Saturday, September 8, 2007

ESPN on ABC Makes Junior The Only Richmond Story

UPDATE 9/10/07: Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this article or post a comment. This was the most highly viewed column this year, and it was due to the quality of the reader comments.

The veteran ESPN TV crew made the transition to their sister company, the ABC broadcast network, Saturday night in Richmond, VA. The ESPN production team will produce all the NEXTEL Cup races on ABC for the remainder of the season.

Richmond is a short track, and ESPN struggled several weeks ago at another classic short track in Bristol, TN. Quick laps make it tough for a TV crew to incorporate elements of the telecast that do not relate directly to the racing action. This year, ESPN is loaded with those type of "away from the racing" production requirements.

The NASCAR Countdown pre-race show was shortened to thirty minutes in length, and hosted once again by Suzy Kolber. While Rusty Wallace appeared with Brad Daugherty in the new Infield Studio set, this program suffered from the same problem that would plague the telecast all night long. His name is Dale Earnhardt Junior.

Right away, the ESPN crew showed an elongated pre-produced "piece" documenting Junior's season up to this point. Pit reporter Mike Massaro appeared with Junior to "tag" the piece, and told him that viewers had just watched a video of his season. Junior said just three words..."pretty boring piece." That might have summed up this entire evening.

Something was then wrong between Kevin Harvick and ESPN. Having appeared earlier on other media outlets, Harvick was a no-show beside his own car and did not want to be interviewed before driver introductions. Pit reporter Allen Bestwick spoke with team owner Richard Childress in Harvick's place, but only asked one awkward question and then moved on. NASCAR fans were left incredulous.

Childress was one of the biggest stories of the week, with the legal wrangling between AT&T, NASCAR, and NEXTEL just having been settled. This was the first race back for Childress to have a sponsor on Jeff Burton's car. Nothing was asked, nothing was said, nothing was mentioned by the ESPN announcers.

Returning from commercial, Tim Brewer detailed the brake problems which always rear their ugly head at Richmond, and even more so now in the COT. To assist in the follow-up discussion, Kolber turned to a rock band named Daughtry. Incredibly, none of the musicians in the band chose to continue the discussion about brakes.

What they did do was play loudly in front of a bunch of awkward looking NASCAR fans who were taking time out from tuning their scanners and making sure they remembered a seat cushion this year. Everyone listened politely, as they always do when network TV sponsors this kind of thing. Nothing is worse than a rock band playing in the daytime on TV in front of a group of people who are completely mis-matched with their style of music.

Well, that was it for NASCAR Countdown. No mention of the bombshell press conference sending Gibbs Racing to Toyota, no Robert Yates selling his team and retiring, no Ricky Rudd missing his first race in forever...nothing. What a start to the biggest race of the season so far on national TV.

Kolber threw the ball to Dr. Jerry Punch in the booth, and from the beginning of the conversations it was clear that the single focus of the ESPN coverage Saturday night would be Junior. Sure, there were some other talking heads, the mandatory Aerosmith video, and even Jeff Burton as the in-race reporter.

ESPN, however, was not going to be distracted by the reality of the racing in front of its cameras in Richmond. They had already decided that they were going to make it all about Junior, regardless of what was actually happening on the track. They stuck with that philosophy all the way to the bitter end.

Maybe some production crew members were tired after a long Busch Series season, as ESPN's race Director often lagged behind the action, showing viewers taillights instead of headlights. On short tracks, the temptation not to "cut" a lot of cameras every lap is always there, and for ESPN it was certainly used.

This "being late" as it is called in TV land means the viewers always see the cars racing away from them, rather than toward them. While it is hard to maintain that pace of cutting several cameras every lap, this was a race that really needed it.

Between the slower COT and the pack racing early on, it was tough to watch things from literally a "behind the scenes" perspective. While the Director closed with a strong last fifty laps, the body of the race itself was tough to take. Its a good bet he was often busy setting up one of the many production elements ESPN mandates to be placed into each race. On this day, ESPN had one memorable classic moment.

The well-hyped Draft Tracker is an effect used at medium and large sized speedways to show viewers the techniques at each high-speed track for drafting and then passing other cars. ESPN has also used it to try and explain accidents that occur as a result of losing air off a spoiler or side of the car.

Friends, the race track in Richmond is three quarters of a mile long. It is one of the most well-known and loved short tracks on the NASCAR circuit. I am going to say it one more time...short track. After Clint Bowyer drove into the corner too hard and spun himself out against another car, someone at ESPN made a very bad decision.

To the amazement of NASCAR fans nationwide, the ESPN Draft Tracker appeared to explain that Clint had the air taken off the nose of his car and this aero problem caused the accident. If there was ever a moment where the fact that ESPN defines its own reality where NASCAR is concerned was verified...that was it.

Poor Rusty Wallace stuttered and stammered through a forced "explanation" that somehow at a short track aero problems had caused a crash. My opinion is that half the NASCAR fans were howling with laughter and the other half were looking for someone to help them up off the floor. This is certainly going to be a classic clip for many years. Clint Bowyer's aero problems cause his Richmond.

In the body of the race, a hard crash resulted in a red flag. What a great time to catch viewers up on all the news stories of the week that could not be placed in the NASCAR Countdown show. Well, that was a good thought. Instead, ESPN melted down in front of a national TV audience. It got so bad, Suzy Kolber wound up talking with Brad Daugherty about NFL Football on ESPN in the infield studio.

Anyone who reads Jayski or the other Internet websites knows this was one of the biggest weeks for NASCAR News in recent years. Somehow, despite the ten adults involved in announcing this broadcast and the many others involved in its production, ESPN's crew could do nothing but follow pit reporters as they talked to crew chiefs while the cars were stopped.

Incredibly, as the cars returned to the track the network went to commercial. In yet another defining moment, the ESPN crew missed the restart of the race...after a Red Flag period. This put Jerry Punch in a position to say the magic words viewers of ESPN and now ABC have heard so many times this season.

"We are just underway" says Punch repeatedly. "The green flag has just come out" is another Punch favorite. While this may have worked for TV announcers back in his earlier NASCAR stint with ESPN, someone should tell Punch about DirecTV's Hot Pass. Fans who are watching that coverage are seeing the entire race live, and they understand that often times Punch is not exactly saying what is true.

When ESPN returns from a commercial at a short track after a restart, they are often several laps into the green flag run. Something has to be addressed at the network with the timing of commercials after cautions. There is so much self-serving promotion and slick production elements forced into the races, the Producer cannot simply go to break and come back in time for the restart.

Viewers who watched the race know that the network's decision to follow Junior constantly resulted in the TV coverage missing all the racing incidents except one. Punch never gets excited, never calls the action, and simply looks at the TV when a big pile-up has happened and blurts out "trouble on the backstretch" in a monotone. This event was no exception. He looks, and sounds, like one tired guy.

ESPN again made great pictures and sound, with their sharp graphics package working well on ABC. The lack of a constant lower third sports ticker as viewers have on ESPN2 was wonderful, and their choice of other sports information graphics to include went very well. The use of side-by-side video boxes was fine for the Tech Center and interviews, but it was a tough sell on a three quarter mile track to have two video boxes both showing race action.

Blessed with a good finish, the network remained to do interviews for several minutes. Again, someone in the TV truck made a very bad decision. Neither David Ragan or Johnny Sauter was interviewed after the race. Only the big names, and the drivers in The Chase were included. With some more laps, Ragan may have won the event, while Sauter was just off his appearance in the NASCAR in Primetime TV series and finished in the top five. That on ABC.

Finally, Mike Massaro was put in perhaps the worst position a pit reporter has ever endured. Interviewing a tired and disappointed Dale Junior, Massaro finished his couple of questions, and then something strange happened. He was told to start again and ask more questions. No doubt fans felt for Junior even as he was hugged by his crew chief and looked like he wanted to cry.

That was not enough for the ESPN crew, who forced a clearly dumbfounded Massaro to keep peppering Junior with questions. For the first time, it was clear to many viewers at home that the ESPN guys are out for blood. They want someone to melt down, someone to fight, someone to cry. In order to get that, they will do anything they need to. This was painful to watch.

Some NASCAR teams will just come right out and say that short tracks are not their specialty. They like the longer and faster superspeedways and that type of racing. After Bristol and now Richmond, I think it is fair to say that the ESPN crew would rather have the long fast laps of a Talladega or Fontana than the quick and difficult action of Bristol and Richmond.

Now, the network returns to its stomping grounds in nearby New Hampshire, and a big flat track. Hopefully, this should allow for a return to sanity and end the hype of Junior vs. the world. With twelve drivers about to enter the play-offs, its going to be interesting to see where ESPN puts their ABC focus next weekend.

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.


Cire said...

I have posted on my blog and sent 2 emails to ESPN complaining about how lame Punch is in the booth and how boring he is to listen too. I agree, a bloody sinkhole could open up swallowing 10 cars on the track and Punch would come out with a monotone, "Looks like we have a sinkhole in turn 3 that just took out 10 cars, we'll be back after this".
Punch sucks. Only silver lining is we only have 10 more races to listen to his drivel before thankfully FOX comes back in Feb 08.

cwebs said...

Well, I just got done watching this mess on the DVR, and I'm not sure if I will ever be able to stomach another ESPN broadcast for as long as I live. I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

If anyone at NASCAR is listening, here's a plea: Find some way to dump ESPN! These people DO NOT KNOW HOW TO BROADCAST A RACE. If you can't find some way to dump them, then at least give us an alternate broadcast to watch. Hotpass isn't good enough, as not everyone has access to satellite TV. Make something available on cable as an alternative to ESPN. Make it pay-per-view if you have to. Something must be done because ESPN'S COVERAGE STINKS AND THEY AREN'T EVEN REALLY EVEN TRYING TO IMPROVE.

I'm too tired and frustrated to type up a full summary of my views on tonight’s madness. JD covered it pretty well, but here’s a few of the things that really stood out to me:

The ESPN pre-race show was virtually useless. *ESPN STINKS*

Kevin Harvick allowed himself to be interviewed everywhere but on ESPN. *ESPN STINKS*

The prospective first seed in the Chase starts this race on the pole. He has some sort of problem on the first lap and loses several spots. ESPN doesn’t show this happening live, and never shows any sort of replay of the event. *ESPN STINKS*

ESPN continuously misses restarts and then tells little white lies about it. *ESPN STINKS*

Clueless Jamie Little somehow seems to be ESPN’s lead pit reporter. *ESPN STINKS*

Rusty Wallace is horrible in the booth. This should have been clear to anyone and everyone after his performance during the IRL races last year. *ESPN STINKS*

The three booth announcers are obviously almost always watching their monitors, and not the race itself. *ESPN STINKS*

Even when they don’t miss the restart, ESPN almost NEVER manages to properly reset the field for us after caution flag pitstops. *ESPN STINKS*

Interesting things happen to important cars on pit road, and ESPN doesn’t tell us about it for 30 laps (or more). *ESPN STINKS*

Ace pit reporter Dave Burns seems to be under the impression that the 70 car is a single-car team. *ESPN STINKS*

After a long red flag stoppage with 106 laps to go (during which Jerry Punch kept telling us “we’ll be right back with the restart”), ESPN manages to come back from commercials with pitstops (very important late-race stops, by the way) already in progress, and then manages to miss the eventual restart too! *ESPN STINKS*

I’m giving up.


cwebs said...

Oh yeah, one more thing. I can't stand to hear or see the word "aero" ever again. I have destroyed all my AEROsmith discs, I will never shop at AEROpostale, and I will never again speak of the AEROspace industry.

Instead of being forced into using the DAFT TRACKER, I think Rusty is actually the one prompting its use. He was the fool who kept saying that every spin was caused by aero, even when it was almost impossible for that to be the case. Instead of "poor" Rusty being the "victim" of the dreaded DT, I suspect that he's actually the main driving force behind it!

Anonymous said...

I don't see why it's such a big deal to talk Jr. If you're at the end of the football season, and the Seahawks and 49ers are tied for a playoff spot, what two teams would be most talked about that day? Same for NASCAR. Everyone's locked in with the exception of Ku Busch, Harvick, and Junior. Junior is the most popular driver. I'd say at least 60% of the fans in the crowd are pulling for the #8. By that deduction, 60% of the TV audience if not more, is pulling for Junior. Give the fans what they want to see. Majority rules, they get Junior. And it's not like the storylines are made up. The fact stands that for awhile, in this race, it seemed like a real possibility that Junior could get in. Harvick had the overheating engine issue while Junior was running 2nd. This is NASCAR's version of a playoffs race. I thought ESPN did the right thing.

Also, you can complain all you want about poor Junior and how sad he looked after the race. If NASCAR wants to be on par with all of the other sports, they need to man-up and realize that losers have to talk after they lose. It's part of being in the spotlight. Junior is the most popular driver. He just missed the playoffs. He should have to speak about it and not for 15 seconds. He should have to answer many questions. I don't think Massaro was trying to get away at all. I think he was doing his job as a reporter. Had Junior done the unthinkable and won while Harvick blew a motor, you'd want him to talk for five minutes. Sorry it goes both ways. Just like, had the unthinkable happened, Harvick would've had to pony up and talk.

For anyone who is excited about Fox coming back, I seriously sit in shock. Their race coverage isn't that good. Their studio is called the "Hollywood Hotel." And they have a guy who thinks it's cool to yell Boogity Boogity Boogity. Please, while ESPN has a lot of gimmicky stuff, Fox is the king of gimmicks.

Someone earlier said the ticker is bad because if someone is just looking for scores they should turn to ESPNews. I disagree. Let's say I like college football and baseball but love NASCAR. I want to watch the race, but I also want college football and baseball scores. The bottom line does that for you. Also, it takes up less than 5% of the screen. How is it that bad? On my screen, I checked it out, it was 1.5" on a screen that is 42" high.

Brian Maxson said...

Thank you anonymous patsy for ESPN.

As a valued DirecTV customer subscribing to HotPass, I must laugh at the little right hand corner when I watch the commercials while the track screens display the restarts, the yellows and the pit stops.

So speaking from experence, FOX gets the kudos this year for being on the ball. Consistant and attentive to a point, they faired much better at coverage than ESPN, period.

Look folks, with as much money as these TV people paid, what part of "commercial overload" did you miss?

To me, it was so worth the $100 investment to watch the real race, abiet with only 5 drivers, and enjoy the "no commentator" yellow button feature than to deal with the incompetence of the Network Providers.

The really really sad part is Jayski's site is discontinuing it's "Race Broadcast" on it's site, especially seeing it's owned by ESPN and does a MUCH MUCH better job at covering the race than it's flagship show.

Busch Series Fan! said...

I missed the end of the race but I see where Reut finished a respectable 13th but the broadcast crew never mentioned him once when I was watching, and I never saw his car either. And I do get very upset when ESPN comes back from commercials and is saying - just under green! Yipes!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Once again:
MRN + RaceView + ABC's video = the ability to follow the race. This should not be necessary, but it is.

Not only did ABC miss at least 5 restarts, include one in which the race re-started and ran about 15 seconds before another caution, but one time they came back from a break only to talk for 30 seconds and then...they went into another break!

ABC/ESPN has demonstrated that they don't know, care about, or understand racing. If there's no wreck happening, they don't know what to do.

Rusty can only handle one concept per braodcast, and since he finally realized that "aero loose" wasn't going to work this week, it was "hot brake rotors." He was "real worried" about Harvick's rotors causing a blowout. Didn't happen.

Finally, if the other drivers--like Junior, who was hammered mercilessly bu played along--get the idea that ESPN/ABC is making them looking bad and refuse to talk to its reporters as Harvick did, this network is in big trouble. (Note that almost at the same time as he was NOT talking to ABC, he was an doing MRN live interview.)

I hope that happens. ABC deserves it.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

NASCAR wants to be on par with all of the other sports, they need to man-up and realize that losers have to talk after they lose.
Congrats, you have just deomstrated that you don't wath NASCAR at all expect for what your co-workers at ESPN have done recently, because this is a sport in which even the losers routinely talk on camera after they lose.

Your network's coverage is bad. you can defend it and continue alienating the viewers or fix it and make them (and thus, your ratings) happy.

bevo said...

Excellent post John. ESPN is totally lost. I think it was the first time Rusty had ever seen a camera on the brakes during a night race. The "Worldwide Leader" is barely doing a better job than TNT. Sad.

Did you happen to notice the caps worn by all of the chase drivers after the race? Each one was white and yellow with the primary sponsor except for Burton who just had a 31 on it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anonymous 4:39AM,

Its impossible to compare NASCAR to football. While Junior was certainly a story, he absolutely was not THE story.

This season has been in progress for seven months, and many important stories have unfolded during that time. The result was a normal NASCAR race with several storylines. Unfortunately, reality did not matter to ESPN once again.

As for "manning-up" about interviews, you have shown once again your lack of NASCAR knowledge and your total stick-and-ball background. NASCAR is the most open and easily accessed major professional sport in North America.

No baseball pitchers are interviewed after they are pulled from the game, no NFL quarterbacks are interviewed on the field after they throw a key interception. Every NASCAR driver must stand and deal with the media when something happens, good or bad.

This season, ESPN has upset that apple cart by using tabloid style journalism to push the dirt and create their hype up to the point where drivers no longer want to talk to the network. Once again, just as the ego in your post shines through, its about ESPN...and not the sport.

The reason the constant lower third ticker on ESPN2 is a problem is because of the constant NASCAR ticker at the top of the screen. Viewers see two moving tickers, regular graphic inserts, and often time two video boxes with two different pictures on the screen. How much is too much?

If you are not familiar with Darrell Waltrip, you can do a Wikipedia search on him or just ask any of your friends who are NASCAR fans. I think he represents a part of the population with which you are not familiar.

Like any network, Fox has its good and bad points. Ignoring the stories of the week in the pre-race, focusing on Junior at the expense of the entire field, and openly rooting for bad luck for the two drivers in front of Junior was beyond amateur.

ESPN wanted Junior in The Chase for TV ratings, and they made that clear all race long.

Andrew said...

I love watching Nascar and I hope I don't have to stop watching. This race, luckily, was interesting enough by itself.

Someone made a comment about Jamie being clueless...I have to differ...the two women in the broadast seem to be the only ones with any enthusiasm, and knowledge for that matter. Yeah, switching to talk about football made me want to wretch...but they were ok the rest of the time.

Ok we know ESPN sucks. At the end, my brother and I were laughing at all the mistakes they were making, not just in terms of broadcasting, but in the 'facts' they said.

Jamie McMurray never got out of his car after that hard hit. ESPN never showed anything with that. I was actually scared for a little while.

Yeah ESPN sucks.

Final question - I like Jr, but why did everyone always make such a big deal about how hard he was driving the car? Or how much effort he was putting in? I mean, don't ALL the drivers do that? Do the drivers have a habit of kind of driving casually? It just sounds kind of stupid for them to talk about the effort level of a professional athlete.

They suck.

Anonymous said...

Why, during a red flag period, did we have to listen to two supposed "race commentators" discuss football?

I don't care about football. I wasn't watching football.

I was watching a race, but apparently, that didn't hold the attention of the folks at ESPN, who had no idea what to do at that point.

bevo said...

You would think that with ESPN's Jr crush one of the experts might mention that the blown engines are a result of the engine department pushing it's limits to the max combined with his driving style. They tried to mess with the COT body before and got caught so the only other avenue is to tweak the motor at a short track like Richmond. Pretty elementary stuff but if they're trying to appeal to a wider audience and/or Jr. fans that kind of information is what they need to convey.

GinaV24 said...

I sent an e-mail during the race after ESPN missed their second restart and said how annoyed I was that this race was all about Jr. I was one of those fans laughing when the announcers said that Bowyer's spin was caused by aero -- BS. Anyone who's watched racing for more than 2 years knows better than that. After ESPN missed the 3rd restart, with Punch saying -- we just go restarted but you didn't miss anything because John Andretti had blown a motor and they had waved the caution flag once again, I quit watching the broadcast at all and went back to watching another channel with something more interesting on, but listened to the race on Sirius. At least the folks who call the race on MRN or Sirius know what they're doing and don't come across as idiots. I've had it with ESPN/ABS whatever. Fortunately, I'm going to a fair number of the last 10 races, so I won't have to watch the TV idiots much and the ones I'm not going to, well, I won't waste my precious weekend time. Hey, football season starts now doesn't it? I watched it a lot last year during the last 10 races because NBC stunk -- ESPN isn't any better, so football over racing is a no brainer -- even though I'm NOT a football fan.

stricklinfan82 said...

The pre-show was AWFUL.

We missed nearly every single restart. Is there some website out there that charts stats like missed restarts? If there is I'd love to see it because it certainly seems like ESPN is missing a lot more restarts than their counterparts at Fox and even the awful TNT did.

Best line of the night:

Dr. Punch: "We're back and you haven't missed a thing"

This line was spoken after the TV audience has just missed a restart a lap of green flag racing, and another caution flag. This was also said while the viewers were staring straight and John Andretti's burning race car.

The post-race focus on only the 12 Chase drivers and Dale Jr. was awful. Especially interviewing Carl Edwards for a second time in the night. Unecessary Chase hype. Guys like Kenseth, Bowyer, Truex, and Burton were already locked into the Chase before this weekend start and except for Bowyer were largely irrelevant in Saturday's race. Yet we had to hear from them because they were in the Chase, while top 5 finishers David Ragan and Johnny Sauter (who ABC showed hundreds of times during the race) were ignored.

Terrible job by ESPN. This wasn't quite TNT at Sonoma but it ranks right up there. Any chance they'll do the right thing and change the name from ESPN on ABC to CRAP on ABC?

MelissaAnne said...

stricklinfan82 - I'm right there with you, I could not believe that those words had just come out of his mouth.
I turned to my mom and said "The only people who say things like that are the people who shouldn't be announcing for racing."

I'm a Junior fan, and _I_ wanted them to cover the actual race instead of just Junior.
Thank goodness for and MRN
But there is no way I'm not ordering HotPass next year. I'm fed up.

Anonymous said...

The website complies stats on racing/commercials and has for the past year and a half. You can reach it the easiest by going to the Jayski website and accessing the news link. According to cawsnjaws, there were 5 missed restarts and one almost missed restart.
Tom in Ohio

Steve L said...

I decided early in the day to watch this race with an open mind. To not turn on the computer like I usually do and to leave the radio off as well. I was going to watch without any distractions so I didn't start watching the race until an hour went by on my TIVO so I could bypass the commercials as well.

I was rather surprised by the pre-race of the stories they talked about but more surprised by the stories they didn't talk about. And then the "Rock" show started. I looked at the faces in the crowd and noticed the older folks cringing at the loud music being played.

The whole reason for TIVI'ing the race was blown within not more than an hour fast forwarding through all the commercials.

Out of all the cautions, I think there was only one that was caught as it was happening. The other cautions were shown on tape. And the way Punch announces a caution in his mono-tone "the cautions out". They didn't interview many of the drivers after coming out of the infield care center. Someones favorite driver, that they love and watch every week, was never heard from again. Were they okay? Are they fixing the car to come back out? Nothing!

And then the missed restarts. My oh my! I'm not a football fan and never watch football on television, but does ESPN talk about NASCAR when a player is down, hurt and being hauled off on a strecher? Do they interupt a play to give an update when they are covering a race and a game at the same time? And do they run a banner of where the drivers are running at the bottom third of the screen during a football game? I don't think so!

The same problems, race after race. It's like they're not even trying. It's up to us to let NASCAR know they have really messed up with ESPN covering "our" races. They need to really look at this during the off season, BOTH NASCAR AND ESPN. Get this fixed, you're losing fan after fan.

Almost a former NASCAR fan

Anonymous said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. ESPN stands for "Earnhadt Sells. Promote Now."

"Majority rule" does not determine newsworthiness. Don't give me that crap. News is news. Stop pandering to your audience. And don't make up crap about Junior just so that you can get a bigger news audience.

ESPN pulls this crap all the time. The Yankees are "most popular," so they lead SportsCenter EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, no matter what they do. There's a three-way tie in the NL Central, but you have to wait to hear about it because the Yankees come first.

Same way with Junior. If somebody who isn't popular does the most important thing, he should be the lead, period. Jimmie Johnson is all but ignored for winning the last two races, because Junior is the ONLY story. It is so wrong. Dude has won SIX races this year. He won a Cup last year. What has Junior won in that time. NOTHING. That's right. NOTHING.

But Jimmie Johnson has to wait until Junior gets his due until he gets his.

That is so wrong. And you can't defend it.

I'm so damn sick of ESPN's "celebrity athlete" Aristocracy, with Junior as one of the front page guys. I can't take it anymore. But we don't have a choice, so we have to.

jfs-va said...

Well there was one high point in the broadcast. Biffle was interviewed in the garage after a crash damaged his car and he called the backmarkers "donkeys".

But seriously, I felt much more excitement coming from the Fox and yes, even the TNT crew. This group is just so bland. I think Petrie is ok but he's just stuck with the others. My son was hoping for a Ragan interview but it never came. And yes, hearing from Sauter would have been nice since he's prominently featured on and ABC show.

Anonymous said...

I personally enjoy how you guys immediately brand someone an ESPN Employee just because they defend something ESPN does. Bottom line is that there's a gang mentality on this site. You all have issues with the broadcast, so you come on here, rally behind John, and accuse anyone with differing opinions of being a plant in Bristol, CT.

ESPN didn't ignore JJ after he won last night. He was interviewed, but he was already in the Chase. He was just earning extra points last night. Junior was the story.

This is a forum for us to comment on the broadcast partners for NASCAR. Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they work for the company.

rileha said...

My absolute "favorite" moment of the night had to be when Denny Hamlin went from second to mid-pack during a caution flag pit stop session and the ESPN crew completely missed it. Not a single word about it until about thirty minutes later, when the camera finally shows Hamlin for the first time since the caution, Allan Bestwick explains what had happened. Great job ESPN--only about 50 laps too late! How in the world did no one at ESPN not notice the second placed car drop to mid-pack? And, even if they did miss it, why did it take so long to realize that they had?

bevo said...

anonymous @1:25 -

Read the archives about the Fox and TNT coverage. The way we can tell it's ESPN people or their relatives/close friends responding is the very personal way they react.

Funny isn't it that a network that has tons of shows that criticize athletes, organizations and even fans has such thin skin when it comes to blogs that analyze their performance.

Frank said...

My favorite was Rusty mentioning that Greg Biffle was having a good run when he was more than 100 laps down.

Anonymous said...

Bevo, I work in TV. I don't work at ESPN. So when they do something, I can see what they're going for. It doesn't mean I work there. I'm not taking it personally. I just know that if all of you were in a production truck with 100 monitors in front of you and had to pick exactly which one to go to and when, you'd all fail miserably.

I did a few Orioles games as a fill in last year and it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. I guess I just respect the difficulty of the task.

SophiaZ123 said...


Man, that's a bit strong. I think most true racing fans EVERYWHERE are SHOCKED at the horrible coverage and clueless commentators on ESPN.

Except for some anon posters, most here are nice people and we can agree to disagree without getting hateful.

I think ESPN has lousy coverage of the IRL as well but the NASCAR deal has been so far below expectations, even the cynical viewers are shocked.

I just find it how NOBODY IN WRITING LAND ON THE NET is talking about the big elephant in the room.

Will be interesting to see the ratings after this season.

Oh, I forgot about the Biffle comment...i did have the mute button off for that part of the race.

but I love the MRN guys. One guy on there has made CLASSIC COMMENTS the last two races.


P.S, I ALSO RESPECT the difficulty of the task. There was an article one or two years ago about the OVERWHELMING TASK of broadcasting NASCAR as the race RARELY stops...UNLIKE football, baseball, etc.

It's a huge undertaking but the point of this blog is, ESPN USED TO BE ABLE TO DO IT

AND other stations have done it and done it quite well.

Sure some miss restarts but last nights mess was INEXCUSABLE. When they missed the green flag drop after the second red flag, I was flummoxed.

It is NOT as if ESPN "invented the new task of covering racing".

It's just those of us who have watch CLASSIC old races or been wathing for decades, KNOW it IS POSSIBLE TO ADEQUATELY SHOW and cover a race from the booth.


Anonymous said... have a job because there is a race. We tune in because there is a race. We only watch you because you are the only program airing the race. I now watch the TV, listen to the radio, and use the internet. Why? Because you haven't figured out that I want to watch the race. How could you possibly get it soooooo wrong? All evening, I had the feeling Rusty and company had a script to follow and the race just wasn't cooperating.

and PS anonymous........Jr didn't go looking for these idiots. They were instigating a reaction, not reporting on one. I'm going to offer them this hint..........THE RACE, we want to see the race, LOTS OF THE RACE. Save "NASCAR 101" for later in the week.

Anonymous said...

"Nothing is worse than a rock band playing in the daytime on TV in front of a group of people who are completely mis-matched with their style of music"--what is the heck is that about? Mismatched? You complain about the networks stereotyping of NASCAR fans--and yet you assume they're not fans of Daughtry? I happen to like the band, as does a friend of mine who was able to attend the race in person this year (and was looking forward to hearing them.) I can't say about the particular group of people that were down there--frankly, I was busy enjoying the music--but in general, I've heard everything in the parking lot at RIR from rap to country to hard rock. That the TV time would have been better spent on more pressing issues, with that I can't disagree.

Other than that, as you've said, the coverage was dreadful, particularly the missing of the starts and the absurd use of the draft tracker at a short track. The football discussion (and I'm a huge fan) was out of place. The coverage of guys who'd been wrecked (or lack therof) was shameful (we never saw them get out, I could only trust that if someone was hurt, they'd have had to mention it...) I guess I'll have to go back to listening to MRN and turning off the sound. None of the networks have been perfect, but this was the worst yet.

bevo said...

I just know that if all of you were in a production truck with 100 monitors in front of you and had to pick exactly which one to go to and when, you'd all fail miserably.

And your point is...?
You know what else we (including you) would fail at? Surgery, framing a house, mining for gold, running the spread option offense. The point is that covering races has been done successfully in the past not only by other networks but the one that is trying to do it again.

If the job is not getting done analyze the problem. Are you trying to cram too much technology into the presentation? Do you have incompetent people? Is there a lack of direction at the top of the organization? Is there a breakdown in communications? Are there outside forces contributing to the problem? Is there a sense of infallibility and hubris? Or is it just a case of nobody giving a damn?

Give the audience some credit. We are much more media savvy than you think.

Anonymous said...

ESPN is not that bad. They are better than TNT, and sometime better than FOX. Week after week the same people keep leaving comments like "Im never watching NASCAR on ESPN again". But then a week later, here you are back, complaining about the broadcast.

There is no need to be rude about it. Saying "ESPN Sucks" doesn't help them make any improvements.

SophiaZ123 said...


I am not media/tv person specialist.

But the short answer to your questions is.


; -)

Cire said...

I hope in addition to posting your views on the crap job ESPN is doing, you all are sending emails to ESPN and more importantly to NASCAR right? Complaining here is fine but it will get us nowhere if we also don't let ESPN/NASCAR know our disappointment as well.

SophiaZ123 said...

Judging by the NASCAR response posted here a couple weeks ago, their folks answering email do NOT CARE.

Said they have no power over HOW or WHEN the races are aired??

we need France's and Heltons'numbers.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting to compare and contrast thge coverage of the Nascar race last night and how they (ESPN on ABC) is handling the IndyCar race today. It is almost like night and day (with the NASCAR race being NIGHT). No missed restarts (so far), no boring announcers, no hype (so far). Why such a difference?

Busch Series Fan! said...

Yes the Indy race has the split screen which is really helpful to keep up with the race.

Texas Rose said...

I wrote to ABC/ESPN as well to complain about the restarts and camera angles.

I also had to complain that our local ABC affiliate did not air the pre-race at all.

They should stick with Indy Car racing, that's their specialty AND football.

I was bewildered at what looked like the end of an interview with Jr and then it started again. I give his a high five for being kind to them and having his usual class in answering their dumb questions.

Anonymous said...

I have to totaly agree with cwebs.That broadcast was absolutely miserable.I think I will watch another sport,football,baseball.At least they keep up with the action,and don't cut to commercials every play or batter.I watched the laps on,9 laps went by,then 7 laps during commercials.Punch is not fooling anyone with his racing had just gone back to green.Racing is an action sport that works well live.I also think they need to show shots with more cars in the picture.The way their doing it,their never where they should be in the race.Oh,and that sports minute to give football scores was great,NOT !!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Many of you who defend ESPN are likely stick and ball sports fans who are new to racing and recently tuned into a race to see what the buzz was all about and don’t understand why this forum and many others are rife with disdain and contempt for ESPN. Here is the scoop.

Stock car racing has historically had a highly informed, very dedicated fan base. There were few “casual fans”.

Fans actively sought out coverage via radio and television. There was little need to exaggerate the importance of the event or to hype the product that consumers wanted. To keep the fan base happy the focus was more about quality of information and completeness of coverage. For those of us who spent many years listening to Eli Gold, Barney Hall and others who know racing as well (or better) than many a veteran crew chief, the inane patter of the ESPN talking heads and endless hype is painful. The factual misstatements made on air are infuriating and the focus on seemingly everything except the event itself is intolerable.

We all must remember that ESPN is structured to target the casual fan or the non-fan. ESPN, as are all general sports networks, is focused on creating the story not reporting it. They have hours of programming to fill. Only small portions of their broadcasts are genuinely interesting. They can only have a limited number of top ranked team playing each other. The business culture that looks for conflict, and where necessary invents it, to hype a game in which one bad team, long eliminated from the playoffs, plays another is simply incongruous with the coverage required for NASCAR by its long time fans.

What YOU, the traditional sports fan, hear is the same style and quality of coverage to which YOU are accustomed. It has been the same for years, promos for the next game, incongruous personal interest stories, disconnected production spots, interviews with celebrities etc, etc. These non sequiturs can be found on any network sports presentation of the NFL, NBA, or NCAA. It does not offend because it is familiar.

What WE hear is cross promoting blathering by many people who have no knowledge of the sport, no interest in it and poorly concealed contempt for what the Bristol, Connecticut based ESPN management clearly perceive to be a redneck , non-sporting “event”, more closely resembling professional wrestling than anything else.

WE cannot imagine that NASCAR who previously has actively involved itself in ensuring its image was well presented tolerates this.

It should also be remembered that the unmet expectation is always more distressing. ESPN once delivered high quality NASCAR coverage. That ESPN does not exist any longer and WE can’t accept that. As a result, the traditional NASCAR fan cuts ESPN no slack for some of the same things we dislike, but accepted from FOX and TNT and NBC.

So, does ESPN coverage suck? Absolutely! Much of it is very nearly unwatchable. Is it worse than FOX? Certainly. Is it orders of magnitude worse that FOX, probably not. Does ESPN care? No, this is a small part of their programming. Does NASCAR care? Apparently, the new NASCAR does not. This is not the NASCAR of Big Bill France or Bill Jr.

Only WE care and WE had hoped for so much more from ESPN and ESPN has delivered so much less that it is hard to retain objectivity.

Anonymous said...

Punch's monotone voice is just too much....and I kept hearing the booth guys say.."Jr's driving his guts out!!!" and "Jr's not quiting until the checkered flag.." , Punch was in love with Dale Earnhardt Sr., Petree worked with Dale Sr. and Rusty doesn't prepare much and just comments on the obvious. Look , Waltrip is bad but Mike Joy and Fox sure can broadcast a race....sick of Punch and the Earnhardt lust.....I don't mind Jr updates, but enough already....

haus20 said...

I thought it was amusing when Jerry Punch mentioned that Johnny Sauter had been featured on Nascar in Primetime a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago??? Jerry, he has been on ALL 4 episodes with episode 4 airing last Wednesday.

Anonymous said...
"ESPN is not that bad. They are better than TNT, and sometime better than FOX."

Anonymous, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but what race were you watching??? Any of the 5 HotPass broadcast teams are better than the ESPN booth and consistently missing re-starts is a pet peave of any race fan. I do not go to the extreme of saying I will never watch a race on ESPN again because I will. Usually, I watch the JGR teams on Hot Pass, but I flip back and forth between channels. I do agree that their race coverage leaves something to be desired.

SophiaZ123 said...


AMEN to your post!

SamanthaM said...

Someone mentioned the Jamie McMurray crash. I too was concerned for Jamie's welfare. When he didn't fire the car and didn't put the net down, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Of course, with ESPN's poor coverage, I don't recall a single thing being said about his crash.

My friend and I were listening on's Scanner and Trackpass, and while the audio there is always on a delay, we got to the point where we were predicting the missed restarts. I don't think the almost missed restart counts as almost. You don't see the green flag in front of the cars, you haven't seen the restart.

I don't disagree that all the things that go into a race broadcast are hard to do. But ESPN and their ABC partners have proven since Indianapolis that they are unable or unwilling to make corrections to their style of coverage.

Someone mentioned how annoyed they are by the FOX coverage. I personally love FOX and SPEED, but I can understand how they become annoying at times. I think the big difference here is that while the boys are playing in the booth on-air, you're still getting useful and timely information, whereas ESPN's booth has little more activity than a morgue.

Finally, I find it extremely unprofessional the way that ESPN plays up Rusty's little tiffs with Jeff Gordon through their video clips and Rusty himself saying rude things. Every network that employs a former driver will inevitably work in trivia about him or show some highlights of his career, but I think this underscores the tabloid mentality someone mentioned earlier. Get over it, Rusty. You aren't in the car any more and you can't change who bumped who.

I wish's Daytona countdown clock began now, because that's about how I feel. Empty, bereft, and waiting for February.

Seiko said...

I don't get it. After watching NASCAR short track racing yesterday that left me asleep/confused/pissed off.
To watching my second IRL race this year, where I am actually becoming interested in what happens on the track.

Is this really the IRL I'm watching??? I can not understand how they can totally blow a exciting short track side by side racing event in one night, then come on air today in the same network and make single file boring IRL racing fun to watch.

Heck they actually had a reporter or two in the pits! They showed a blown tire that came off a car!!! Wow I remember that used to happen in NASCAR.

Not to delve too much further off topic but whoever is announcing the race here, should move over to NASCAR. He actually has emotion in his voice.

GinaV24 said...

I e-mail ESPN and Nascar pretty regularly complaining about the poor coverage of the races. All you ever get back is a canned response "you're important to us and thanks for writing". Well I don't feel important at all as a fan right now. Right now I have comcast cable but I'm going to look into direct TV and see about hotpass for next year. One year of this coverage starting with TNT is enough for me. And if you listen to Brian France and his stupid speeches -- everything is wonderful -- never mind the falling ratings and being hardpressed to get a sponsor for the Busch series. Oh, yeah and BTW, the emperor has NO clothes!

Anonymous said...

I started counting how many replays of the accidents on the track, isn't there anything else to show? The radio guys had other things to talk about...I don't need to see the replay five times, especially when some of the shots are the same angle! I tried watching the Busch race without the radio telling me what I was missing on the track, I fell asleep! And yes, I DO think I could look at several monitors and pick up the fact that a car is smoking or turned in a different direction from the rest of the field! Put more than one person in the truck if needed.

Anonymous said...

More on the comparision of NASCAR vs IndyCar, Just watched the end of the IndyCar race, leader ran out of gas on turn 4 and 2nd place won the race and championship. But this post is about something else. It is now 6:05. ABC news should be on (not local news, the national news) and they have spent 15 minutes talking to the winners wife, owner, showing them towing the guy who ran out of gas, and now they finally show the winner in victory lane. Would ESPN do this for a NASCAR race (ie push back NATIONAL news for a trophy)? I think not. (FYI they are now waiting on the president of IndyCar to get to victory lane).

Bill H

Anonymous said...

The saddest part is that most of the production people who made espn racing GREAT in the 80'and 90's are all available -albeit no longer at the network. Its just a case of ESPN arrogance that makes them believe they are smarter than you 'peon' viewers and that they can do this sport as well or better than before without calling on the expertise of the available people who made the sport geat. Draft tracker is a perfect example. CLEARLY, NO ONE PUSHING THAT GIMMICK HAS ANY REAL KNOWLEGE ABOUT THIS SPORT.

SophiaZ123 said...


In my area, it is just my local news they are delaying a few minutes for the IRL wrap up. National is ALWAYS
on here at 6.30.

I watched this race off and on today and thought the last few laps were great.
Also the coverage was better than some earlier in the season.

I love the side by side but wish they could've timed the commercials a bit better after the race but understood Dario was waiting to be picked up and driven to VL. Also, though its the norm EVERYWHERE these days, I wished they could've given poor Dario's dad A FEW MINUTES to digest what has happened..the man could barely speak over come with emotion. We can wait 5 minutes before sticking the mic in face...especially when things are so emotional.

Also they asked Dario if he would be in IRL next year and of course he would not answer. But they said earlier about his 5 year contract with Ganassi. It's sad IRL can't get their act together. Few good drivers in the entire series.

Even sadder, apparently ALL THE GOOD ABC crew was at CHICAGOLAND running the race and not producing last nights NASCAR race.

I think the cub scout troop being taken on tour of the ESPN studios was running the NASCAR control room!?

WHAT A DIFFERENCE INDEED between NASCAR and the INDY coverage.

P.S. I ALSO loved Ashley Judd SPEAKING THE TRUTH about Milka Duna (sp) :-)
SO NOT P.C.!!!

RC said...

Has anyone noticed the split screen with graphics used by ESPN?

I have a 60 inch HDTV and when they go to that format about 1/3 of the screen is fancy colored graphics, NOT action from the track.

Very frustrating picture.

AND.... regarding Richmond coverage - no interview with either David Ragan or Johnny Sauter who had career best finishes? C'mon......

Anonymous said...

I also sent an e-mail to ESPN/ABC to say how horrible I thought the coverage of the Richmond race was. If no attention is paid to my opinion, so be it. At least I tried to let someone know how I feel.
NASCAR will continue to lose fans unless it stops taking them for granted. Inferior offerings are unacceptable.

Get rid of Punch Drunk, Wall Eye and Pothole. Encourage Ms. Kolber to get a glamour makeover,starting with the scarecrow hair, and for heavens sake, understand that 20 people do not have to be part of a broadcast.

Remember....quality is more important than quantity !

Anonymous said...

Don't bother writing to ESPN or ABC-go right to NASCAR, they need to know how upset the fans are...5 restarts were missed! That and other stupidity by The Leader in Sport Television. To paraphrase Wide World of Sports, the broadcast was the agony of defeat...

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, I don't really care about droning announcers. My momentary irritation does not consume my life. I DO care about accurate reporting during the course of the race.

ESPN has abandoned their roll as racing journalists. They ignore important developments and gloss over their own mistakes. Basically, they are not giving respect to the sport that they cover.

In truth, they do it because they can. Nobody tells them no. There is no NASCAR standard that requires broadcasters to act ethically and professionally. Never expect a seriously profit motivated company like Disney to give up an extra commercial billing opportunity for the sake of race reporting unless they are forced to by NASCAR.

There needs to be an amendment to the ever changing NASCAR rule book that requires a minimum broadcast standard "for the good of the sport".

Anonymous said...

All I can say to nascar is, "you get what's coming to you." Unfortunately so do the fans. I hate to beat a dead horse, but I simply have to. espn only knows one way to do things. All flash and no sumstance. After putting up with, "the junior show' for three plus hours, espn really showed their true colors as far as tabloid and sensationalism journalism. Not happy with simply seeing Junior pretty down, they tried to go for the throat. Kept at him like a wold after a sheep. You happy nascar. Hope you're ready for a lot of lousy ratings down the road. And you know something. You deserve every bit of it for letting it come to this. Kind of like F-1 meets the national inquirier. MICAH

stricklinfan82 said...

To the anonymous person that bashes those of us that are "ganging up" on ESPN, let me explain something to you. If we all see the same thing and complain about it individually, it obviously means that ESPN is obviously doing something very wrong. We're not copycats that say "Gee whiz, John Daly said something bad about ESPN, I didn't see it that way but hey I have a personal grudge against ESPN so I'll just copy what he says because it would be fun to bash them for no reason!"

Read the in-race comments some time, everything that John says in his post-race review was covered by someone else in the in-race comments during the race, we didn't just copy his thoughts.

We don't bash ESPN because we hate ESPN, we bash them because they do all of these things wrong:

- they miss more restarts than Fox and TNT

- they air more commercials than Fox and TNT

- they use a controversial "stick-and-ball" sport radio DJ with no NASCAR experience or knowledge to host NASCAR Now instead of using a credible NASCAR host

- they use a Monday Night Football sideline reporter with no NASCAR experience or knowledge (who is very good at the football job I might add) as the host of their Cup races instead of using a credible NASCAR host

- they buy the rights to numerous practice sessions, don't air them, and don't let Speed Channel air them, LEAVING NASCAR FANS WITH NO PRACTICE COVERAGE ON TV, ANYWHERE. We didn't bash TNT for skipping out on covering qualifying and practice, because we could still watch them on TV on Speed, which we can't do now with ESPN locking out Speed Channel.

- at Richmond they spent all their time covering Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a rock and roll concert. In the process they skipped out on every other story in the sport on the biggest news week the sport may have ever seen (Gibbs-Toyota, Rudd's injury, Yates retiring, AT&T settling with NASCAR, Yeley signing with HOF Racing, among others)

- the announcers seem completely disinterested and often have delayed reactions to everything that happens on the track (as one commenter suggested, it looks like the F1 announcers on Speed who are watching the race on TV in another country and not announcing from the track live)

- they schedule other live events in very small blocks of time right before their NASCAR coverage, which will always screw us when the first event runs long (i.e. 2 hours for a tennis match before the Michigan Busch race and 3 hours for a college football game before the California race, to name a few)

I could go on and on. We're not ESPN haters, we are haters of networks that provide awful NASCAR coverage. Read our comments and tell me that anything that all of us "gang members" are saying is wrong. If you know anything about NASCAR you can't!

Anonymous said...

I just know that if all of you were in a production truck with 100 monitors in front of you and had to pick exactly which one to go to and when, you'd all fail miserably.

Nope. Been there, done that. Directed live TV sports. Also TD'd it.

And they're right: ESPN's doing a miserable job.

Nice try, though.

Jammin said...

The guy who does the IRL broadcasts is Marty Reid, who I think is just great. He made the best race call I've ever heard last year at the NHRA finale, when Tony Schumacher had to win the race and set a national record to win the championship - unbelievably difficult to do. When he did it, Reid exclaimed, "Look at the number!" and then just let the moment unfold. It was perfect. He was just as good today when Scott Dixon ran out of gas on the last lap at Joliet. I thought that broadcast was very well done. The Cup race? I gave up and listened to the radio and TrackPass like everybody else. Say, do you think ESPN's coverage might be NASCAR's sneaky way of getting more people to buy TrackPass???

Anonymous said...

they buy the rights to numerous practice sessions, don't air them, and don't let Speed Channel air them, LEAVING NASCAR FANS WITH NO PRACTICE COVERAGE ON TV, ANYWHERE. We didn't bash TNT for skipping out on covering qualifying and practice, because we could still watch them on TV on Speed, which we can't do now with ESPN locking out Speed Channel.

Exactly. Way to build "brand loyalty."

Anonymous said...

The ESPN commentary was so bad, we ended up listening to the MRN broadcast while watching the broadcast. It's almost enough to make me consider giving up on watching the races, and just listen to the radio.

Anonymous said...

Back to the IRL/NASCAR comparision thing. Its very intesting at IRL fans complain about their coverage. Most of the forums I have read, hardcore IRL fans hate ESPN/ABC coverage of the races and that NASCAR Coverage is better.

Maybe we should swap. IRL broadcasts can have a pit studio, brad, suzy, and tech center. And we can have just announcers and pit reporters (Thats what IRL broadcasts are made up of).

I find it very ironic that we think IRL coverage is good, and IRL fans disagree. We think our coverage is bad, and IRL fans disagree.

Anonymous said...

To those who say ESPN has more commercials. For the Richmond race, that is not true. Here is a look at the numbers.

Minutes of race broadcast: 179 (in 2006: 135)
Minutes of commercials: 63 (in 2006: 59)

The race broadcast was 44 minutes longer than last season. They had 63 minutes of commercials compared to 59 minutes last season (when the broadcast was shorter). Technically ESPN had fewer commercials, even though it did not seem like it.

As for the missing restarts. The offical number was five, compared to only two last year. ESPN needs to work on that if they want to try to win us fans over.

Anonymous said...

OMG, that was the most pathetic coverage I've ever seen! Made me want to drive around the rest of the night and finish listening to it on the car radio. I got sick of the constant Jr. commentary -- and then to pounce on the guy like that after his season literally went up in smoke was reprehensible (and I'm not even a Jr. fan). I was incredulous when they split the screen during a GREEN FLAG to show an in-progress college football game. Like they couldn't have done it during the red flags? No, now they are forcing me to watch football DURING the race. All the prattling on and on about stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with racing makes my brain hurt! I am so fed up with ESPN I think I'll start doing what I used to do during Redskins games, turn down the TV and turn up the radio -- or just not watch at all.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and talking about "the-rookie-David-Ragan" (one word) as if he is some up-and-coming superstar instead of a guy who wrecks himself or someone else nearly every week was nauseating!!!

w17scott said...

What a waste trying to watch the race ...all Junior all the time, give me a break and Jr too. Shoulda known when the Henrico Police Chief couldn't remember the Pledge of Allegiance ...something was seriously wrong when he didn't even place his hand over his heart ...makes me pine for TNN when Mike Joy, Buddy Baker and Neil Bonnett (?) called the race by looking out the press box window only took 15 seconds for the producer to catch up with the race call, but at least the action was shown. Remember those days, Mr. Editor

SophiaZ123 said...

I thought today's IRL coverage was better than the normal but did not sit CONSTANTLY to watch it. Still, IRL improved from LAST year when the guy with the high timbered voice always sounded like he was yelling. HORRIBLE.

I just wanted to see mainly if Dario won and he DID...

Also, somebody commented on the Formula 1 on Speed. I think those guys do a great job considering they are here and the race in other countries. They know the sport and show excitement! I don't watch F1 religiously but when they were on another station for a few weeks (ABC I think) Formula 1 REALLY STANK!!
Would start the race with cars on the grid and end with chopped up podium music and edited interviews. YIKES.

Speed does a much better job.

But yea, ESPN must be reading the book how to lose friends and Alienate People.

Anonymous said...

RC said...

Has anyone noticed the split screen with graphics used by ESPN?

I have a 60 inch HDTV and when they go to that format about 1/3 of the screen is fancy colored graphics, NOT action from the track.

Very frustrating picture.

Just figured I'd mention that this has nothing to do with them trying to fill the screen with graphics as it does with them having to keep their picture in "safe title" for SDTV viewers. When everyone is eventually forced to get up to speed with HDTV, you won't have these disproportionate images, like ESPN has when they air double boxes. Another good example, is nightly talk shows (Leno, Letterman) in HD. The shots look wider than they should. This is because the camera op is shooting it wide enough so that the SDTV box is filled with Leno and everything left and right for widescreen is filler. This is only a matter of time though.

Anonymous said...

When everyone is eventually forced to get up to speed with HDTV,

No one's "forcing" anyone to switch to HDTV.

You may be thinking of the DTV legislation, which is NOT the same thing at all.

Anonymous said...

I receive both WDAY (Fargo's ABC station) and KSFY (Sioux Fall's station) and both did a poor job IMO. WDAY at least carried the pre- and post-race material, while KSFY opted to run local news all the way up to the national anthem and launched into the 10 PM news right after they interviewed Jimmy Johnson. Both stations missed the ends of some commercial periods by up to 2 ads, so I had to be flipping between them to actually see everything.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the joy of watching small-market TV, where they assume/hope they won't get caught messing with the network's prograamming.

I suggest you contact ABC Afilliate Relations and let them know what you saw.

LuckyForward said...

As usual, an astute assessment of ESPN's continually lame process. In fact, ESPN has tried to make Dale Jr's "race for the chase" the focus of the last three weeks, when it was already known it was impossible for him to make it.

ESPN doesn't get it, and NASCAR does not seem to care that they do not get it . . .

LuckyForward said...

One last thought: ESPN must have a corner on the valve stem market, as every time a car rubs up against another car and a tire blows, the reason is that "the valve stem was knocked out." Maybe so, but do we have to hear it 500 times?

Jayski, are you sorry you sold out to ESPN?

Anonymous said...

When the race was over, (thankfully), I was hoping I would never have to hear "Jr." again.....I love the guy, but 42 others were still racing their hearts out and maybe 5 or 6 of them worthy of mention. I Must be hoping it will change, cuz I keep watching ?????
Grammi Girl

Anonymous said...

when it was already known it was impossible for him to make it.

Actually, it wasn't "impossible" for him to make the Chase unil late in the race Saturday when Harvick locked himself in.

Maybe you don't know this stuff as well as you think.

stricklinfan82 said...

Let's just hope ESPN's next focus during the races won't be "If Junior had made the Chase, he would be in ____ position in the standings as of right now".

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between "mathmatically eliminated" and "impossible".

Especially going into the Richmond race, it would have taken an act of God (or a Nascar-conspiracy) to get Junior into the Chase.

Forgetting the math, the race for the Chase was over 2-3 races ago.

Anonymous said...

"ESPN doesn't get it, and NASCAR does not seem to care that they do not get it . . . "

ESPN gets it. It's about $ and "celebrity athletes." Look at other sports. ESPN doesn't care about golf if Tiger isn't in contention. The IRL is All About Danica. A-Rod hits a home run, it's the top story. Terrell Owens opens his mouth, and the world stops. Kobe asks for a trade, retracts a trade, then asks again--and I'm supposed to care, because it's Kobe. And it's also supposedly newsworthy that Roger Clemens still hasn't decided which team he is going to play for this year.

This is all they're doing with Junior, and it's money in the bank, because he and Jeff Gordon are the only people "potential" or "fringe" NASCAR viewers will tune in and see.

And I'm tired of these idiots (the fringe fans more than ESPN) who don't really give a rat's ass about our sport dictating how it's covered.

Anonymous said...

For those of you justifying the "All Junior" format:

The points needed to lock the drivers into The Chase were the points they needed if Junior got the maximum number of points possible.

That means that the numbers ESPN was using basically only applied if Junior won a race.

And excuse me, but when was the last time that happened?

That's why the "Junior Chase Angle" was beyond ridiculous.

Vince said...

ESPN doesn't get it and I seriously doubt they ever will. It's all about the hype with ESPN. I'm a Junior fan and I am sick of hearing about him. Message to the media, LEAVE HIM ALONE ALREADY!! Geez!

I listened to the race on MRN radio and watched the ESPN coverage with my TV's sound muted. The 7 second delay on the ESPN coverage was annoying, but better than the alternative. Listening to their endless blathering about nonsense. Draft track at a short track? Hello??? Does anybody at ESPN have a clue?? At my count two restarts were missed AFTER RED FLAGS! Again, this is inexcusable. And both times the reason the restart was missed was a self promo for an ESPN show. Thanks for nothing ESPN.

I really, really wish some big name driver, other than Tony who has already done it, would call out ESPN and all their hype and crappy coverage. I'd love it if all the drivers would refuse to talk to the ESPN reporters for just one race. That'd be great.

If I have to put up with ESPN's coverage as it is now for the length of their contract, I won't be a NASCAR fan much longer. I've been a fan since the mid 60's and the coverage by ESPN this year has been the absolute worst. Us fan's could do a better job.

I'm wondering if Brian or anybody in the powers that be at NASCAR even care? It sure looks to me like they don't.

Anonymous said...

And excuse me, but when was the last time that happened?

The guy just came in second a couple of weeks ago. A win would not have been that surprising.

Anonymous said...

Based on recent history, it was more likely that his car would crap out in the last 20 laps.

Guess what happened.

RC said...

Why take the time to write to ESPN / ABC TV?

If they has any sense, they would read John's blog comments and take heed.

Some of the best constructive criticism and fan comments are right here.

Desmond said...

It has become apparent to this observer that NASCAR coverage has become a game of limbo. I thought for a long time that FOX had the worst coverage, but TNT did their best to screw things up and now ESPN has beaten both of them.

All of us deserve better.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Thanks for your kind words. Lots of TV folks and media members stop-by and read the comments on this site. If you search around the web, you can almost always read some stories that appear to be ripped right out of the comment page.

While some folks cannot appear in the comments, I get email from a great group of NASCAR announcers, producers, and executives.

The NASCAR on Fox gang, the RaceDay crew, the SPEED Truck bunch, NASCAR Images managers, even the ESPN pit reporters give me email feedback...and plenty of grief, of course!

Unfortunately, both ESPN and NASCAR forbid their senior staff to email me or comment as a part of their employment agreement. Disney and NASCAR both filter any outside communication through their Media Relations Departments.

Even though the reporters at the Media Center at the NASCAR races have The Daly Planet on their laptops, the NASCAR guys avoid it like the plague! According to some reporters, its pretty hilarious.

Its nice to know that most of the pros are reading your comments and at least understanding that there are many good fans out there who feel strongly about how things should be presented to them in their home.

Thanks again for taking the time to comment, and for everyone being so thoughtful and well mannered.


Bobby said...

One thing about missed restarts must be noted:

All broadcasts -- ESPN Cable, ESPN2, ESPN Broadcast, Fox, or TNT -- have "hard breaks" inserted at set points. For ESPN Cable, ESPN2, and TNT, the hard breaks are designed to allow cable operators to run CableVantage (local) advertising. Because of the notorious cost of carrying ESPN through the per-subscriber fee, something ESPN has raised for Monday Night Football and NASCAR, the cable companies need to sell their ads on ESPN and at the highest rates. A CableVantage break is one minute.

For ESPN Broadcast Network and Fox races, the hard breaks are for the ESPN Broadcast Network (fka ABC) and Fox affiliates to air their two minutes of ad space per half-hour.

During TNT's Wide Open coverage of the Pepsi 400, Bill Weber noted they went to breaks just for the "hard" breaks for the cable operators.

You cannot come out of a hard break to show a crash or to show a restart, because the affiliates are showing their local ads that they have paid, and unlike national ads where you can jump out (but air the ad in entirety after the sudden stoppage) to show the incident, the same cannot be given for the local businesses who are paying their local affilite to advertise one of the four minutes per hour of NASCAR advertising.

If a restart takes place during a hard break, that's one of those hard break deals. ESPN has no control of restarting during a hard break.

David said...

Wow NASCAR Now is the JR only show now... Imagine how bad it would have been if he MADE the chase. A JR retrospective on NASCAR now, he is still racing.. PLEASE ESPN LISTEN!!! This is horrible..

JGould said...

Well, first of all, apparently they're not done with Jr. versus the world. I was just watching NASCAR Now, and the did a huge produced package on Jr and all his troubles, etc... ok, got it. He didn't make the chase.

Second, even my wife, who doesn't watch NASCAR that often (sprint cars are in her blood), and never has read Daly Planet said to me Saturday night, "Why are they isolating Jr for so long? Who cares? This coverage is terrible."


Anonymous said...

I have suffered along with the rest of the fans with ESPN's coverage. How do we get the network's attention on how to remedy these shortcomings? Get Rusty out of the booth, why not put Alan Bestwick in the booth along with Wally Dallenback, even he can't be any worse than Punch and Wallace. I never listen to the broadcast anymore, I listen to the race coverage on Sirius but watch the tv feed without the sound.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Thanks for your note. While some cable networks have an agreement for fixed breaks, ESPN and ESPN2 on the cable side do not. They simply must finish the correct number of affiliate breaks before the end of a designated program.

Even in their taped shows, the affiliate breaks are not assigned a specific time. That is the reason the restarts on ESPN2 should be live. I fully understand that when the one minute cable affiliate break is triggered, the cable network cannot return.

On the broadcast side, ABC designates local breaks which are inserted by the local stations. Once again, ABC does not have hard times in live events, but must finish all the breaks before the end of the format.

TNT is an entertainment network, and when Bill Weber said "hard breaks" he meant the cable affiliate breaks from which the network could not return. As you may note from TNT's live NBA coverage, there are no set times for local breaks in live sports events on that network.

I appreciate the opportunity to address this issue, and thanks again for bringing it up.


Anonymous said...

So, does Erik (with a 'K") now claim (a) he made a literary reference about which he clearly knows nothing, or (b) "Hey, I don't write this stuff," and also fails to read it in advance?

Dickens, Erik. Not Shakespeare. Very basic.

And ESPN portrays NASCAR fans as dumb rednecks....

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is now a new page up for comments about the Monday version of NASCAR Now.

It certainly was interesting.


Anonymous said...

I am aJunior fan and I have to say I did not like the way they focused constantly on him. One the man is under enough preasure and he needs to concentrate. Also let him and his fans suffer with some dignaty. The ESPN reporters (not all) are going to get one in the mouth one day. Not by the drivers, who can't afford the point loss or sespension but by those driver's fans that will gladly take the track ban to do what their driver cannot do. You can tell the drivers don't want to be bothered by them, even when they have had a good day!!!! Also why in the heck do we have to get a 30 minute update now that we are on ABC? And why does this update have to happen during green flag racing? Why can't it be incerted else where? Like during some of the boring commentary, or during one of the bazillion demonstrations of air or whatever else we have to see more than once. Sorry but I have to say ESPN/ABC is still better than TNT but its kiling the fans. At least the on pit road reporters for TNT weren't wolves going after our drivers!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the lowest point of the coverage (and there were a lot of lows) was the nasty looking wreck involving McMurray and several other cars, when ESPN does nothing to apprise us of the condition of the drivers. It's just so hard to believe this is the same channel from the Bob Jenkins days..