Saturday, July 12, 2008
In-Progress At Chicagoland: Final Sprint Cup Race On TNT
Here we go, it is the last TNT race for the season and several members of the TV cast will be moving on to other TV projects.
Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach are going to continue the CORR off-road racing TV package they are working on this season for NBC Sports. Kyle Petty will continue on Tradin' Paint, the media/talk show on SPEED each racing weekend.
Lindsay Czarniak goes back to her full-time job as a local TV station sports reporter in the Washington DC area. Matt Yocum continues to be the Producer of Tony Stewart's radio show on Sirius.
Ralph Shaheen and Marty Snider are both off to do other TV things for several networks in non-NASCAR sports. Snider is going to Beijing for the Olympics on NBC and will also be a pit reporter on the CORR off-road package. Shaheen continues on the AMA Supercross Series coverage.
TNT this season has been better than 2007 and the wonderful pictures have led the way. Working with Fox Producer Barry Landis, former ESPN NASCAR Director Mike Wells has shown the power of covering the race effectively by always showing groups of cars on the track. His persistence in helping TV viewers keep the same perspective as the fans at the track has not gone unnoticed.
This broader scope has allowed Landis and the announcers in the booth to always have a feel for the racing action. Wells is not shy in moving back into the field if that is where the racing is going on. The same could not be said for Fox, which has a philosophy of focusing on the leaders and the high-profile drivers.
The "wide open" TNT coverage at Daytona showed viewers that races could be run with limited full-screen commercials and showed advertisers that fans will stay during a commercial break if the race can still be seen. Hopefully, that message got through.
The star of TNT this season has been Kyle Petty. Everyone else has just become his supporting cast. In much the same way that Dale Jarrett can dominate a telecast on ESPN, Petty is the centerpiece of TNT and the person around whom all conversation revolves. It has truly been his breakout year as a TV analyst.
In this final race, it should be interesting to see if the Sprint Cup cars follow the example of the Nationwide Series and spread-out to race the track. Long green flag runs put the pressure on the pit crews and ultimately the crew chiefs to make the right calls in the pits. It also puts the pit reporters on the spot.
The lights at Chicago are great for TV and hopefully that will allow Wells and his veteran crew to make outstanding pictures as they deliver their final telecast of the season.
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