Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SPEED Wraps Daytona Sprint Cup Testing

When SPEED told us they were going to ramp-up their coverage of the Daytona testing, we were skeptical as to what would result. All of us had visions of bored drivers going on five lap runs while the engineers tested shock adjustments.

Well, as usual...we were wrong. The coverage from Daytona turned out to be exactly what the doctor ordered for NASCAR fans waiting for some familiar faces on TV. As the shows progressed, it became clear that SPEED had tapped into something brand new.

John Roberts was joined by Jeff Hammond the first week, and then Larry McReynolds for this week as analysts. On pit road, Bob Dillner handled the early action and then passed the baton to Adam Alexander.

With the COT basically changing everything, the testing took on a whole new dynamic with teams making absolutely no adjustments to the entire exterior of the cars. No fenders were being shaped, no spoilers were on the track that looked just a bit too large, and no one was running something so illegal it should be in the Rolex 24 as a sports car.

Hammond and McReynolds were outstanding in pointing out exactly what was going on without any fuss or bother. Both of these men just say what is on their mind and back-up their statements with interviews and conversations. Hammond's COT explanations and then McReynolds "tech tips" really told the tale of this testing session.

Sometimes, Bob Dillner seems to struggle a bit when he is put in a new situation. This time, he rose to the challenge of both the field reporting and the studio interaction with both drivers and the other announcers. Dillner may have finally come into his own and polished his presentation to the point where he might deserve a turn behind the anchor desk.

Adam Alexander must have had an interesting time. Fresh from the cozy confines of the Truck Series, Alexander was working hard to define his role on these Cup testing sessions. Given lots of free reign on the Truck telecasts to analyze, this time he found himself staring across the studio desk at Larry McReynolds.

Needless to say, there was only one head honcho at the table, and it wasn't Alexander. Narrowing his scope to fit the assignment at-hand is going to pay off, as he certainly has a good racing background and solid on-air skills. Roberts and McReynolds did a good job of keeping Alexander focused, and that helped in the show's balance.

Some viewers think SPEED could have made these shows one hour in length. There was a lot of on-track action, plenty of guys to talk to, and lots of news. Perhaps, SPEED might incorporate some interviews with the media folks on-hand and even ask some fans about their experience watching testing in future shows.

The positive thing is that it worked. The drivers were happy to be interviewed, the mood was upbeat, and the content was satisfying for the TV viewers. All in all, this is a great "TV start" to the new season. Like I said, just what the doctor ordered.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. There is nothing to join and we do not want your email address. Thanks for stopping by.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ritchie said...

I thought the coverage was good, and there is no two analyst I would rather have explain a test session to me than Larry Mac and Hammonds. It did seem a bit compressed to me, and an hour would be better suited for this. Besides, what else has SPEED got to put on the air anyway?

Anonymous said...

Good shows. Packed with info, very little fluff.

A pleasure to watch.

Anonymous said...

Shows could have been longer, and it was great that the focus was not just on Dale Jr., I mean I like the him , but sheesh its been nothing but Jr. Jr. all the Nascar news, getting kinda sick of him.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:57AM,

If you have a chance, drop me an email at


Anonymous said...

I thought they could've shown more of the cars actually out on the track then they did. Tech items were pretty good, but honestly in my opinion I want to see more than 20 second clips of the cars. Show several laps at a time at least. Like was said before what else does Speed have to show us, NOPI?

I'm already getting tired of John Roberts saying his usual "All eyes are are Dale Earnhardt Junior". He says it on every show, no matter what. Believe it or not some people aren't Junior fans.

GinaV24 said...

I thought the coverage was really good. It was about getting ready to race, not racertainment and it was a pleasure to watch the professionals at work.

Tripp said...

Whatever magic Speed has brought to their NASCAR coverage in years past was present again in this series. With crews sprawled across the speedway, they culled out the most interesting bits for us to see. No small task given that testing by nature is pretty boring. Just ask Tony Stewart.

Could the show have been a full hour? Only if Speed's management thought they could fill those additional minutes with the same information quality. When it comes to the viewers, never leave them wanting less.

earl06 said...

Much as I would have liked full-hour shows, there wasn't enough material for it. The coverage and production was better than it has been in the past. I'm glad it was all site-produced, it would have been easy to slip in a bunch of NASCAR images type fluff. Quick and concise worked well here.

Ritchie said...

I always thought that it would be fun to have a REALLY technical show. Sort of niche programming, like NASCAR Tech, that would spend an hour getting VERY technical. The program that Larry Mac host now is good, but too short. When I mean technical, I mean down to seeing how the engineers respond to the feed back that the crews recieve and apply that info to thir research and development programs.

I know it would be geeky, and the audience would not match the audience for other SPEED programming, but I imagine there are enough of us out there that enjoy the sport in-depth. I'm just one of those sick people who like to know how the sausage is made.

Thornton,Colorado said...

The whole point of testing, as well as, obviously, racing, is to see the cars on the track. What we get is a watered down version of that. Granted, the drivers are key elements as well as crews, but I would like to have seen at least 10 to 15 minutes of solid on-track action. Much the same as it is in Happy Hour. Sure, some of the cars will turn maybe 3 or 4 laps, but others might run 15 to 20 lap runs, even in the draft.especially when yesterdays' testing was extended because of weather concerns. I don't need a promo,(more like hype) of the open wheel ranks coming into the series. It's well documented already. A brief refresher, then back to the on-track action. Yes, there were times where I was educated about which teams were slow, which manufacturers were fast,etc.But I still would like to see actual cars on the track, that way when you talk about a certain team/manufacturer's struggles, you can watch it unfold on the track as it happens, not in a 1 second snippet, then break for a commercial.
People will tell me "But it's testing. It's not supposed to be exciting." Then don't show it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like "NASCAR Performance." I doubt many people would watch a show much more techy than that, however, and they DO have to attract an audience.

Anonymous said...

Much as I would have liked full-hour shows, there wasn't enough material for it.
Sure there was.

Each day, there were several driver press conferences. I never saw any of that on TV.

And as others have pointed out, we didn't get to see much on-track action. I'd have liked to have seen the drafting myself, for example.

David said...

I enjoyed the coverage, tired of the endless promos for everything. At least 3 to 4 minutes and too much JR. Should have shown more cars on the track looked in the garage more and less guys talking on the set. Tech talk was great compared to what we get sometime during the race is a sponsor pitch. Wish they had done more. Love the idea for real tech show!! Also off topic but was Barett Jackson in HD sure looked like parts of it where.

Thornton, Colorado said...

One of my long time gripes about Fox/Speed coverage has long been how Larry Mac,DW and company are more concerned about their "rock star" status than the on track action. That's pretty much left up to Mike Joy. If you watch Trackside, they have taken the Rock Concert element that naturally happened, and "canned" it, and tried to be the "rock stars" themselves. This is never any more evident than when they are talking to a guest, and in his mid-sentence, they interrupt with, "Hey! We work hard! We play hard!" The guest often times sits there, confused as to wondering if he somehow garnered that comment, or did he miss the inside joke,etc.My point is, is that they seem to think that their faces on t.v. are more important to the viewer, than the on track action or pit stories. If they talk about a driver or team during testing, or during Happy Hour, they show a miniscule of the driver/car, then immediately show Hammond or Larry Mac, explaining what the driver is thinking or wehat the car is doing.
During the testing shows, this is what I am talking about. As one poster pointed out, too much JR, and not enough testing/drafting/cars/drivers.
As I have said in earlier posts regarding ESPN, this is not about you, nor will it EVER be about you. This is about the drivers, crews, and the FANS!

Anonymous said...

I think some people are going a little far on this board.

I swear they won't be happy until all we see on TV a single, locked-down camera facing the track, and just the sound of cars passing by it.

Yeah, there's your "old-school" racing.

Anonymous said...

I was very pleased with the coverage over the past two weeks. I'll continue to DVR and watch the all of SPEED's testing coverage from all three tracks and I'm even going to watch the media tour coverage.

One thing that I really liked is that they did talk to a good variety of drivers. It wasn't just the same old nine or ten 'favorite' drivers that the media obsesses over to the point of ad-nauseum all freaking season long. If only ABC and that other channel would do the same as the season winds know, keep in mind that there are 43 drivers on the track, not just ten or twelve.

Anonymous said...

I like Ritchie's idea-a technical show would be really neat. I'm a 42 year-old female and the tech stuff is actually one of my favorite things to learn about when it comes to racing. Since this is a new car, there's gotta be a lot of information.

As for the length of the show, I wouldn't have minded more 'car on the track action' and would've really enjoyed seeing not only crew chiefs but crew members being interviewed. They matter, too. Without them and their dedication and hard work, our drivers wouldn't be where they are each weekend.

Ohio said...

Thank you Thornton Colorado!! I agree totally....I have slowly lost interest in NASCAR over the past 8 years and I think it's not the racing, but the TV coverage that has caused my own decline. I cannot stand Hammond and MacReynolds. Sure, they are knowledeable, but I don't care "where the real men work" or who Larry Mac's "people" are for any given weekend. Don't get me started on DW. Geez...cover the cars and drivers.

Ritchie said...

A tech show would be exactly like NASCAR Performanc, but would be much more indepth than the thirty minute show they do now. I too like to see the cars on track, but knowing what is going on beyond the visual of the cars on the track would let the viewers get even deeper into testing. When a car is on the track, there is so much more going on than a driver turning a steering wheel and pressing an accelerator. There is a highly complex mathmatic equation being calculated and recalculated every second that the car is on the track. As viewers, we never get to see that going on. All we get to see is the car, and occasionally the driver.

I know it wouldn't be for everyone, but I have seen some of SPEED's Nielson numbers and I'm sure there is enough interest for this type of show to outperform some of their other shows.

Newracefan said...

The shows have been very good so far. I agree with the hour show with more on track and maybe replay of driver media interviews. I would also watch a more technical Nascar Performance, much of it would go over my head (I can just about refill my washer fluid) but I would watch just to try and learn more as long as it was Larry Mac or someone just like him. He can explain complicated things in a down to earth way that I understand.

w17scott said...

Mr. Editor -
SPEED delivered the goods ...this is after all, pre-season, and like the teams fans are getting their feet on the ground and head in the game ...enjoyed analysis by Larry Mac and Jeff ...fresh programming what a treat in January.

SophiaZ123 said...

Thornton C,

I must admit, I agree with you...after a week of this show HELLO? How about more TRACK ACTION? This is so
ESPN like to have the talking heads on. I like these guys fine but COME's about the cars and the racers.

i was happy to get a glimpse of Schrader interviewed...but geez...we are craving seeing cars on the track. So it's testing? I would watch 30 minutes of the car on the track.

Also, NO OFFENSE, and this is something SPEED BETTER get fixed before the REAL SEASON BEGINS..but I am tired of this crappy taped video stuff that goes from watching a show of today, to lookingn like something from the 1970's?

What's up with the cheapy video look? I know this was addressed earlier but it looks almost like a cell phone camera.

Is this how SPEED is going to pay for their HD CHANNELS (that many of us DO NOT HAVE)

Our big tvs are just fine. NOT A PRIORITY to go HD and the small picture frame sized pics for 800. do NOT cut it for my eyes. I would have to sit 4 feet away to have the tv 'feel' as big as we have here NOW. 30 inch or 25 inch or 36 inch tv. We enjoy things fine.

I wonder if the video is looking this crappy on the HD tvs///course I guess that channel is not set up yet.

But man, I am not having a good feeling about this season. Smelling more like a radio MRN season to me.

Not a putdown folks...just my honest opinion.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much face time for the boys and only a 2 second tease of cars on the track.

Least they got off most of the graphic gunk but I would rather see the cars!!


Anonymous said...

I applaud SPEED for giving NASCAR fans something to watch in January. I have watched every show so far and will continue to watch next week...

As for my complaints - I agree there was not enough on-track action. Don't the networks realize the buzz fans get is from seeing the cars? Show us at least a full lap from some of the fast and/or popular drivers and comment on how the car is handling, what problems it might be having, etc. It can't be that hard...

Also - not all eyes are on Jr. I'm already sick of him and it's not even February yet.

I also agree a technical show would be great! I'm always left wanting more from NASCAR Performance.