Sunday, April 27, 2008
In-Progress At Talladega: Sprint Cup Race On Fox
The anticipation is high as many feel this may be the day for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to break through and capture his first high-profile victory driving for Rick Hendrick.
The NASCAR on Fox crew will be judged on how they strike the balance between Junior and "the rest of the field." Chris Myers will lead Fox on-the-air at 1PM for an extended pre-race show of one hour and twenty minutes from the Hollywood Hotel.
Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond will be on-hand to anchor the show with Myers. There is a lot of information to cover, and plenty of stories to follow. Joe Nemechek is on the pole, Kyle Petty made the race, and Tony Stewart continues to make news about his future.
On pit road will be the veteran team of Krista Voda, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes and Dick Berggren. This is a long pit road, and with the frequent pit stops it should be a hard day for all four of these TV professionals.
Mike Joy loves the superspeedways, and does a great job with his race calls on big tracks like Daytona and Talladega. This Sunday should be an opportunity to add yet another classic race to his TV resume. Having Larry McReynolds alongside is never a bad thing, as McReynolds has updated his COT knowledge and is on-top of the new technology as if he was an active crew chief.
Fox will bring "Digger" along and with plenty of slow caution laps it should be interesting to see how many times fans see the gopher animation. This track lends itself to the type of "speed shot" where the camera remains fixed and the cars fly-by at high speed. One thing to make note of is whether or not the audio "tracks" along with the video. When "Digger" appears, he should be seen and heard.
Last season, it was tough to tell the TV story of the event because of the strange racing that happened. There was lots of action early, and then basically a single-file test drive for several hours. The challenge for the TV crew will be to adapt to whatever the drivers throw at them in terms of wanting to race or simply following in line.
Finally, the Talladega finish is awesome in person. Unfortunately, most TV viewers have never seen it because of the NASCAR on Fox finish line "formula." The winner alone crosses the finish line, then the camera zooms in on the NASCAR flagman. After that, various shots of the pit crew and wife/girlfriend fill the screen. Meanwhile, the rest of the field screams across the finish line at full-speed off-camera. The actual finish of the race is only seen by those fans in the stands.
This season, the last lap of the Fox races has been a disaster. The "winner only" issue has been discussed, diagnosed and examined in detail. Fans on the Internet have begged, pleaded and screamed to no avail. What Fox wants to show is the winner, and any story or action behind that car is simply eliminated.
The Fox philosophy is that anything other than "the win" can simply be replayed later because it does not matter. Veteran fans know that nothing could be further from the truth. The big story of the race might be the car that came from the back of the pack to finish third, or the three-wide battle for positions in the top ten.
As the Fox portion of the Sprint Cup schedule heads into the final stretch, it should be interesting to see if the network sticks with this finish line format for a big race like Talladega.
The pre-race is on the air at 1PM Eastern Time, the green flag is at 2:20PM and the race is scheduled until 6PM. Please read the comments for the weather updates from the Daly Planet amateur meteorologists.
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