Saturday, March 10, 2007

ESPN: Busch Series - Las Vegas

The story of Las Vegas was the track, and everybody knew it. Going into this race, Jerry Punch did a good job of calming everyone down from the pre-race hysteria and getting back to racing. Rusty Wallace continues to be ESPN's voice of authority on NASCAR, and he has shown himself to be open and able to listen to the views of others during the broadcast. Rusty's last season calling the IndyCar Series on ESPN/ABC really proved to be a good experience.

Missing from the broadcast was Bruton Smith, the track owner, or Chris Powell, the General Manager. ESPN never explained why things were changed, or showed footage of the construction process. What they did do, was replay over and over again every single incident, as if the only exciting elements of the racing were the crashes. Remember, NASCAR Now on ESPN played the David Reutimann crash at Fontana ten times in six minutes on their show two weeks ago. It was obvious from this telecast, that Brent Musburger loves the accidents. He just can not get enough of the "drama" and "violence."

ESPN continues not to promote the Sunday NEXTEL Cup races, and has taken the stance that they are not a NASCAR TV partner, but they are a Disney Company who only cares about themselves. They do not promote the Truck Series, never mention, and only promote ESPN and ABC events. When NASCAR made this deal with ESPN/ABC, they clearly outlined that ESPN was here for the "overall good of the sport." Unfortunately, they forgot to tell the Busch Series on ESPN2 crew that they are just one part of a larger picture. It will be interesting to see how long NASCAR will put up with this diva behavior on the part of the network. Isn't this exactly why ESPN lost the NASCAR TV package six years ago?

ESPN: Busch Pre-Race Show - Las Vegas

ESPN has decided that the story of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series is the fact that ESPN has graced NASCAR with its benevolent presence. Brent Musburger now refers to the professional drivers as "the Busch boys." Chris Fowler continues to be amused by the "antics" of the drivers. He just can't stop grinning. Apparently, NASCAR is hilarious to some Connecticut residents.

Time and time again in this show, amateurs like Musburger, Fowler, and Brad Daugherty tried to create storylines, only to be dismissed by the NASCAR pros. Tim Brewer tries to interject reality into the ESPN hype from his infield studio, but he is over-shadowed by the relentless need to create drama by the ESPN production team. Alan Bestwick, Mike Massaro, and Rusty Wallace continue to represent the voice of reason in this telecast.

It is almost like there are two groups in the pre-race show, the ESPN "Connecticut gang," and the ESPN "NASCAR gang." The first gang loves the hype, the rock music, the video of crashes, and wacky antics of this group of "Busch boys." The second group is actively following a series that has run for decades with serious storylines and personal challenges that are faced with bravery and total dedication. Two completely different perspectives in the same thirty minute show. Fascinating.

As Kevin Harvick said "you guys make a big deal out of the points thing." That is because ESPN continues to struggle to find and then bring to the surface the stories that race fans want to know. Often, the stories shown in the pre-race do not match the stories on the radio broadcast, the racing publications, or the NASCAR websites. They are out of sync, and have been since Daytona.