Saturday, July 12, 2008

TNT's Summer Visit Worked Out Well


Saturday night in Chicagoland, the TNT crew tried to ease their way out of the Sprint Cup door with a solid telecast.

While featuring such things as Larry McReynolds doing a less-than-memorable magic trick and someone in the announce booth loudly singing along with the Viagra commercial, the night was actually a solid success.

The trademark of this six race series continued to be the teamwork between Producer Barry Landis and Director Mike Wells. This TV package offered fans the opportunity to see multiple cars racing on a consistent basis. Tight shots of cars running single file were kept to an absolute minimum. It made all the difference.

TNT never catered to Junior. They never gushed over Kyle Busch. In-car cameras never dominated the coverage and gimmicks like Digger were simply gone. These telecasts were enthusiastic and energetic from beginning to end.

Credit goes to Bill Weber who seems to have found a new peace and made it through the entire six race package without displaying the anger that was his trademark in 2007. Perhaps, the emerging presence of Kyle Petty in the announce booth helped Weber to manage his frustration level.

Petty came into this package with a lot more TV experience under his belt than last season. Petty did the TNT races in 2007 and is a regular on the Tradin' Paint series on SPEED. His ability to keep things loose and even poke fun at himself has transformed this TV package from very tense to very comfortable.

Larry McReynolds, magic tricks aside, has been an integral part of this team. Perched in the infield and running up and down the ladder to the TNT stage, McReynolds is the mad scientist who is always cooking up a new formula. Weber and his booth-mates have been confident in calling on McReynolds at any time during a telecast for strategy and opinion. After a long season on Fox and a continuing busy schedule on SPEED, McReynolds seems to be the hardest working TV guy in NASCAR.

No one has been through more changes than Wally Dallenbach. After working with several different play-by-play partners and analysts, Dallenbach has been able to relax this season. He is not in competition with Petty for information and has let Petty take the lead on commentary. Dallenbach's lower-key approach and increased level of comfort worked well for TNT.

The on-track production has featured effective recaps of the race using the pit reporters to go through the field. That group has worked hard and done their best in this rather short TV package. Veterans like Matt Yocum, Ralph Shaheen and Marty Snider navigate easily through the tangled world of the NASCAR pits.

One standout has been Lindsay Czarniak. For a second-year reporter who does not work in NASCAR outside of this six race stretch, she has been able to contribute to both the TNT and SPEED telecasts in a very solid manner. Her ability to interact with the drivers is clear and their reaction to her easygoing manner and professional demeanor has been rather remarkable. It should be interesting to see where her TV career takes her in the future.

No discussion of TNT this season would be complete without a good word for RaceBuddy. Offered free to broadband computer users, this application is made available through the NASCAR.com website. It features four camera angles that can be viewed together or separately. Also available are two audio streams of either the "natural sound" of the race or team radio chatter. Finally, interactive text applications allow for such things as email to the announcers and a chat room.

RaceBuddy has been a smash hit. As an adjunct to viewing the race on TNT, it plays the role of the "wide open" coverage as fans turn directly to it when the commercials appear on TNT. It proves the point that going side-by-side with commercial breaks for all Sprint Cup races in 2009 is the way to go.

Fan feedback at The Daly Planet has been positive for the ability to make the video boxes into a larger single picture and also to zoom the video to a full-screen size. This has resulted in the viewer being empowered as a "mini-Director" choosing the video and audio mix they want to see and hear during the race. What a nice idea.

TNT Executive Producer Jeff Behnke deserves a good deal of the credit for organizing the diverse parts of this coverage. Innovations this season have included the TNT announcers appearing on the NASCAR.com broadband post-race show. Live RaceBuddy questions from viewers have been worked into the telecasts and made for some fun moments at Chicagoland.

Looking in the rearview mirror, the 2008 NASCAR on TNT experience has been quite different than the Fox presentation. While it took one race to get in the groove, the overall package was actually interesting and fun. If the goofy fake restart pylons are the only thing to complain about from a TV perspective, that is a pretty good statement about what TNT brought to the table for this season's summer experience.

What are your thoughts on the Chicagoland finale and the entire TNT six race TV package?

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. Thank you for taking the time to add your opinion.

58 comments:

am19psu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Newracefan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jo said...

Last year I had not 1 good thing to say about TNT. This year I'm so sorry TNT is leaving us after only 6 races, & taking RaceBuddy with them.

Landis, Wells & all the people we never see behind the scenes, THANK YOU !! What a difference a year makes. The wide shots, the finish line, pit cams, & pit reporters you all had the complete package!

Larry Mac was really informative in a non intrusive way giving us some knowledge & insight. I'm giving him a pass on the magic act tonight. Only because Wally sang the Viagra song LOL too funny!!
Bill Weber, Wally & Kyle & Marc were all great on camera blending well, it was like watching a race with friends who really know racing. The enthusiasm was real & came thru every week.
I hope next year TNT gets Bill the rest of the cocktail table.

And RaceBuddy, wow, what a great idea & worked well every week for free. I loved the battle cam best. When Stewart was pulled out of the car was the time I used the in car, great just great!

Great job TNT.!! We're gonna miss you at our house.

SophiaZ123 said...

Great column, JD. I still remember your column weeks ago saying TNT had a meeting and wanted to make it more "fun" for the fans..and I poo poo'd Race Buddy. I was wrong!!

Well, I can't remember now what to say after my gushing over the great Wells camera magic and the party from the booth in recent weeks(truly enjoyed the boys this year)

I am also sad to see them go. Will write more later.

ditto on the dumb magic trick. WTH? GF racing. RB saved the moment.

Gymmie said...

I've enjoyed these last 6 races. They've flown by!

I've really enjoyed RB and I hope they can come to an agreement and expand it for the ENTIRE season next year!

I hope that they can build on this for next year and make it even better :).

stricklinfan82 said...

Okay, before I reflect on the overall Summer Series I need to give a major thumbs down to two of the things TNT did tonight.

First of all, myself and many others on this blog were very critical of the Fox 4-box for caution flag pit stop coverage. I was completely stunned when all of a sudden TNT multiplied that and had a seemingly completely random 16-box. Multiple boxes showed nothing but the grass, some had roof cams that didn't show anything, and Kyle Busch's pit stop was in at least two of those 16 boxes (as other drivers may have been as well I dunno, I didn't care to rewind the DVR and check). Quite simply that was a complete mess and thank goodness they never went back to that again.

Secondly, I can not believe they interrupted green flag racing for the extra-long Larry Mac-Marc Fein "magic trick". I like that those TNT guys genuinely seem to be having fun on the air but that segment definitely crossed the line. Randy Pemberton said it best on the Jeff Gordon Hotpass channel at the time when he said something like "well, looking at the TNT box on the upper-right it looks like they're busy doing some kind of magic show but meanwhile here on Hotpass we're going to stick to covering the race." With 90 minutes of pre-race to fill that segment would have much better utilized then.

Despite tonight's shortcomings and other constant issues like the commercial overkill and terrible post-race shows I will definitely give TNT the nod over Fox for the job they did during the first half of the NASCAR season.

I definitely give TNT credit because I don't think anyone could have seen this turn-around coming after last year's debacle. The TNT director is top-notch and is light years ahead of the Fox director that shoved Digger, in-car cameras, and nothing but the race winner at the finish line down our throats. I can only hope that since Fox "lent" Larry Mac to TNT this year, Turner will in turn "lend" their director to Fox for their NASCAR coverage next year.

I also give a lot of credit to the TNT booth. I think Bill Weber did a very good job this year and the chemistry between Weber, Wally, and Kyle was excellent and made for great TV. Marc Fein was also solid in the host role and did not come across as "out of place" at all this season. And Larry Mac is still a huge asset to any NASCAR TV broadcast he is a part of (as long as he doesn't have a saw or magic wand in his hand anyhow).

The bar has been raised, let's see how ESPN responds through the fall and if Fox re-vamps their coverage in a similar fashion as TNT did this season.

Thanks a lot TNT. When you weren't in commercial or attempting to do a post-race show you were excellent this year.

As a side note it sure is a shame that after more than 3 1/2 straight hours of pre-race coverage, all TV viewers have for post-race coverage is 3 interviews on TNT and a couple brief soundbites on ESPNEWS. It sure would have been nice to be able to turn to Speed Channel after TNT signed off and watch some NASCAR post-race coverage on TV this evening. Oh well, opportunity lost for the Fox folks since there is no reason to watch Victory Lane tomorrow. Any notable post-race driver comments or "breaking news" during post-race inspection will have been old news by the time the "tape-delayed by 20 1/2 hours broadcast" airs.

red said...

i agree completely with jo's comments! i am admittedly not a fan of fox's race coverage and this year so was incredibly bad that i was more than ready for tnt to take over b/c ANYTHING had to be better than fox.

but i was very quickly won over. the production team showed us how a race should be covered, using wide shots and staying away from gimmicks. i always seem to be more interested in the mid to back pack action and the wider shots gave me that. the racing itself has been less than spectacular but the job done by tnt's crew has been what has kept me watching.

two features of the coverage have made it all go by too quickly: racebuddy and the booth crew. when i first read about racebuddy, i was skeptical: it would freeze up, it would be laden with commercials, it couldn't possibly add to my race watching. i am thrilled to be wrong. i am one of those folks who did use racebuddy as a partner and i was not disappointed.

listening to the booth team of weber, petty and dallenbach was like watching the race with some good buds over beer and burgers: they brought an authentic atmosphere of fun into the coverage and i found myself smiling at what was being said, even when the racing itself was stinking up the place. their enthusiasm for the sport, their sharp intakes of breath and "whoa!" when it got snarky on the track, just the stuff they KNOW made me a fan of this team.

to everyone involved in the past 6 weeks of race coverage: thank you, one and all. had you done any less than the wonderful job you did, i would most likely have turned off nascar this season. your 6 weeks haven't been without missteps and glitches but overall, you have done a professional, interesting and intelligent job and it's been a pleasure to have shared these races with you.

Mik Watson said...

Today's Chicago race was a washout for this west-coast viewer. I started watching the pre-race, which had a lot of drop-outs for "insufficent signal". I posted a note to TNT TV so they could work on it before the race. I, later, noticed the local commercials were working fine, so I added that to the Forum. The Race Buddy that they were so proud of didn't cover the drivers I wanted, didn't have any info that explained what was happening, and crashed my computer three times during the race! It was the most work I've ever had to do just to see the race, and I wasn't able to follow a lot of it. The signal finally stabilized with 37 laps to go, but there was no apology forthcoming, nor any mention of the failure at all. Thankfully, This is the end of TNT's summer season. I hope it's the end, PERIOD!

Daly Planet Editor said...

mik,

Normally, we get lots of emails and comments if there is a regional or national technical problem. We received none.

RaceBuddy is a proven broadband application that is kept small but the TNT guys have tons of bandwidth and there were no glitches during the race that we saw.

As you may know, RaceBuddy has only one in-car camera at a time. TNT viewers vote on what driver the coverage changes to during the race. The driver is picked by the voters.

If you find that there was a TNT problem involved, please drop me an email. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

The TNT signal was completely fine in my area. No drop outs at all. And great HD pictures the whole race. Must have been your service provider or your dish/cable.

Kyle said...

I think Jo hits it right on the head, Im sorry TNT is leaving us!

A few VERY MINOR grips. Larry Mac is sitting in the infield, when he should have been in the booth.
Sonoma Race commercial overload.
The restart pylons were silly.

In my mind you'll never beat the fox booth but TNT captured the same fun energy.

Overall just a solid job by the entire production and talent crews!
The turn around from last year is nothing short of remarkable.

Karen said...

Never thought I'd heap the praise on TNT this year after last year's mess, but what a turnaround. It was just amazing. I even liked Weber. Sorry about that, Bill.

RaceBuddy was a plus and hopefully will be accepted by Fox and ESPN if offered. Didn't care for the bingo caller, but the pictures were great.

Bill, Wally and Kyle seemed to have had a good time and their oohs and aahs were outstanding. Gasps of breath I think another poster used. I found that made the race more exciting. Looking forward to next year already.

Great job, guys.

Anonymous said...

Gotta disagree that they never gushed over Kyle Bush. They gushed all over him. It's just that now people are starting to see that it isn't bias, but the kid is the real deal.

Brian said...

I never thought I'd say this, but I am really going to miss TNT. I wasn't too much a fan of the "Wide Open Coverage", but other than that, everything was pretty cool.

Wally and Kyle really have made things interesting. While no one can fill the shoes of BP :(, this has certainly been fun to watch.

Bill has definitely been a lot better to I think as well, and Larry Mac has continued being the good person he is, everywhere... that guy is awesome. I haven't watch the pre-race coverage at all (just too long), so I can't speculate on that.

Very impressed though with TNT, I wish they weren't leaving now and had the rest of the year like the good old days.

Heck we'd even get our first practice sessions on TV too! Not anymore, we will have full black outs just like 2007 again... Thanks ESPN.

I never thought I'd say this, but I wish things would stay the same! I'm gonna miss TNT. I will.

Speaking of enthusiasm, here's the last lap from Daytona, this is priceless if you want a listen: http://dodownload.filefront.com/11041085//ed32ca2d58b638e540649ed5bcbf7244e4c807940bdab9b0fb2e95726ea9aed305289d9be93af008

AndyPandy said...

I have to say that overall, this year was much improved over last. My only concern is that the good job Petty did will push him to give up the car sooner than he would have otherwise. I don't care how low he finishes, I'm a fan and want to see him race.

However, a recurring problem that I had with TNT for all of their races was a poor signal. This may be the same thing that Mik posted about. Everything on my Comcast Digital cable usually works great, except TNT. I don't know if it happens on non-race broadcasts, becasue I don't watch anything else on TNT. On both the standard digital and the high def channels, I get freezing pictures and stuttering audio, especially when someone is on the Internet (Comcast). I swapped out the splitter with an amplified one, but it still persists. If only the audio could drop out just when Weber barks "Matt!"

Other than that, good job TNT, I'm still a Fox fan, and I dread the upcoming weeks of Jerry "I belong in the pits" Punch and any appearance by Rusty "I tell you what" Wallace.

And one last remark: Lindsay did a great job. The drivers really looked like they were happy to talk with her, and she always seemed to have her act together with useful and accurate information. And she just looked so darn cute in her firesuit. (Sorry, couldn't help it. I'm a guy.)

cvt said...

Thanks to the crew for 6 great telecasts.Kudos to Bill Weber for a fine tribute to BP.

Vicky D said...

I thought TNT had great races and we enjoyed RB a lot. I also think the 3 guys in the booth worked well together and looked like they were having a lot of fun (i.e. KP's tie). I wish TNT had shown more of the guys towards the back but I guess that's what RB is for.

red said...

andypandy, thanks for the reminder about lindsay czarniak! i have been impressed by her work in the pits and, as you say, the drivers seem to genuinely like speaking with her. heck, i think she even made earnhardt jr blush a time or two! her blog has been a great addition to these last 6 weeks as well. nice work, ms. czarniak, and thanks!

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Sorry to see the six races go by so fast. Hope the TV guys read all the good comments. I did enjoy the wide open coverage. I liked that I found out that there are 43 cars in a race, not just the top 5. And we were able to see them once and awhile. Not just for that race but all five I watched.

I could go on, but if TNT guys read the comments. They get the message.

One other highlight to me is the introduction of Race Buddy. I did not think much of it, until the second or third race when I used it for the first time. Now it is something that is a must have. Did not care for the audio part of it. But I did enjoy the camera shots. And as an added feature to us on the night race last night was the sunset shots. Yes SophiaZ123 I did do screen prints of the sunset.

Thank you TNT, I enjoyed the last month of coverage.

MBeard, Muskogee OK said...

TNT did an excellent job this year. I'm sorry to have to return to the goings on of FOX next year to start. Specifically, the touting of the special interests of the commentators of FOX.

TNT had humor, professionalism and knowledge. Loved the full race view! I plan to patronize the sponsors that allowed it too!

Dee said...

Hmmm, sorry just can't say that I liked the coverage of the race. Just a few examples: They were doing a run down of the drivers in the top 15 and they totally blew by David R. and Biffle to go to Matt or Ryan who was 15th. Kyle Petty admitted that they never mentioned David R. (44) during the WHOLE race when they noticed he finished 14th. M. Waltrip's car was hit by a rookie and ruined his front splitters, never showing how his team worked hard to fix them, but when Carl Edwards did the same the camera was right there. Little mention of the 00 being knocked out by the idiot Leffler and what his team was doing to try and stay in the top 35. Yeap MWR fan here and I thought the coverage did not inlcude all the teams, and this they admitted themselves.

Anonymous said...

I thought the wide and medium
camera shots covered the racing
best. Save the in-car shots for
wrecks. Can the side show antics
and show green flag racing.

LuckyForward said...

I will make a statement that I NEVER thought I would make: TNT has raised the bar for ESPN! TNT made the most astounding comeback from last season! To TNT's credit, it proves that they listened to the feedback, whereas Fox did not. Now the big question: has ESPN had its ears on?

Will be interesting to see . . .

Rockin Rich said...

I have had a bad "taste in my mouth" for Bill Weber that I got from his first appearance when NBC started its coverage. I have now finally lost that taste. He certainly has toned down his, (in my opinion), overwrought sayings, and TV story pieces. What has really come through to me is his apparently very genuine affection for Benny Parsons. I don't recall anyone else mentioning Benny nearly as much as Mr. Weber continues to do. He certainly is doing his part to keep the memories of Benny alive.

That said, I don't think Bill Weber is the equal of Mike Joy, but who else currently on TV today is? However, I have come around to exorcising my dislike of him.

The booth gang was very good. The race coverage camera work was the best of all the TV entities, including Speed. The fact that the enthusiasm, and conversation seemed truly genuine is certainly a highlight for me. This, particularly, stands in stark contrast to the obvious forced enthusiasm I see from some of the ESPN crew, (Rusty, Brad, and some others). Can you say acting rather than reporting/presenting?

I liked the Daytona "Wide Open" coverage. I think it was done well. I didn't try Race Buddy for a variety of reasons.

Overall, despite the superior performance that Mike Joy consistently delivers, I vote the TNT race coverage the best of all four race coverage providers.

TexasRaceLady said...

I'll join in with the others by saying I NEVER figured TNT would change their spots from last year. Humbly, I must eat a little crow --- the coverage was excellent.

As far as Race Buddy goes, it must work better if you have DSL. On my satellite, it freezes momentarily every 15 seconds, and changing screens takes forever. So, it's really rather useless for me.

The TNT booth has really come alive this year. Bill, Wally, and Kyle make the racing FUN --- even when the action on the track, isn't. LOL

Larry Mac is excellent doing his tech explanations. However, his "bag of magic tricks" needs to be lost before next year.

1 1/2 thumbs up, guys. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Well, TNT absolutely blew Fox out of the water. What a great six races.

Other than the usual minor gripes (the silly restart pylons, the Bill Engvall commercials, the magic trick, etc.), the telecasts were solid from top to bottom. The extended prerace shows were actually pretty good as well.

I also have to mention what a wonderful job Lindsay Czarniak did - not only on the TNT race telecasts but also in the garage for SPEED practice coverages. Her interview with Junior about Australia is the most animated and happy I have ever seen him. She is top notch - it's a shame we only get her for six weeks.

Adam T. Martin said...

OK, my turn.

I'm still not a fan of Bill Weber. He has improved but he is a terrible and repetitive play by play announcer. He has left a bad taste in my mouth ever since he made his way into the booth.

Wally and Kyle were good. Scratch that, they were professional, great, and fun.

The camera work was better than Fox's (no gopher cams, etc).

The commercials were too many and unnecessary around the end of the race. This has got to stop.

TNT needs to stop promoting there shows because I doubt auto racing fans are really into Bill Engvall, The Closer, or what not.

I'm not a fan of Hinder's cover of "Born to Be Wild".

To be honest, I give TNT a B-. Fox a C.

Newracefan said...

TNT's good points far out weighs the bad. First let me say I love the camera angles that TNT uses, they had a little more trouble with this race since it was hard to get two cars on the same lap in the same shot but they tried. This was my screaming complaint of Fox and evidently the director noticed (THANKS). The booth did well except for admittedly not talking about more than the top 10 cars unless something really bad happened (thanks for the update on MWR cars I was wondering) Fox was better at this and TNT could fix it by doing their through the field deeper into the pack and at least twice a race. RB was fantastic and hopefully will be a season wide offering next year, to me it would encourage people to get Trackpass so they can control what they see and hear. TNT's pit reporters are a close second to Fox's with ESPN's a distant third. The FULL SCREEN Larry Mac magic act was their biggest mistake (I did not see a sponsor so it's not like it was just another commercial and it was way too long). Their post race coverage on TV left much to be desired and the Nascar.com add on (as long as you mute the hosts) was a bonus with Larry and Marc evaluating the race along with more driver interviews including some of the media center. I wonder what it will look like now that ESPN is taking over.

Newracefan said...

Oh thanks for the reminder lose the pylons

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

any race coverage without waltrip, is great race coverage.

tnt seemed to broadcast a race. fox puts on a show and tells you who won the race at the end. my clicker has 500 shows on it, but i enjoy watching the race.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:24AM,

When you get a chance, please email me at editor@thedalyplanet.tv so I can address that issue for you.

Thanks,

JD

Photojosh said...

Overall, TNT's 6 race package was a very positive experience in my opinion. Yeah, the first race was a bit rough, but the rest were great with just a few unimpressive bits.

The biggest unimpressive aspect was the total lack of a post-race show. It really felt like the whole race was being swept out the door just so we could see whatever junk sitcom was on next. I know they had the post race online. But quite frankly, that's not the same thing.

Now for the good stuff.

Guys in the booth:

I can say without a doubt that I love listening to the booth guys. Bill, Wally, & Kyle are great. Not only do they know their stuff, but they sounds like they actually CARE about racing. They get excited at the same time the rest of us do. Their whole "feel" really made the TV experience better and finally put a booth crew on par with the MRN guys in my mind. And for me, that's high praise, because I'm a big fan of the radio broadcasts.

Direction/Production:

The telecasts were very well done. Nothing overblown. Nothing cheesy. Even the graphics that were used weren't particularly annoying in any way (thinking of the restart pylon). Finishes were show. Racing in the back of the pack was shown. Stories were followed. Good job.

Wide Open:

Advertisers and Nascar need to take note of this. As more and more of us watch races with Tivo/DVR, we are skipping more and more commercials. I didn't watch a single commercial from the Chicago race. I watched EVERY ONE from Daytona. Or at the very least, I was half-watching/listening. Which is a big change from fast forwarding or even getting up and making a snack. If advertisers want me to see their commercials, they should clamor for more "wide open" style coverage.

Race Buddy:

Sadly, I don't often get to watch a race in real time thanks to job/wife/son/life. So I didn't get to use Race Buddy as much as other people did. But when I did get to see it, I liked it (especially for the price). It was a great added dimension for the program and a reason to try and watch the race "live" (and therefor end up watching more commercials. Are you listening NASCAR business people?)

Overall:

Beat the Fox production by a mile. I usually like the Fox guys in the booth well enough. But this year's Busch love fest, "Digger" crap, and junk direction/production really left a bad taste in my mouth. And of course, Nationwide series success notwithstanding, we still have yet to see if ESPN is going to do better than their horrid broadcasts from last year (to be fair, I think they will).

Here's to hoping that TNT gets ahold of a few more races in the future. It would be cool to see this 6 race package fleshed out into a 12 race package or something.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere else to post this, so I'll post here: I'm liking the blue background on the frontpage.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Just to add to newracefan, I agree it was a pleasure to watch Marc and Larry on NASCAR.com, were on their game as we would expect. The other two after that(can not even remember their names, Estes or something to that effect). And it was good to hear all of the post race interviews without censorship. I say that as I did watch it also on ESPN in that I had both on at the same time. (yes there was a slip by KB, which I thought was ok, but not heard on ESPN but was heard on the NASCAR.com post race media show). I enjoy multi tasking and it was fun to do. Do not remember where I read it on your blog. But it would be nice to see the same without interuption on TV.... Just the post race interviews in the media center and no other comments

Thanks again JD for your efforts

Rick said...

I am a TNT convert. I absolutely hated their coverage last year.

TNT did a fine job covering NASCAR with its "Summer Season". Weber's attitude was was a complete 180 from last year and he seemed to have genuine excitement in his role. He listened to us and learned what he needed to change and did it. Thanks Bill, it was enjoyable listening to you this year.

Wally and Kyle also seemed to be much more comfortable with each other this year. Whether it was because Kyle was more comfortable in the TV role or Wally not needing to be the center of attention (or both) doesn't really matter to me. They were great together!!! And I guess that Weber's attitude change from last year may have also made a difference in Wally and Kyle's interaction too. Kyle has always been a funny guy, it really came out this year. Wally and Kyle played off each other very well all season.

Nothing needs to be said about Larry Mac except that he is a consumate professional when it comes to anything NASCAR. His NASCAR knowledge is bottomless. Yeah, the magic trick was lame (especially during GF racing), but it really wasn't as long as everyone seems to be making it out to be. TNT, in the future just leave those types of gimmicks for FOX. Lame gimmicks are what FOX does best these days.

I must admit I didn't even notice the imaginary pylons until some people here brought it up, so I don't really have a problem with them. They are no different to me than FOX flashing a green flag up in the corner during restarts. And FOX even has a sound effect at the same time, which I consider to be more intrusive than TNT's pylons. It seems the majority of fans here don't like them, but to me, they didn't add anything or take away anything from the broadcast. I'm focused on the cars, not the infield during the restarts.

The camera direction was incredible, especially compared to FOX's work in this area. Wide shots showing multiple cars on the track is what we want and need to get an idea of what is going on during the race. It appears that TNT did go back and watch the old ESPN, TNN, and CBS races and got the right idea, less is more in most cases.

RaceBuddy was a great bonus for the fans. I generally kept it on the quad view and the ambient racing sounds. I tried the drivers audio, but it was usually too low in volume and too hard to understand. The ambient racing sound gave me the impression that I was at the track. Hopefully Turner Interactive will continue RB for the rest of this season and help force ESPN to do better. I'm not holding my breath for it, but I, for one, would certainly enjoy it and praise them for doing it.

The ONLY change I would like to see next year from TNT is to take 30 minutes of their pre-race coverage and turn it into a true post-race show. I have heard that many viewers change the channel right after the checkered flag, but if TNT (or any of the networks for that matter) would dedicate 30 minutes of post-race and promote it, I think most viewers would stay for it. Take Marc and Larry off the Jack Daniel's online show and put them on the network. And don't chop it off if the race goes long, it should be an integral part of their broadcast. Find a sponsor for it. Allstate sponsors the pre-race, maybe Coke or Bud or LifeLock would take up the cause and sponsor it.

I am already dreading ESPN's portion of the season, just as I originally was with TNT's coverage. TNT proved me wrong, I just hope that ESPN can bring me half the enjoyment I got from TNT's broadcasts. So far, to me, TNT has had the best coverage of the year. ESPN has shown me no improvement over last year with the NW series, DJ included. While he is an improvement over Rusty, it's still not enough. Sorry DJ fans. I'm not expecting any great change at all from last year. Punch is horrible in the Play-By-Play role and Bestwick's talent is wasted in the host role. Hopefully, ESPN will see what TNT has done and can make some quick changes and also prove me wrong. Unfortunately, I see ESPN topping FOX in the gimmick world this year, as so far; they just don't get it. It's harder to add things than it is to take them away, it should be fairly simple to rip out the gimmicks and a screen full of graphics over the racing. TNT listened and gave us fans what we wanted, we'll just have to wait and see what ESPN does. I probably got a little off-topic there. ;)

Thanks again TNT, for an excellent "Summer Season".

SophiaZ123 said...

I second all the positive postings on TNT and my only gripe last night if not near a computer was the STUPID magic act that was too long during GF racing.

A note on Rbuddy:

Last night I used it a lot, and at first I could only do the quad view. When i would click on one pic, it went black and disappeared..later it was slow..then even later, it was FINE.

Then towards the end, it started freezing up or sputtering and each frame took too long to load. But I could watch all four small pics just fine.

Perhaps they had higher traffic/use last night?

And i could not GET ON Race Buddy from NASCAR.com. Thanks to Alex who posted how to get there weeks ago, I found it.

But yea, I am REALLY going to miss TNT and the fun the guys brought to the booth.

As somebody mentioned, so much better than the forced or non-existant chemistry on ESPN.

Oh and one final note, Lindsay CZ was EXCELLENT! I wish she could take Shannon Spake's place and they could find another job for Shannon where she is more comfortable. LC was smooth and easy to watch.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Rick said. I take it out of context.

"RaceBuddy was a great bonus for the fans. I generally kept it on the quad view and the ambient racing sounds. I tried the drivers audio, but it was usually too low in volume and too hard to understand. The ambient racing sound gave me the impression that I was at the track. Hopefully Turner Interactive will continue RB for the rest of this season and help force ESPN to do better. I'm not holding my breath for it, but I, for one, would certainly enjoy it and praise them for doing it".

"Take Marc and Larry off the Jack Daniel's online show and put them on the network." And I add maybe do both. They were really good. To bad network viewers could not see that.

Agree with comment above. I did enjoy Race Buddy minus audio and that Larry and Marc were very good on post race show online

ttc said...

A few VERY MINOR gripes. Larry Mac is sitting in the infield, when he should have been in the booth.


A major gripe to the minor gripe: Larry Mac is excellent as the tech guy in the infield and for 2009 Fox should consider a Hammond - McReynolds switch.

Anonymous said...

Diane said.....

FOX and ESPN should take some lessons from TNT. The bottom line is race fans tune in to watch the race. We don't need gimmicks. The funny part is why do they think we need them? They are annoying and where else are we going to go to see the race? Yes, there is Hotpass, which we have, Trackpass, RB, etc. For us, the TV is the primary vehicle for viewing a race. It would be interesting to know how many people use the other venues as stand alones.

The wide shots TNT used are great. All of the broadcasters need to work on covering the entire race, and the races within the race. All things don't happen at the front or with just a few drivers. TNT did the best job at meeting that.

Booth chemistry is so important because poor chemistry can interfere with even good camera work. I love the Fox crew, but TNT may be passing them. Fun, energy, fan type enthusiasm, all without the hype and gimmicks.

Last, ESPN/FOX/SPEED, hire Lindsay C. She is terrific. You can see the difference in how the drivers react to her.

Rest up, gang...will need all our energy when ESPN takes over. Hope, like TNT just did for 6 races, they make us eat our words.

We all can only hope!!

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Diane said:

PS...the features TNT did on past drivers was outstanding. That should be a standard feature for everyone. It refreshes the memories of long time fans and gives new fans a great perspective of how NASCAR came to be. And ditto the comments about post race coverage. There needs to be some...LOL! TNT..cut prerace to hour at most, 1/2 hour sufficient, unless major race..Daytona, 600, etc. Speed...get Wendy back on pit road doing her walks. ESPN, let Speed cover all the practices, qualifying they want.

Anonymous said...

I'll only make 2 criticisms - which is far fewer than a year ago.

1) Please TNT, no more tricks about where Wally's world is taking place.

Pocono is a 2.5 mile triangle, Loudon is a 1.058 mile paperclip.

2) Never thought I would say this, but you can probably jettison Weber's pre-race show. I realize you make money having 2 different names for it with 2 different sponsors, but your in house announcer Mr. Fein is doing just fine with Kyle and Larry Mac for an hour to just throw up to Weber to lead-in to opening ceremonies.

Or . . . you could give Lindsay a try at the pre-race anchor chair then send her to pitroad, Larry Mac can banter with the guys in the booth without the coaching of a host, he's proven that.

She's excellent doing studio work for WRC here in Washington, even hosting the Redskins show and putting up with Tony Kornheiser on the radio.

haus20 said...

TNT has certainly improved their broadcast in most every area...many have pointed out the positives and negatives already.

I would submit that for most of us, we could put up with more if it weren't for 3 minute commercial breaks after every 5 minutes of racing. That is what it seemed like for the first 4 TNT races.

There was the WOW race and Chicago seemed much more tolerable in the commercial area. I haven't looked at the official stats, but that is how it seemed.

All that being said, there are alot of varying opinions about the different networks. I still prefer Fox, but TNT made drastic improvements...Bill Weber is the weak link in my opinion. Move him to pit road or out the door for that matter and there would be an improvement.

Besides AB and Mike Joy, who is the 3rd ranked play by play guy out there? Marty Reid? Someone else - I really don't know just asking.

Many people have suggeted replacing Webber, but who is available?

Karen said...

JD,

If Kyle quit driving, where else could he do booth work? Any suggestions? He's a natural.

Kenn Fong said...

J. D.,

I liked TNT's coverage this season. I thought Mike Wells and Barry Landis wrote a great play book, and Wells calls the right shots at the right time.

Bill Weber has a certain quality in his voice which tells me "It's time for racing!" He's the nexus of the booth and this season, he's got a sense of the strengths and limitations of Kyle Petty, Wally Dallenbach, and Larry Mac. I feel comfortable with this team, and it's clear they feel comfortable with each other.

Race Buddy was a great innovation, although it froze several times in my browser (Safari). This is one of the few times a PC works better than my Mac.

This season is an "A" for TNT.

Kenny
Alameda, California

Dot said...

The last six weeks really did fly by. TNT did a much better job this summer.

I am really going to miss Race Buddy. Yeah, I know I could pay for computer coverage, but I'm cheap. My only complaint about RB is the pit road camera. I saw cars coming down pit road unscheduled, but couldn't see who they were. Other than that, good job TNT.

Dmo said...

I have always enjoyed Bill Weber's work with NASCAR. To me, he is the ultimate anchor person - i.e. manages traffic extremely well; is very comfortable in front of the camera; defers in-depth analysis to those paid to do it. His voice and perceived-attitude seem to be the red flag to some. Mike Joy is still #1 in NASCAR PbP (and an excellent color commentator, ref his work with the B-J Auctions) - but Weber, IMO, offers a more anchor-like package in his role with TNT. Again though, this is merely my opinion.

I really hate to see TNT's coverage go.
-D

gdr said...

I can't believe everyone is letting TNT off so easy for the magic show fiasco. It was a major foul-up, as far as I'm concerned. Nothing to do with any phase of racing, and during GF competition at that. I lost some respect for Larry McR after that segment.

Personally never cared much for Kyle Petty, but watching him on TNT has changed my mind. He's the saving point of the cast. He'll be missed when the other networks take over. Cut a deal with Fox & ESPN, Kyle. I'm in your corner.

Anonymous said...

TNT:

It coulda been worse.

That's all.

Anonymous said...

That magic act was definitely a waste of time--while the race was going on, no less!

NOTHING to do with the event.

Who thought this would even been remotely funny or appropriate for a race?

Dan said...

I disagree that this was great race coverage. It seemed like every time they went to a commercial (and, it seemed, every commercial was for either "The Closer," "Saving Grace," (Do we really need to have Holly Hunter on the demo car?)or "The Bill Engvall Show") they would come back and the race was under caution. What happened with Carl Edward's splitter? How did Jeff Burton get his lap back? Why did they not show Kyle's burnout? Why wasn't the crawl going at the top of the screen during restarts? And that magic trick... really? It really seemed to me that the primary purpose of the TNT broadcasts were for promoting TNT shows, and not for showing us good racing. Sorry, I prefer Fox hands down to TNT.

Adam T. Martin said...

As a matter of fact, good riddance to TNT for the rest of the season.

Replace Bill Weber and Marty Snider with real talent.

Anonymous said...

I thought TNT did an exceptional job and the booth chemistry blew away Fox's stale group. Bill, Wally and Kyle weren't pushing any personal agendas and didn't fawn over certain drivers constantly. They indeed have raised the bar and I seriously doubt Fox's group will even look up to see how far the bar is raised.

ESPN, you've got to show us something. I'm looking forward to Jarrett in the booth. Kyle Petty should have a full time job in TV when he finally gets out of Adam's car full time.

Anonymous said...

TNT's coverage was barely adequate IF you have RaceView as well.

Unles your driver was running in the top 10--and sometimes not even then--you'd have had no way to know what happened to him during the course of the race.

Many drivers were involved some kind of incident or had something go wrong, and we never heard about it at all.

Michael Waltrip's splitter adventure, which involved a judgment call from officials, was never even mentioned, for example.

And outright lying about shooting at Loudon because the network was too cheap to shoot at the track each week at Fox and ESPN do, was very nearly a deal killer.

I was pleased to see that Weber apparently rebelled the third time they did this and said where the segment was actually shot.

Can you imagine the conversation between Wally, Kyle, and the clueless producer who told them to demonstrate five tracks' charcteristics, all while driving at Loudon? If you're not going to do it right, don't bother to do it at all.

No, TNT's coverage was not worth watching.

Desmond said...

In general, TNT was much improved this year compared to last.

But the race on Saturday night defined "phoning it in." What else explains the 16-way split on the first pit stop, or the magic trick in the infield - during green flag racing?

Also, I feel for everyone who tunes into Saving Grace based on the promo, if it's as bad as John has described it.

Good luck, ESPN/ABC.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad I don't have to listed to Weber anymore. His voice is like nails down a blackboard.

I will miss Kyle though.

Mary

Anthony said...

I have never liked TNT, and, frankly I disagree with JD quite a bit. Yes, the camera work was good, but a lot needs to be improved.

The pre-race is way too long. I don't mind 60 minutes on FOX (occasionally) or ESPN/ABC (always), but 90 minutes? I lose interest fast considering that the race itself is 3 to 4 hours.

There's still WAY too many commercials. Every 5 minutes is ridiculous. At least when FOX or ESPN bunch up commercials, we see 15 to 25 minutes without a break towards the end.

I still think Weber ain't right for the PxP. He did improve, but not enough for my liking. Wally was the best. Petty's alright. Matty and Snyder are the only reporters I like.

They could definitely use a postrace show, especially when they have nothing better to show afterwards save for Law and Order or a movie.

RaceBuddy is pretty cool. It's a shame NASCAR doesn't own that outright so they could use it during ESPN's coverage (wouldn't have to watch and listen to Punch-use MRN and RaceBuddy)!

Until the Weber and commercials issues are fixed, I will always hate TNT's coverage. 6 races ain't worth it for them, either. I feel bad for the tracks whose races, until 2006, were on FOX or NBC. The ratings aren't pretty.