Sunday, March 30, 2008
In-Progress At Martinsville: Sprint Cup Series On Fox
Once again, the NASCAR on Fox crew will be dealing with a dicey weather situation when they take to the air at 1:30PM for a scheduled 2:15PM Eastern Time green flag. The Sprint Cup race follows the Fox presentation of the Craftsman Truck Series on Saturday, as no Nationwide event is scheduled for this weekend.
Mike Joy will lead the veteran Fox crew with Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip alongside. Waltrip provided the color commentary on the Truck Series race, and did an outstanding job of relating his personal experiences about the Martinsville track to the viewers. Look for him to be on his game once again today.
Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond will anchor the Hollywood Hotel, with Myers hosting the pre-race show and continuing to provide a presence during the race. Hammond works both with Myers on the set and then outside that trailer as he provides tech information with the Fox cut-a-way car and other equipment. With the temperature in the 40's, that should be an interesting transition.
Fox has the most veteran pit road team led by Dr. Dick Berggren. This quiet man co-founded Speedway Illustrated magazine, and continues to be the Executive Editor. Berggren has a doctorate in psychology from Tufts University, and was inducted into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame back in 2002. His TV career started in 1981 as a pit reporter for ESPN's brand new coverage of NASCAR on cable TV.
Joining Berggren will be Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Krista Voda. Byrnes and Voda will be sorely missed when the Cup coverage transfers over to TNT. Yocum continues with that package, and then all three are gone from the air when ESPN takes over in late July. Viewers have come to rely on these three for access to NASCAR personalities throughout the sport. Although they may sometimes not press for an answer, they live in a world where they must walk a fine line on race weekends.
Fox continues to struggle with the "ticker" portion of its graphics package. Somehow, the same information that gets passed along to other networks and online sites covering the race just does not make it to the Fox ticker in a timely fashion. Now, the network has moved to a top ten listing and made other changes to this feature which have resulted in even more confusion. Hopefully, this situation will be resolved shortly.
Fox also continues to use four video boxes on the caution flag pit stops, which covers the entire screen. This does not allow for a view of pit road, so while one additional car is seen, the perspective of the race off pit road is lost. It does not seem like the trade-off is worth it, because any car that takes only two tires or just fuel can be first out of the pits and not featured in one of the four video boxes. Lots of times, the effect is meaningless and the viewer is left asking "where did he come from?"
"Digger" the Gopher Cam is quickly becoming the Draft Track of Fox Sports. If they eventually tell us that when cars go by at speed "Digger" accomplishes "Gopher Lock" it will be all over. Using this video angle when it has meaning is one thing, using it because you can is another. This camera angle was so dominating in the Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday that viewers missed many wrecks and several key moments. In this very long race, it should be interesting to see how this technology is used.
Finally, this race will not have Dale Jarrett or Kyle Petty for very different reasons. Jarrett has retired to a TV career, and Petty simply missed the race. Look for the announcers to mention Jarrett, but to deal with the bigger issue of teams like Petty, the Woods Brothers and Yates beginning to fade as the super-teams dominate.
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