Sunday, July 27, 2008

ESPN's Disaster Management Drill


Every TV crew brings a wide variety of skills to the track when they assemble to telecast a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Many times over the last two years we have heard that the amount of equipment and manpower used for a race like the Brickyard 400 is bigger than for the Super Bowl.

Sunday afternoon at the Brickyard, the NASCAR on ESPN crew was asked to look deep into their TV bag of tricks. They were searching for the network's Disaster Management Plan.

The Goodyear tires were only going to last about ten laps before failing and everyone on the TV crew knew this going into the race. Even with additional tires shipped into the track, the situation was simply not going to change. Tony George's track had a surface that was just not "taking rubber" no matter what was done.

Allen Bestwick led ESPN into the network's second season of Sprint Cup coverage and fans were very glad Bestwick was on-board. His years of experience were crucial in trying to navigate through the nightmare of only ten lap runs being the norm on one of the biggest stages in motorsports.

Bestwick led Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham through a one hour pre-race show that explained the problems. Evernham showed his value and his technical knowledge once again as he skillfully talked viewers through this problem situation. Wallace and Daugherty were not in Evernham's league and it showed.

The tire story wound its way through the entire pre-race, but ESPN carried-on valiantly by interviewing the big names and keeping up appearances. The pit reporters worked well, but Jamie Little and Shannon Spake were having a tough time understanding the seriousness of the tire situation. They eventually got on-board as the race progressed.

Dr. Jerry Punch was not seen during the lead-in hour and when he took over the live telecast of the race the only thing he had on his hands was a mess. The saving grace in all of this was Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree showing that they are going to be effective on this coverage for ESPN. These two are often carrying-on conversations that Punch seems to be interrupting when he gets back to trying to call the race.

As the first several cautions and the first blown tires began to paint a picture for viewers it was clear that both the teams and the TV network were going to be moving to survival mode. Instead of the grandeur and majesty of Indy, NASCAR was going to be lucky to survive without an open fan revolt. Many of these same folks were no doubt present for the Formula-1 debacle earlier at the same track.

In terms of the overall broadcast crew, it was Bestwick, Jarrett and Petree who kept their wits about them and spoke to TV viewers in realistic terms about the things NASCAR was doing as the race progressed. Multiple competition cautions, closing the pits early and getting a new set of Pocono tires ready if needed were easily understood by even the most casual fan.

Earlier on RaceDay over on SPEED, reporter Hermie Sadler showed the surface of the track and the way it had been ground into unique grooves. ESPN would have been smart to frequently show fans this surface to make the point about the tires.

The pictures and sound from ESPN were outstanding. The network dropped the music videos, the SportsCenter updates and the celebrity interviews. Green flag racing was not interrupted as if it was a sideshow and the network made a commitment to wider camera angles which showed a lot more cars than last season.

The "triple split" on the caution flag pit-stops came into play as never before. With the frequent NASCAR cautions, this patented ESPN coverage of the pit-stops and the race off pit road was outstanding. It was always instantly clear who had gained, who had lost and what the restart order would be.

This type of racing allowed ESPN to slip-in commercial breaks without any real problems. If there is one thing that caution flags every ten laps will help it is commercial integration. Thankfully, ESPN did not insert live X Games promos this year and limited the hype to the creepy Darkmane and his "really cool" costume.

As the race progressed, ESPN did not use the comparison of this tire problem to the issues experienced with the Formula-1 race a while back at Indy. It was strange that this situation was treated as unique when most of the Formula-1 cars actually pulled off the track and boycotted the race.

It was very clear as the telecast progressed that ESPN was managing the on-air disaster, but lacking the comments of two very important people. The first was NASCAR President Mike Helton, who did the right thing and subsequently walked right into the ESPN announce booth.

Helton was candid in his comments, told viewers exactly what the sanctioning body was going to do and the frustrations he felt in this situation. It was a reminder of the many positive things Helton has brought to the table over his years in this sport.

One voice, however, was missing. The high-profile Tony George from IMS was never heard from and that was a shame. Regardless of the problem, a track operator like Humpy Wheeler or Eddie Gossage would have been ready to go on-the-air and talk about the issues involved. George should have been front-and-center. Instead, he was invisible.

One big breath of fresh air from the NASCAR on ESPN gang was the final run to the checkered flag. The Director worked very hard to keep a perspective on a large number of cars even though it was a two-car race. As the winner crossed the finish line, ESPN swung wide so fans could watch the field race hard off Turn 4 and sprint to the finish. The big graphics were tough, but the information was accurate and worked well.

Fans of drivers like Marcos Ambrose and others who never ran in the top ten were frustrated that there were almost no full-field rundowns, but the tire situation and the frequent caution flags really had some production elements out-of-sort.

While this broadcast was clearly not a good test of ESPN's new NASCAR commitment, it was a solid start under tough circumstances for a crew with several new additions. This may be the one time that the TV crew is actually looking forward to heading for the hills. Pocono is next on the Sprint Cup agenda.

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

91 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Robin Pemberton realizes that in 10 seconds of airtime, he came off looking like a man completely NOT in charge on SportsCenter. The lack of concern about the tires and the visible apathy expressed in his body language - in just 10 seconds - was sad.

I must commend Allen Bestwick and Brad Daughtery on SportsCenter for how candid they were in saying that this race -considered to be the 2nd biggest of the year - just wasn't all that great, especially from a fan perspective. And also saying NASCAR has to expect that some people will be criticizing them this week, justified or not. NASCAR may go after the two of them (privately) for saying that on SportsCenter, so I thought it was rather brave of them. Of course Rusty, who is on thin ice, thought everything was great.

Responding to a couple of things on the live thread:
__
Anonymous said...
"Yeah - I'm done with ESPNNews."

Its actually 'ESPNEWS'. But the interview you were looking for was on ESPN.

July 27, 2008 7:16 PM

If you consider a 10 second clip of Robin Pemberton an interview, then it was on ESPN. I personally don't consider 10 seconds an "interview". Plus that's not what Allen said. He said they would show the actual press conferenence on ESPNews and would also come back on SportsCenter in another segment and talk about it, which they did - with a 10 second clip.
__
Daly Planet Editor said...
I heard from an email that they are out taking pictures and doing the "kiss the bricks" deal. This should take a while.

July 27, 2008 6:52 PM

The problem is that ESPNews has been doing the bait and switch for most of the season, which is why I stopped watching about six weeks ago. This wasn't a one time occurence, where the winner had special duties keeping them waiting.

What they do is keep saying or scrolling the winner's press conference is coming up, and when it does, they usually show only 3-5 minutes of it, after you've waited an hour. The fact that they ran so much of J. Johnson's press conference tonight is a rarity, not really seen since the Atlanta race.

So I'm not trusting that they'll give that kind of full coverage for the remainder of the races. Maybe they've changed, but since they didn't show Pemberton, I'm not counting on it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comment, let me help you with some things.

ESPNEWS is "slaved" to the schedule of the NASCAR Media Group, which uplinks the live coverage of the post-race press conferences. The network has no control, and NASCAR refuses to cooperate and schedule the start of the comments when ESPNEWS is not in a commercial or a highlight package.

When NASCAR gets a clue to what is really going on, they might work to get this situation sorted out. So, that is the reason that the poor ESPNEWS anchors keep teasing the interviews, only to be kept waiting endlessly while the drivers do pictures, Victory Lane on SPEED and the hat dance.

Agree with you on Daugherty speaking out, but he really did not bring anything useful to this telecast and that was a shame.

JD

Nan S said...

My main reason for watching this race live was to see how Marcos Ambrose did. The only way to follow his progress was with live timing on the Internet. I basically read the Sunday newspaper while checking his standings and periodically glancing at the TV.

Richard in N.C. said...

The F1 race tire debacle at Indy was different in that all the Michelin teams parked and the 6 (as I recall) Bridgestone cars raced without incident. Michelin blew it, but then reacted aggressively to try to make good with the fans. It will be interesting to see how Goodyear reacts to burnish its image.

Anonymous said...

JD said,
"George should have been front-and-center. Instead, he was never seen or heard."

JD, I don't think that was possible. Wasn't he in Canada with his IndyCar team and series?

Anonymous said...

Several drivers I heard had radio conversations with their crew cheifs about how angry the fans were going to be after paying for tickets to this debacle.

One referred to epecting a "riot" after the race.

While that wasn't really going to happen, I can see how fans paying what NASCAR charges for seats woulda been really unhappy with this series of ten-lap sprints.

Daly Planet Editor said...

My point was that this was known since the first cars turned laps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much JD for the ESPNews explanation. Now I understand it's not all their fault. Appreciate it.

I think Wind Tunnel and Victory Lane will be very interesting tonight, as will NASCAR Now if the NASCAR head honchos haven't gotten to them yet.

Interesting as I go online that most all the drivers interviewed are apologizing to fans for the race in their comments, but Pemberton is saying things like "Not every race is going to be a barnburner." (!!!) and "You can criticize all you want, but the surface here has to be anticipated."

How about a simple "This was bad racing. We should have been smarter in our planning. We're truly sorry, especially for the fans who came to the race in person." How hard is that?

Anonymous said...

"paying what NASCAR charges for seats"

um...that was uninformed. NASCAR doesn't set the prices at Indy or the SMI tracks.

Anonymous said...

"This was bad racing."

It wasnt bad racing. did anyone seriously not see all the passing?

Anonymous said...

Well, Daugherty lost me within 5 minutes of coming on the air with his comment about the cars with 900hp engines, or 1000hp if you are a Toyota comment.

Come on Brad, as an owner you have to know the hp advantage was in the Nationwide series only and it was only about 3-5 hp across the board. You're running a Ford and they have just as much hp as the Toyotas over there...

Anyway, I thought ESPN did a good job considering the horrible race they were given. It really is a shame NASCAR continues to be so arrogant and didn't have a 50 team tire test at Indy knowing there is a history of tire problems at the track and the new car has been very difficult for Goodyear to handle so far this season.

Thank goodness for DJ. He carries the broadcast. Anytime the conversation diverges from the actual race he gets it back to the on-track action. He throws the coverage to the pits. He runs the show at times - and knows his stuff. DJ is top notch and I hope ESPN realizes what it has.

Unfortunately, ESPN is stuck with a Pocono snoozer next week but hopefully they can find their stride.

It is about 100 times better than last year though. Thanks to ESPN for getting rid of the unnecessary glitz this season. It is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

JD
I disagree with your take on the closing laps.
#48 and 99 were upfront, and all of the pre-caution Elliott Sadler hype fell silent on the restart, yet we were "treated" to seeing Dale jr runnig in 11th place. What about 3rd thru 10th??
At least we saw cars cross the finish line
I give the day a C+

Bray Kroter

Anonymous said...

Someone in charge at ESPN obviously has a case of "Daytona Envy" and insisted that Punch and crew continually hype this race as the Biggest NASCAR Event of the Year, which it is not, normally...but it absolutely was not this time around.

"Good" or "exciting" races do not get interrupted for officially-mandated competition cautions to change tires every 10-14 laps.

Dwight said...

Yes, there was a lot of passing. The cars who took 4 tires passed the cars that took 2 tires. They pitted, the cars that took 2 tires passed the cars that took 4 tires. They went back on the track and the cars which took 4 tires passed the cars that took 2 tires. The only real racing was in the last 2 stints.

We were watching the wrong race, though. Jimmie Spencer and Kenny Wallace both said that it was a great race. And this situation was totally different than the F1 race, because goodyear went ahead and ran the race.

Anonymous said...

In with Jimmy and Kenny. I saw a great and interesting race. I DID IN FACT see lots of passing that had little to do with pit strategy.

Anonymous said...

It wasnt bad racing. did anyone seriously not see all the passing?

July 27, 2008 8:03 PM

If the DRIVERS are apologizing for the racing, I think they're better judges than you, me, or John Roberts and Jimmy Spencer, who are going with the "We had great racing!" route. NASCAR must have had a talk with them before the race was over, although Jimmy tried to temper JR's cheerleading a bit, I think. I guess they think if they say it, we'll believe it.

I believe the drivers.

Jeff Gordon: "I've never seen anything like this," said Gordon, who's won this race four previous times. "I hate that this happened here at the Brickyard, it's such a big race. I think all of us are disappointed for what happened here today."

Carl Edwards: "Personally, to the fans, we did our best; I know they didn't want to see a race like this."

Brian Vickers: "We have the best fans and they came out today to see us race, and we couldn't do it. It's an embarrassment, and I apologize to them for this race."

Ryan Newman: "It was a ridiculous race. There was no racing involved other than the mandatory cautions, which is ridiculous."

Matt Kenseth: "It's a really, really, really disappointing situation," said Kenseth, who finished 38th. "This is one of the two biggest races of the year ... I feel bad for the fans — we're running three-quarters speed because we're worried about the tires blowing out."

Daly Planet Editor said...

dwight,

I will talk about Spencer and Wallace later in another post. Those guys are amazing in what they can say with a straight face.

JD

Bill H said...

I noticed ESPN had the digger cam sans the animation and used it a number of times today.

(yeah I know espn used to use it, just seemed coincedental that thier 1st race out of the box this year they brought it and I don't recall them ever using it last year)

Anonymous said...

"If the DRIVERS are apologizing for the racing..."

First of all, drivers always complain if they did not win. I noticed you did not include J. Johnson's comment where he said, "there was a lot of good racing today."

I think the drivers were just tired of the heat races. I again, saw a lot of passes. You happened to only use quotes from drivers that had a bad day.

Daly Planet Editor said...

If you are going to comment on the race, please add your TV issues into the post.

We will continue to update the NASCAR TV info for Monday and any breaking news.

JD

Anonymous said...

Allen was great on Sportscenter this evening. He didn't throw NASCAR under a bus, but he certainly wasn't a cheerleader for them either (Victory Lane guys, I'm talking to you.) He presented pro and con and fit in really well on Sportscenter.

Adam T. Martin said...

Solid coverage, great picture, great sound, and zero hype.

Just racing and pit road updates.

B+ for ESPN so far.

SallyB said...

How refreshing to see a race without gimmicks and graphics cluttering up the screen...and NO 'signature' music video or "BBB". I give the booth credit for doing the best they could to make sense out of the mess that passed for a race today. It should be very embarrassing for Nascar to hype this as one of 'the crown jools' of their season, then have to run it in 10 lap heats. The COT is really showing it's 'raceability' on these flat tracks.

Daly Planet Editor said...

sally,

Tell you what (sorry Rusty), Pocono has great potential for ESPN this season. Add a good race to the production stuff they showed this week and we might have a very good run to Homestead.

JD

Newracefan said...

ESPNEWS did finally show a small clip of Robin Pemberton.

Overall I thought we got a decent show by ESPN, liked the camera angles and the finish was fantastic. I appreciate the lack of video clips and all the bells and whistles. DJ and AP carried the booth, JP didn't sound tired but then he didn't talk that much. AB was a pro in the studio as always. I would have liked a longer post race, ESPN was all over the kissing of the bricks before the race but they never showed it on the post-race. They also ignored the top 35 just like TNT, for those that care 00 out 66 in. We'll have to see how they do next week when they won't know when the next caution will be.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up about the Monday TV shows for your comments.

Thanks,

JD

Anonymous said...

I never picked up on the absence of Tony George until you mentioned it in this column JD, but you're right on.

Now that ESPN/ABC controls the portion of the TV package that includes the Allstate 400, the broadcast groups happens to be his own series' and race track's TV partner. Until the Nascar package, Dr. Punch made an annual pilgrimage for the month of May to be the #2 pit reporter behind Jack Arute for the Indy 500, even when he wasn't on the IRL beat.
The corporate cousin has been broadcasting the 500 for longer than I've been alive, so I don't know why Tony would not have been available to the employees of the mouse.

Renata said...

I don't even think you can make an assessment one way or the other of ESPN after this race. That's mainly because it wasn't a race, it was a collection of sprints back-to-back. I think we'll have a better feel of how their coverage is after Pocono.

Anonymous said...

ESPN inherited a real nightmare with their first Cup telecast in 2008.
They attempted to put a positive spin on things and dramatize the pit crew action and their involvement.
I would have like to see some more hard hitting journalism in speaking with NASCAR and Goodyear and asking the probing questions. But then again, ESPN is somewhat at NASCAR's mercy at possibly crossing the line and making enemies.
This "race" was a disaster and the fan outlash will be tremendous.

Jo said...

NASCAR put on heats with an A& B main. That is what we saw. Not a stock car race. Goodyear should have apologized, as should whoever was in charge at Indy surely Tony George didn't hand the keys to Helton and leave.

ESPN got a B+ from me earlier for the race coverage. We got to see better "racing" than they showed us last year, and for the changes I'm grateful.

Tweaks need to be made now - Doc is way out of his element as play by play. Please ESPN Switch him & Allan B. they are both great TV guys, but in the wrong spots. AB has a "radio TV " Voice, can do pbp
and direct traffic all at the same time. Doc is great as a host, an interviewer, and a great story teller when reporting. Use them properly please.
Which brings me to cRusty - this week he blew any shred of credibilty with his comments before the race, and during the race he is truly worthless, as big a shill as 2 on Raceday. He has an agenda and will twist fold spindle & mutilate to get it front & center. He gots to go!

Thanks for clearing up the ESPNEWS mess, I thought ( wrongly) they were just lying about when & who was coming up for interviews, now I understand whats up. Which NASCAR needs to do, and get on the same page as their TV partners.

Considering the mess ESPN had to deal with - they really did good today.No trax, colored air - measured use of tech center w/ timely info, DJ & Andy were spot on with commentary. Wide angle shots, great shot selection. Thanks so much for listening to us- we got to see cars plural cross the finish line.

As to the drivers apologizing, well - all the drivers save JJ - apologized about the quality of the racing. Jeff Gordon was apologizing & stated it wasn't just Goodyears fault, or Indys fault it was all 3 fault he included the cot, stating the car is hard on right side tires usually. He asked everyone to work on the problem. Heres hoping they do.

Could we see this again? I hope not

GinaV24 said...

I thought ESPN did a pretty good job with the coverage of this event -- I'm not going to call it a race -- a successsion of 10 lap heats isn't a race. NASCAR and Goodyear should be ashamed of themselves and have to give the money back to the fans who wasted so much of theirs to go to this venue. Allen did his usual great job with all of this and I thought ESPN didn't sugarcoat the tire issues too much -- a nice change from Fox being in NASCAR's camp all the time.

Vince said...

I think ESPN has vastly improved their coverage over what they gave us last year.

Replaced Suzy and Brent in the infield studio with AB. Major improvement.

Got Rusty out of the booth and in the infield studio with AB. Major improvement.

Put DJ in the booth. Major improvement.

Lightened up on the music videos and over the top graphics. Major improvement.

Lots of wide shots and less gimmic shots (in car, bumper and roof cams). Major improvement.

A wide shot at the finish with the driver drop down. Another major improvement.

And finally, no Draft Tracker or Draft Lock (what ever the heck that was)!! Major improvement for just getting rid of that crap. It was an insult to all us fans. I don't know what they paid for those useless graphics, but I suspect it was a boatload of wasted money. Somebody some where is laughing all the way to the bank.

Now the negatives.

Dr. Punch is still off his game and a step behind. I don't pretend to know what he goes through in the booth as the lead guy, but he's not cutting it. It's like he's not even watching the race. He's so into what ever he is talking about that he misses the action that is going on at that moment on the track.

Lack of info from the pit reporters, most notably Shannon Spake and Jamie Little. We were still in the dark today when drivers dropped out or had problems that left them laps behind. Not much info on who got the Lucky Dog all day either.

Brad D., Mr. Obvious. I like his attitude and love of the sport, but the things he says when on camera are for the most part "no brainers". I could probably pull a hard core fan out of the stands and get more info than what I get from Brad. I don't get what his function is on the telecast.

Todays race was so difficult to broadcast with all the mandatory cautions, that there was no flow. And that wasn't ESPN's fault. I give them a B for today, with major improvement over last year.

PS - I'm skipping Wind Tunnel tonight. DW and DD together is too much hot air in one room for ME!

GinaV24 said...

Dwight -- great post about the passing -- I agree 100%

Anonymous said...

JD, do you think ESPN would ever have the courage to have a real sit-down with the likes of Pemberton, France, Helton and the rest, and put the screws to them, so to speak? It's obvious that the product Nascar is putting on the track is bad, and the racing we're subjected to this season is really awful.

I don't know how much money ESPN paid to Nascar to televise the races, but I can only guess that they cannot be pleased with what happened today. With the Brickyard being the "crown jewel" in ESPN's Nascar coverage, one can only surmise how hacked off they must be by this debacle of a non-race.

All in all, I think ESPN did a good job with what they had to work with. I'm hugely disappointed that the Victory Lane folks have gulped the Nascar Kool Aid and refuse to see that this was one awful race. Just once I would love to see someone with the guts to speak their mind and tell Nascar that their product is going down the crapper.

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

Oops I forgot not enough coverage about the cars further back in the pack, no real coverage of Reut's wall issue, he pitted 50 times but I never saw how bad the car was. Never followed up on the 55 back in the race? or a few of the others who returned either 42, 15? I guess the 55 was for the DNF thing because he still finished 43rd. I would love to see at least one shot for a car after returing to the race 17, 2, 15, 55, etc just to see what the car looked like after the repairs. No mention of Ambrose's day his first cup race and first race for his team, should have been worth at least a little love.

ttc said...

JD: Your above assessment the very good but I would question criticism of ESPN for not interviewing Tony George. He certainly isn't as colorful as Humpy Wheeler or Eddie Gossage, he would never go against Mike Helton, and besides Georgeis basically an open wheel guy.

One annoyance was ESPN nearly always showing and spotlighting Jeff Burton on their 3-screen when the cars were in the pits. Although he basically ran in the top 10, I don't believe he ever led the race and it was obvious that he wasn't as fast as Johnson, Edwards or Gordon.

And although most people here will not agree, there seemed to be too little attention paid to Kyle Busch, especially after he lost the lead early in the race. But Kyle is still the points leader, won the Nationwide race last night and came into the Brickyard as the hottest driver in the sport. Similar to the No. 3 and No. 24 of other years, I always want to know where the No. 18 is on the track.

Anonymous said...

Overall, I thought the ESPN crew did an excellent job with the race today. It wasn't a good race - it was terrible - but I thought the broadcast itself was pretty good, and I echo being glad to see improvements from last year.

The big negative for me was not showing most of the cars in the race. I can't even imagine being the sponsors of the multimillion dollar cars and not getting even a five or ten second closeup of my car in a four hour race, or a mention or two of my driver's name. I would walk away from the sport in this economy. All 43 cars should be spotlighted at some point in the broadcast.

Also very disappointed in John Roberts on VL. Usually he's the voice of reason while Kenny and Jimmy spout nonsense, but he was the one leading the charge tonight. I won't even go into all the things he said to boost NASCAR, but they were all disappointing and I lost some respect for him as an independent broadcaster tonight.

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

do you want J. Roberts to put down NASCAR?
Nope.

Just want him to be honest.

Today's race was not good. Even the drivers said so.

Pretending it was is not helpful.

Anonymous said...

"Today's race was not good."

That is just your opinion. I will not disrespect you because of that. John and I have a different opinion. I dont see why you would "lose respect" over a difference of opinion.

Keep in mind - Drivers always complain. I wouldnt take their word for it.

am19psu said...

Wow, unusually poor job by the ESPN.com webmasters. Their front page link is David Blount's story from this morning.

Anonymous said...

am19psu,

are you sure? it has been updated for me with the latest information.

am19psu said...

The Terry Blount link on the front page is timestamped at 11:56 this morning and is definitely something I read pre-race.

I would link it, but I don't remember how to do a href in html code.

TexasRaceLady said...

ESPN did the best they could with the product they were handed. I will pin their ears back for not doing full-field run-downs occasionally. I'm sure that the back half of the field would have apppreciated a little recognition for their hard work.

As for NASCAR, personally I applaud their decision to stick with the yellows. Had they turned the guys loose, we could have had mayhem, or worse --- some driver getting injured. Then most people would have jumped them for keeping it green.

Our drivers all came home in one piece. This race is history, let's pick up and move on.

Judging by the improvements in coverage from today, I'm very hopeful that Pocono will be better.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Please offer your opinion to us and the rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

Today's race was not good. It was 10 laps, caution, ad nauseum. However, ESPN did as good as they could with their coverage today. The Richard Childress story was solid and even though I wasn't a big Dale Sr. fan to hear the respect and dare I say, love, Childress (a man's man if ever there was a definition) had for his friend; if that didn't leave you with a lump in your throat nothing will, especially the post-Atlanta 2001 part.

Back to the coverage, I appreciated that ESPN was not pandering to NASCAR, and yes, I blame this race on NASCAR. They could have allowed all of the teams to test during an off week. It's hard to polish a turd.

I think it's pretty safe to say that DJ will be taking Rusty's spot next year. He's smooth, although in the Jeff Gordon interview, I'd have loved to see the post New Hampshire disagreement they had back in the day.

All in all seeing what they had to work with, I give ESPN a B- on the coverage. The racing carries the coverage, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Well, nothing in that article is out of date. But all the supporting information on ESPN.com including results and photos seem up to date.

Dmo said...

Wow - Nicole Manske's package on NN was very well done. She continues to impress me. FWIW, NN so far has been pretty decent - good content; interview with the winner; decent explanations; and AB in good form.
-D

Bobby said...

This race was similar to what happened at Talladega in 1969 with tire concerns.

NASCAR just gave the teams cautions every 25 laps to check tires, and nothing bad happened.

A lesson learned nearly 40 years ago proved NASCAR's patience, and here, NASCAR took those lessons and endured with a race that turned into a local short track race.

TexasRaceLady said...

This Sunday night edition of NASCAR Now is really good.

Good info-- presented clearly and succinctly.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up about Victory Lane on SPEED.

Thanks,

JD

Dmo said...

I DVR'd VL. Watching a near-perfect NN right now - think I'll free-up some space on the DVR and save myself the antacids...
-D

Adam T. Martin said...

Just glad that ESPN improved for the broadcast.

Now NASCAR just needs to fine tune there product. cough Goodyear, COT.

SophiaZ123 said...

Not even sure how to rate today since it wasn't normal race.

But JD, I loved the sign for the column. Will give more opinions next week to see if the DECLUTTERED LOOK and great camera work keeps up.

I DID LOVE the wide cam on those straightaways.

Not a fan of the digger/ground cam thingie.

Anonymous said...

If I hear Mr. Punch ask Andy or Dale: So driver what would you do, or So crew chief what would you do, one more time, I'll go crazy.

Not to mention every question Masarro, Spake, or Little ask contains the phrase: How would that make you feel or what would that do for you personally. The drivers or crew chiefs just seem to give them a blank stare when they ask those irrelevent questions.

This is going to be a long rest of the season in the pits (and in the booth with Mr. P.)

Anonymous said...

What a mess! The few bright spots were Jarrett and Petree. I think Jarrett does an outstanding job. He brings a level of professionalism and credibility that is rare in Cup coverage. Punch and Wallace should go the route of Suzy Kolber and Mussberger. Its obvious that no matter how many people/cameras ESPN brings to the races, the decision makers have no understanding of automobile racing. Same for many of the race reporters and pit reporters. Shannon Spake commented "He's on 12 volts" telegraphed to many of us that she has no clue what she's talking about. Almost as insiteful as Krista Voda's "He's down seven cylinders" and Punch thinking that camber causes the cars to crab down the straightaways. Just a total mess!

Anonymous said...

I spent $360 to take my family to this "race". Never again. To a man, everyone in the grandstand section around me voiced the same sentiment. Nascar and the George family are going to take a huge hit in the pocketbook in 2009. That track is not made for these cars. It's perfect for Indy cars but not the COT. They should cancel this race and upgrade O'Reilly Raceway Park where the Nationwide race is ran. Now that is real racing vs. Competition Yellow and Pit contest.

Anonymous said...

There are finally race announcers that are worth listening to . Allen Bestwick , Dale Jarrett , Andy Petree , not trying to talk over each other , not trying to be the center of attention , using the english language as it was intended , what a change from what we are normally subjected to . Along with Wendy Venturini , a good job with a terrible race .

Anonymous said...

I thought the camera work was great. Only problem I had with the broadcast was the complete lack of any field rundown.

Dale Jarrett will enjoy a brilliant broadcast career just like his father did. He's the exact opposite of old, stale, tired DW.

Good job ESPN covering what was probably a all time low point for Nascar.

red said...

espn did a solid job with this "race" and i congradulate them. however, with all that was happening, some basic pieces feel thru the holes. i don't recall being told how the cars that had suffered damage were fairing, never heard if the #17 (for example) made it back on the track. we never had a rundown on the field, even during the endless competition yellows. and i don't remember too many runs thru the top 10, either. that being said: it's hard to do all the normal stuff when nothing is normal about what's happening on the track.

i enjoyed the camera work all race long, especially those great long shots, and the finish camera work was spot on as well. replay person certainly earned his/her money yesterday and that had to be a challenge, with so many cars having trouble in all areas of the track.

pit road gang was ok: the whip around of owners, asking about the tires, was great. i didn't really expect to hear anything controversial from any of them but i appreciate that it was done.

i have to admit that i was so freakin' confused about who was where and what was going on at several points in the race: who was the lucky dog? who took 2, who took 4? what freakin' lap are we on?!? it seemed chaotic and that was not espn's fault. it was a bit like trying to herd cats, from where i sat.

still more questions to be answered (is the pit guy on the #11 team ok? did the #88 car really "run over" a pit guy from the #18 team as the #18 team is saying?) and i would have liked to have heard from djc more -- but i suspect he was a bit busy!

no grade for espn this week b/c they weren't really given a race to broadcast, just a series of 10 lap heat races. not their fault.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 7:33 PM said: I must commend Allen Bestwick and Brad Daughtery on SportsCenter for how candid they were in saying that this race -considered to be the 2nd biggest of the year - just wasn't all that great, especially from a fan perspective. And also saying NASCAR has to expect that some people will be criticizing them this week, justified or not. NASCAR may go after the two of them (privately) for saying that on SportsCenter, so I thought it was rather brave of them.

I also think Brad and Allen probably got a call from NASCAR last night (I believe David Poole, who has said NASCAR PR people literally track reporters down, like at Champions Week in NYC, and tell them they're unhappy with the reporter's coverage). That's why I was very glad to see the ESPN producer backing up Brad and Allen in USA Today this morning:
--------------------
Neil Goldberg, ESPN's senior motor sports producer, didn't second-guess any on-air comments. "You have to tell it like it is. Everybody saw what happened," he said after the race.
---------------------------
BTW, the headline for that story was: "ESPN gets a clunker for season's first Cup telecast."

Anonymous said...

That is just your opinion.

You weren't in the stands.

The fans who paid to see this race were VERY unhappy with what they were shown.

We're talking thousands here. Not just me.

This was a bad race.

Anonymous said...

Bad racing? Did anyone see "all of that passing"? Well there's a good spin. I guess NASCAR just found out how to make these cars "race" really well. Is there any hope that NASCAR will have a slew of "competition" cautions at Pocono to make that race bearable?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Let me take a moment to remind you that this is a TV blog and we are offering our comments as they relate to the TV coverage. Thanks.

JD

ttc said...

still more questions to be answered (is the pit guy on the #11 team ok?

After the accident I saw Mike Massaro in the No. 11 pit with his microphone yet ESPN never went to him for an update.

Anonymous said...

I think ESPN did an OK job on Sunday with what they had to work with. I still think that AB should be in the booth but there are people that get paid a lot more than I do to make those decisions. What I have a problem with is Saturday's Nationwide race. Marty Reid was terrible (at one point talking about damage to the 2 "TRUCKS".) The whole broadcast was a joke. Taking as long as they did to realize maybe Carl did have a chance even though he was three laps down? Come on. Sunday was a breath of fresh air even from another ESPN broadcast the night before. Why were these broadcast crews so different even though both races were in the same town.

Sorry to get off topic, JD, I just had to vent!

Anonymous said...

Diane said:

Texas Race Lady said:

ESPN did the best they could with the product they were handed. I will pin their ears back for not doing full-field run-downs occasionally. I'm sure that the back half of the field would have apppreciated a little recognition for their hard work.

As for NASCAR, personally I applaud their decision to stick with the yellows. Had they turned the guys loose, we could have had mayhem, or worse --- some driver getting injured. Then most people would have jumped them for keeping it green.

Our drivers all came home in one piece. This race is history, let's pick up and move on.

Judging by the improvements in coverage from today, I'm very hopeful that Pocono will be better.

TRL....YOU ARE ALWAYS A BREATHE OF FRESH AIR...DITTO, DITTO, DITTO. IF I THOUGHT THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AT EVERY RACE I WOULD BE FURIOUS. I DO WANT FOLLOW UP; ALL THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE PROBLEM AND WHAT NASCAR/GOODYEAR WILL DO ABOUT IT NEXT YEAR TO AVOID IT HAPPENING AGAIN. OBVIOUSLY, LIKE MOST EVERYONE, I WASN'T HAPPY, BUT LET'S MOVE ON.

PS...ISN'T IT INTERESTING THAT FROM THE ANONYMITY OF THIS BLOG, EXCEPT JD, WE CAN ALL BE PERFECT...LOL. GLAD NO ONE HAD A CAMERA ON ME WHILE I WAS WORKING!!!

Daly Planet Editor said...

diane,

Got to love that hindsight. Should be interesting to see what guys like Waltrip and Evernham say on TV tonight.

Wait, I'm not perfect? :)

JD

Lou, from NY said...

anon, 219pm,

PS...ISN'T IT INTERESTING THAT FROM THE ANONYMITY OF THIS BLOG, EXCEPT JD, WE CAN ALL BE PERFECT...LOL. GLAD NO ONE HAD A CAMERA ON ME WHILE I WAS WORKING!!!

July 28, 2008 2:19 PM


gotta love it. I am not an anon. and not perfect.(Love the anon's who help us on this blog though) You have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone besides me hear "Dr. Jerry" call the driver of the #48 "Jerry Johnson"?!?!?!?!?!?
What a disappointment when the race ended and ESPN IMMEDIATELY cut away. "They" said we'd see the post race, kissing the bricks, etc." on "sportscenter" or whatever it is called, but the first stories were all football. I wanted to see more post race from the guys who covered the race.

Anonymous said...

I know that it's tough to fill in time, but some comments are just beow what you would expect from profesionals.

At one point AB asked his team if they thought the HMS team should worry about their teams this year. Is he kidding?!!!Just looking at "chase drivers:

HMS has 3 drivers in 2,4,and 6th place.

Gibbs has 1, 8, 10th place. and the 10 is just a couple of points from 13th.

RCR has 3, 12, 13th place and Roush has 7, and 11.

While Kyle is having a great year, this is his 5th year. Ryan N. had 8 wins his 2nd year! Both JJ and Jeff had more total wins their 5th year.

Anonymous said...

anon 258pm this date

It is obvious that you do not read ALL comments to TDP ...... It was answered . LOL. A true reader would have known that. It is ok though.... there were 591 comments for the race. you get a bye on this one. There was a long delay for post race stuff until the TV stuff could happen. Read the posts.

Dan said...

JD, I'm curious ... if you're the head of the network coverage, how do you do a post-mortem on this broadcast? Clearly this is a one off situation that isn't likely to happen again - so there really isn't any use in making a specific "When the Tires are Junk" game plan. Are there many specifics that can be reliably evaluated and learned from when your event enters the Twilight Zone? And is there a generally accepted procedure on how to handle the broadcast when the event falls apart as badly as it did in Indy?

Anonymous said...

I noticed you didn't say anything about ESPN loosing the picture several times for a few laps at a time> It was not only the race that lost the picture it was all of the ESPN programs and only ESPN on my cable , it was not the cable company it was ESPN.

Daly Planet Editor said...

dan,

I think that just like some of the teams, you take the positive and discard the negative. One key thing that makes TV folks last in the business is the ability to understand that the things outside of their control have to be left behind as you move on through your career.

NASCAR and Goodyear can handle the tire issues and combined with the 2002 grooving of the track made this mess.

For ESPN, the pictures and sound were good, they covered all the caution flag pit stops really well and showed the race off pit road.

The reporters stepped-in and got the guys who were the stories and even Mike Helton came on the broadcast to offer his apologies.

The drawbacks were ESPN in Bristol taking a power hit which resulted in lost signals for the ESPN networks for around a minute. The remote site had nothing to do with that problem.

The TV crew showed us the new format for the finish and it was great. I would walk away with a lot of positives and let NASCAR deal with the race issues.

Great question!

JD

Lou, from NY said...

come on anon 404pm

You know as well as we do that it was a weather related issue. The Northeast area all suffered very bad thunderstroms. Another anon who does not read all posts on TDP . Hello, dud?, you have a nice day also

Adam T. Martin said...

"I also think Brad and Allen probably got a call from NASCAR last night (I believe David Poole, who has said NASCAR PR people literally track reporters down, like at Champions Week in NYC, and tell them they're unhappy with the reporter's coverage). That's why I was very glad to see the ESPN producer backing up Brad and Allen in USA Today this morning:
--------------------
Neil Goldberg, ESPN's senior motor sports producer, didn't second-guess any on-air comments. "You have to tell it like it is. Everybody saw what happened," he said after the race.
---------------------------
BTW, the headline for that story was: "ESPN gets a clunker for season's first Cup telecast.""

I give ESPN/ABC a lot of credit. Even though we won't get back to the Benny Parsons/Bob Jenkins days of the 1990's, I think ESPN/ABC will rise this season.

Lou, from NY said...

even I lost my Direct TV signal after the Richard Childress segment. And I am just east of Bristol

Lou, from NY said...

so to continue on. Yea, I knew what happened w/ESPN. It was a situation they had no control over and the boxcar generater they had did a very good job.. Guess it was part of the Disaster Mgt Drill and it did work. And only lost a couple of minutes of coverage.

Lou, from NY said...

So having said all that ESPN still did OK considering the 10 lap segments for a total of 50 plus laps of yellow flag of a 150 or so race. Gotta give ESPN a bye they did as best as they could with what they had to work with. But the announce booth and camera shots were good.

Lou, from NY said...

So JD , If I am off topic, then delete.. for the temporaryy blackout w/out TV partners to include Hotpass.(because of the weather) But still was able to stay connected online.. (YESSSSS, DO MISS RACE BUDDY) Thanks.

It was not a great race. But with ESPN had to work with they did OK... announce and camera were good. . see you all later

Anonymous said...

The racing was awful and the coverage worse. Felt the guys were trying to convince me this was a good race. RW, who I thought would be good based on his IRL performance has lost all credibility. Why? Because he felt the need to interject his two cents worth on the Ryan Newman Penske deal. NYB. Proved himself to be incredibly small

Anonymous said...

What a great job on nascar countdown i thought bestwick wallace and everham and brad did a great job i can not wait to here these true pros the rest of the year.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for your comments on Monday's NASCAR Now on ESPN2.

JD

Anonymous said...

Hearing that The daily planet is being pulled from jayski.com please tell me that this is not true.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:24PM,

Jay makes his own decisions about what columns and blogs to list.

With all the good things that ESPN has going for it this season on the NASCAR side, it would be a shame to lose such good publicity.

This could be a very strong stretch run to Homestead.

JD

glenng said...

At least the production for the race included the finishing order of every car as it crossed the finish line. Cudos to ESPN.

The people over at Fox can learn some lessons from the broadcasts of TNT and ESPN. On the TNT side, NO DW. On the ESPN side, NO DW.

Thank goodness for Dale J. And Andy P. This combination puts every one else to shame. In fact DJ's pressence in the booth has me feeling like he could be the best ever. I am excited to watch a real race with an ESPN broadcast. Sad to say it probably won't be pocono. For now I'll be optimistic.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is now a new post up for your comments about the Monday TWIN show on SPEED. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

Hell ESPN went off the air mid race and put on Tennis in central illinois. An hour later they finally put at the bottom it had been switched over to another espn channel. What the hell was that all about.
And I am a blue collar worker. I do go to the races and spend my hard earned money. But if I had been a fan and a ticket holder of Indy. I would be fuming. What Nascar needs to know is. People who come to the races are laborers. Hard working people. And that race was entirely unexceptable. They should refund everyones money who bought a ticket to Indy. Do not take your fan base for granted Nascar. 41 year follower of Nascar.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:34PM,

ESPN's Network headquarters in Bristol, CT took a power hit in a thunderstorm during the race.

The result was a momentary interruption of programming. When things returned, the various networks were a mess. It took a bit to put the right feeds on the right networks.

You had the pleasure of watching ESPN2 on ESPN until someone got things sorted-out. I wonder if the tennis fans liked the NASCAR race?

The real shame is that no one told the announcers, so they never apoligized for the problem or explained it to the viewers. This used to be standard operating procedure, but I guess things have changed.

JD