Saturday, March 22, 2008

Nashville Misfires For ESPN (Updated)


In some ways, the ESPN coverage of the Nashville Nationwide Series race echoed the fate of Kyle Busch.

ESPN brought all the bells and whistles to the track, including the entire Pit Studio and production team. Kyle Busch brought a fast car and was poised to run away with the race from the start.

ESPN2's Saturday morning coverage consisted of Friday's final practice session. Since ESPN chose not to televise qualifying live, it would certainly be reviewed for the fans on NASCAR Countdown...right?

Kyle Busch was starting in the front of the field and from the drop of the green flag he left everyone else in his dust. He began lapping cars shortly thereafter and threatened to dominate the entire event.

ESPN's Allen Bestwick started-off the telecast with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the infield Pit Studio. There was tension on the set between these three, and it showed in the attempts to conduct conversation. Wallace and Daugherty have been working well on the broadcasts so far this season, but something was off-kilter. It quickly became apparent what it was.

ESPN had decided to return to the coverage philosophy of last season. This race would be about ESPN, and not the Nationwide Series. Just like the endless questions about naming the Fox "gopher cam," Nashville would bring a slew of ESPN agenda items that viewers would be dealing with for the entire event.

Kyle Busch had begun to "stink-up the show" with his performance. Veteran fans, however, sensed that perhaps he needed to figure out how to pace himself for the long haul. The coverage became a "TV vigil" to see what would happen to him...again.

ESPN had already decided to ignore qualifying completely. Since they did not show it, it simply did not exist. What ESPN did have time for is to hammer home the fact that the network's fascination with Carl Edwards was going to continue.

Edwards would be the in-car reporter, and in this race he would be answering questions from viewers that fans could send in to the ESPN.com website. Just like Kyle Busch, veteran TV viewers were just waiting for the disaster that would follow.

On the practice coverage, an bubbly pit reporter asked Edwards if he was excited about being the in-race reporter and taking questions from fans during the race. The look on Edward's face was priceless as he said that he knew absolutely nothing about it. What he did mention was that the ESPN in-car camera was right in his face and it distracted him while he tried to drive.

Thus set the tone for a disjointed ESPN presentation of the first stand-alone Nationwide Series race. After ignoring qualifying, ESPN replayed Jeff Burton's amazing "slam" of the Nationwide regulars and jumped into the hype mode once again.

Without setting any kind of parameters for discussion, Bestwick let Rusty Wallace say that the Nationwide Series "is very, very strong." Even as the Nationwide-only teams struggle to get cars to the track, Wallace called the series "the second most popular form of motorsports in the USA." On the real question of what to do to allow the regulars to survive the season, Wallace said NASCAR needs to "do something."

A case in point was the studio interview of Stephen Leicht. Despite being a talented driver and good on TV, Leicht only found his way back onto the track in the Nationwide Series by working for a Sprint Cup car owner. There were no solutions being offered by the panel, and his case made for a sad story about NASCAR in 2008.

Marty Reid was filling-in for the vacationing Jerry Punch, but was not seen or heard during the entire one hour pre-race show. Reid is a veteran, but his knowledge of the Nationwide Series and the constantly shifting driver line-ups did not work well for this telecast.

Even through Reid was scheduled to call the action, it was Bestwick that had his hands all over this telecast. Reid struggled to know the right names and follow the action. Wallace and Petree tried to get back in sync, but they settled-in to the same relationship they had last season.

With Busch still dominating, Wallace went to Carl Edwards for the first time as the in-race reporter under caution. These two do not hit it off, and Edwards wound-up pulling his face shield down. He had just about had enough of a competing car owner asking him about his race tactics. Needless to say, not one fan question was put to the in-race reporter on the entire telecast.

An extended caution pushed Bestwick back into the TV forefront, and turned the remainder of the race into a battle for control. Bestwick has been known to want the ball, and the Producer slowly built the remainder of the telecast around him.

ESPN again made good pictures and sound. The graphics package worked well this week once the race started, and it was nice to see the triple-split on the pit stops. This allowed for a great wideshot of pit road to see the cars pulling out and the race to the line. The recap of the newest Nationwide Series drivers mentioned in the pre-race show also worked well in the video box effect.

With 62 laps to go, the end came for Busch. Once again taking himself out of contention, the network got a brand new story dumped into its lap with Busch no longer a factor. Andy Petree stepped-in and took control when the key issue of fixing Busch's car was on the table.

Petree had been enjoying life this season with Jerry Punch and Dale Jarrett. Now once again alongside the opinionated Wallace and the struggling Reid, Petree continually spoke-up and often did it to quietly correct Wallace.

With less than fifty laps to go, it was the voice of Allen Bestwick who took over to lead an entire segment from the infield Pit Studio. Bestwick led to each of the pit reporters for a summary, and then spoke with Brad Daugherty. After voicing the entire segment, Bestwick threw to break with forty laps remaining.

The shift between Reid and Bestwick as the "lead voice" of the telecast while the field was under green continued to affect the overall program. Reid was given the race back with thirty-five laps to go, but had never really gotten an opportunity to get himself in rhythm. Reid was the substitute teacher who was very nice, but who could be taken advantage of by the class.

Even with all of the extra commercials during an early extended caution, ESPN forced Reid to go to break with thirty laps to go. The coverage returned with only twenty-four laps remaining, and the voice that viewers heard...was Allen Bestwick.

It was Bestwick that would close-out the race from the infield Studio and allow Daugherty to predict that Clint Bowyer would run out of fuel. Viewers heard Marty Reid again only to throw to a completely ill-timed video soundbite from Scott Wimmer about his goals for the 2008 season even as he raced hard with twenty laps to go. Reid should have been working hard himself to build-up the excitement for the finish, but it was not to be.

By the final laps of the telecast, viewers had heard so many voices and had their focus shifted so often that the end of the race was anti-climactic. No one ran out of gas on the track, Scott Wimmer led clearly to the line, and the announcers never pointed-out that Wimmer and Bowyer were teammates.

Once again, ESPN fell victim to "the curse of the winner." Only two cars were shown crossing the line, with the ESPN Director choosing pit-crew members high-fiving and cars slowing down over the rest of the lead-lap cars racing to the line in a fuel mileage contest.

At the end of the race Reid was done. Bestwick handled the extended post-race activity beginning with a poorly-handled winner interview by Shannon Spake. She seems to be unable to process what the driver is saying and react. She has her next question already prepared, and uses it no matter what the circumstances. This effort showed exactly that problem from beginning to end.

Mike Massaro was lucky enough to catch Clint Bowyer before he headed for the airplane, but Kyle Busch was having absolutely none of Vince Welch. His pressing style showed ESPN's lack of understanding of how to work with high profile NASCAR drivers in stressful settings. I doubt Welch would have approached many IRL drivers in the same blunt manner. With plenty of time on the clock, giving Busch a moment to cool-off may have resulted in a very different outcome.

It was wonderful of ESPN to show a wide variety of drivers in post-race interviews. Unfortunately, even with a highlight package shown in the post-race show, none of the drivers being interviewed had been shown finishing the race. As the pit reporters talked about great finishes and final lap action, the reality of ESPN's Nashville effort was revealed.

Just like Kyle Busch, the day had started with a lot of promise and ended on a low note. Eight of the key drivers that ESPN had profiled during the pre-race show had been interviewed after the race. None of them had their final lap shown. No one knew how they finished or what had happened because ESPN did not show it.

Somehow, the lure of the winner and the drama has taken the common sense away from the NASCAR TV networks again this season. Fans of the winner might be happy that he was featured, but that leaves the fans of forty-two other cars wondering what happened to the driver they had been keeping track of for the past several hours.

The stories ESPN had been building were never paid-off with a race to the line. Brad Keselowski finished fourth. Kelly Bires finished fifth. Cale Gale finished eighth, and sentimental favorite Bobby Hamilton Jr. was tenth. These were the stories of the race.

Saturday in Nashville, only the fans in the stands knew what happened on the final lap to any car other than Scott Wimmer and Clint Bowyer. Now in the second year of Nationwide Series coverage, ESPN has to ask itself some hard questions about why fans would return to watch the next race when the prospect of never seeing their driver finish is a very good possibility.

Update: I woke-up to a phone call on Sunday morning. The voice of the NASCAR TV personality said he had good news and he had bad news for me. When I asked for the good news first, he said "at least you got the State right." This is going to be an Easter to remember.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the instructions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for stopping by.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the race in nashville? Also they did ask Edwards a fan question. It was, what was the difference between concrete and asphalt to a driver?

Anonymous said...

Mmm JD . . .

Nashville, not Memphis. That's a 3/4 mile asphalt track.

I feel like Andy Petree

Anonymous said...

"Wallace went to Carl Edwards for the first time as the in-race reporter under caution. These two do not hit it off, and Edwards wound-up pulling his face shield down. He had just about had enough of a competing car owner asking him about his race tactics. Needless to say, not one fan question was put to the in-race reporter on the entire telecast."

Let me say I saw things very differently. I didn't see Carl having *any* problems with Rusty when Rusty asked questions at the beginning of the race. Carl answered them calmly and in detail (about oil on the track), mentioned Rusty's son was in front of him at one point, and so on.

Then Carl made his comments about the camera and the new camera angle (which gave them a wide shot directly into his face from the driver's side instead of a side shot from the other side) was making him nervous. It was obviously the camera that Carl was unhappy with - not the people in the booth. In fact, Rusty making a little joke about the camera after Carl said he was nervous seemed to help the situation. You could literally see Carl smile/laugh even though the helmet covered all by his eyes, and he said something to Rusty kind of joking back. He snapped the shield down because it was almost time for restart and the interview was over, not because he was upset with Rusty.

I applaud Carl for(very discreetly) letting his unhappiness with the new camera be known, and I applaud Rusty, the booth, and the producers for not using the in-car camera past lap 16at my count.

If they asked a fan question, I must not have heard it or I thought it was a Rusty question. I know they didn't go back to Carl at all after that early part of the race when he said he didn't like the camera.

So kudos to ESPN for being flexible with their new toy and realizing that perhaps making drivers uncomfortable is not worth the "inside access". They definitely need to ask the drivers how they feel about the new camera and the fan questions before they proceed with it in NW and the Sprint Cup series later this year.

Anonymous said...

"What he did mention was that the ESPN in-car camera was right in his face and it distracted him while he tried to drive."

Are you blaming ESPN for the position of the camera? I believe ESPN has nothing to do with it and it is the #60 crew that installs the camera.

Anonymous said...

Random notes from me, it's been a few hours since I saw the race though I haven't erased it yet.

Good: Interview with Stephen Leicht. Great questions, honest answers from a very young driver (and an NW race winner) who handles himself very professionally on TV yet still shows some individual personality. I hope he gets to continue driving for a good team and more than once every 4-5 races.

Bad: Ignoring qualifying on NASCAR Countdown. (If Allen is as good as everybody says he is, he wouldn't have let that happen. He's THE host of that show, whereas on NN he's one of the hosts.) Vince Welch's two "interviews" (and it's a stretch calling them that) with Kyle Busch. This is one place where Kyle did all the right things pre and post race, folks. And the "interview" pre race definitely affected Kyle's mood when asked for an "interview" post race. ESPN was in the wrong there.

Ugly: In car camera. If you make "Up With People! spokesman" Carl Edwards say something about it, then it's pretty rotten ESPN. Don't use it again. I feel a little bad for the fans who took the time to submit questions on espn.com, but I feel better that ESPN didn't use them today. It would have been out of place. (I didn't hear any tension between Rusty Wallace and Carl, though.)

BTW, I've never thought Shannon Spake was good in the pits, but people here pre season seemed to think she was good and/or improving. She's at her best doing prerecorded reports for NASCAR Now or SportsCenter.

Anonymous said...

"With plenty of time on the clock, giving Busch a moment to cool-off may have resulted in a very different outcome."

JD, How is that possible if all the drivers are leaving?

Anonymous said...

Are you blaming ESPN for the position of the camera? I believe ESPN has nothing to do with it and it is the #60 crew that installs the camera.

March 23, 2008 12:42 AM

That was a new camera. And ESPN hyped on both its website, NASCAR Countdown, and practice that they were going to take questions from viewers submitted on the website to ask Carl during the race.

Why would the 60 car have a new camera installed (whether they installed it themselves or not), at a new, more user-friendly angle, if it wasn't ESPN mandated? Somehow I don't think expensive cameras are in their budget or on their list of important car items.

stricklinfan82 said...

The best line of the day as far as I'm concerned came from Brad Daugherty.

Marty Reid decided he wanted to talk about basketball during an early race caution and asked Brad what he thought about Lebron James. Brad's response went something like "Uh, what car is he driving again?". AMEN BRAD!

This broadcast was a complete mess. First of all there was no TV coverage of qualifying. The Not-In-Tournament basketball game on ESPN and the women's tournament game on ESPN2 at noon were understandable "other prior commitments". 2004 Billiards and 2000 PBA Bowling replays on ESPN Classic from 11 AM - 1 PM certainly weren't, so ESPN dropped the ball there. I checked the DVR again, it took 47 MINUTES for ESPN to mention who won the pole - Kyle Busch, you know the Sprint Cup points leader, the Craftsman Truck Series points leader, the #1 story in NASCAR in 2008! We got tons of driver interviews during the pre-race, but we never knew who won the pole during the untelevised qualifying session for 47 minutes, other than by reading the unreliable bottom line crawl that thought 45 cars were starting the race.

Then the race itself was a mess too. Marty Reid's a nice guy but should never have been chosen over Allen Bestwick to handle the play-by-play duties for this NASCAR race. Hopefully ESPN learned from this debacle and will never let AB get snubbed for an IndyCar announcer again.

Then of course we got the debacle of seeing 2 lead lap cars cross the finish line at the end of the race, then a damn celebrating pit crew and the winning driver running 50 mph on the backstretch with his hand out the window.... while the rest of the field WAS STILL RACING TO THE LINE FOR POSITION, OFF CAMERA!!!!!!!!!!

ESPN's done a great job in 2008 of undoing all the TERRIBLE things they did in 2007, and in one Saturday afternoon a bunch of "backups" (in the production truck, on pit road, and in the play-by-play position) dropped the ball and gave ESPN another black eye to go with the 40 or so weeks of black eyes they earned in 2007.

Just because you're a backup in the production truck and only work a couple weeks a year, that does not make it acceptable to give a half-hearted effort and not live up to the standards of the "A Team". Learn how to produce a pre-race show and learn the simple fundamentals like showing all the cars cross the finish line at the end of the race!

As for the IRL guys, I'm sorry your bosses put you in a position to try to work a couple times a year covering a series you know nothing about. Your bosses should have been smart enough to put credible NASCAR people in the place of the regulars that took the week off.

Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Kyle Busch was headed into his hauler, not to the motorcoach lot or to leave on an airplane right away.

They could have given him five minutes in his hauler. His agent was standing/walking right next to him while Vince was trying to get Busch. Asking the agent to get Busch out of the hauler after five minutes would have worked better.

Talking to Tony Stewart when he gets out of his car and talking to him 5-10 minutes later, you get very different answers. ESPN should have waited.

For that matter, Mike Massaro completely ignored that Clint Bowyer didn't want to answer a second question today. He's lucky he didn't try a third or he would have been talking to the wall.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of LeBron, ESPN played its LeBron Sportscenter commerical a whole bunch during the race. LeBron is awesome, but there are commercials in that Sportscenter series from Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Junior, heck Danica Patrick! They rarely get played anymore on ESPN as much as the ones for people from other sports, but are only a year old and didn't get much play in the first place. They would be more appropriate for the motorsports broadcasts than LeBron.

Anonymous said...

"Reid was the substitute teacher who was very nice, but who could be taken advantage of by the class. "
_______________________
Great line!

Rusty did a good job dealing with Carl Edwards today IMO - I didn't see today and have never heard of them not hitting it off. But I'm so glad Carl Edwards let ESPN know what he thought of that stupid, intrusive in-race reporter deal they were setting up for him with a different camera and added questions during racing cautions.

Imagaine if Kyle Busch had been In Race Reporter today! It would have been perfect karma coming around to bite ESPN, but Carl Edwards dissing the camera was good enough substitute for me. Maybe better because if Kyle had been difficult with in race reporter, they would have said it's Kyle being Kyle. With Carl they have to pay attention.

Anonymous said...

Also they did ask Edwards a fan question.

For the record, they did ask Edwards a fan question - when they talked to him before the race. They didn't ask any fan questions during the race cautions as advertised by ESPN. They didn't use the in-car camera to interview Edwards at all after lap 16 under caution. The lap 16 interview with the booth was when Edwards said the camera was "weird".

Also, this racing itself today was horrible. 8 cars finished on the lead lap, 7 cars finished one lap down, and the rest were two laps down or more. Not really making me want to watch another race at Nashville to be honest.

Ken-Michigan said...

Say what you want about the coverage, but one thing I have realized is that, there isnt much talk about who directs or produces these televised events, like they do regularly in the NFL.

During NFL games, we normally hear WHO the director is and who the producers is , ETC.

I think I have to go back to my CBS NASCAR tapes to find any kind of "credit role" at the end of the telecast.

Who IS responsible for this award winning ESPN coverage ? Shouldn't they be proud to put their names on the screen?
We (the viewers) need to know who to praise / blame for the coverage.

There is almost always time to show us "promotional fee provided by" full screen graphics.... why not names of those who made the telecast possible.

Just a thought.... hmmmm

Ken-Michigan said...

sorry for the previous errors in grammar and spelling.

the previous comment was produced and directed by Ken-Michigan

Ken-Michigan said...

Race Coverage:
I doubt that Marty Reid asked to be thrown into this Nashville mess. He did a respectable job. If he had a couple more races, I think many of us would get to like his humor and creativity compared to the the Doctor's brand of broadcasting.

Bottom line - if Punch is going to be the voice of NASCAR on ESPN, ya gotta be there.

But if NASCAR AND ESPN are willing to be satisfied with mediocrity, thats their problem.

Way too often these days corporate America is satisfied with mediocrity.... thats a shame. And that's what we, the viewers have experienced far too many times in this early 2008 racing campaign.

frankp316 said...

It appears the decision not to broadcast qualifying was a last minute decision as it was still on the schedule of Canadian broadcaster TSN. If the decision had been made sooner, I guess other arrangements could have been made. The least they could have done was show highlights in the endless preshow. It's easy to blame on air talent for this but this was obviously a decision made in the truck. So my question is were the regular producer & director on a fishing trip with Jerry Punch?


The other thing is I would like to see ESPN give owners points standings along with drivers points standings as they are obviously going to be different.



Also, I am tired of the endless and pointless discussion about Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series only because it's pointless because it's pretty clear NASCAR will never do anything about it due to track owner and sponsor concerns.

Bill H said...

I didn't have a dog in yesterdays race, I only watched a few laps in the begining and then last 15 or so laps on the repeat at 3:00 am on ESPN2, but I noticed one thing then that goes with this:


Once again, ESPN fell victim to "the curse of the winner." Only two cars were shown crossing the line, with the ESPN Director choosing pit-crew members high-fiving and cars slowing down over the rest of the lead-lap cars racing to the line in a fuel mileage contest.


Normally I would feel the same way JD, but it hit me when I watched the end of the race on the replay, this is how you should show the end of the race. Show the winner and crew celebrating.

As they say, 2nd place is the first loser.

WIth football, baseball, basketball or any other sport, you show the winning team celebrating at the end of the game, you don't focus on the loosing team walking dejectedly back to the locker room.

This is how it should be in racing, show the winner and the celebration as they cross the finish line.

The casual fan may be glued to the screen hoping beyond hope that his 15th place driver may pull off a miracle and move up to first coming out of turn 4, but the fan who watches more than one race already knows where his favorite will finish withing a few positions when there are still 2 or 3 laps to go and has accepted the fact his favorite driver is not going to win.

I will say that there would be an exception to this, when the cars are very close and there is a chance of changes in the front when they come out of turn 4 (for example at Talledega), show all the cars crossing the line.

But when ther cars are 2 seconds apart or more, why waste time showing them cross the line one after another. It would be anti-climatic and give the casual fan a chance to flip stations because "their driver" didn't win.

BillWebz

SrRaceFan said...

John, I agree 99.9% with all that you said today - great column!

My only exception would be to "Needless to say, not one fan question was put to the in-race reporter on the entire telecast."
The fan question was what was the difference between racing on a concrete track versus asphalt. I don't think Carl understood the question - his answer was rambling to say the least. And I got the distinct impression that he was not happy about that camera - his comment about it didn't register as humor.

If ESPN doesn't improve on their coverage of the Nationwide series, you can expect the TV ratings to hit rock bottom. It was awful!

Truck Series Fan! said...

I was so busy looking at the finishing order scrolling across the top of the screen, that I didn't realize ESPN only showed 2 cars crossing the start/finish line. I would say it was a so/so broadcast I found Reid doing an ok job for having to jump in there. I think ESPN should keep Rusty away from the race broadcasts too. It's really surprising that so few cars were on the lead lap at the finish and I think if Kyle Busch can't give a better interview, then they shouldn't even approach him. A ESPN must have had lots of time as they even interviewed the 14th place finisher. I was happy that Bobby Hamilton, Jr. finished in the 10th spot. Oh yes, JD, it was in Nashville. LOL

Newracefan said...

I for one was glad AB took over much of the telecast it made for a better race, 8 cars on the lead lap not so good. Perhaps the nondiscussion of qualifying was an under the radar statement by the guys-we shouldn't have to talk about it cause ESPN should have televised it and ESPN needs to take the heat for not doing so. They should have been watching who was crossing the line there was still potential for the guys to run of of fuel and lose positions/coast to the line and that might actually have happened but we'll never know.
I was thinking that although Kyle's error caused it that run through the grass at full speed and not destroying the car was amazing and perhaps a question like I know your disappointed/frustrated but compliment and then ask about how was he able to save the car might have gotten an entirely different interview.
I agree about Shannon, Scott Wimmer talks about someone who is quite ill or died (I'm having a senior moment and can not remember which) and Shannon just moves on and asks her next question. That was just poor. Also FYI for pit reporters I don't care about what they told you this morning how is the car now and what are they doing to fix it.

JD I see your had a senior moment of your own Memphis? and further down you say Kurt Busch did you mean Kyle.

Anonymous said...

Shannon Spake clearly won this job based on her appearance, not her understanding of stock car racing. She needs to be moved to a sport she understands (if there is one) and not one in which her interview consist of waiting for the chance to ask her next planned question.

Anonymous said...

A couple of things -

First - I'm still livid about no qualifying coverage. I assume the reason they didn't show highlights during the prerace show is because none of the ESPN people even bothered showing up at the track Saturday morning. It would have been funny if a couple of the "big" names wrecked during qualifying and had to go to a backup and ESPN was left with no footage.

Second - I don't understand why ESPN didn't have their usual staff from top to bottom at the race. With this being the only race this weekend it was an opportunity for ESPN to shine. Considering there is no need for any ESPN people to be at Martinsville next week they could have all had next weekend off.

Third - I don't understand the AB infatuation. He uses thirty words when ten would do and he shoehorns agendas into things just like ESPN does. I don't know whose decision it was to start using the pit studio more towards the end of the race but it was very rude to Marty Reid who was doing a great job.

Fourth - Boo to SPEED for not showing any live Cup practice next week!!!!!! Inexcusible.

Anonymous said...

stricklinfan82 said...

The best line of the day as far as I'm concerned came from Brad Daugherty.

Marty Reid decided he wanted to talk about basketball during an early race caution and asked Brad what he thought about Lebron James. Brad's response went something like "Uh, what car is he driving again?". AMEN BRAD!

---

Sorry to run against conventional wisdom, but I was glad to hear this particular basketball reference from Marty Reid. Though, I can understand Brad not wanting it mentioned.

Within the past week, LeBron passed Brad to become Cleveland's all-time leading scorer.

Certainly wouldn't dwell on it, but I thought the mention was fine since it was directly Brad-related.

Anonymous said...

"I didn't see Carl having *any* problems with Rusty when Rusty asked questions at the beginning of the race."

Agreed. I'm pretty sure if we did a count from last year, Carl was likely the ESPN In-Race Reporter much more than any other driver when you combine Cup and Busch (though oddly, he often didn't do well in the race when he was).

He's always done that job in the cheerful Carl manner and had good rapport with Jerry, Rusty, Andy (last year). It was clear yesterday that it was the way the camera was directed at him that was causing Carl's unease, not Rusty.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone take this blog seriously when it doesn't even talk about the right track? If one of the ESPN people called Nashville "Memphis" you guys would be all over that.

Also. Carl Edwards was joking about the camera thing. When you are a race car driver, you forget about everything around you but racing when you are going 200 mph. You guys make me laugh. You look way to hard into things. I think this blog has lost what its ment for.

Anonymous said...

And you know what a race car driver does and forgets and what distracts him because you are a driver reguarly racing 200 mph right?

Tripp said...

This wasn't a great telecast, but it was much improved over what we were subjected to last year.

The good stuff includes their focus on the young drivers and NNS drivers. There are a lot of talented folks and interesting stories in this series. ESPN's coverage of these teams was a plus.

Also noteworthy in both the practice and race coverage was smart use of Mr. Brewer in the Tech Center. I've long let it known that I thought Tim's reports could be a marquis component of each broadcast, and it's gratifying to see it being well integrated into the coverage and Tim's reporting becoming more natural.

Honestly though, this was a broadcast that struggled to cover a boring race. For whatever reason, the whole team never got into any kind of groove. Memory tells me that Marty Reid was much more on his game when teamed last year with Randy LaJoie but I could be wrong. I'm old. Rusty was less strident than last year but it's obvious that there are better places for him than the booth.

Pit coverage without Mike Massaro was soft, at best. Vince Welch was mailing his stuff in while Shannon Spake continues to provide formulaic, predictable reports.

I'm like BillWebz and don't really care about seeing half the field cross the finish line. I may be in the minority, but I like watching the crew celebration or Kim Burton go over the moon. I can't beat the crew up for this one.

I also must disagree with those who say that ESPN is in love with Cousin Carl. With all the talk of Shrubby and the NNS-only drivers I often had to look at the ticker to find out where Carl was running. It seems Edwards is drawn to TV cameras as a bee is to honey, so picking him as the in-race reporter makes sense. He's good on camera and rather hard not to like. He also runs well and unlikely to crash out. He's a better choice than say Marcos Ambrose, although I personally would have preferred the affable Aussie.

On a standalone weekend, ESPN did a fair job with their coverage but they never quite got it squarely on the rails. Maybe it was Marty Reid's Elmer Fudd impersonation. I don't know, but I did like the bunnies.

Anonymous said...

**** Reminder*****

Hey y'all, please remember that SPEED's "NASCAR Confidential" premieres tonight at 8 PM Eastern. If you still have holiday obligations tonight, the repeat is going to air in place of "This Week in NASCAR" tomorrow at 8 PM Eastern.

NASCAR Confidential premieres at 8 p.m. ET on March 23, offering a new twist on the behind-the-scenes genre. Instead of focusing on at-track competition, teams or drivers, the program will tell a unique and untold story on a variety of subjects through the eyes of several participants. It will be a one-hour, highly-produced narrative covering a 24-hour period.

For the pilot, NASCAR Confidential cameras followed T. Taylor Warren, the photographer who has chronicled in photos every Daytona 500; DeLana Harvick, wife of 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick; Jay Howard, president of JHE, the company in charge of pre-race entertainment; and Ryan Newman, 2008 Daytona 500 champion.


I'm assuming this show is going to be similar in tone to NASCAR Drivers 360, or NBS 24/7, or 7 Days. Please give it a try, because if it's good I'd like for it to have enough of an audience for SPEED to continue doing NASCAR shows like this. If we don't watch these types of shows, they won't produce them anymore.

It also repeats at 4AM Eastern tonight, 8 AM Eastern tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Bill and Tripp. There's no need to show more than the first pack of cars crossing the line. If you are following a driver you know about where he/she will finish if he/she is mid-pack.

I don't like just showing the winner and then going to a close shot of the flag, but as long as the first 2-4 seconds of finishers are shown that's fine with me.

Anonymous said...

What on earth do reporters think they're accomplishing by asking the question again when the driver has already said that he made a stupid mistake?

Do they really think that he's going to stand there and berate himself saying:

"I did something dumb. I did something amazingly dumb. I lost my concentration at the worst possible time. I goofed up and lost a race I should have won. As soon as you get done asking me to explain how bad a mistake I made I'm going to go back to the hauler and cut my wrists because it was so unforgivably dumb. No, it was so bad that, since its all my fault, I deserve to be publicly flogged so here's the whip. I'll just take my shirt off and lean up against this hauler and you can lay on as soon as you get the cameras in position so that everyone can watch."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the superb blog on ESPN's pitiful coverage. You certainly hit all of the the nails on their heads with this one.

For the person who likes seeing the team celebration and doesn't care to see where the rest of the field finished, racing is different from other sports because instead of only TWO teams, there are FORTY-THREE and all of these teams have fans.

I also enjoy seeing the winning team celebrate their World Series or Superbowl championship but in racing, I want to know where all of my favorite drivers finished. It's not uncommon for drivers to pick up a couple/few spots on the closing laps of a race, either.

Isn't anyone at NASCAR paying attention to what's going on with ESPN's coverage? Where are they and why aren't they doing something about it? At the rate things are going, this will continue to get worse and ESPN will probably get what I think they're really after-a tabloid worthy, controversial story that will let them portray NASCAR personalities and fans in a very negative light. Is this what the powers-that-be at NASCAR want?

Tripp said...

JD said: I woke-up to a phone call on Sunday morning. The voice of the NASCAR TV personality said he had good news and he had bad news for me. When I asked for the good news first, he said "at least you got the State right." This is going to be an Easter to remember.
--------------------------------
I know that you might have to leave us hanging on the details behind your update but I would have loved to be the Dept. of Homeland Security agent monitoring that call!

Anonymous said...

During Brian France's Media Tour speech, he said what would be covered this season. Toyota, Dale Jr., Hendrick Motorsports, and the open wheel drivers aka Juan Pablo Montoya. As long as the networks follow his guidelines on what gets shown and the checks clear the bank, Brian France could care less how poor the coverage is.

I've got to give a thumbs up to Brad on his Lebron James remark. One of Brad's few shining moments in the booth.

Rusty's bias and cheerleading has to go. Hopefully Dale Jarrett will replace him soon and maybe we can have some semblance of professionalism in the booth.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I am not going to fill you in on the rest of that phone conversation, but you should see some of the email I got from folks!

Some of them I am going to keep just because I have to go and look-up the words they called me.

You meet all kinds on the Internet!

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Answers:

Anon 12:49, the driver goes to his hauler and changes. That is why you see drivers in street clothes being interviewed before leaving. It is just a gut call for the reporter.

Anon 12:42AM, the in-car cameras are installed by a company that does only that for the NASCAR series. The feeds of the cameras are shared by the TV networks, DirecTV and Trackpass among others.

Anon 2:11AM, ESPN does not use individual credits because the nature of TV now includes so many people. At Christmas, there is a graphics roll of everyone that works at the network, and it is kind of an annual event to get it all right. I think they have something like three thousand folks on the payroll now.

Ken in Michigan, don't get me wrong. Marty Reid has paid his dues to get where he is in TV. I have known Marty for a long time. He is a wonderful guy, just put in a tough situation.

bill h, I would disagree. You obviously did not have a driver that you followed in this race. Imagine following young Brad Keselwoski for several hours, and then not being allowed to see him finish because you had to watch Scott Wimmer slow down on the backstretch. If they only showed one horse finish the Kentucky Derby, they would get lambasted all over the media the next day. There are 43 hard-working teams that are on TV only for the length of their race. When the winner crosses the line, often the best racing is going on right behind him.

newracefan, I had been working on another project for days, and was exhausted. Thank goodness for a slow week coming up.

tripp, I think ESPN has to consider adding Randy LaJoie or someone to give these stand-alone races some zip. Both Marty and AB had a blast with him last season. Rusty has so many conflicts of interest on a Nationwide race he is going to be criticized no matter what he does.

Thanks again for the great comments, despite the fact that late last night I was geographically challenged!

JD

Anonymous said...

The Nashville race was a flashback to last years ESPN coverage, only not quite as bad.

Still, a huge backslide.

Tom said...

I was surprised by the weakness of this race- I seem to remember last year that the races that Marty Reid did where some of the better stuff we saw. I think that the idea of setting up Lajoie on these races is a great idea. He and Reid DID have great chemistry. Although Rusty wasn't so bad yesterday, I think he should quit while ahead and just do the infield stuff-which so far has been excellent.
I honestly never really think of Marty Reid as an "IRL GUY", just a damn fine play by play guy-whatever he does. Yesterday was really the first time I can remember a sub-par performance, although I got the feeling something was going on there (behind the scenes) that prevented him from getting into a groove.

Tom
Inverness, FL

TexasRaceLady said...

I never reached a comfort level with the race yesterday. I always felt as if I were missing something.

The guys in the booth just didn't gel for me. The conversation/commentary just didn't have that ring on sincerity -- it seemed strained. The joviality seemed forced --- as if "I have to be here and I don't want to be here."

After the race, the wrong pit reporters were in the wrong places doing the wrong interviews. It went down like a dose of medicine without the sugar. Yuck.

As soon as I saw that camera in Carl's car, I was turned off. With the visor up, it was aimed right up his nostrils. Looking at someone's nose hair is not my idea of a fun afternoon.

I won't get into the non-finish by 41 other cars.

Come on, ESPN. You can do a lot better.

Fran
Palestine, TX

Richard in N.C. said...

I was not able to watch the Nationwide race yesterday, but did listen to it on MRN. "Old school" Eli Gold did a super job, as he always does.

Anonymous said...

I give credit to ESPN for the time interval being up all day. As for the finish and showing all the lead lap cars, this would take 30 seconds. Do it! They could take a lesson from the tv coverage of the Kentucky Derby.Show all the horses/cars crossing the line. Meanwhile tape all the emotional tripe and rerun it.One miss on ESPN's part was when Ky. Busch went in the grass they cut to a rear veiw camera, as he blended back in the pack. This was stupid but typical of them. This shot was going to be replayed and had no value being used live.

stricklinfan82 said...

Normally I would feel the same way JD, but it hit me when I watched the end of the race on the replay, this is how you should show the end of the race. Show the winner and crew celebrating.

As they say, 2nd place is the first loser.

With football, baseball, basketball or any other sport, you show the winning team celebrating at the end of the game, you don't focus on the loosing team walking dejectedly back to the locker room.

This is how it should be in racing, show the winner and the celebration as they cross the finish line.

The casual fan may be glued to the screen hoping beyond hope that his 15th place driver may pull off a miracle and move up to first coming out of turn 4, but the fan who watches more than one race already knows where his favorite will finish withing a few positions when there are still 2 or 3 laps to go and has accepted the fact his favorite driver is not going to win.


I'm going to have to disagree with the comparison of the finish of a race to the post-game coverage of a stick-and-ball sporting event.

In NASCAR the race does not end until every car crosses the finish line. In a football, baseball, hockey, or basketball game when the winner is determined, 2nd place is already locked in as well. There is no battle for second still going on while the winners of a football or basketball game are celebrating.

Also, NASCAR is NOT a sport with 1 winner and 42 losers. Championship standings are not determined by wins and losses, they are determined by points, and those points differ from 2nd to 3rd to 15th to 42nd, so don't tell me nothing matters other than the race winner! It matters who finishes 2nd in NASCAR. It matters who finishes 3rd. 20th place matters. 35th place matters.

If you only care about who wins and don't care about anything else that's your perrogative but it's not an accurate reflection on how the sport works, sorry.

If this was baseball, football, or hockey the standings in Cup would read:

Carl Edwards: 2-3
Kyle Busch: 1-4
Ryan Newman: 1-4
Jeff Burton: 1-4
Everyone Else: 0-5

Until the NASCAR standings look like what I just posted above, the "only the winner matters" argument doesn't hold water.

We should see EVERY car cross the finish line at the end of every race, because EVERY SPOT MATTERS IN NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7.26 and Stricklanfan

You are both so correct and carry the sentiment of all fans I have read or spoken with!!

Anonymous said...

"I think I have to go back to my CBS NASCAR tapes to find any kind of "credit role" at the end of the telecast. "

FOX has played credits for the races a couple of times this season. They play at the end, flashing right on top of the scrolling ticker. Chris Myers is usually talking to Jeff when they play and they are showing some type of victory Lane scene like the winner getting pictures taken or the trophy.

SophiaZ123 said...

off topic drift, JD, I hope you write about NASCAR Conf on SPEED. COMMERCIALS EVERY 4 minutes for anywhere from 2.5 to 4 minutes??? TOO MANY COMMERCIALS.

I thought the ESPN race yesterday was a little deja vu all over again, myself. *sigh*

Ending stank with WWF camera style (just show winner and crews)


:-)

Matthew said...

The reason why ESPN probably didn't give Ky. Busch a minute to cool off is because they probably wouldn't have been able to get an interview with him if they did. The guy has proven time and time again if things don't go completely his way in a race, he's going to quickly leave the race track.

Anonymous said...

I like to see how all the drivers finished. They are driving for points and my favorite driver had to pit for gas and he is running for the championship so I wanted to see where he finished, David R. Some drivers were rookies and I wanted to see where they ended up. Very important in both series to show how all the drivers finished, especially with the top 35 rule.

Speedcouch said...

The information ESPN provided to the DirecTV guide service was that qualifying would be shown live on Saturday. I programmed my dvr via DirecTV's on-line booking earlier last week. When I sat down to watch the recording on Saturday, the information still said it was quals, but was clearly just practice. Based on no acknowledgement about quals at all, I figured NASCAR had cancelled them for some reason and that was why ESPN was showing practice instead. Then later, when the race started, ESPN mentioned Busch was on the pole. How absurd to pretend like quals didn't even occur on the earlier program! I mean, it surely doesn't cost ESPN anymore to show quals as opposed to practice...

Statboy said...

I've been wondering something about the Nashville race... What was the purpose for an hour and 20 minute long pre-race show?

I understand their window between NIT games started at 2:00, but couldn't they have showed tape-delayed qualifying at this point or maybe even air qualifying when it actually happened and then final practice from 2:00-3:00 EST?

ESPN was doing so well this year too. I hope they can pick things back up at Texas in two weeks.

Speedcouch said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the stupid "crawl" on ESPN during the pre-race show had Reuben Pardo starting the race in "row 23." Excuse me! Since when do they start 45 cars. Obviously someone just fed the qualifying data into the computer an forgot to cut off the names that failed to make the 43-car starting field. How stupid is that? ESPN can't show quals, even tape-delayed, they fail to mention even the pole sitter for over 45 minutes in their pre-race show and the only way viewers know the starting field (by the ticker) is flawed? Who was running the broadcast - a bunch of interns?

Daly Planet Editor said...

statboy,

As you can see from my column, I thought it was to review qualifying. What a surprise huh?

Does PTI Tony know you have that nick?

JD

Anonymous said...

I like the fan asking a question. And I thought that they did ask one one of the first times that they went to Carl?

Daly Planet Editor said...

During the race, there were so few cautions that they never got one in. You wonder sometimes just how much is too much with this stuff?

JD

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

JD, in your defense it looked like most of the fans got the town wrong as well. What was up with all the empty seats at Nashville?
The place does not seat that many people and I was seeing lots of aluminum shining.

I for one was glad AB took the reins for a while. Marty Reid was not doing a very good job and it was dragging the telecast down fast.

LuckyForward said...

Three comments:

1. Overall, ESPN dropped the ball BIG time . . .

2. I could care less about seeing team celebrations; I DO want to see where each driver finished in the field.

3. I live in Nashville, and was as surprised to see how poorly the race was attended. Excuses were given in the local paper about high gas prices, Easter weekend, etc. Special deals were advertised locally for cheap tickets, but obviously did no good. Still, one has to wonder if there is a deeper meaning.

Anonymous said...

JD,

You mentioned before that your worked at ESPN in the past. Were you let go? fired? or did you leave on your own?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:47PM,

I left in 1989 to start Prime Network and was the Director of Production and Operations. I had a nice party only interrupted by the earthquake at the World Series game in California. Both the party and the earthquake were memorable.

If you would like more info on me, just drop me an email and I will provide a link to a recent website story. The email is editor@thedalyplanet.tv anytime.

Thanks,

JD