Saturday, February 23, 2008

Truck Series On Fox Just Not The Same

The NASCAR on Fox gang produced the Craftsman Truck Series race live on Saturday afternoon from the California Speedway that aired on the Fox Network.

This was a hybrid announcing team consisting of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Darrell Waltrip. During the regular season Truck Series coverage on SPEED, DW's little brother Michael serves an the analyst. Down on pit road, Adam Alexander carried over from the SPEED package, but Ray Dunlap did not.

Matt Yocum stepped-in to fill that role, and Krista Voda also reported from the pits since there was no pre-race show on this telecast. Normally, Truck Series fans have become used to a well-produced thirty minute show called The Set-Up before each race. Voda has worked hard to make it a success, and often has memorable guests as co-hosts.

With all the good stories coming out of the Truck Series after Daytona, it was a shame that SPEED could not have carried a pre-race show, and then switched fans over to Fox for the race.

Instead, it was Chris Myers and his Hollywood Hotel "act" that welcomed fans to Fox's Truck Series coverage. Voda and company have set a very professional tone over the last several seasons for these races, and that made Myers seem out of place. Luckily, Jeff Hammond kept things on an even keel with his strong knowledge and support of the Trucks.

Voda was playing sick, as several of the TV crew were ill with flu-like symptoms. All three pit reporters worked well and really provided the content that set the tone during the abbreviated pre-race coverage. It was definitely a big moment for Adam Alexander appearing on the Fox Broadcast Network.

Outside the Hollywood Hotel, Jeff Hammond did the first side-by-side comparison of the new COT and an existing Craftsman Truck. As Myers stood awkwardly alongside, Hammond ran down how the Truck Series had influenced and then changed the future of the Cup Series as we know it. That was a good little feature.

When Rick Allen and company took to the air, things were looking up. Parsons and Waltrip had a blast during this event, and "old DW" was especially on his game. Coming off his strong performance on the Daytona 500, he seems to be a lot more involved with the details and specifics of NASCAR than in the past.

When it is not raining, California Speedway makes great pictures, and the Truck race was no exception. Unfortunately, Fox had a driver name spelled incorrectly for the entire race on their graphic ticker, but sometimes the new computer software does not allow for changes when the program is in progress. I think we can assume this would not have happened with the SPEED Channel Truck Series regulars.

The announcers did their best to keep things interesting, even as it became clear that there were two completely different levels of performance on the track. It was nice to see Kyle Busch and Todd Bodine compete, but it was a shame that the trucks could not get themselves involved in an exciting finish.

As the Trucks crossed the line for the final time, viewers again saw the winner and then the NASCAR flagman shot from an infield camera position. Then, they saw a series of shots that focused on the reaction of the winning crew while the rest of the field began finishing.

Ultimately, the Producer and Director allowed TV viewers to glimpse some trucks as they crossed the finish line without any explanation or coordination with the announcers. Then, Fox suddenly focused on two trucks racing to the finish in the back of the top ten and viewers watched them cross the line. It was a mess. This is the Achilles Heel of the NASCAR on Fox crew.

Race fans do not change their loyalty to a driver during the race. If "your driver" has battled back to try and get a top ten position on the last lap, you deserve to see it at home. It could be the turning point of his season. It could be the end of a day of struggling with all kinds of problems. It could be huge.

To summarily dismiss the fundamentals of racing to "make drama" is a huge mistake that manifested itself last season in lower ratings. Why would fans return to a TV broadcast when their driver will not be shown racing to the finish line? If fans cannot see him, they might as well just turn on the race on the radio and go about their business.

The lure of NASCAR on TV is not to see the winner of the race. It is to see all of the drivers equally regardless of their position on the track and at the finish. If NASCAR cannot get this point across to Fox, things are not going to go well.

This moment really threw a wrench into what was a good and fun broadcast with an excited and interesting on-air team. Stripped of the pre-race show and with the Finish Line problems, this telecast came up a bit short of the normal quality we see on SPEED.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. To add your opinion, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for stopping by.


Anonymous said...

JD, I agree. I thought it odd there was no prerace show. I felt the race coverage was very good until (literally) the end. I found myself thinking "What Bozo called for THAT camera shot?" Then the only rundown was with the ticker across the top.... Sheesh!


SophiaZ123 said...

Welp, I can see a pattern but I did not remember Fox doing this after EVERY RACE last season but my room mate says he remembers me making comments about it.

Between the THREE series and watching some IRL races, one does tend to get confused.

I do like the FOX guys but I gotta tell you JD, you yank the ENDING away from us, and that just makes the PREVIOUS INVESTMENT of race view a big fat disappointment.

Though still endeavoring to find a free radio station (none local in house or car radio stations for the Middle series) I guess I better just remember to NOT watch the ending because it does NOT MATTER.

Even when Tony Stewart won, who I often root for, the total race was RUINED for myself and others.

I dunno. I can't believe FOX's guys running the show thinks this is a good idea.

PUTRID ending.

To the first anon, DB1: The same Bozo called for that camera shot that ruined the Fox races so far.

How in the world can we make the best of both worlds for the ENDING of the race?

Obviously, lower ratings do not matter if the stations still jam all these commercials at us, they are making money.

Sigh. I am just flabbergasted that THEY FORCE THIS on the fans after all our emotional investment.

Anonymous said...

My Comcast cable does not have SPEED in HD, so I was happy to see the truck race was on FOX, which I do get in HD.

BUT, FOX did not air the race in HD (at least from where I was watching).

Total bummer.

Spring Rubber said...

@ anonymous 2:49

I saw the race in HD, so your FOX affiliate must have screwed up on that one.

Anonymous said...

The truck race was uncharacteristically uneventful.

That meant the Fox "big leaguers" had little to talk about.

But DW sure seems to have a crush on Kyle Busch. Every two minutes, some comment about what a great driver he is. Not much, however, on how the guys he wrecked last week mightt feel about that sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Even when Tony Stewart won, who I often root for, the total race was RUINED for myself and others.

If this shot honestly has such a horrible emotional effect on you, then may I suggest:

Don't watch.

My driver rarely wins, but I don't have to see him cross the line to know he finished 12th.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts:

1- Fox didn't do a full on prerace, but yet they gave the event a big event feel that you don't get on the Speed broadcast.

2- Now that DW doesn't own a truck, I think he should do more truck races. He brought something different to the telecast that was solid and entertaining. Keep in mind, it was a very sucky race and yet they kept it moving.

3- I liked the Hollywood Hotel used, and I thought Hammond and Meyers made it feel like this is big, this is a big event.

4- Matt Yocum added A LOT to the telecast. It was nice to not hear Ray Dunlap's screeching voice, and his stupid endless stats.

Yocum is a fantastic reporter. I do appreciate and enjoy his professionalism and great stories about crew guys and drivers. I use to enjoy his truck coverage when TNN use to televise the trucks. I hope he does the next Fox truck race. "ted musgrave racing for a tractor part to keep digging dirt" now that was neat story, not just the usual he's putting the track bar down etc.

5- Actually, I liked Krista on pit road more than in the Speed prerace show, which I think the Speed prerace is often too long and drawn out. I liked it that they got right too it.

6- I didn't like how the director did the end of the race. What the heck was up with that?

7- I liked the FOX broadcast and gave it an A- ,for broadcasting a C+ race. With that kind of race, Superman couldn't have done any better.


Anonymous said...

Rick Allen stepped it up with DW in the booth. I am a huge Phil Parson's fan because of his brother. I thought PP did a great job. With the three in the telecast booth and Krista, Matt, and Adam on pit road, I could sit back on my couch and enjoy the race. Great show guys and lady.

Anonymous said...

JD, I too was disappointed with overall coverage. I watch all truck races on Speed and missed seeing pre race show. I noticed Fox talking about today's race for several minutes at end of program when they could have talked to more drivers.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:57AM,

Um...what? You watch an entire Truck race and your driver finishes in a hard fought 12th place...but you don't want to see him finish?

Rather than tell us not to watch, why don't you just listen on the radio? We watch TV....TO SEE THINGS.


ri88girl said...

Could we please just keep the trucks on SPEED? thanks.

earl06 said...

I thought having the race on Fox just wasn't as crisp as having it on SPEED. Anyone who watches F1 knows the same thing happens when Fox does those races, too.

I try not to whine about commercials but the last third of the race was really loaded up. A commercial break with 10 laps to go? Kind of Mickey Mouse if you ask me.

Aven said...

I don't understand why Fox and the other networks can't get the finish straight. All they need to do is point a camera at the finish line and leave it alone for 10 or 15 seconds. They don't even need to say anything. I enjoy seeing the field finish the race without being told what is going on. I watched the race so I know what is going on if the race was shown well.

I get sick of DW with his picking favorites and less than objective commentary. I want an objective telecast.

amy said...

I hardly watched the race; the outcome was assured and really, I'm not a fan of cuppers winning in the minors. And to think that Kyle may very well lead the pts. in all three divisions is a travesty.

Newracefan said...

The truck race itself was pretty good, it appears they were spread out through much of the race and the Speed/Fox guys did find things to talk about. I didn't mind DW's comments about Kyle because they were well deserved but how about Skinner he was in the back due to a plug wire problem and finished eighth so he must of passed a bunch of trucks. The checkers were a entirely different deal, I was so confused I wasn't sure what I was watching and if I see that flagman as the entire shot again I will be screaming. Overall B Checkers D-

Palmetto said...

Did anyone else notice the shots of the stands? For a double-header, that place was empty. One blimp shot of the facility showed plenty of paved parking close to the track was still available. Maybe it was just the lousy weather forecast...

GinaV24 said...

It was a cold day here in NJ so I was channel surfing which is how Ifound the truck race on Fox, not on Speed. It certainly was different and not as good as what they do on Speed. I honestly am so over DW cheerleading for his "favorite" driver of the moment. It takes away from the race broadcast for me because I get mad when I hear it. And at the end, here we go again, Fox deciding to anticipate what we want to see at the end of the race instead of just showing the finishing order as they cross the line. Pull the darn camera back into a wide angle shot and let us see the field crossing the line, then we'd see them racing for the finish and get all the drama we could hope for instead of some pre-produced version. To the person who suggested that if we didn't like it, we just don't watch -- well, that's exactly the problem that NASCAR and the networks are currently facing with the fans. Show me the racing or I will turn the TV off and listen to it on the radio -- the radio broadcast doesn't cheerlead, they just call the race and they do it well enough that I feel like I can "see" what's happening on track without the visual AND without a lot of the irritations that come with the TV networks.

Anonymous said...

JD, it was nice to have the Trucks on Fox. Chris Myers and his "act" was great. For those concerned about who finish 13th... NO ONE CARES WHO FINISHED IN 13TH! The thing I don't understand is why it is such a big deal to show every single car go over the finish line?

The Fox producer knew what he was doing. You don't do a wide shot for the end of that race. Busch was about three seconds ahead of Bodine. Holding a wide shot would have sucked for the viewers. Let's see, wait three to ten seconds to show the top ten... or go and show winner real quick and THEN show the only real racing in the top ten? You pick. Wide shot for ten seconds or winner and some more racing in the field?

FOX did a great job covering this race. Yeah, it might not be the greatest, but it sure was good.

JD, keep up the good work...

AndyPandy said...

To anonymous at 1:51 who said "For those concerned about who finish 13th... NO ONE CARES WHO FINISHED IN 13TH!"

Well, all of the fans of the driver who finished 13th care, and they really don't want to have to go online to find out where their driver ended up.

I'm sorry that I missed the race. For the past few years, I'd had more fun watching the trucks than any other other series, and I would have liked to compare the coverage on Fox and SPEED.

SophiaZ123 said...

re F1 on FOX and SPEED.

FOX STINKS with the F1 races...they start the race with the cars running...they end the race with no interviews...don't show the anthems for the three on the podium.

HOrrible. My room mate is really into those races and it stinks as they do a horrible job compared to SPEED.

Sorry the truck show is the same deal. Hard to believe the ownership is related between the networks.

Night and day coverage.

chase said...

John - did I miss something? Why was the Truck race NOT on Speed? Phil Parsons, Rick Allen and Michael Waltrip 'do' trucks the best and where was Ray Dunlap? Ray is the 'voice' of the trucks from the pitts. The coverage was woeful at best. Why wasn't it on Speed as usual?

coffee said...

I must disagree somewhat John, while I DO watch to see "my guy", I also keep an eye on the rest of the field. When Kyle outdrives everyone like he did it is hard to watch anyone else!

Anonymous said...

I did think there was a lot of poorly timed breaks, but then again a LOTT less commentater self promotion(mw)& bias blame or excuses worked into the show and that was nice for a change