Sunday, March 30, 2008

NASCAR on Fox "Loses It" On The Last Lap


The task for the veteran NASCAR on Fox crew was simple. Deal with the awful spring weather in Martinsville, Virginia.

The temperature was in the 40's, the skies were gray and the threat of rain was constant. TV viewers knew from the drop of the green flag that this race would probably be to the halfway point.

Mike Joy and crew were upfront about the weather from the start of the telecast. Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds used their experience to continually update the race strategies crews were considering with all the weather elements. This really added a nice touch to the broadcast while it was in-progress.

The gray skies and the on-and-off drizzle put a damper on the mood, but the pit reporters continued to follow the stories and worked hard to update the TV viewers. Their reports often featured the reality of the outdated Martinsville pit road.

Fox continues to try and use the quad-split effect that shows four cars during the pit stops. The theory is that each car's stop can be seen, timed, and then a wideshot can catch the race off pit road. At least that is the theory.

The reality of a winding pit road at Martinsville forced the Director to often leave the "effect" before all four cars were done and the chaos of the departing cars sometimes left viewers lost. Sometimes, theory is better abandoned when reality suggests things should change.

Fox has embraced "Digger" the Gopher Cam, but there is no feedback to suggest viewers have done the same. Used as an occasionally "different" camera angle, this track-level view first used on Thursday Night Thunder on ESPN is interesting.

Used regularly as the race is in-progress, it becomes distracting and slowly grinds down the patience of the viewer as the laps are interrupted by this now sponsored element. Fortunately, the constant racing action forced the Director to limit his use of this toy. Only a few wrecks and passes were missed while "Digger" was on-the-air live under green flag conditions.

Mike Joy never faded with his commentary and worked to keep the storylines fresh even as the soggy laps continued to grind-down. Once the race went past the halfway point, the real stories of the event began to emerge. From the Top 35 in points to Cup rookies to Hendrick Motorsports, Joy did a solid job of relaying a big amount of information throughout the event.

Unfortunately, after a very long race in very unfavorable conditions, the Achilles Heel of the Fox coverage reared its ugly head once again. Over the last twenty laps, the announce team did their best to "set the table" for the racing action that was about to reach a fever pitch. With only a few cars out of the race, this was going to be a dash to the finish that would be remembered for a long time.

Over the past several races, the Fox Director has made very interesting decisions on the final lap of the race. Martinsville would be no exception. Despite the racing for position throughout the pack, TV viewers saw only winner Denny Hamlin cross the finish line. No other cars were shown finishing the race.

After Hamlin crossed the line, viewers saw his in-car camera as he began to slow down. Meanwhile, the announcers were still calling the action and watching the rest of the field beat-and-bang to the finish. It was only the TV announcers and the fans in the stands who watched the field finish the race.

Once the race was over, things got awkward on-the-air. Fox tried to replay some of the cars on the final lap, but it made no sense and the announcers never knew it was coming. The bottom line is, once again TV viewers were shut-out of the live race finish.

It was somewhat ironic as the Fox pit reporters talked to several of the top finishers. The questions and answers focused on the race finish, which apparently was quite exciting for many teams. TV viewers will never have that perspective, and the NASCAR on Fox crew made the decision not to replay the finish of the drivers that were being interviewed.

As they left the air, this now off-balance crew did not update the critical Top 35 points list that will set the table for next week in Texas. Perhaps, the fact that no one in North America except the fans in the stands saw the finish of the race had finally sunk-in.

Fans of Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson had to be sitting in front of the TV and asking the same question. Why? Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. who had watched him run an outstanding race wondered why his hard-fought sixth place finish was not shown. For some teams, the final lap at Martinsville might have made the difference between making the Top 35 and being sent to "Go or Go Home land."

Each TV network chooses how they approach the finish, and Fox has the right to do as they please because they paid for the rights to telecast the events. If the focus on the winner fits their network agenda, that is what viewers will see until their portion of the Sprint Cup TV package is done.

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

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess I my thought about the last lap issue doesn't seem to fit either direction to how people think it should be done. I think it would be nearly impossible for FOX to leave the camera pointing towards the finish line to watch everyone cross the finish line. In my opinion, it would be nice to watch the top 5 cross the line, but other than that, I think people are asking too much. As a huge fan of Kevin Harvick, it didn't bother me that I didn't see him cross the line. In my opinion FOX did exactly what they should have done. When the checkers wave, many fans want to see and enjoy the emotion of the winner. If the camera stays pointed at the line, we miss that emotion. It is the emotion of a victory that brings thousands of fans to the tv screens. So I guess the question here is do we want emotion or one camera angle pointed at the finish line. To me, I would rather have the thrill and the excitment of the winner. That is what brings me back each week.

red said...

ok, so now that i'm not as frustrated as i was a few hours ago, i think i can be a part of this conversation.

bottom line for me is that, although the winner was finished racing, the rest of the field was not. it was a major mistake for fox to pull away from the true finish of the race to focus on an in-car shot, a shot that added nothing to what had been solid coverage to that point. even if my driver had won, i would still have been disappointed with the decision to show him in-car and not the finish. there was still significant action going on and fox just completely missed it.
my frustration has grown today because i feel as if i'm working hard to understand what goes in to putting on a production like a race but that fox isn't working as hard to understand what i want from the coverage. i feel as if fox believes that they can cover racing in much the same fashion as any other sport.
but racing just isn't like any other sport. despite the famous "second is just the first loser" line, it just isn't that way! the way the cars finish -- ALL of the cars! -- matters a great deal. the status of the top 35 is critical. how the strategies played out is important because it may provide insight the next time around. there are reasons that fans care about how the cars finished, significant, important, solid reasons that go beyond just liking a driver! all the drivers i follow finished in the top 10 but i still wanted to know about the others because it matters!
i understand it's tough job, i am not minimizing the effort that goes into the entire production. but today's non-coverage of the finish of an exciting race is simply inexcusable. there needs to be a protocol in place that says "we will, without exception, always show the top xnumber of cars finishing at every race." period. no exceptions. no matter what the time constraints, no matter how strung out. pick a number beyond the top 3 or 5 and show that many cars every race. then, and only then, go to the winner celebration. in return, i promise that i will not piss and moan when my driver wins and fox doesn't show his in-car because the finishing field is being shown.

i wanted to be able to congratulate fox on a job well done (despite that damn gopher camera!) but i can't and i am honestly saddened by that. sorry, fox guys: you had me and then you tossed it all away.

Spring said...

I don't necessarily agree with you, anon 9:10, but I don't think it's feasible to show the whole field, as some suggest. I think they should leave the camera on the line for a reasonable amount of time so that we see at least the top 10 or close to that finish. If it's like Nashville last weekend and there are only a few cars on the lead lap with the field being very spread out, then they should leave the camera on the line for 10-15 seconds until at least the top 5 or top 7 finish. We shouldn't be completely left in the dark.

SallyB said...

Someone needs to turn the 'gopher cam' into roadkill. It may be an off kilter perspective on the racing, but it certainly isn't informative...or particularly useful. At a short track, it seems that television should try to cover at least the top 20 finishers, since it won't take that long for most of them to cross the finish line. When the finishers aren't even shown in some sort of crawler until well after the checkered flag has dropped, it's very frustrating. Sometimes, that final sprint of the 4th turn to the finish line is the most exciting part of the race. Since we all know that the winning driver won't be allowed to get out of his car in Victory Lane until TV says it's OK (you know, so we won't miss that 'spontaneous celebration moment)and all the commercials have been aired. It's much like going to "Heidi" instead of showing the final few minutes of a football game.

red said...

sallyb: and not just ANY football game! my jets were on the losing end of the heidi bowl and i have never forgiven the network for that fiasco, either!

Anonymous said...

The coverage of the last lap sucked. Fortunately, I have RaceView so I got to actually watch the whole last lap.. albeit, as a cartoon.

I have to admit, 'though, I do like the GopherCam, particularly at Martinsville. It was cool.

Erik said...

JD,
Believe it or not, I have to agree with you. Especially at a short track, where laps tick off every 20 seconds or so, I don't buy the argument that it would be impossible to use a wideshot to view the finish.

I could understand at a larger track, or road course, where it could get awkward showing the finish line for the entire field to pass on by, but this is Martinsville.

PocketTens said...

Your comments hit it right on the head. I was sitting on my couch yelling for them to cut away from the winning cockpit!

I'm a Tony Stewart fan, and they really barely mentioned him at all the entire show despite a great race/finish. Okay, fine, you can't cover everyone every week - but the finish drove me bonkers. While they were showing 11 celebrating, the annoncer quickly calls Stewart as finishing before JR... but then the scroll shows JR ahead of Stewart in the Unofficial results. I think they ran this scroll twice before finally showing more cars finishing, and even then I think they didn't show both guys finishing.

Also: I know they were on the air all day long and had gone over their time - but to cover a race for 4.5 hours and then only do two quick driver interviews is crazy. The NFL runs over all the time and they will talk to whoever they want to before going off the air. I would have like to see anew Top 35, but I can get that online. What I can't get online are a few quick questions with each of the top finishers.

I hate the digger cam. Who in the hell is going to buy one of those shirts?

I just found your website and am loving it. Very good reading, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you all were able to see the race for 6th that became the race for 5th when Carl ran out of gas. Jr and Tony were having a great race for 5th to the line and Carl ran out of gas. Fortunately, I was watching Hotpass and Shrub's channel switched to Tony after he had problems. Thank goodness for Hotpass letting me see my driver and an excellent finish to his race!! Totally sucks that Fox didn't show it......

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

JD,
why is the layout here suddenly different? I have to scroll down the wholepage to see the end of the comment. one link took me to something that distorted things with a bunch of <>* other html looking stuff that did not make sense. said it was a site set up for something. rss feed.
Any reason for the new layout ? Just curious since it's been the same forever. And some of the 'comments' read were not comments seen here on this white background.

anybody else notice this?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if D.W.,Larry Mac, Mike Joy, Jeff Hammond, etc, would want to watch a race on Fox. Say they were at home next week.Would they "enjoy" the "gutter cam",missing the finish,a ticker that rarely functions right?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:44PM,

Unfortunately, when I started this blog last year I used the names of people who were working behind the scenes.

It gave folks who posted comments an opportunity to get very personal with their opinions. Regardless of the Producer, Director or Network Executive involved in the issue we are discussing, we are not going to use names.

My goal is to keep the discussion focused on the topic itself, and not get distracted by who did what to who. I learned early last season that opening that door does not lead to a nice place on the Internet.

Thanks for your comment, please return and continue to give us your opinion.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

Weather permitting, I don't know why they could not end the race with a shot from the blimp, when it is there. I'd like to see more shots from the blimp in any event - and much, much less from the gopher cam.

Daly Planet Editor said...

richard,

One of the biggest fundamentals in sports TV is that higher is always better than lower.

That kind of seems ironic after Sunday.

JD

batchief said...

JD, first off I want to say that I believe each race ending should show the top ten finishers as they cross the line, but not beyond that. I wouldn't trade seeing the spontaneity of the winning teams driver, crew, owner, family or fans over seeing the 19th, 25th or 33rd place finishers cross the finish line. Hasn't the winning team earned this as part of the spoils of victory? The bottom line is the race is about winning, isn't it? I agree with those that say the top 35 ranking after a race is completed is a major story and no broadcast should be completed without a rundown of that list.
As far as interviews after a race I think it is great to get as many as possible, but I understand time restraints and driver cooperation may play a part in just how many can be gotten. I would bet the pit reporters wouldn't mind getting as many as possible but too, logistics of the pit reporting crews could play a part in getting from driver to driver. Some of them may just have to get to the bathroom after a 4 hour ride, I don't know.

stricklinfan82 said...

I used this analogy in the in-race comments and I'll use it again for the benefit of those that don't go back and read all the in-race comments after the fact.

Much like Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers, Fox had a great day for 3 1/2 hours, only to run out of gas on the final lap and coast home with very little to show for a great effort.

Again I will remind Fox, the NASCAR championship standings are distributed proportionally based on finishing position (1st pays more points than 2nd, which pays more than 3rd, which pays more than 4th, etc.). The standings in NASCAR are NOT determined by wins and losses like stick-and-ball sports. Because of this fact, every position in a race matters. 2nd place matters. 3rd place matters. 15th place matters. A race for 29th and 30th on the last lap matters. Until the NASCAR championship standings look like this........

1.) Carl Edwards: 2-4
2.) Ryan Newman: 1-5
2.) Kyle Busch: 1-5
2.) Jeff Burton: 1-5
2.) Denny Hamlin: 1-5
6.) everyone else: 0-6

.... it is completely ridiculous to use the stick-and-ball approach that only winning matters and everyone else that doesn't finish first on that day is a loser.

SHOW EVERY CAR CROSS THE FINISH LINE AT THE END OF THE RACE. EVERY FINISHING POSITION MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO DETERMINING THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS.

While you're at it, borrow ESPN's technology and get a state-of-the-art scoring crawl that always shows updated intervals and position changes up to the millisecond and show us who got bumped in/out of the top 35 at the end of the day.

The Fox scoring crawl looks exactly like the TNN scoring display of 1997 (except TNN's scrolled through pages of 5 positions at a time instead of using a continuous 'crawl'). Just like TNN's in 1997, Fox's crawl takes a snapshot of the field on some arbitrary lap, saves that interval information, and then finally scrolls that information, which by now is at least a lap or more old, on the screen. That's simply not good enough in 2008. You can't use the excuse that "the technology doesn't exist" because your competitor in Bristol has that new revolutionary scoring technology on their NASCAR broadcasts. Wake up and get with the times, 1997 technology is just not good enough when your rival has 2008 technology that is a million times more accurate than yours. Get off your rear ends, figure out what ESPN has, and use it on your broadcasts too!

It was especially ridiculous today to tease the viewers by showing them the "if the race ended now" graphic of the 35th place in owner's points battle with 20 laps to go and explaining the immense significance of it, and then not following up at the end of the day and showing us who ended up winning or losing that battle. I had other commitments after the checkered flag so I haven't had a chance to go to Jayski's or NASCAR.com to check the standings, so I still don't have a damn clue who's in or out of the top 35 going into Texas. Thankfully I have the luxury of a computer at my disposal and I can find out that information that Fox ommitted, but unfortunately there are probably many many fans without that same luxury that won't know the outcome of the top 35 battle until they turn on Speed Channel next Friday to watch qualifying.... that is if there's not a school bus auction going on somewhere that Speed Channel chooses to cover instead of qualifying.

Expanding upon my earlier analogy, much like Roush Racing and Team Red Bull, Fox needs to go back to the shop and make improvements to make sure they never run out of gas on the last lap again, and needs to continue working on their technology to keep up with the times.

Kenn Fong said...

JD,

I wonder how much of the audience is composed of people like us and how much is viewers who know only a few drivers by name and number.

I think Fox has a problem dealing with the two different interest levels. It's like watching the Super Bowl, when more things are explained.

And maybe Digger Cam is a hit with the casual viewers.

Kenny
Alameda, California

PocketTens said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ken-Michigan said...

Split screens should be and could be used more than they are.
Whether it's during the race or at the finish, the technology is there and we, the viewers, CAN handle watching 2 boxes on screen.

Using FULL SCREEN for the ENTIRE finish is stupid. I wouldn't expect any director or producer to call for a full screen shot of the entire field crossing the line. And even IF the did use a full screen for the entire finish, some of you would be belly achin' that you want it in SLO-MO so you can see each and every driver.

The most viable solution is to use a split screen with the winner / wife / crew, etc in one box... and the finish line shot in the other.

I had the opportunity today to watch the DirecTV HOT PASS today and most of the day they utilize triple boxes to follow all of the action. 3 boxes on the screen at the same time. I loved it. Continuous action on one of the boxes and commercials when called for in the other. I realize its a paid service, but it was a great way of covering the event.

From what I saw, weather radar was NEVER used today, on a day when it seemd like rain could break loose at anytime. I felt it would have told more of the story if radar would have been part of the coverage. Kudos to NASCAR for getting the entire 500 laps in, cause it sure seemed like they could have stopped it a few times.

and last but not least, many thanks to the Nature Boy Rick Flair for many years of great entertainment... WOOOOOOOOOO !!

Anonymous said...

It's almost like EVERYBODY in the control truck had an eye on the clock, rushing to wrap up by 6 p.m. Eastern on the dot (but it's not like Fox had anything scheduled 'til 8 and the affiliates could've waited another coupla minutes before their "King of Hill" or "Two-and-a-Half Men" reruns). Just a theory on my part, but looks to me like they choked while up against the clock.

Dede said...

David Reutimann's #44 UPS car was moving up into the top 20 with a chance to go even higher after getting his lap back and then the car had gear problems and he had to leave the track and this really affected his top 35 in points and no mention was ever made of him leaving or coming back, they only showed the poor guys car on fire at the end of race with no mention that he dropped out of the top 35 in points, through no fault of his own. All of these cars have sponsors that want to be seen, if TV does not make an effort to show all the cars, it will hurt sponsorships even more than they are hurting now. If it was Jeff Gordon's car that went out with gear issues TV would have been on top of that, gotta support all the teams or there will be no Nascar.

Tom said...

I am really annoyed by the whole finish thing. This is not new, and like many other things, I had hoped that repeated comments about this issue would cause a change, just as it has done on ESPN and elswhere. The crawl needs to be improved-it is clear that you can have a true "real-time", and Fox needs it now. I realize that this is Martinsville, but it seemed as though the cameras were far behind much of the action. Joy and Co. would be calling an incident (most likely MW or Kenseth), but the camera would be at the far end of the track. Sloppy.

Tom
Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

First of all... Gopher Cam Sucks. I hate that stupid thing with a passion.

Now... to me the goal of the TV broadcast should be to make us feel like we are at the race. We should feel like we are seeing what the fans in attendance see. I know as a fan that after the leader takes the checkered flag I do not continue to follow him around the track. I peel back and look for the next battle for position.

I wish FOX would do the same but I am not suprised they do not because their camera work (Gopher Cam, continuous speed shots, bumper cams that show us nothing, etc.) is pathetic.

Just PLEASE let us watch the race and see what is happening on the track without all the dumb toys.

Anonymous said...

Who sponsors Gopher Cam?

Anonymous said...

It gave folks who posted comments an opportunity to get very personal with their opinions. Regardless of the Producer, Director or Network Executive involved in the issue we are discussing, we are not going to use names.

This is unrealistic, given the fact that the crew's names are often shown in credits and the on-air talent mentions people, like the director, by name during the broadcast.

If the talent has to suffer specific criticism by name, so should the rest of the crew.

Speedcouch said...

"Limited his use" of the weasal cam, John? Not sure what you were watching yesterday, but they had one in both turns yesterday and since they seemed to use it about 25% of the time, that was the only way to follow the cars sometimes. As it would "pan" back, I'd get a glipse of my driver and could see where he was running. Then the director would "dissolve" to the next weasel cam and I'd lose the flow of the race. Just horrible! Not to mention the Fox shameless hawking of t-shirts! Are they so desperate to make money or is it that they feel the fans are so stupid they'll buy anything they produce? Ugh!

Then we have the 4-way split of pitstops, which makes you lose the entire view of the cars in relationship to each other. And, again, Fox uses one of the four boxes for a car not even pitting (Burton in this case). Is anyone actually awake in the production truck these days?

I never thought I'd be paying for Trackpass so I could actually follow the racing, but we've spent more time listening to MRN on Trackpass and the scanners than Fox this year. If it's not DW's constant "me-me-me" blathering, it's the pimping for this silly camera. Just when I thought Fox couldn't sink any lower, they continue to amaze me in their arrogance.

LuckyForward said...

A few comments:

1. Want to see all of the race, which includes those racing for position after the leader crosses the finish line for the win. I do not understand the difficulty Fox has in announcing the winner and then leaving the camera on the field as each driver finishes. Years ago, CBS never had a problem with showing this.

2. With the race end, the "news" portion of the race must be addressed: where did each driver finish and how does that affect his start for the next race. As correctly interpreted here, this is not occurring.

3. I grow weary of announcers trying to create excitement during the last few laps of a race suggesting that the race leader will be overtaken by the driver in second place. Heard a lot of that this week, and it is an insult to those of us who have watched racing for years to realize there is no race for the first position.

4. I am sure that Fox (as well as any NASCAR TV or radio broadcaster) gets its "kickbacks" from mentioning "Goodyear Tires" or "Sunoco" fuel, but I tire of these "product placements" during the broadcast."

5. I like some of the "gopher cam" shots, but I am tiring of the silly animation and now the "hawking" of t-shirts.

Luckyforward

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:03AM,

If you go to FoxSports.com or DWstore.com your question will be answered.

JD

Anonymous said...

I am sure that Fox (as well as any NASCAR TV or radio broadcaster) gets its "kickbacks" from mentioning "Goodyear Tires" or "Sunoco" fuel, but I tire of these "product placements" during the broadcast."
The word "kickbacks" implies some sort of illicit deal; they're sponsors and pay to have their products featured.

Anonymous said...

I think Kenn Fong has a point that has to be considered. The Daly Planet is a great spot for HARDCORE Nascar fans. It is even more specific in that it focuses on the broadcast aspect of the sport. The people who read and respond here represent such a small portion of the the total fanbase that much of what they discuss would confuse the casual/average fan. While the network may read what is written here and in some cases may make changes because of it, they realize that the average fan is probably happy with the coverage. I agree with many of the complaints/suggestions made here ( gopher cam, DW's self promotion and idiotic attempts at humor, coverage of the race end) but I realize that the average fan couldn't care less. Many "fans" probably change channels when the race is over and they know who won. Thanks JD for the forum and the opportunity for us to share our ideas!

JHD said...

Here's an idea for any or all broadcasts to follow. Do what you will with it:

Keep the camera on the finish line until the winner comes back around to the start-finish line. You get to see the majority cross the line this way, and you get to see it live.

THEN show the reactions of the winning driver, crew, crew chief, and Kim Burton (if you really have to). I highly doubt that showing it on a 30 second - 2 minute delay is going to kill the emotion and celebration for the fans. Driver and his team certainly won't know or care.

After all, TV is the one that forces the driver to sit in his car in Victory Lane for 5-10 minutes while the networks do commercials and setup and whatnot.

scott T said...

I thought it was a great race even if I am a Jr. and hendrick fan, or anyone but Rousch. But you guys that get all upset over the last lap, just get a life. Fox has done an outstanding job of coverage. We could just go back to TNT and Blonde, or even better we could just have ESPN and jerry punch every week. Then you guys would have something to cry about. I have been very entertained each week watching the Fox crowd. They focus 100% of the their time on Racing and thats what its all about. I saw lots of action and I was informed about why this happened or why that happened on the track and I was kept up to speed on the wrecks and cautions with good detail. I didn't have commercials about upcoming promos on ABC or TNT movie of the week being shoved at me every 5 mminutes and I didn't have a break in the action to get a stupid "sports update" interrupted right in the middle of the broadcast either. I have been very happy with the job Fox has done and the crew did another great job in the cold and rain all day. I watched the last lap and I saw the 99 run out of gas at the 4th turn and I saw Tony stewart, squeeze by jr and Jimmy Johnson and knew what the top 5 looked like without having to watch a car drive 100 yards across the line. They were not side by side at all. You knew where they would finish, and I enjoyed the drama of watching Denny get his 1st win of the year. It was a great race. I am not the least concerned about the start finish line shot because nothing contributed to the outcome of who would be the winner. Gordon could't make the pass on Denny and behind Gordon it had all settled down for who you knew was going to be the top 6 finish. So what, no camera shot of the line, build abridge and get over it. Great job once again Fox guys and I pull for them to broadcast the races all year long. Either way they are better than what we have thru the summer and during the chase. I say give the rainy season races to ESPN and let Fox broadcast the Chase. Now that would be great TV

Drew Hierwarter said...

I wasn't nearly as annoyed by some of the things during the race as I was during the pre-race show on Fox.

Darrell Waltrip was about to explain a passing technique and, like most drivers, he was going to use his hands to demonstrate. Just as he began, the director cut to pointless shots of drivers wandering around on the grid, while Darrell's "manual graphic" went unseen.

Pretty stupid, Mr. Director!

Anonymous said...

It is really amazing that we were deprived of the final rundown of both the last lap and points positions yesterday, but then think about it, FOX jsut had to go to one of the worst lineups of prime time in the history of TV. Heaven forbid we should miss the Simpsons, Family guy and other garbage that challenges our sanity. On CBS, the NCAA basketball games ran over by 20 minutes and no one says a word. During the NFL season, the games go over their time slot by as much as an hour, and no one says a word. What's wrong with this picture? We deserve total coverage of the races and FOX needs to smarten up about it. Being brain dead about it is not pretty.

Anonymous said...

Author did well explaining the short falls of FOX's coverage. I too would have like to see where Tony Steward finished. The info strip said 7th but as we know now it was fifth (Top Five).

It was good to see Denny's in-car reaction but chatching the finish of the race should been priority.

I think the gofer view use is rediculous.

They can stop slobbering all over Junior any time now. He and his crew just ain't that good.

Oh and booggadah, booggadah is so retarded DH.

Anonymous said...

It is really amazing that we were deprived of the final rundown of both the last lap and points positions yesterday, but then think about it, FOX just had to go to one of the worst lineups of prime time in the history of TV. Heaven forbid we should miss the Simpsons, Family guy and other garbage that challenges our sanity. On CBS, the NCAA basketball games ran over by 20 minutes and no one says a word. During the NFL season, the games go over their time slot by as much as an hour, and no one says a word. What's wrong with this picture? We deserve total coverage of the races and FOX needs to smarten up about it. Being brain dead about it is not pretty.

Newracefan said...

I am sure there are many more race fans who are not the fanatic that I have become. Like many who post here I want my race coverage to be perfect not to mention my drivers doing well. I actually I find that I am more or less critical depending on how my drivers are doing. Yesterdays race I had some do well and some not so I guess this a a fairly balanced assessment.
I would like to hear about everyone who falls out of the race and why and if they come back. We heard Riggs fell out and was back, we did not hear about Reutimann and that had a hugh impact for him, he's now out of the top 35.
I'm ok with the digger graphic and even the tshirt sales as long as I'm not missing green flag action. I like the camera shot but not as a way for me to follow the race only because they did not use the one where you could identify the cars long enough for me to see everyone going by. The reason it even came close to working was because there was only one real groove in Martinsville more than one groove it's fun but useless. Thankfully they used it less than the truck race.

I want to see at least the top 10 cars crossing the line or more depending on how tight the action is further back. I like seeing the winner and his crew/family celebrate but either in a box to the side or after the others cross the line. There also needs to be a drop down ticker with the finishing order as they cross the line, lap cars can make it very difficult determine the order.

There should be an update of the top 12 in points and the top 35 after the race not during because it could very well be different.

I would love longer post race coverage but understand time can be an issue. Thankfully I have Victory Lane and Speed Report to turn to for a more detailed post race.

I do not use the ticker at all I have my laptop up with racetrax so I can instantly see where all my drivers are so I can't comment on it's accuracy or usefulness. I guess I determined last year it did not meet my needs since I follow about 6 different drivers and would miss much of the race waiting for each of their names to scroll by.

You also won't find complaints here about DW or any of the on air talent.

I generally enjoyed the race but like JD and others the end frustrated me, we have all seen how ESPN has improved from last year. I just hope Fox didn't let all our compliments when it was TNT and ESPN's turn go to their head and now they won't try to improve their product.

Mike 24 said...

It never ceases to amaze me why any network doesnt get it. I could care less what the driver is doing in his car after crossing the finish line DUH of course he is fisting and celebrating what would one expect a driver to be doing.

Would it it be to much to ask a broadcasting network like Fox to show at the very least the top ten cross the finish line. Now think about it, how much time would that take from the winner in his personal celebration crossing the finish line? Its not like the top ten are five minutes in the hole. Give me a break!

As I have done in the past I will continue to use radio broadcast rather than tv to listen to the race. Although I do have my handy remote at all times and when needed I switch over to la la land aka the booth.

This method is heads and shoulders above the booth broadcast, to much blathering etc. very little excitement brought to the listener.

Just one remaining question, does anyone from Fox ever listen to the fan? Or better yet do they even care what the fan likes?

Ken-Virginia said...

I think Ken-Michigan is exactly right suggesting a split screen. A split screen would allow us to follow the announcer's commentary, see the race finishers as well as the emotions behind the driver's 50 pounds of protective gear.

Also, kill the gopher and force the entire announcing crew and staff to sit through a replay of the entire race and see what we had to endure.

Daly Planet Editor said...

scot,

I am not quite sure I understand your point. My column spoke about several great aspects of the race from the commentary to the outstanding engineering on a bad day.

When you speak about seeing the winner, that makes complete sense. But, the race continues behind the winner for both the casual and the hardcore fan.

The battle for second through fifth might be one big clump of screaming cars and what Fox chose to show us was the winner slowing down. We will soon see the winner doing a burnout and then hear from him in Victory Lane.

The time it takes to show the lead laps cars cross the line is less than thirty seconds. Fox could not spare thirty seconds to show the top drivers in NASCAR race to the finish of a multi-hour race on a short track?

I completely disagree with Mr. Fong and his assertion that there are casual fans that need to be served. NASCAR tried that last season with disastrous results.

What Brian France said is that this year NASCAR would focus on the true fan, and bring the sport back to the old days.

Do you believe that there was even one fan in the stands that saw Denny cross the line and then put their hands over their eyes? That is exactly what Fox did to us.

This is one of the biggest reasons ratings have not moved this season and it could have been easily changed and even embraced by this network.

As we said last year, Fox chose "drama" over "racing."

JD

Anonymous said...

JD,

I could be wrong but I swear they did go back and show some of the cars finish. I remember them showing Edwards run out of gas and Stewart and Jr. went by him to the finish. So, it seems to me they did make some sort of effort but just not enough for us who really want to see the entire field come across the line, especially at a short track. I would be interested to see how far behind the final car on the lead lap was. It couldn't have been that much. They could have shown all the lead lap cars finish.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet editor said...
This is one of the biggest reasons ratings have not moved this season and it could have been easily changed and even embraced by this network.

I don't know what the results from today's race will be, but FOX's race ratings are up this year. (ESPN's Nationwide race ratings are down.) Four percent increase in ratings and a seven percent increase in households viewing the race. It would actually be higher if not for the California rain delay; FOX would be averaging a seven percent increase in ratings without California.

Some people say it's because people who usually go to the race are staying home and watching, and after seeing the empty stands at Martinsville I believe it.

Anonymous said...

JD,
I've been reading your BLOG for quite a while now and finally really feel the need to post. A couple of things: FOX neeeds to get a grip on showing the end of the race, I was listening to the Stewart, Edwards, Jr., etc. but never saw it - terrible; what's up with only showing scrolls for the top10 during the race, show everybody; I think it was Mike Joy that was commenting about a great battle with Jr. and one or two others, while the camera was only showing the leader - I'd rather watch a battle for position than the leader running by himself; As we said last year, Fox chose "drama" over "racing." - FOX didn't show drama, they showed a driver slowing down and doing a bad burnout.
Thanks for the great readings.

Anonymous said...

"I hate the digger cam. Who in the hell is going to buy one of those shirts?"

The same "fans" that are buying the "Boogity" shirts! LOL LOL

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:28PM,

I don't know what you have been reading, but the "up" that Fox and NASCAR have been trying to sell has been an increase that veteran analysts would refer to as "flat."

After last season, the NASCAR folks have been doing everything possible to make sure no one hears the words "ratings are down."

Only the Truck Series has seen any kind of ratings increase that analysts would call substantial. After this last race with the TV crew deciding to block most of the big stars of the sport as they finished the race, it should be interesting to see how things go over the rest of the Fox package.

JD

SusanB said...

I have mixed emotions with how the race was shown. I thought it was a good race but I felt we missed some good action.

I am glad that they did show a replay of the action of Jr, Tony, Casey & Carl at the end but I would have prefered to have seen it live since it was not that far behind the leader. I guess for me, it is not that big of a deal to see the driver slowing down after the checkered flag has waved even if it would have been my favorite driver because I know they usually show the burnout. I would also like to see the top 5 or 10 cars cross the finish line.

I wish they could have talked with some of the drivers that were out of the race. It would have been interesting to hear from Aric A. about his day and I was curious about David R. and what exactly happened with his car. I thought Fox was good with that the last couple of years but have noticed that they don't seem to do that this year.

The Gopher cam is okay but I do not want it to be overused. I think they are trying to push that camera angle on us a little too much because it has a name now. It is okay once in awhile but not all the time.

Overall a good race but the last lap could have been handled a little bit better.

Anonymous said...

Nope, JD, ratings on FOX are up in 2008. Check articles on scenedaily.com , Jayski, and thatsracin.com, and elsewhere for specifics. It's the Nationwide ratings that NASCAR was trying to sell as "relatively flat" last week - when they are down, substantially. Thatsracin posted the NW ratings to show they are down, not flat.

The Truck series ratings are up, but that's a very relative thing, seeing that truck series broadcasts deal in less than a million viewers. I believe you posted those stats here yourself on March 10. You wrote from the SPEED press release: "The total number of homes watching the race grew from 565 thousand to 753 thousand."

Trust me, I look at available ratings figures all the time and have done so for years. Compared to 2007, FOX Bristol ratings were up 8%, Atlanta ratings were up 23%, Las Vegas up 13%, Daytona up 1%.

The FOX ratings ARE up. Are they back where they were in 2005 and even 2006? Nope.

Mike said...

NOW I KNOW WHY I'M watching less & less of NASCAR - S.O.S. It's the same ole 7 or 8 in the top ten evey weekend everytime. Something is out of wack here that the same teams/drivers are always at the top. Nobody can convince me that these guys put more R&D into it without BREAKING the rules(outside the often mentioned GRAY AREA, [wink wink]). If old "Jack in the Hat" is furious over a missing swaybar I begin to wonder what else do they hide that even the mighty NASCAR inspectors are unable to discover. BORRRRRING.
Shuffleboard anybody ???

Anonymous said...

Well, after reading all of this, I'm glad I was sitting in the most miserable race weather I've ever been in yesterday at Martinsville so I could see the actual finish.

Vince said...

The only thing I can say about the FOX Director's decision to show only the winner cross the finish line race after race is that he is either incredibly arrogant, stupid, or just doesn't get it. I expect to see a wide shot of all the cars crossing the finishing line, especially at a small track like Martinsville where they are running 20 second laps. Not showing the whole field finish yesterday was inexcusable.

I personally do not care to see the driver pumping his fist in the car after winning or the crew members jumping up and down or the wife/girlfriend/mother crying or whatever. We get to see all of this in victory lane. I've spent 4 plus hours of my time watching the race and I want to see all the cars finish. I can understand if it's a road course and then you can show the top 10 or 20 finish.

As for the roadkill cam. If you want to use it 5 or 6 times a race, that's fine. But not every 2 or 3 minutes! Enough of the roadkill cam, in car cams, speed cams and bumper cams. They don't show me anything. Show me the racing as if I was sitting in the stands watching. What is so hard about that? Take all of your toys and junk them. They are a waste time and money.

I think selling the Digger tshirts during the broadcast is extremely unprofessional. Especially DW plugging them on his web site. DW, you have sunk to a new low and it doesn't surprise me.

OK, Fox. You are skating on thin ice with this viewer. I've already stopped watching your sorry excuse for a pre-race show. I DVR the race and start watching about 2 hours after YOUR posted start time, so I can FF through the pre-race and DW doing Boogity-boogity-boogity at the start. Then I FF through all your endless commercials during the race.

Have you Fox guys even watched one of your race broadcasts? They are a kludge. No continuity at all. You bounce around between the roadkill cam, speed cams, bumper cams so much that the viewer can't tell what the heck is going on. And could you please invest some money in a real ticker? Check out the one ESPN uses that updates in real time.

Just out of curiosity, I'd like to know if MRN and PRN's ratings are up this year? Do they even track listeners on radio? I'm sure they must.

Vince a PO'd viewer in Mich.

Shawnna said...

I know I'm always late to comment, but today I feel like I need to get my two cents in on this weekend's race broadcast. A couple of requests in case the networks are reading:

1) Please limit the use of the gopher cam to the "crank it up" segments. It can be effective, but only if used judiciously; otherwise, it's merely a distraction as it provides little to no relevance to the race itself.

2) Please, please graphically show us the finishing order. Even if you can't show us a camera view of the finish line, at least put a graphic to the side showing placement and car/driver as they finish.

Wasn't this used last year?? I found the graphic very effective as it gave a sense of how far behind each driver was.

3) Please stop using the Top 10 ticker. Keep the ticker rolling through the complete 43 cars. It is extremely frustrating to be looking for a particular car and get to place 11 and have the ticker start over!

And while I'm asking, please keep the graphic showing how far behind each driver is showing in the ticker. It's boring enough, having to read thru all 43 drivers -- at least give me additional information while I'm looking.

Of course, you could choose to actually cover all 43 drivers, and then I wouldn't have to depend on the ticker so much...just a thought.

Thanks,
Shawnna in OKC

Anonymous said...

I am getting used to the poor camera work, the missed shots and all the other problems we have to put up with each week. However, this week I could not believe my eyes as the camera lenses were WET with rain and no one bothered to clean them. These were not the in-car cams, these were the manually operated cameras shooting the cars around the track! Anyone watching the broadcast in the truck??? How about using a towel???????? Ugh!!

yankeegranny said...

Thank god for MRN and Race View. I don't care if it is a cartoon/vidio game format. I can watch what I want with no innane commercials and commentary. I do put the TV on, but keeep it muted.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear I didn't miss much. Oh, I had the race on but I was also parked at the computer with TrackPass so I could keep an eye on where everyone was running and listen to my favorite driver and his crew.

This is pretty much how I watch all of the races on t.v.-t.v. volume down, TrackPass activated with the volume UP and flip over to NCAA action and/or golf to see how Tiger is doing, when applicable.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I think the racing coverage on Fox can't get worse, it does. It started on about lap two when the announcers were talking about Gordon leading the lap whle we were being shown some racing back in the pack. Same old B.S. on the last lap. Large sigh! As long as Producers and Directors of Nascar on Fox remain non- Nascar/non-racing fans it stay this way.

Tracy said...

Just back from Martinsville, and I can tell you, the end was exciting and worth seeing as everyone scrambled for the finish line. On such a short track, it wouldn't take long to show it on TV. If we could sit there for hours in the freezing cold rain (there were even snowflakes now and then!), the wind, and general misery to see the finish and everyone coming across the line, how much effort is it to show it on Fox? It was one heck of a race, and worth the discomfort.

Ryan said...

At least the top 10 should be seen finishing the race. And the gopher cam is ridiculous.


Also, is it really necessary for the announcing crew to give us a Hendrick running order update every 30 seconds? Or to make sure every single time the word fuel is used we hear about sonoco?

Anonymous said...

You are exactly right! Digger is cheesy and unprofessional. Follow the action when you cover a race, give the winner his due but the action is what i tune in to watch. i don't like to have to look up my driver on the internet if he didn't finish first or next to JR.

Tracy said...

JD, re: empty stands at Martinsville. The weather was horrid in areas around Martinsville, and a lot of people stayed home, probably thinking the race would be run Monday. We stayed at a hotel in Roanoke and it was sleeting in the morning of race day, which had us very worried about the race. But we drove down later in driving rain hoping it would improve. After the race started, a ton of people around us left after about an hour - conditions for fans in the stands were brutal. I think that's why the stands looked so empty.

Anonymous said...

You guys need to stop complaining that you didn't see everyone cross the line, would you rather have what FOX did yesterday, or what TNT did at Michigan (off-air 15 minutes EARLY for a vampire movie with no full-field rundown) & Sonoma (MONTOYA, MONTOYA, MONTOYA, mcmurray out of gas, MONTOYA, MONTOYA, MONTOYA, etc.) last year?

GinaV24 said...

Boy, after reading this, it makes me very happy that I was at the race sitting in the freezing cold and rain BUT at least I got to see the field cross the finish line! I wouldn't have seen that if I had been at home watching the tv.

I just don't understand how if they can use a split screen for showing pitstops, why they don't do the same for the finish? OK have one camera on the winner and the other focused at the start/finish line as the field crosses.

I was planning to watch the recording I made of the race, but it sounds like what I saw with my own two eyes beats anything shown on the broadcast.

Is this truly "back to basics", if so, how sad.

adam8023razgriz said...

I personally want coverage throughout the entire field and please, they need to stop over-using that gopher cam graphic. It was cute the first time, now it is just annoying.

The ticker needs to be fixed. Stop catering to the casual fan. Make the TV audience feel part of the track side audience.

-no T-shirt promotions

-show us what the driver sees (not the driver driving the car so much!)

-no "sport updates"(ESPN) or blocking out the racing action to hawk the prime time line up (ABC).

-Stop with the dumb promos at the beginning of a commercial break (I don't want to see the driver read from a script and say "You're watching NASCAR on Fox". We already know that!)

-get rid of that silly country song at the beginning and get some classic rock playing at the beginning and before commercial breaks (AC/DC, Rolling Stones, etc)
Does anybody remember the instrumental rock music ABC used to play from 1998-2000 with there NASCAR coverage? All the networks need to be doing that.

Desmond said...

I have seen the post which complained that NASCAR on FOX did not show the final top 35 standings and the "danger zone" after it had shown partial results earlier.

I can update you: Jamie McMurray is indeed now in the top 35, as is rookie Regan Smith, who edged out Sam Hornish, Jr. by three points, the equivalent of one position. David Reutimann is also out.

Strange, I had to wait until late last night and the NASCAR Now roundtable to find this out.

That's what happens when you have a network so focused on front-runners and time constraints that it forgets the big picture.

Oh, and not to pick on Mr. Daly, but just because you have the right to show a broadcast a certain way doesn't always make it the right thing to do.

Daly Planet Editor said...

des,

That's what makes TV so interesting almost all the time.

JD

Anonymous said...

I have been watching NASCAR for too many years to count. Some innovations have been good but at times networks have OVERUSED the new gadgets. "Digger" is a nice view especially when accidents happen. It seemed that during this race it was way overused. I hope Fox is listening to dial back this use and show more of the racing action since that is the point of the broadcast. When are they going to listen and show others finishing? Again, show the racing action and not so much post racing action. Just because the winner has crossed the finish line does not mean others are not still racing. Otherwise the networks have done a better job of broadcasting that has drawn some fans back to watching more of the race by what others have related to me.