Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Two And Done" For NASCAR On Fox

The days after the All-Star race mark the unofficial mid-point of the Sprint Cup season. Everyone takes a deep breath, and enjoys some time-off from the grind.

In "TV land" this is also an interesting moment in time as the remaining races in the NASCAR on Fox package dwindle down to just two. The Coke 600 will be next, and then the Fox gang moves to the Monster Mile in Dover as their finale.

The conclusion of the Fox portion of the NASCAR TV package signals several changes that fans know all too well. Some of these changes affect the personalities involved in the SPEED coverage of practice and qualifying.

However, the biggest change is the arrival of Bill Weber and the entire NASCAR on TNT crew for the next six events.

The NASCAR On TNT website sits quietly with Weber's last NASCAR story posted in November of 2007. The Hinder "Born to be Wild" video sits ready to be played. The banner at the top says NASCAR will be "coming soon."

TNT has no role in NASCAR before it arrives and no role once it leaves. TNT produces no other NASCAR TV programming and had a very difficult 2007 season. It is a six race package that brings endless promotion for TNT programming that overshadows and interferes with the racing. The contrast between Fox and TNT is remarkable.

Now, as the Fox season winds-down, the reality of the final 23 Sprint Cup races without Mike Joy gets very real. Joy has been a staple of so many NASCAR seasons he just seems to be a part of the sport. Fans will first transition to Bill Weber and then Dr. Jerry Punch will begin his second season in perhaps the highest-profile NASCAR TV job in the nation. Punch will call the final seventeen Sprint Cup races.

This is also the time of the year where Darrell Waltrip reduces his role on TV. His place on SPEED's Trackside is turned over to Elliott Sadler. His role in the TV announce booth becomes the property of Kyle Petty. Waltrip has once again been the highest-profile member of the NASCAR on Fox team this season.

Waltrip comes as a fascinating package for those who remember him from his prime days as a driver. While his enthusiasm for the sport is as vibrant as ever, he presents a combination of expert analysis and conflicts of interest that is as complicated as the man himself.

One moment talking passionately about safety and in the next selling Digger t-shirts on his own website, the mix has been polarizing for fans this season. Add-in his comments about both the success of Kyle Busch and the frustration of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the result has kept Internet boards humming and call-in radio shows busy.

Chris Myers turns the Hollywood Hotel role over to TNT in-house announcer Marc Fein. Last season, Fein was in over-his-head where NASCAR TV was concerned. Seated on TNT's very strange spinning outdoor stage, Fein and Weber seemed to often be at-odds over who was actually hosting the pre-race programming.

Jeff Hammond will continue to be seen regularly on SPEED once the Fox package is over. He and sidekick Larry McReynolds seem to enjoy the experience of working every race weekend. No one, however, is harder working than McReynolds. He will return once again to the TNT package. Last season, it was often McReynolds and Petty that carried the TNT broadcasts.

The Coke 600 is rumored to be a possible TV nightmare with the new COT car. Dale Junior said very clearly after the All-Star race that merely hanging-on to the car for full fuel runs is going to be a challenge. As TV viewers saw, there was very little passing and track position was key.

So, the NASCAR on Fox gang has their work cut-out for them next week. After an Indy 500 telecast on ABC that might be the most interesting in years, it should be a challenge to present four or five hours of COT cars struggling at Charlotte. Look for a lot of on-air content to be generated by the pit reporters as the laps begin to grind-away and the race becomes a potential lesson in survival.

Far from the glamour of the Daytona 500 or the thrills of Talladega, the NASCAR on Fox gang will close-out 2008 with two grinding races on tough tracks. Last season, Kyle Petty's third place finish at Lowe's got a standing ovation from the fans but was not seen by the TV viewers.

That led to this Daly Planet column after a season of issues with the finish line. Missing the Coke Zero car finish the race in third place at the Coke 600 on national television was not something that went over well with the sponsors or the fans. Given the fact that Kyle was about to step-out of the car and into a TV job with TNT just made it all the more glaring.

This season, not showing the lead lap cars finish the race has still been a speedbump in what has been a solid production effort since Daytona in February. Hopefully, good weather and some actual racing from the COT cars will send the NASCAR on Fox gang off in style.

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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.


Unknown said...

I am going to miss DW and the FOX gang, but I sure won't miss that "Let's Go Racin' Boys!" song. I wonder if Dale Jarrett has a t-shirt-ready catch phrase planned?

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness, As I look at the picture I realize that only one person in it is really good at broadcasting NASCAR, Mike Joy. After seeing the old all star race clips, with Buddy Baker, I really miss him. I wonder how many other people MUTE the start of every race with the REALLY STUPID boogity stuff. I won't miss that.Poor Mike Joy, the consummate professional broadcaster, must cringe a lot at what his partners say sometimes. At least I have something to look forward to!!

Anonymous said...

This is the part of the year where people get ready to start bashing TNT and then ESPN after complaining about Fox for the firts part of the season.

For some reason, fans really dislike whichever crew currently broadcast the races, and clamor for the one that doesn't...until they get it back. Then everything changes.

GinaV24 said...

Personally, I've been unhappy with all of the TV production for NASCAR, no matter what network is producing it. I was just thinking this morning that the season was about to shift over to TNT and ESPN and that I was glad the weather is getting nicer in NJ so I can be outside on Sunday's. I like Mike Joy very much and if he were the only guy in the booth, I would listen to the entire TV broadcast on Fox instead of muting most of it because listening to DW blather on is just too much for me. Chris Myers is a waste of space. He doesn't act the fool when he's on air for other sports (such as football) so I don't know why after 7 years of being on NASCAR he still feels the need to do that shtick. I enjoy Hammond and McReynolds a lot but they don't override the problems that Fox has. TNT has nothing to offer to me as a viewer for the NASCAR races since there are too many commercials when Fox has it and they just obliterate everything else when TNT does the coverage. Plus, you have Bill Weber and he's another polarizing character. Having been at races where you can hear the TV broadcast on the scanners (and pickup a lot of the unedited off air commentary), I lost all respect for him and quit watching the races on TNT after that. I have a Sirius radio so I can listen to professionals call the race and that is much more satisfying. ESPN has made some changes, but not enough if Jerry Punch is still in the booth. Its just not his gig and its a shame that they are forcing this unnatural role on him. Maybe DJ will help, but we'll be in high summer by the time ESPN takes over and they are going to have to impress me quickly to hold my interest. Add in the boring racing that the COT is producing and well, that's a combination that doesn't make me say "I can't wait to watch the race on TV".

Plus these days, the 1st 26 races are just seeding for the chase, so really you can just check the standings after the race, see whether your driver is up or down and not waste an entire Sunday in front of the TV. Sad, isn't it?

LuckyForward said...

Leave out "Digger Cam" and some of the silly stuff, Fox has done a better job this year than last, save the fact that Fox continually disregards the need to show the entire field at the end of the race.

But now we are close to TNT . . . you know, the network that uses races as the major means for advertising their programming?

Thank goodness I have Sirius radio . . .


Anonymous said...

As a 30+ year fan of the sport that was once great and is now just good, the end of FOX coverage can't come soon enough. But, now that I think about it, their coverage already ended! "Goof-er" cam gets in the way of on-track battles, cut aways to wives, crew, fans, the flag waver, all take us off the story at the finish line, and endless plugs for tee shirts, hats, Sponsored "questions" with graphics that obscure the screen, ill-timed and uninformative detours to the "wholly-wood" hotel have all combined to prove that Fox provides us with commercials and Fox ego enhancement, punctuated by occassional race coverage. Good riddance

Anonymous said...

While the commentary from Mike Joy and Larry MacReynolds is fine, DW has got to go.

His "Toyota bias" reporting is annoying to the point of insulting.

There are several examples but recently in the Charlotte race on 5/17 DW's it was clear he can not be an objective commentator.

He almost cried when Kyle's engine blew. Then jumped on the Hamilin bandwagon when he was briefly running out front. Then after Hamlin's demise, it was Tony Stewart and hoping he'd get a caution. Funny they all drive Toyota's

He reminds me of the guy in the movie "Idiocrazy" who kept saying "Carlo's JR" because he was getting paid to do so.

Maybe DW is being fair. Maybe DW knows Toyota has a clear advantage and wants to pull for someone with the best chance of winning. Believe what you wish.

He has also spoken (in a negative tone) about retired drivers such as Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. This is very annoying as well.

"Oh my ole buddy Cale" he has said several times this year when his name was brought up.

I appreciate Fox's efforts but DW has got to go. He is in it for his own pocket and is not objective.

Anonymous said...

This comment is not NASCAR related per se, but it is about ABC/ESPN race coverage. As proof that none are immune to on-air mega-goofs, the ESPN/ABC gang (Jack Arute)at INDY 500 bubble day yesterday were interviewing Dan Wheldon and discussing his on-track strong performance during one of the practice sessions. The rolled video of "Wheldon" moving in and out of traffic on the track, only to have Wheldon say "uhhh, that's not me, it's (my team mate)

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness Fox will be gone soon. There is not one thing I like about their coverage. DW is the worst broadcaster ever. Fox, please fire him.

I'm actually looking forward to TNT, so that tells you just how bad Fox is. I would much rather hear TNT promote their programs than hear the Digger promos.

I wouldn't mind DW and Fox promoting the stupid Digger stuff if the profits were going to charity. But that's not where the money goes.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thank goodness Fox is almost done! Now I can go back to actually listen to the TV audio during races.

We only watched the last 25 laps of the All-Star race and I could barely stand to hear DW for that period of time. And when Kahne crossed the finish line, Mr. "it's all about me" had to comment that he was driving a Bud car when he won the first Winston. Jeez! Thank goodness Mike Joy ignored yet another self-serving remark. TV is suppose to cover the current race and drivers, not serve as a vehicle for the announcers to relive their past glory. Someone at Fox needs to figure that out and stifle DW!

Anonymous said...

hello everyone. i just wanted to add one thing. the last points race, at darlington, FOX did indeed show the finishing order, or at least the majority of it. i believe they held the camera on the finish line for at least 20 cars. this was, imo, a vast improvement, yet from reading the comments here, no one is acknowledging that fact. when we complain, and the network responds, we should give them their due. now, just have to hope they continue this for the next 2 races....

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of DW, with his boogity crap. He was on Wind Tunnel with Despain holding a digger coffee mug, unbelievable...this guy is relentless.

Daly Planet Editor said...

hi dan,

Thanks for stopping by. Here is the quote from my column on Darlington.

"At the finish, Busch had enough of a lead to allow the Fox Director to use his regular zoom into the flagman as the winner crosses the line without a problem. A nice wideshot showed the rest of the lead laps cars cross the line in style. Fox has a great pop-up graphic for the race off pit road. This would be a perfect compliment to use as the cars cross the finish line to show unofficial final positions."

You are right in that the finish was better than usual, and if a pop-up graphic was added to display the finish it would have been fantastic. Thanks for finding us and posting.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Isn't Kyle Petty missing one or two races as commentator for his daughter's wedding? I thought I read that somewhere. Maybe they'll put Larry in the booth.

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:31AM,

Kyle is going to miss the Dover race, which is the last race on Fox.

He will be in the booth for all of the six races in the TNT package. How the network will use Larry McReynolds this season will be interesting to see.

Last year, it was tough to have two drivers in the booth and the crew chief down on the infield stage.


Anonymous said...

ok, devil's advocate here b/c i am, at best, quite ambivalent about DW. but as someone else pointed out, i don't think DW has a toyota bias per se. i think he has a joe gibbs racing bias and they have toyota on the front of their cars. he doesn't often take the same notice of the red bull teams as he does of jgr and, strangely enough, he is generally relatively quiet about michael waltrip racing drivers as well. so, i see a jgr bias when he's announcing. remember last year when he was getting criticized for his hendrick bias? as i say: perhaps it's not the manufacturer as much as the top team bandwagon jump.

he also is, i believe, seeing quite a bit of himself in young kyle busch and, like it or not, kyle busch is the focus of much of the nascar attention across all three series. when you see a driver who reminds you of yourself as a young man AND that driver is tearing it up everywhere he runs, it must be hard to be objective.

i believe the combination of the two factors is what has led to the perception/reality that dw is too toyota-biased to be objective. fans know of his business relationship with toyota and that adds to the negative perception as well.

does DW irritate me? he most certainly does, especially when he's in heavy 'digger-mode'! but i watch the races for the racing, not the announcers. if it gets too blatant, i simply hit 'mute', turn on MRN and keep the laptop fired up -- as i have several times already this season. there are options, including watching the race without the benefit of ANY outside commentators/bloggers and just watch the race.

Anonymous said...

DW Quotes

"Its Gonna Be a Toyota Drag Race"

"Toyota has a special engine package that they are trying"

"Those Toyota's have lots of horsepower"

Many, many more.

The plugs for his brother's latest driver. And there was a plug for the Red Bull car on Saturday.

Just too many and too often

Anonymous said...

Yes, with all due respect to country music in general, the "Let's Go Racin' Boys" song is just too campy and "friendly" for me and I can't hit the mute button fast enough when it's on. I would much prefer that any songs about racing, especially NASCAR racing, have more of an edge and pace to them.

Anonymous said...

The other Diane said:

Are any of the broadcasts perfect? No. Did ESPN or FOX read complaints/suggestions on this site and make adjustments? YES. (Well, maybe not FOX on end of race :-)). Regarding DW. I and even my husband like DW. He can get on your nerves occasionally, but he seems to always see things happening long before they do. We like the insight that he brings (Larry Mac, too). We especially enjoy the "stories" from back in the day. NASCAR has such a great heritage and it adds to our enjoyment hearing what happened back then. Oh, the BBB...let's see it's a few seconds at the beginning of a 4 or 5 hour program. Ditto that with the LGRB song. Which I think is way better than a concoction of rock or rap.

I'm just thankful that we get to see the races. Being from the West Coast we aren't close to many racing venues (or ones we care about). Attend Daytona 500, but that's it. If the broadcasters keep listening and improving their product I'm willing to stop nit picking and focus on the bigger stuff...not missing restarts, minimal Digger and non essential screen stuff...and showing race end with finishing order ticker and at least all lead lap cars , etc.)

Sophia said...

The constant ruin of the end of the race on FOX has left me livid more than once (show winner, flag man, crew jumping up and down, in car winner came...lather, rinse, repeat)

The thing that WILL continue to annoy me on ESPN is that ubiquitous bottom ticker...but oh, well.

Anon 8.54 Your comments are on the money. Fox's INTRUSIVE OVERSIZED SPONSOR graphics also ruined many a races and "graphic sponsored moment of the race" as well.

The tv bugs, and gimmicks are a bit much.

SPEED is getting just as bad with over sized graphics and ignorant tv folks that do NOT KNOW HOW to keep graphics in 4.3 dimensions. for the record, MAJORITY of folks are NOT watching in WIDESCREEN but SPEED can't figure this out on their station...and they are affiliated with Fox thus get a mention.

and don't get me started on Digger crapola...and somebody mentioned a coffee mug????????????????????????????????????????????????

Anonymous said...

TNT's programming ads can't be any worse than ESPN's constent talk about basketball and baseball games on their network,Why can't these people just do the job they are supposed to be doing, race covereage? Everyone has a TV guide and can see for themselves when the stick and ball games are on.

Anonymous said...

mike joy stinks. when there are a bunch of cars racing off into the corner at california i really don't need to hear him yell "six wide." waltrip and larry mac have to constantly correct him when he misspeaks. he should be replaced by hammond. it's too bad because the tnt and espn announcers all stink. brad daugherty? are you serious? does anyone else want to punch this guy?

Uncle Dan said...

I sure don't understand everyone's negativity when it comes to DW. I find him to be the most likable, down home, old school personality in race broadcasting. Boogity Boogity..lighten up people and have some fun. I look forward to the boogity boogity. How about DW noticing that Kyle's car sounded flat before it even started to slow down? Pretty observant I would say. I LOVE DW on any race show and I hope he has a presence in race broadcasting for years to come.

stricklinfan82 said...

For the first time since 2001 I am actually looking forward to someone other than Fox covering the Cup races. Even though Fox has the very best on-air personalities in the broadcast booth and on pit road, the production element of the race broadcasts has been a headache. I have had enough of gimmick camera overkill, merchandise sales, pre-race show nonsense, and terrible last lap camera work. Assuming ESPN carries over their Nationwide production style (fantastic pre-race show, fantastic last lap camera work, perfect scoring crawl, etc.) and doesn't lapse back into Musburger, Kolber, Draft Tracks, Sportscenter Minutes, and ignoring everyone but the winner on the last lap I will be thrilled.

As for TNT, I know many people are dreading their return but I have a different outlook. Last year's TNT coverage was awful, pathetic, laughable, and every other negative adjective you can think of. There's no denying that. However, I am fully confident that TNT is filled is very smart and proud people. I'm sure they are well aware of everything they did wrong in 2007. I'm sure they have studied everything they did and are fully committed to making sure this year is not a repeat of last year. They have had TEN MONTHS to sit back and watch Fox and ESPN. And during this time I am very hopeful that they have carefully studied every race broadcast in the last 10 months and have been intently studying the Daly Planet and other NASCAR TV commentary sites. After this 10 month period of intense study I am fully confident we will see the best 6 weeks of NASCAR TV coverage of the entire year. I am expecting a perfect hybrid of the strengths of the Fox broadcasts and the strengths of the ESPN broadcasts. I am confident that there is no reason we will see any glaring issues like finish line camera shot problems, missed restarts, outdated scoring crawls, forgetting to show the finishing results and top 35 in owner's points after each race, etc. Anything short of the excellent coverage I am anticipating will be a colossal failure given the fact that they have had 10 months to careful study what it takes to have a successful race broadcast.

The only drawback to Fox's season ending is losing coverage of many practice sessions. This issue needs to be fixed as soon as possible. There is simply no excuse for getting morning practice coverage for the first half of the season and dealing with TV blackouts during the most important part of the season - the final half of the season. When ESPN is around to cover Happy Hour and qualifying, I really hope we see drastic improvement in their coverage of these events. I will sum up what they need to do in three simple words - SHOW THE TRACK. No more studio guests and highlight packages while cars are qualifying and no more behind-the-scenes looks at the ESPN gizmo of the week while cars are practicing. Just show the track and only the track and we will be ecstatic. Oh yes, and finally please show all the go-or-go-homers in their entirety during qualifying :)

Lou said...

strklfn82, I agree w/alot of your comment. But I think we are asking for too much.

Anonymous said...

Thank god we will not be subjected to the the nonsense and stupid "hair do's" and hair color of DW, Hammond and Larry Mac. DW is as bad a self promoter as his silly brother and the gallons of hair color these guys use makes Richard Childress look like Miss Clairol!

Newracefan said...

ALthough Fox has not been perfect (end of race issues and too many trick camera shots) but I will miss Mike Joy and DW (I like BBB and even that song). I hope SLF is right about TNT and I am very hopeful about ESPN with the positive changes they made this year (hopefully Doc can keep up the pace he showed with the last NW race). I just hope we aren't screaming on this blog in a couple of months wishing Fox was back, digger and all,

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Finally, sfter two more races I can watch NASCAR Sprint Cup races again. When the races are on FOX I use the mute button so much it's not worth watching.
DW is the absolute worst with his "boogity" idiocy and constant blathering and self promotion, he needs to go. With the exception of Mike Joy, the rest of the FOX crew are just about as bad, especially Chris Meyers and the stupid "Hollywood Hotel".

Anonymous said...

I might be kind of bias towards fox, being that i have a relative that works for the co. but DW really does get on my nerve. Chris Myers is better off doing football games. TNT is going to be unpredictable with there coverage, lets wiat and see. After last year maybe somebody at that network just might have got the idea right this time around! The problem with espn is the blackouts. Now i pay Extra for it on my direct tv so i should be able to view it if i so choose to watch it.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what's up with all you Fox haters. To me, I'm NOT particularly looking forward to the Fox team not doing the rest of the races. With Fox, I felt like the whole Fox broadcasting team were intimate in their knowledge of Nascar and I truly felt "plugged it". The other guys seem to be more "broadcasters" and do not possess the Nascar knowledge. I remember last year after Fox was finished, the rest of the season broadcasting was "ho hum" to me. A lot of the time (especially when ESPN did the broadcasting"), I was going, "what are these people doing broadcasting a Nascar race". The chemistry was just not there. Myself, I wish Fox had ALL the races. They are the only ones who have "Nascar" people, not just general "broadcasting" people. I'm going to miss it. The only thing I don't like about DW is him saying that "boggady boggady" crap. I wish he'd get rid of that saying and use something else.

Anonymous said...

I personally LOVE DW ! He is truly passionate and he genuinely cares about this sport and every one in it! Good and bad drivers alike. I am thoroughly going to miss his ENTHUSIASM that he brings to commentating on this sport. LOVE YOU DW! Going to miss you!