Sunday, May 25, 2008
Mansfield Mayhem Makes For Great TV
Saturday afternoon it was time for the Craftsman Truck Series to return to the short tracks. Mansfield Motorsports Park is certainly short.
The SPEED TV team went into the race talking about the Championship contenders and the pole sitter. Only fifty laps in, they were talking about the survival of the fittest.
Mansfield was one of the most action-packed Truck races ever seen on SPEED, and called on announcers Rick Allen and Phil Parsons to keep the energy high for the entire broadcast. They responded in sensational fashion.
Despite his superspeedway dramatics, Allen may have finally found his short track "legs" with this Mansfield telecast. He was supported by the SPEED TV crew, who did a super job of keeping things simple and fast-paced.
From the directing to the camerawork, it was clear from the start that the sudden intensity of the racing was not lost on the TV crew. NCTS veterans were racing for position with more than half of the race remaining like it was the last lap.
Caution flags were the order of the day, and hot tempers were sure to follow. SPEED used a easy-to-follow graphics package that included the races off pit road and the movement of Trucks through the field. The crew did not insert anything but what viewers needed to know to understand what was on the TV screen. It worked.
Allen ran the pit reporters around like dogs with Ray Dunlap reminding us once again of just how deep his knowledge of this series really runs. Dunlap always has the "story behind the story" complete with names and places.
It had been a while since NASCAR fans had seen a good beating-and-banging short track race. While the body of the race contained many good stories that the networks followed, the final lap really reminded TV viewers of the reality of the short tracks.
Rookie NCTS driver Donny Lia body-slammed Todd Bodine as he passed him for second place, and then put the chrome horn to David Starr and moved him aside to win the race. At many other tracks and in several other series, a sequence of events like that would have set off a rather large post-race discussion on pit road.
Instead, both Starr and Bodine spoke with the TV crew while Lia celebrated in Victory Lane. Starr was cool and collected as he congratulated Lia and talked about he final lap bash as simply short track racing action. While Bodine complained a bit, memories of his actions last week in Charlotte were not forgotten by the fans.
When the Truck Series began, there were a lot of short tracks on the schedule that featured a very different style of driving than we see in the current NCTS. Mansfield was a reminder that both the TV viewers and the fans in the stands enjoy the good, hard racing of a short track as a part of the NASCAR experience.
SPEED had to be pleased that after all the hard work of the All-Star week, the network could return to the very series that keeps them on the NASCAR map where hard racing and good TV coverage are concerned.
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