Thursday, February 14, 2008

SPEED Makes The Most Of The Daytona Duels

So far in this young season, SPEED has set a blistering pace when it comes to covering NASCAR on TV.

Expanding and upgrading their pre-season coverage was just the start of what has now become an all-out "TV assault" on the Daytona International Speedway.

Hardcore fans have been glued to the SPEED coverage all this week that has included both on and off-track activity. From chasing engine failure stories on pit road to talking Daytona TV history with Ned Jarrett and Ken Squier, the network has offered it all.

Thursday afternoon finally got the 2008 ball really rolling with the Gatorade Duels, which featured a combined TV crew of the NASCAR on Fox gang and the SPEED regulars. It was an effective line-up that cemented the reputation of both networks with the fans. These guys know NASCAR.

By surrounding the Mike Joy led Fox crew with SPEED's franchise program RaceDay, and the popular Victory Lane, the network really offered fans an all-inclusive package.

Krista Voda stepped-in as the infield race host, the same role she has on SPEED for both the Craftsman Truck Series and the All-Star race. Voda and Jeff Hammond worked well together to give the booth announcers a break, and provide a different take on the happenings of this unique day.

The season always begins with cooperative drivers and happy crew chiefs and this was no exception. The solid group of pit reporters from Fox continues to be the best on TV when it comes to NASCAR, simply for one reason. They don't take themselves too seriously.

When someone makes an on-air mistake, they admit it. When someone talks to a driver, they ask plain and up-front questions. No NASCAR personality is ever put in the position of being "baited" into anger or purposefully embarrassed by this group. The reaction from the NASCAR community to this treatment is easy to see. It is simply called "access."

When it comes to the Gatorade Duels broadcast on SPEED the best word to use is "flow." This telecast just flowed from beginning to end. The TV production crew effectively used a split-screen to show both the winner of each race and the fight for the transfer positions into the Daytona 500. There was no fuss, it was just done right.

Outstanding graphics during the event kept viewers informed of who was where and what their status was in reference to the big race on Sunday. This was especially effective during long green flag runs when the announcers were working several different stories in the field at the same time.

Mike Joy kept things in very good perspective, but he looked as uncomfortable as Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip in the wardrobe SPEED provided for their on-camera segments. While not necessarily needing a tie, one might suggest that SPEED consider adding some blue blazers to their next SWAG order.

That said, the booth announcers continue to have a chemistry that has truly stood the test of time and actually continues to grow. While Darrell Waltrip has his loud and over-the-top moments, Mike Joy and company have a way of moving him back into the conversation at hand without interrupting the flow of the broadcast.

Larry McReynolds continues to be the top analyst in the sport, providing more detailed information and specifics than anyone else on any network. Regardless of whether the analyst is a former driver or crew chief, McReynolds is the man with the facts that matter. Thursday afternoon, he had every topic covered the moment it was mentioned.

Last season, the NASCAR on Fox Director chose to show only the winner of the race coming to the start-finish line. At Daytona, fans got two cars only because they happened to be side-by-side. Short track or superspeedway, the network was apparently only interested in the drama and the story of first place.

Despite the best efforts of the announcers and others to change this style, it stayed in place for the entire Fox portion of the NEXTEL Cup package. You can read about this issue by clicking here and also here.

Thursday afternoon, the NASCAR on Fox crew producing for SPEED made sure to use wider camera shots and include all the cars finishing the race. With the insertion of an unfortunately unlabeled split-screen effect, viewers actually saw both the finishes all the way to the line. Regardless of the level of drama, providing this type of complete coverage must be the mandate of the TV networks this season.

A beautiful day at Daytona provided an opportunity for outstanding technical production of these races. Wonderful HD pictures continue to be a key element of NASCAR that separates this sport from all others. The HD in-car cameras and the return of the bumper-cams with audio made for outstanding pictures and sound.

Sometimes, things just line-up and result in a totally fan-friendly sports TV experience. Luckily for NASCAR fans, this moment came with the Thursday coverage offered by SPEED from Daytona. RaceDay, the Duels and even Victory Lane provided a strong set-up for the three days of racing to come on SPEED, ESPN2 and Fox Sports.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.



There is a reason I watch SPEED from Thursday or Friday night through Monday night surrounding most race weekends. The normal crew is great and this enhanced group with the veterans is outstanding.

I have had a blast reliving many of the old clips of past Daytona 500 races. It brings me back to those cool Sunday afternoons in front of the fire with my grandparents who assuredly knew a good many of the 'shine runners of north Georgia.

I guess my problem is that I look at this sport as a light into my family history where others look at this as a fleeting pastime. I take it personally. NASCAR just feels too much like home to me.


red said...

well, all i can say is that i am totally impressed with the coverage of the duels this afternoon! the best way i can explain it is the following: my driver was leading at the end of the first duel and i didn't even care that the cameras weren't glued on him! the coverage was so wonderfully crafted that i was more focused on how the go-or-go-home guys were running and when vickers pulled it together, i was thrilled and so grateful that the entire speed team had made it a priority to tell the stories of the non-top 35ers!
then along comes the second duel and again, even tho' the #20 car was fighting for the lead at the end, i was sitting on the edge of my couch, rooting for dj and the entire waltrip team. granted, part of that reaction is just nascar fanaticism but part of it is a testimony to the job the speed team did in making the stories interesting, letting the announcer team do their jobs without scripting every word (pays to have folks who know the sport actually be the ones on air, doncha' think? i'm just sayin' . . .), using great camera shots (including split screen but can we lose the "clouds" that look so much like the smoke from wheels being locked in an accident? and maybe label the screens so when i look up from my laptop, i can figure out what's what? but i digress with minor points.)
bottom line? i am impressed and extend an olive branch speed's way and to their partners on the fox team as well. i certainly hope sunday's race gets the same professional, intelligent, RESPECTFUL treatment! one of my greatest pleasures lies in getting one new fan started on nascar each year during the dayton 500 and i truly believe speed has the skills and tools in place to make that easier this year! and thank god there's racing sounds reverberating in my head again: been a long off-season!

Anonymous said...

I'm watching the races now. With the SPEED replay, I, in Hawaii, actually get to see the Duels. I knew who won, of course, as I kept sneeking peeks at FoxTracks at work. I guess I could nitpick the coverage but I prefer to enjoy the great SPEED/FOX coverage and be happy and enjoy my NASCAR for the first half of the season.


SophiaZ123 said...


VERY GOOD POINT about the 'clouds effect' on the split screen,

I ALSO thought that was smoke from wrecks the first couple times I saw it.

SPEED, you may want to let that area just remain 'still and boring' so as not to panic us.

Otherwise, it's a good idea.

I agree how they told the story of the entire track was great and I was also rooting for JR to win.

Let's hope FOX keeps this up with allowing the stories in the back of the pack to be told, as well as the front guys or 'the more popular drivers' as some of us like the guys that are NEVER in the top 10 or even the top 20 each week.

For some of us it's the heart of the racers that matter. And today, the story telling was fantastic because there WASN'T any except for what was truly happening.

Had this been ESPU they would have stayed GLUED to Jr the whole time and the leaders of the second Duel.

When you find yourself watching the replay of the race the same day? You know it was great camera work and commentating.

and I don't care what any body could you not enjoy DW's flag stand excitement. He felt like a little kid up there..and I would've loved to have changed places to FEEL THE THUNDER myself.

And I laughed OUT LOUD when Mike Joy said "recess over DW" time to come to the booth or something...Indeed, these guys have a blast, do NOT take themselves seriously and are not 'afraid' to correct each other or themselves.

And not ONCE did we have to hear "aero loose" or "driving his brains out".

But Red brings up a good point about the smoke/cloud effect.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning the cloud effect - that really freaked me out a few times...

One of the funny things about SPEED today was they were using the wrong 88 graphic (last year's Rudd 88) in all of the Duel lineup previews all morning. They did get the right Junior 88 graphic by the time the races started - but you'd think if there was any number they were going to get right it would have been his...

I'm with red. I'm a Smoke fan and I was rooting so far for DJ in the second duel it didn't bother me one bit at all either.

All in all a great day for SPEED and a great start to the season!

red said...

sophiaz123, thanks for the reminder about dw on the flag stand. now, he generally makes me cringe and hit the mute button but not today. i kept thinking "hell, this guy DROVE one of those cars to victory here and he's so freakin' thrilled to be on that stand!" it was, for me, an unexpected and somehow sweet moment: he wanted to hear those engines go by him, "feel the thunder", taste that back wind that sweeps in behind the pack as it passes -- that's a race fan alright! he has a long way to go to get back in my good graces as a broadcaster but today was another step on the path -- and a big one at that!
and from a broadcasting "moment" perspective? nice to let him stay wired up and do it a second time: it was unrehearsed, spontaneous and so welcome! guess that's how i felt about the entire afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Just finished watching the DVR of the races.

ABC/ESPN & TNT, You folks had better be takin notes and using your DVR's.

There hasn't even been a full race yet and SPEED/FX has put your collective efforts on the curb.

Expectations are high you better step up.

If you think the uproar last season was loud...

There's going to be a test in June, start cramming now.


Dave in Milwaukee

TexasRaceLady said...

Kudos to SPEED for an outstanding production today --- the duels were just fantastic to watch.

I was glued to the TV by the compelling stories of the "go, or go home" drivers. Thank you, SPEED, for giving this "race within a race" all the attention it deserved.

I, too, was momentarily distracted by the "clouds" in the split-screen format. I kept wondering who wrecked. I'll take empty and non-moving any day.

I have to agree with sophiaz about watching the replay just an couple hours after I've seen the real thing --- it was just good TV.

While I sometimes get a little aggravated at DW's antics, his unrestrained delight at being in the flag stand was a joy to see, and hear. You know he misses being in a car.

I hope ESPN is paying close attention to all the little things that SPEED/FOX is doing correctly. Some may be small, but if you mess up enough liitle things, they become very, very noticeable.

When the graphics were superimposed on the cars, they were appropriate, not too large, and added to the race. We didn't need draft-track --- we could see for ourselves the closing rate between cars.

All-in-all, this was near perfection. Great job SPEED/FOX. You've made this old race fan a very happy camper.

SophiaZ123 said... that many others were 'spooked' by the 'clouds effect looking like smoke' from blown tires/or crash, it's still disconcerting on the repeats! lol

i also remember this from last season but I think some photo editing person 'added more clouds'.

Don't you get the feeling there is a wreck going on and they need to put up a THIRD SCREEN!

LOL...oh, well. I would still send cookies. But on second thought, oatmeal or snickerdoodles as chocolate does not travel well in the warmer climates.

Keep up the great job SPEED and please cut back on the 'smoke effects'. Smoking is bad for us anyway.

Wah...I am seeing Schrader's car....he was in position for the race until the last few minutes..and we knot that's what counts. Still, his pain face was palpable and I actually got choked up for him.

There were so many stories today captured...It's nice to talk about all we liked and so little to pick at isn't it?

As somebody else noted, ESPN better be taking notes.

After such a BLAST of a day with SPEED, does any body have the nerve to 'turn in' to ESPN for their Nationwide coverage on Friday.

I am in such bliss at the great day today.

And Sophia drank her morning see, it's not the caffeine.


TRlady, glad somebody else is watching the replay again. Though it's painful knowing WHO is going home as they all remain 'hopeful.'

SophiaZ123 said...

Ok, they just replayed the sound of went for well over a minute...SMART IDEA SPEED!

and had DW not made the comment about Mikey, it would've been over a MINUTE of quiet announcers and about a minute and 15 seconds of only ENGINE SOUNDS.

Next time they do this, maybe Larry Mac should put DW's socks in his mouth so he does not speak out of turn! Or turn off all the mics!

It was a great even turned up loud on the 31 inch tv in my room, without the stereo effects.

Also, I forgot the concern about the new speedy dry that sticks to the windshield.
See it pays to watch the same show twice when you have a swiss cheese brain.

I'd forgotten about the excess use of new oil absorber.

red said...

hey jd? question about the new speedy dry. anyone have any take on what that stuff may be doing to the engines? there were a coupla shots of cars coming out of the turn into a literal cloud of speedy dry as thick as if it were smoke from an accident. i have to figure that it can't be good for the engines. whatever you can find out would be appreciated.

SophiaZ123 said...


My word!I just got a better look at the ugly, ill fitting shirts the guys in the booth wore.

Geez, couldn't SPEED have gone with red or black shirts? The gray was not flattering and all the sleeves looked like they needed alterations.

It's like kids had on their father's shirts!


The outcome of the repeat of the Duels was the same as the original? Anybody else notice this?

soph~~~ ;-)

Thanks for all the updates of the shows, too, JD. So much on Friday I hope to remember to watch the Jr show.

Appreciate all your work this week!!

Anonymous said...

Part way through the second race, my husband said "This is so good. Why don't they carry NASCAR all year? How did that ESPN get to show some of the races?"

Well, money, I guess. We'll just enjoy the Fox and Speed crews while we can. We don't usually watch the truck races, so we'd forgotten how good Christa is.


I've been a nascar fan for a very long time,and every year the coverage gets better and better,you see alot more ,and learn alot more on whats going on behind the scene's on Speed Channel than the other networks.
Thank-you Speed Channel
Todd Duffley,Canton,Ohio

bevo said...

Great job by everyone at Speed. That's the way to cover racing!

Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

hadn't realized it until Red pointed it out, but the guys in the booth are probably responsible for me caring about the guys who are further back in the field. They make them more interesting to me by giving me insight into their histories and what is on the line for them as individuals as they fight it out for position on the track. Time after time, I've found myself cheering for a guy who I ordinarily wouldn't have noticed. Their knowledge and love for the sport and their respect for all the drivers and teams is infectious, and I'm sure it is a major reason that I find myself LOVING NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

I wish SPEED could carry ALL the NASCAR-related programming.

This network gets it.

My TV spends a lot of time on SPEED during race season.

Anonymous said...

One of the things I enjoyed with the Speed broadcast was the show with Ken Squire and the replay of the past race when they used the MRN radio sound with the television video sure give you a better idea of what is goning on on the track actual announcers calling the race as it happens not just the televison shots with no sound. Overall a great start for the new season I just hope they keep it up, would like to hear the announcers call the race from the drop of the flag not wait until two laps in to start talking. I enjoyed seeing DW on the starters stand with all his excitement, like a kid in a candy store.
Still think there are to many commercials, why keep playing the same ones back to back.

Anonymous said...

That was racing broadcast the way racing ought to be broadcast.

It amazes me how smoothly Speed has been able to rotate live coverage from event to event, from show to show all week without any of the broadcasters or reporters seeming overused, tired, or in any way unprepared.

Race Day to race broadcast to Victory Lane all handed off as smoothly as an Olympic relay team. They carried the stories of the day forward without either being redundant or failing to summarize, recap, and fill in details.

Anonymous said...

Victory Lane continues to be one of the best shows to watch on SPEED. They always seem to cover exactly what I want to see, seems like they have cameras all over the place, and the flow of the show is tops. Good work all day SPEED!

Anonymous said...

Still think there are to many commercials, why keep playing the same ones back to back.

Because this is what the advertisers pay for. It isn't SPEED's call. They just run what they get paid to run.

glenc1 said...

Ordinarily I wouldn't bring up clothing, lol, but last year I noticed several times that the men seemed to be in XXL clothes when they shouldn't have been...surely they could get a tailor or take their measurements or something! Back on the coverage, I liked the split screen--I personally was more interested in the go or go homers than the winners, since placement at a plate track is pretty meaningless unless you stay up front the entire race (and even then, there was the 2/20 incident last year). I am not fond of plate racing in general, but this IS Daytona. But the most fun to me was the clip on VL of John Roberts and Jimmy Spencer rooting on their friend Kenny. That was priceless. I too liked Krista & Jeff--they made a nice team. And for those who love Krista and trash on anyone who 'doesn't know the sport'--well, Krista didn't either until she had a job opportunity (thank goodness.) Just a reminder that people can do their homework and learn even if they don't grow up with the sport like Wendy V did.

I still hope that ESPN will be watching this & improve (it would be hard not to...) But before we go gushing over FOX, they weren't perfect last year either. I'm sure we'll find some other things to nitpick about later.

Anonymous said...

After reading this column for a while and watching the telecasts, I can see most of the likes and dislikes are mostly a matter of personal taste. After watching the duals, to me the first race coverage was good, the second race was brutal. To you DW was a little over the top, to me DW was out of control because his brother and teammates were in it. My opinion is DW can be hard to watch, like the above post, I mute him a lot. I thank Robert Adler a lot(inventor of the remote control) as I always mute that stupid Boogity Bull!!Also, he seems so arrogant, always puffing about his knowledge and accomplishments, yet making many obvious mistakes, like referring to the Daytona banking numerous times this week as 33 degrees when even the casual fan knows they are 31 degrees. And even though I think Larry Mac is a nice guy, when he gets overly excited, his voice to me sounds like finger nails on a chalk board. Mike Joy is the best in my opinion, but as much as I try, I personally do not like his 2 partners. This week I watched NASCAR NOW with an eye for critique, and I thought it was very good. I also watched This week in Nascar and Truck qualifying and muted Michael numerous times as his attempt at being clever and humorous failed miserably. This is my OPINION, which others may not agree with, but I also know many people do agree with.

Ron P. said...

Good Job Spped! I enjoyed the coverage, Sppeed was on our TV sets from 1:00PM till 12:00 midnight when i went to bed.
DW is DW, but it was neat to see him excited about being on the flag stand.
Only problem I had was the smoke effect behind the split screen, first couple times I was looking to see who wrecked like other have commented.

I didn't get to post about ESPN's show Wednesday but they did it 3 back to back, and I could not believe they showed the TV race schedule for the weekend..... Holy Cow, I almost fell over,..... but I'm still not convinced.....
I also feel bad for Ray E., I guess he's not welcomed at Gillett Racing now....hmm didn't he use to be a partner over there or something :) But glad to hear he'll be in the booth.
Maybe Ray can get his old job back at Hendrick ( I don't think Jeffy would mind)then it would truely be Super Dream Team.

Can't wait till they drop the flag tonight on the truck race and kick this thing into high gear.

Truck Series Fan! said...

Since I had Speed on the work tv, I couldn't watch it straight through, but I just thought the pre-race show was a bit long. The race itself & post race interviews were pretty good. I enjoyed listening to Kenny & Mike Wallace and it's so nice to see them really really excited. The Speed team did a great job!

chase said...

I couldn't believe how great SPEED's coverage was last nite -- I watched the replay at 9PM after watching truck qualifying and boy, was it great. Isn't it wonderful when a network actually seems to know and anticipate what the fans want? Why is this such a hard thing for ESPN to understand? Anyway, congrats to Speed and the FOX guys -- just what the doctor ordered! Can't wait til Sunday! Thanks John!!!!

jersey_dan said...

i taped the duels, but was home from work in time to watch most of the second one live. i did go back and watch the first one on tape though. which in itself speaks volumes about the quality of both the racing and the broadcast. i thought that the whole days worth of racing coverage was fantastic. a big 'Well Done' to the speed/fox/fx crews.

with one exception, that being the clouds/smoke background effect. that was VERY distracting, and kept being so even when i knew what it was. Please, PLEASE get rid of that!! and since almost everyone has mentioned it, it really is an issue that should be promptly addressed.

looking forward to the truck race tonight......

Anonymous said...

Great coverage - lose the 'clouds' - Now if they could run less ads....
When ads foul up the coverage we tend to take that product off our buying list.....
Maybe if everyone did that - sort of reverse commercialism....

Anonymous said...

anonymous 9:48--this is pretty simple--if there are no advertisers, there would be no SPEED and we would be getting NO coverage. If it bothers you that much, record it and use commercial skip.

Anonymous said...

I really don't get this....This was a FOX broadcast SHOWN on SPEEDTV right?? Did these races use anything or Anybody that will be part of the stand alone SPEEDTV broadcasts of the truck races??
I watched this as just a FOX broadcast being shown on SPEEDTV, is this wrong?
I know they are the same company, but once the season gets going, they both have there own broadcasts. It's just wierd how so many people on here are praising SPEED, when it looks like they did was provide a channel for FOX to put their broadcast.

Anonymous said...

I thought the coverage was very good with one minor complaint... please quit with the nine million in car camera shots. We also missed Michael Waltrip wrecking while in the lead b/c we were viewing a worthless shot of the side of a car.

I like many other fans am trying to see where my driver is during the race. Who is he behind? Who is behind him? Does he have a run?

A nice wider shot let's me see the answer to all of thsoe questions. The stupid in-cars and bumper cams let me see absolutely NOTHING. Those shots are great for replays of close calls and accidents but please keep them out of LIVE RACING ACTION so we can actually SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING!

Other than that complain the coverage was excellent.

glenc1 said...

let me second the comments on the in-car cam--it's okay once in a while, but it really doesn't lend much and I'd rather see the racing.

Anon 10:14--JD can explain it more accurately, as he described them as a 'shared' crew (since as you pointed out, they're owned by the same company.) The duel broadcast itself was from the FOX crew (Larry, Darrell, Mike), yes, but some of the supporting cast acting as 'hosts' are SPEED--Krista Voda, Dave Despain for example. Still others are shared by both networks (Hammond, Larry M, Darrell for example do Trackside.) I think they use their people in the right places as needed (and probably the SPEED reporters could fill in if needed on a FOX race broadcast). Didn't Wendy V just start out on trucks and then expanded into Raceday? I think most of us cross reference them a lot--I often forget if I've seen something on Raceday or if it was on Fox pre-race for that reason--I flip right from one into the other and they 'blend'. In this case it was a block of programming and most of us were commenting on it as a whole. I'm assuming they occasionally share some production crew as well but I don't know for sure...they'd have to have some of their own for stand alone races, obviously. I'd like to know more about how that works myself. I'm not in charge of figuring out who does what, when...

glenc1 said...

oops, that should have said 'I'm GLAD I'm not in charge of figuring out who does what, when...

Brett Baldeck said...

I was unable to watch the races since I was at work. But I watched clips of the races from NASCAR.Com. The clip I happend to watch is the one where Mike Joy stated that they don't increase the crowd noise when Dale Jr. takes the lead.

I completely agree that they don't and never have. It was nice to hear someone on TV actually reference a fan complaint and bring it to rest.

Tracy said...

I caught a segment with Despain,Squier, and Mike Joy (?) I think, discussing the old days of radio and the racing, and it was fascinating. They talked about how one thing led to another in technological advances, where the ideas originated, who called whom, etc., to get coverage of the races to be the best it could for the time. Very cool stuff. Would love to hear more segments like that.

Anonymous said...

Let me third the in-car camera comments... nothing like ruining a dramatic moment by showing us the bumper of a car.

Bobby said...

One thing I've learned over the years is Darrell has the attitude of one of the best financial Web sites, the Motley Fool of David and Tom Gardner.

The Fool's slogan is to "educate, amuse, and enrich."

It seems Fox loves the slogan very well, since they are into this ideal

Bob said...

My only complaint was the backgrounds for the split screen shots. They were distracting and did nothing to enhance the race coverage. Make the splits screens larger and forget the fancy stuff!!

darbar said...

John, who's showing Speed in HD? I don't have it offered on Time Warner Cable and it's not HD on Direct TV. Is there some special channel this is on or is what I'm seeing on channel 607 their HD? I called DTV, and they couldn't tell me anything, par for the course.

Newracefan said...

I agree with just about everyone, I DVRd and replayed after I got home and did not even notice it was at least an hour past my bedtime. DW's excitement made me want to be on that flag stand and I hate heights. The wider screen camera shots and following of the go or go homers was perfect. Overall I give the coverage an A (clouds not withstanding). Even the interviews with the guys who will miss the 500 were done with class (poor Schrader) and you could feel the happiness and excitement for those who did make the race. I hope as many posted here that this keeps up with the rest of the Fox races and TNT/ESPN were taking lots of notes

granny b said...

I can only agree with what most of you have already posted. As to the clouds behind the split screen - I have seen this many times on race day and other speed shows when it's just talking heads. It's been a couple of years, so I just don't notice it any more. I just wanted to throw in my "bravo" to speed/fox for a great production.

Daly Planet Editor said...


SPEED-HD is on DirecTV, they suggest you used the HD menu feature.

The SPEED-HD roll-out will take months, because each big cable company adds it when they are ready. I am told it changes all kinds of schedules, printed material for cable guides, line-up lists and will cost a pretty good amount in behind-the-scenes cash.

Every cable system knows SPEED-HD is available. Just make sure they know you want it. But, it will take time.