or not, they seem to think that she’s somehow their biggest asset on pit road. While she has plenty of enthusiasm, she knows virtually nothing about NASCAR. She’s often shows her incredible naïveté by taking almost every comment made on the radio or in the pits completely literally. I can only imagine how the crew chiefs privately snicker at her gullibility. She continually makes misstatements and asks stupid questions. It’s really getting sickening…

I could go on and on and on with specific moments where ESPN dropped the ball, but it would take forever. There are just too many instances where these rubes just have no idea what’s going on in the race. There was one time where Punch said that Bowyer had just passed the 24 car by accelerating past him as they came off the corner. I went back and looked at the pass (it happened in the background of a shot), and Bowyer had actually driven under Gordon (quite easily) in the middle of the corner. This kind of stuff is happening all the time during the race, especially with Punch and Wallace. They both need to get the boot ASAP…


Bobby said...

To make viewers know this is the ESPN Broadcast Network, they identity says ESPN, and it is treated as an ESPN Network (ESPN Cable Network, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Broadcast Network), they promote all ESPN programming.

As much as it is well-criticised for Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip at Fox to grab their binoculars and watch the race from the booth window instead of the television monitors, they often "coach" the director by giving signals.

I've heard plenty of criticism of ESPN this year and it seems it started with that annoying Aerosmith song and continues into the season. Look at the fact they push races to cable which had been solid network staples. That was designed to bump ESPN Cable into the premium rent district at your local cable company.

Dot said...

I read the comments and didn't see any regarding the BIG BREAKING NEWS about OJ's arrest in Las Vegas. It came on about 2 hours after the fact. There was a news conference for 3:00pm PDT and 6:00pm EDT. CNN and FOX were ready to show it. I tuned to ABC and what do you think was on? Hannah Montana!!!! Why did they have to interrupt the race for this big news?
Since I am a big DJ fan, thanks for the nice comments about him. I agree, he needs to broadcast.

Anonymous said...

Please cut Jamie Little some slack!

I think she has been improved dramatically from her ackward interviews last year with IRL drivers (especially the prickly, Danica Patrick).

She does a good job with the NASCAR drivers and has been fairly impressive calling pit stops.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think Jamie has done a great job of hustling for stories all season long. My only point in the column was that it is not fair to put her in Victory Lane while she is still getting her feet wet in the sport.

This high profile assignment calls for someone who can talk to and deal with all the faces and the spontaneous happenings of that place while still asking the perfect questions. That is a tough task for someone in their first season of NASCAR.

You many go back and check my archives, I appreciate Jamie and her hard work this season. Certainly did not mean to give any other impression. Thanks!

SophiaZ123 said...


I gotta say you were more than kind to ESPN and Jamie. After reading 1000's of posts over the last few months, I can not think of ANYBODY who is a fan of Jamie OR Shannon Spake. Jamie makes me cringe with her mode of being stuck in a REVVED UP GEAR.

Cwebs, I so agree with your take on Jamie. I DO NOT MISS HER VOICE while listening to MRN.

I TELL YOU WHAT, if it's a nice day and not overly hot this Sunday, I may just tape the race and sit in the yard with the radio on.


Much like I have turned OFF NASCAR NOW (though bless you John for watching it to give us ongoing updates) I am beginning to REALLY DREAD the end of this season, and the Talladega race.

Excuse my language but I can SEE ESP U ****ing up the TV screen with that INSIPID, GREEN FLAG WASTE OF SPACE HORRIBLE DRAFT TRACKER. I love Daytona and Talladega and boy, they will SPOIL the race with the extra graphics package. I DO want to see that race and some others on the TV as they happen.

I never thought in a 'hunnerd years' PeeSPN could do this horrible of a job.

I also find if I stay OFF THE COMPUTER with MRN ON and just kinda sorta have a tv on in a nearby room, it's MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE.

Now if I could only find the Busch races on local radio, I would be a happy camper.

Again, as others and I have voiced ENDLESSLy, and apparently USELESSLY, WHERE THE HELL IS NASCAR?

Oh, and ABC, get that UGLY, BLACK THING aka your LOGO OFF THE TRACK..Ever hear of transparent logos??

ALL TV LOGOS should be BANNED as far as that goes or they should appear every 15 minutes like they used to.


Oh, and I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED INC tonight and Mikey went out of his way to compliment Despain. If I didn't know better, I woulda thought those boys read this site after Johns' scathing review last week.

:-) GO KENNY!!!!

p.s. excuse my outburst but I am just so fed up and when i read all these comments, it got me revved up again.

cwebs said...

JD -

I think that supportive comment about Jamie Little was directed at some of the other commenters in this thread, especially sophia, darbar, and myself.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and I stand by what I said earlier. If JL couldn't cut it in IRL, then why was she promoted to covering NASCAR? Why does ESPN treat her like their lead pit reporter when Bestwick & Massaro are both obviously far superior?

I'm sorry if anyone is offended by this opinion, but I have a sense that this is a deliberate effort on the part of ESPN to "feminize" their broadcast in a deplorable, blatant, and pathetic attempt to “diversify” the sport. While that may be a laudable goal (and I’m not saying that it necessarily is or is not), they could have picked someone with more wisdom and experience than Jamie Little. By forcing unqualified people (though certainly enthusiastic and well-meaning) like Little and Daugherty on the audience, ESPN only succeeds in hurting the network, NASCAR, and the fans, not to mention JL & BD themselves. If ESPN truly felt they needed a female presence on pit road, then they should have gone out and hired someone like Wendy Venturini that truly deserves to be there.

sophia -

Thanks for your support! I really appreciate it. I put a lot of thought and effort into my comments, so it’s good to know that someone is paying attention to them!

I’m afraid of what we’ll see at Talladega as well. I think there’s actually a chance that ESPN might decide to air the entire race in live DAFT TRACKER mode! OK, that was a joke, but sadly almost believable!

I noticed a big difference in INC tonight too. I think JD’s blog and our attached comments had a real effect! I noticed specifically that MW made of point of saying “we’re knowledgeable guys” as they were beginning to answer the viewer emails. I wonder if that was directed at some of the comments (including my own calculatedly hyperbolic statement) from last week???


Anonymous said...

Yeah, cwebs, the whole industry revolves around your comments.

Anonymous said...

ALL TV LOGOS should be BANNED as far as that goes or they should appear every 15 minutes like they used to.
That'll happen as soon as we go back to having just 3 TV we used to.

cwebs said...

Yeah, cwebs, the whole industry revolves around your comments.

HA-HA! If only that were the case! Believe me, I am under no such illusion. I’m quite aware that the rantings of the faceless masses on the Internets are not generally taken seriously (or even taken notice of at all) in the “halls of power”. I was only wondering out loud if this may have been the one time in a million that some semi-anonymous comments on a blog actually somehow made a difference. Read the comments in that INC thread last week, then watch this week’s show. That’s all I’m sayin’…

BTW, thanks again to JD for allowing us to post comments here. It helps to alleviate some of the frustration over the poor TV coverage that we suffer through. I know for a fact that JD’s blog is taken seriously and is gaining in popularity. If even a small segment of his blog audience actually takes some extra time to read our crazy comments, then it’s well worth taking the time to post here.


SophiaZ123 said...


Ok..wasn't going to add more but I SO AGREE with JL and the feminization of the sport. I call it the Barbie-ization (No real word for it)

Years ago they started GLAMMING up the news casts women...And then brought in attractive or semi attractive women to sports.

The boards elsewhere have little use for Little or Spake (with some calling Shannon Spake SPOOK) I think Shannon has her job due to her looks but she has asked some dumb questions as well. Let the NASCAR NEWBIES LEARN behind the scenes before putting them on TV is all we ask.

Wendy V and Krista V are great. Somebody mentioned N Nation...Remember when SPEED glammed up that show with cleavage and women wearing lingerie tops??? Show TANKED.

and STANK.

It's not pc to talk about diversity but sometimes it is what it is and it's OBVIOUS some of these folks should not be on TV.

But in ALL FAIRNESS, JL has annoyed some of us for years on IRL.

jmo, no offense to Jamie fans.

I agree, thank goodness for this blog.

After Mikey congratulated Despain on INC for a brief moment, I did wonder who from there read this site last week.

We know JD will never tell!